Sunday Puzzle: 2023's Names in the News! NPR's Rob Schmitz plays the puzzle with listener Chris Yates of Butte, Mont., and puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Sunday Puzzle: 2023's Names in the News!

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And it is time to play the Puzzle.


SCHMITZ: Joining us, as always, is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and our own puzzlemaster here at WEEKEND EDITION. Hey there, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rob. Nice to meet you.

SCHMITZ: Thank you. So, Will, would you please remind us of last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Neville Fogarty of Newport News, Va. I said think of an area found in many workplaces in two words. Move the first letter of the first word to the start of the second word, and phonetically, you'll name two items that have a similar use, one of which might be used in the workplace. What place is it? Well, the answer is break room. Move the B to the start of the second word, and you get rake and broom, which are both tools you use to clean with. And a broom might be used indoor like in a break room.

SCHMITZ: So this was a very popular puzzle. There were more than 2,700 correct entries. And Chris Yates of Butte, Mont., is our puzzle winner. Congratulations, Chris.

CHRIS YATES: Hooray, I'm so excited to be here.

SCHMITZ: So, Chris, how long have you been playing the Puzzle?

YATES: Oh, on and off for, like, seven or eight years. If I am around on Sunday, I definitely try to solve it.

SCHMITZ: Very good. And what do you like to do when you are not playing this Puzzle?

YATES: Well, actually, I'm a woodworker, and I specialize in making wooden jigsaw puzzles, actually...

SCHMITZ: (Whistle).

YATES: ...Of all things.

SHORTZ: My kind of guy.

YATES: I call them The Bafflers. I've been doing them for about 20 years. I also help organize a biannual gathering called the Puzzle Parley, which I think Will may have heard of...


YATES: ...That celebrates wooden jigsaw puzzles with makers, collectors, enthusiasts of all kinds.

SCHMITZ: Wow. I have two puzzlemasters right here. OK, this is excellent. So, Chris, are you ready to play?

YATES: Oh, I was born ready.

SCHMITZ: Excellent. That's what I love to hear. OK, take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Chris and Rob, every year around this time, I present a new names in the news quiz. And here's how it works. I'm going to give you some names that you'd probably never heard before 2023 but that were prominent in the news during the past 12 months. You tell me who or what they are.


SHORTZ: And here's No. 1. We'll start easy - Vivek Ramaswamy.

YATES: Republican presidential candidate.

SHORTZ: Excellent. No. 2 is Mike Johnson.

YATES: New speaker of the House.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Javier Milei - and that last name is spelled M-I-L-E-I.

YATES: New president of Argentina and dog lover.


SHORTZ: You are good. Your next one is Arthur Engoron. And the last name is spelled E-N-G-O-R-O-N. Arthur Engoron.

YATES: Is it something to do with vaccines?


YATES: AI maybe?

SHORTZ: What if I told you he's a justice, but not of the Supreme Court?

YATES: I may need some help on this one.

SCHMITZ: He's handling a case that - who has many cases right now across the country.

YATES: Oh, he's a judge in one of the many Trump trials.

SHORTZ: Well, he's a justice in the Manhattan Supreme Court presiding over the civil trial of the Trump Organization. Try this one. It's a twosome - Justin Jones and Justin Peterson (ph).

YATES: A pair of Tennessee state legislators that got expelled from the body at one point.

SHORTZ: Exactly. And then they were reelected. Danelo Cavalcante. And the first name is D-A-N-E-L-O. And the last name is C-A-V-A-L-C-A-N-T-E. Danelo Cavalcante.

YATES: Oh, gosh, this is a tough one.

SHORTZ: And so here's some hints. First of all, he's a native of Brazil, and he made news in Pennsylvania.

YATES: Oh, he was - he escaped from the prison, and there was a big manhunt that, like, went on for days.

SHORTZ: Good job.


SHORTZ: He chimneyed up two close walls, and then he was recaptured after a two-week manhunt. I'm impressed. Good job. All right, now we have a couple of names. And your first one is Titan, T-I-T-A-N. How did Titan make the news this past year?

YATES: Was it the moon of Jupiter?

SHORTZ: No, and it's just the opposite of space.

YATES: Oh, it was a submersible that imploded in the Atlantic, right?

SHORTZ: That's it - on the way down to the Titanic. Your next one is a title - "Spare," S-P-A-R-E. What was that the title of?

YATES: Prince Harry's memoir.

SHORTZ: Oh, good job. And the last one - we'll end with an easy one - your last one is X.

YATES: Oh, gosh - what Elon Musk renamed Twitter to.

SHORTZ: You got it.

SCHMITZ: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Nice job. I'm impressed.

SCHMITZ: Great job, Chris (laughter).

YATES: That was really tough, Will. Man, you were not pitching softballs at the end of this year.

SCHMITZ: Actually, Chris, I thought you did a fantastic job. How do you feel?

YATES: I feel fantastic.

SCHMITZ: That's (laughter) - that's wonderful. For playing our Puzzle today, you're going to get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about the Puzzle and its prizes at Chris, what member station do you listen to?

YATES: I listen to Montana Public Radio, 91.3, right here in Butte.

SCHMITZ: That's Chris Yates of Butte, Mont. Thanks very much for playing the Puzzle.

YATES: Thank you.

SCHMITZ: OK, Will, what is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from Sandy Weisz of Chicago. Think of a famous movie title in four letters. Change one letter and anagram the result to name another movie that came out 20 years later. Then change one letter in that and anagram to name a third movie that came out 29 years after the second one. What movies are these?

So again, four-letter movie title, change one letter and anagram the result to name another movie that came out 20 years later. Then change one letter in that and anagram to name a third movie that came out 29 years after the second one. What movies are these?


SCHMITZ: So when you have that answer, go to our website, Click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry please. Our deadline for entries this week is Thursday, January 4 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you. If you're the winner, we will give you a call. And if you pick up the phone, you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and puzzlemaster of WEEKEND EDITION, Will Shortz. Thanks, Will. Happy New Year.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rob.


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