LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
And it's time to play The Puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me now is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will, nice to meet you.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lourdes. Welcome to the show.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Thank you. I have to be honest, Will, I'm terrible at puzzles, which is probably the reason my least favorite "Batman" character is the Riddler.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I'm hoping this experience will change my mind.
SHORTZ: I hope so too.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, let's get started. Will, can you remind us of last week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Dave Shukan of Los Angeles. I said, think of a two-word term for someone who might be working at a nightclub. The second letter of the first word is a consonant. Move that letter so it's the second letter of the second word and phonetically, you'll get a made-up two-word term for someone else who might work at a nightclub. What people are these? And the answer is blues singer, which becomes booze slinger.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, we got 189 correct answers, and our winner is John Price of Woodside, N.Y. John, congratulations.
JOHN PRICE: Thanks, Lourdes.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Are you ready - drum roll - to play The Puzzle?
PRICE: I'm ready. Let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right, John and Lourdes, I'm about to tell you a little story. Any time you hear an error of fact, logic, consistency or word usage, say buzz. No specialized knowledge is needed. OK, here's the story.
As you hear this on Sunday, October 10, I'm on a...
PRICE: Sunday is the 11.
SHORTZ: That is correct. I'm a 10-day trip through Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria in southwest Europe. The main purpose of my trip is to attend the World Puzzle Championship in Bulgaria, which I'll get to in uno momento, as they say in Spain.
SHORTZ: (Laughter) Very good.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That one I know (laughter).
SHORTZ: Because? They would say - I think you would say un momento in Spanish.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Un moment, yes.
PRICE: Oh, OK.
SHORTZ: We're starting, though, in Thessaloniki, Greece, on the Adriatic Sea. Thessaloniki is famous for its neo-Roman architecture, which I'm looking forward to abjuring.
PRICE: Because adjuring means avoiding.
SHORTZ: That is correct. A friend in Thessaloniki is taking us to her table tennis club. We'll be in Greece for two days. Next, my friend and I are driving north to Skopje, Macedonia, which hosted the recent winter Olympics.
PRICE: They were in Sochi.
SHORTZ: Excellent. With the Internet and the help of Google Translate, I found a table tennis club to play at in Skopje. Like Russia, Macedonia uses the Latin alphabet.
PRICE: I know Russia uses Cyrillic. I'm not sure about Macedonia.
SHORTZ: That's correct. Same as Macedonia, the Cyrillic alphabet. So following the road signs scares me a little. For five days, I'll be in Bulgaria for the reason I mentioned - the World Crossword Championship.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It's table tennis, wasn't it?
SHORTZ: Oh, well, I will be playing table tennis there. But I mentioned earlier it was the World Puzzle Championship.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, puzzle championship.
SHORTZ: The event will be held in the capital, Bucharest. Competitors are coming from countries on all seven continents.
PRICE: Buzz. Antarctica doesn't really have countries.
SHORTZ: That is true, so they couldn't possibly come from all seven continents. All the puzzles in the championship are language- and culture-neutral, like sudoku and crosswords.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I don't think crosswords are really language- and culture-neutral.
SHORTZ: That is correct. So there won't be any crosswords at this event. After an exhausting 11-day trip...
PRICE: Buzz. I think you said you'd be there for 10 days.
SHORTZ: Excellent. You caught that. I will be happy to fly home to New York, setting my watch ahead seven hours on the way.
PRICE: Buzz. You'd set your watch back coming from Europe to America?
SHORTZ: That is correct, again. So there you go. That's the story, and you got almost everything. You missed the fact that Greece, Macedonia and Bulgaria are in southeast, not southwest Europe. And Greece is on the Aegean Sea, not the Adriatic. And Thessaloniki is not famous for its neo-Roman architecture because it's Greek. And the last thing was that the capital of Bulgaria is Sofia. Bucharest is the capital of Romania.
SHORTZ: I think you did pretty nicely.
PRICE: OK, well, I learned a lot about geography anyway.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was amazing, John. You did a great job. And thank you so much for playing our puzzle today. You'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And, John, tell us your public radio station.
PRICE: It's WNYC in New York City.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: John Price of Woodside, N.Y. Thanks for playing The Puzzle.
PRICE: Thank you both. That was so much fun.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: What's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Well, it's a creative challenge for two weeks. And the object is to write a 10-word sentence in which each word ends with the same letter of the alphabet. For example, Dartmouth frosh clash with Pittsburgh church parish, clinch fifth triumph. Every word in my sentence ends with H. You can choose any letter you like. Entries will be judged on sensibility, naturalness of syntax and overall elegance. And the person who submits the best sentence, in my opinion, will play puzzle on the air in two weeks.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person please and this is a two-week challenge, so our deadline for entries is Thursday, October 22 at 3 p.m., Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call and you'll get to play on the air with puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lourdes.
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