Listing 'Snail' Categories NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's winner is Judy Kessler from Lexington, Mass. She listens to Weekend Edition on member station WGBH in Boston.
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Listing 'Snail' Categories

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Listing 'Snail' Categories

Listing 'Snail' Categories

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Sheilah Kast, sitting in for Liane Hansen.

And joining us is Puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzlemaster): Hi, Sheilah.

KAST: Where in the world is Will Shortz?

SHORTZ: Well, I am in France in a village called Is, I-S. Its full name is Iserti(ph). It's a village in Burgundy about three and a half or four hours southeast of Paris.

KAST: Yes, but why are you in Is?

SHORTZ: Well, it's a Festivale de mo Quazais(ph), a crossword festival. It's a crossword championship for the Burgundy region of France. And they have named me the parrain, who--literally it's the Godfather of the festival. That means that I'm a special guest and a fancy person here who has no actual responsibilities. So it's really quite nice.

KAST: That's wonderful. Well, remind us of the challenge you left us with last week.

SHORTZ: Yes. I gave the chain of animals starting with the name puma, P-U-M-A, and the last two letters are M-A, which start mandrill. The last two letters of that are L-L, and they start llama, and the last two letters of that are M-A, and they start marmot. And I asked you to think of a similar chain of animal names, starting with hippo and ending with ermine.

KAST: And what was the answer you had in mind?

SHORTZ: Well, my intended answer was hippo to porpoise, seal, alligator, orangutan, anteater and ermine. We got a number of alternative answers. My favorites were hippo, polar bear, to argali, A-R-G-A-L-I, to lion, onager and ermine. And then also hippo to porpoise, seal, alpaca, then caiman, C-A-I-M-A-N--it's a variety of crocodile--then anteater and ermine. So we counted any of those correct.

KAST: My goodness. That's creativity. We had more than 1,200 entries from people who solved the puzzle. And our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Judy Kessler of Lexington, Massachusetts.

Hi, Judy.

Ms. JUDY KESSLER (Puzzler Winner): Hi, Sheilah.

KAST: What do you do there in Lexington?

Ms. KESSLER: Well, I manage a terrific group of technical writers at Sybase.

KAST: And how long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. KESSLER: Forever. I actually recently ran into a file I had on my computer for an answer that I had sent in in 1994.

KAST: That's not so long ago, but it's very impressive. Are you ready to play today?

Ms. KESSLER: I am.

KAST: Will, meet Judy.

SHORTZ: All right. Judy and Sheilah, this is a good puzzle for two people, and I brought a game of categories. You probably know the rules. The word is snail, S-N-A-I-L. I'm going to give you a series of categories, and for each category, I'd like you to name something in it starting with each of the letters, S-N-A-I-L. For example, if the category were girls' names, you might say Susan, Naomi, Alice, Isabel and Loretta.


SHORTZ: Your first category is annual celebrations.

Ms. KESSLER: Let's see, annual celebrations. Independence Day.

SHORTZ: Excellent. There's your I.

Ms. KESSLER: Let's see. New Year's.

SHORTZ: New Year's Day or Eve. Uh-huh.

Ms. KESSLER: And, let's see, Armistice Day.

SHORTZ: Armistice Day. Excellent.

Ms. KESSLER: Can I do religious holidays, too?


Ms. KESSLER: Let's see. There's a Jewish holiday called Sukkot that starts with an S.

SHORTZ: OK, excellent. Also St. Patrick's Day.

Ms. KESSLER: OK. And...

SHORTZ: And an L.

Ms. KESSLER: ...let's see, L, L.

SHORTZ: Think start of September.

Ms. KESSLER: Oh, Labor Day.

SHORTZ: Labor Day. Also, Lincoln's birthday would have worked. Your second category is makes of automobiles. I'm looking for current makes.

Ms. KESSLER: Current makes. Oh, so I can't say Studebaker, huh? Well, let's see, there's Lexus.

SHORTZ: Lexus. Good.

Ms. KESSLER: I grew up in Detroit. I should be able to get all these models--makes of cars.

SHORTZ: There's something from Japan that's big, starting with S.

Ms. KESSLER: Oh, let's see, Subaru.

SHORTZ: Subaru, good.

Ms. KESSLER: And Infiniti.

SHORTZ: Infiniti, yes. And also, Isuzu.


SHORTZ: OK. And how about N and A?

Ms. KESSLER: N and A. Cars with N--how about Acura?

SHORTZ: Acura, yes.

Ms. KESSLER: And...

SHORTZ: There's a big one from Japan.

Ms. KESSLER: Big one from Japan.

KAST: Oh, sh...

Ms. KESSLER: Oh, Nissan, of course.

SHORTZ: Nissan, yes. All right. Your next category is parts of a car.

Ms. KESSLER: Parts of a car. OK. Well, let's see, steering wheel.

SHORTZ: Excellent.

Ms. KESSLER: The accelerator.


Ms. KESSLER: What else do we have here? The parts of a car.

SHORTZ: And how do you start the car?

Ms. KESSLER: Start the car with the ignition.

SHORTZ: Ignition, OK. You just need N and L.

Ms. KESSLER: Parts of a car.

SHORTZ: There's something that's...

Ms. KESSLER: Mirrors, wheels--go ahead.

SHORTZ: ...something that's in modern--a lot of expensive modern cars, in case you get lost.

Ms. KESSLER: Oh...

KAST: It's the same thing that--the same idea that you have when you're traveling across the seas, when you're steering it close...

Ms. KESSLER: A navigation device.

SHORTZ: There you go, navigation system.

Ms. KESSLER: Sure.

SHORTZ: And so...

Ms. KESSLER: And, let's see...

SHORTZ: ...all you need is L.

Ms. KESSLER: OK, the L, the...

KAST: Give us a clue, Will.

SHORTZ: Oh, there's lots of them. How do you open the car?

Ms. KESSLER: Oh, with a lock.

SHORTZ: A lock. There's a luggage rack, lugnuts, left-turn signal, license plate holder. OK, your next category is place names ending in land, L-A-N-D.


SHORTZ: Place names ending in land.

Ms. KESSLER: OK. How about Lapland?


Ms. KESSLER: Ireland.

SHORTZ: Ireland, uh-huh.

Ms. KESSLER: Swaziland.

SHORTZ: Swaziland. That's a tough one. Switzerland is an easy one.


SHORTZ: So N and A.

Ms. KESSLER: N and A. Newfoundland.

SHORTZ: Newfoundland, yes. And an A?

Ms. KESSLER: And A would be...

SHORTZ: And maybe the best known...

Ms. KESSLER: ...Auckland?

SHORTZ: Auckland, yes. You didn't even need a hint. And your last category is things seen in a hospital.

Ms. KESSLER: Things seen in a hospital. Nurses.

SHORTZ: Nurses, yes.

Ms. KESSLER: Surgeon.

SHORTZ: Surgeon, yes.

Ms. KESSLER: Let's see...

SHORTZ: In case the doctor needs to put you out.

Ms. KESSLER: Oh, the anesthesia.

SHORTZ: Anesthesia. Yes.

Ms. KESSLER: And I would be the IV.

SHORTZ: Good, IV tube or anything. And an L.


SHORTZ: Where do they do research in a hospital?

Ms. KESSLER: In the library. My sister...

SHORTZ: In the...

Ms. KESSLER: ...runs the library at a major teaching hospital.

SHORTZ: Oh, right, I'll give you library. I was going for laboratory.


SHORTZ: Good going.

KAST: Wow. Judy, I am so impressed. Judy, for playing our puzzle today, you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, the 11th edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus, the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, volume two, and "The New York Times Will Shortz's Favorite Sunday Crossword Puzzles" from St. Martin's Press.

Judy, what member station do you listen to?

Ms. KESSLER: Well, I listen to WEEKEND EDITION on WBUR and I also listen to WGBH.

KAST: Judy Kessler from Lexington, Massachusetts, thanks for playing the puzzle with us.

Ms. KESSLER: Thank you.

KAST: And, Will, what's the challenge you have for us to work on this week?

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Ed Pegg Jr. from Champaign, Illinois. Take the word `plantation.' It contains the consecutive letters of the movie "Patton," P-A-T-T-O-N, reading from left to right, although not consecutively. What familiar word contains the letters of "Star Wars" reading from left to right, not necessarily consecutively? So again, what familiar word contains the letters of "Star Wars" reading from left to right?

KAST: Hmm. When you have the answer, e-mail us at Only one entry per person please. And our deadline is Thursday at 3 PM Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time, and we'll call if you're the winner, and you'll get to play the puzzle on the air with the Puzzle Master of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's Puzzle Master, Will Shortz. There's also information on our Web site at

Will, Liane will be back next week, and meanwhile, have a great time at the festival.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Sheilah.

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