Changing 'Gurgles' to 'Turtles' NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's winner is Mary Sheedy from Hollidaysburg, Pa. She listens to Weekend Edition on NPR station WPSU in State College, Pa.
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Changing 'Gurgles' to 'Turtles'

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Changing 'Gurgles' to 'Turtles'

Changing 'Gurgles' to 'Turtles'

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen.

And joining us is Puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzlemaster): Hi, Liane. Welcome back.

HANSEN: Thank you very much. And how was France?

SHORTZ: It was one of the best trips I've ever taken.


SHORTZ: You know, I was in this little village called Iserti(ph), southeast of Paris. There were three crossword tournaments going on there that weekend. And I did some opening remarks in French, I conducted a game in French and got to play table tennis twice at the local club. It was just a great three days.

HANSEN: You left us with a challenge that actually had a nice tie-in to a big blockbuster movie that opened up last week. First, would you repeat it, please?

SHORTZ: Yes. The challenge came from listener Ed Pegg Jr. of Champaign, Illinois. I said take the word plantation. It contains the consecutive letters of the movie "Patton," reading from left to right, although not consecutively. And I asked what familiar word contains the letters of "Star Wars," reading from left to right?

HANSEN: And your answer?

SHORTZ: Well, the intended answer was straightforwardness. We also accepted straightforwards, which is a variant of straightforward. And two, interesting near misses were instant rewards...


SHORTZ: ...and upstairs downstairs.

HANSEN: Well, this must have been a tough puzzle because we had a very small pool of entries, just over 180 entries from people who solved the puzzle. And our winner randomly selected from those correct answers is Mary Sheedy, and she joins us from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania.

Hi, Mary.

Ms. MARY SHEEDY (Puzzle Winner): Hi. Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: What do you do there?

Ms. SHEEDY: Well, I'm retired right now. My first career was raising six sons and a daughter.


Ms. SHEEDY: And then after that, I did a number of things. And then I was in retail with some friends for 20 years.

HANSEN: And have you been a puzzle player all this time?

Ms. SHEEDY: Oh, yes. Absolutely.

HANSEN: All right. Are you ready to play?

Ms. SHEEDY: Sure am.

HANSEN: All right. Will, meet Mary.

SHORTZ: Well, Mary, today's puzzle involves letter changes, and in particular, repeated letter changes. Each word I'm going to give you has at least one repeated letter in it.

Ms. SHEEDY: Mm-hmm.

SHORTZ: Take both instances of that letter and change it to the same new letter to make a new word.


SHORTZ: For example, if I said gurgle--G-U-R-G-L-E--you'd notice that it contains two Gs. You change both of them to Ts, for example, and make turtle.


HANSEN: All right.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one is porpoise--P-O-R-P-O-I-S-E.

Ms. SHEEDY: Tortoise.

SHORTZ: Tortoise. Excellent. Number two is mesquite--M-E-S-Q-U-I-T-E.

Ms. SHEEDY: And we've got two...


Ms. SHEEDY: ...Es.

SHORTZ: Two Es, yeah.

Ms. SHEEDY: All right.

SHORTZ: And think of a little pest.

Ms. SHEEDY: Oh, mosquito. OK.

SHORTZ: Mosquito is right. Good.

Ms. SHEEDY: Sure.

SHORTZ: Here's your next one: burger--B-U-R-G-E-R.

Ms. SHEEDY: Bulgel--no...

HANSEN: I know. We're stuck on the...

Ms. SHEEDY: Hmm.

SHORTZ: Think of a past-tense verb.

Ms. SHEEDY: Oh, budged. Sure.

SHORTZ: Budged is right. Good. Good.


SHORTZ: Wigwag--W-I-G-W-A-G.

HANSEN: But wait a minute. There's two repeating letters.

SHORTZ: Right. Which one?

Ms. SHEEDY: One...

SHORTZ: Change the Ws.

Ms. SHEEDY: Oh, change the W. OK. Zigzag.

SHORTZ: Zigzag is right. Manacle--M-A-N-A-C-L-E.

Ms. SHEEDY: OK. We've got two M--Monocle.

SHORTZ: Monocle. Excellent. Coroner--C-O-R-O-N-E-R.

HANSEN: Again, we've got repeated...


HANSEN: Two different letters.

SHORTZ: Two Os and two Rs.

Ms. SHEEDY: Rs and Os.


Ms. SHEEDY: Colonel. Colonel.

SHORTZ: Colonel. Good job.

HANSEN: Good job, Mary.

SHORTZ: Dearest--D-E-A-R-E-S-T.

Ms. SHEEDY: And we've got two Es.

SHORTZ: That's right.

SHORTZ: It's got to be a vowel.

Ms. SHEEDY: Yeah.

HANSEN: Would Samuel Peeps...

SHORTZ: Samuel Peeps is a good one.

Ms. SHEEDY: Diarist.

SHORTZ: Diarist is right. Good. Squats--S-Q-U-A-T-S. It's got to be...

Ms. SHEEDY: Equate.

SHORTZ: Equate. Good. Good. Good. Nominal--N-O-M-I-N-A-L.

Ms. SHEEDY: And we've got--hmm. What do we have here?



HANSEN: I think we need a hint.

SHORTZ: This one's near the start of the alphabet, what you change it to, and it means...

HANSEN: Oh, comical!

SHORTZ: Comical. Good.

Ms. SHEEDY: Yes! OK. Comical. Right.

SHORTZ: Try this one. Curler--C-U-R-L-E-R.

Ms. SHEEDY: Cut--no.

SHORTZ: Yeah. You...

Ms. SHEEDY: Cutlet. Cutlet.

SHORTZ: Cutlet. Yeah. Meat cutlet. Uh-huh. Nonwhite--N-O-N-W-H-I-T-E.

Ms. SHEEDY: Huh!

HANSEN: A bird?

SHORTZ: A bird. Yes.

Ms. SHEEDY: OK. A bobwhite.

HANSEN: Bobwhite.

SHORTZ: A bobwhite is right. And here's your last one: longfelt--L-O-N-G-F-E-L-T.

Ms. SHEEDY: Oh, somebody had a hard time making that one up. It's the weekend!

HANSEN: He spends all his time making these up.

SHORTZ: I know who that person was, too.


Ms. SHEEDY: All right.

SHORTZ: It's got two L's.

Ms. SHEEDY: Songfest. Songfest.


SHORTZ: Songfest. Mary, you are good.

Ms. SHEEDY: Thank you.

HANSEN: Mary, you're fabulous. That was really good.

Ms. SHEEDY: Thank you.

HANSEN: For playing our puzzle today, we're going to send you a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as 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.

Mary, what station do you listen to?

Ms. SHEEDY: We listen to WPSU in State College, Pennsylvania. All the time.

HANSEN: Ah, yes. All the time. And State College, Pennsylvania, home of Paternea Peach(ph) ice cream. That I know.

Mary Sheedy from Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania, thanks so much for being our guest today.

Ms. SHEEDY: Thank you so much. I enjoyed it.

HANSEN: All right, Will. We've got a long weekend this weekend. What challenge do you have for us to work on.

SHORTZ: Yes. It involves a four-letter word square. Write down these four words, one under the other: saga--S-A-G-A--opal--O-P-A-L--fell--F-E-L-L--and tray--T-R-A-Y, and the result spells four different words vertically: soft, aper, gala and ally. Now this square contains three Ls and no plurals or verbs formed by adding S. The challenge is to create a similar square with as many Ls as possible and no plurals or verbs formed by adding S. And our reference for acceptable words will be Merriam-Webster's 11th Collegiate Dictionary. So, again, make a four-by-four square with different words reading across and down and as many Ls as possible. When you send in your solution, please mention the number of Ls in the subject heading of your e-mail.

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

Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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