RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Today, we will find out who will win the sport of gentlemen. But this sport requires no racquets, nets or courts. It's time for the puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Joining us now is Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION'S puzzle master. Hey, Will. Good morning.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: Are you going to watch the French Open?
SHORTZ: I'm not sure I will. But I would love to attend sometime.
MARTIN: I know. It would be cool, right? Are you a tennis fan?
SHORTZ: I am, yeah. I used to play a lot, been to the U.S. Open several times.
MARTIN: Oh, that's fun.
MARTIN: So our challenge last week was actually tennis related, right? Remind us what it was.
SHORTZ: It was a tough one, too. It came from listener Harry Hillson of Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J. I asked, what is the most consecutive points a tennis player can lose and still win a best-of-five-sets match? And this was referring to men's tennis, which has five sets. The answer is 76. And here's how it works. The winner of the match is ahead in the first set, five-zero, 40-love.
Then maybe he has an injury. He loses the next five points to lose the game. He loses 24 more consecutive points to lose the next six games and ends the set five-seven. Then he loses the second set in 24 straight points. In the third set, he loses the first 23 points to go down zero games to five, love-40.
Then he charges back to win that set as well as the next two sets to save the match. So there you go, 76.
MARTIN: Who came up with the scoring mechanism for tennis, by the way?
SHORTZ: It's crazy.
MARTIN: It is crazy. This was a hard one. We only got 176 correct answers. Our randomly selected winner, though, is David Lefkowitz of Los Angeles, Calif. He's on the line now. Hey, David, congratulations.
DAVID LEFKOWITZ: Thank you very much.
MARTIN: You a big tennis player, David?
LEFKOWITZ: I used to play when I was a kid. My mother and my grandfather were tennis players.
MARTIN: And you are a composer, I understand?
LEFKOWITZ: Exactly right. I teach composition and music theory at UCLA in the music program - department.
MARTIN: And composing music, I mean, there's a heavy mathematical component to that.
LEFKOWITZ: There is.
MARTIN: And puzzling comes natural to people who are good at math. And so I'm going to guess that you're going to be good at this puzzle. That's just a bet I'm willing to make right now.
LEFKOWITZ: Well, I hope so.
MARTIN: (Laughter) OK. So I think we're ready. Let's give it a shot, Will.
SHORTZ: Here we go. David, I'm going to give you some five-letter words. For each one, insert two letters between the first and second letters to make a familiar seven-letter word. For example, if I said elate, E-L-A-T-E, you would insert an M, U to make emulate.
SHORTZ: Number one is solar - S-O-L-A-R. And this answer is something I think you are.
LEFKOWITZ: (Laughter) Stumped.
SHORTZ: (Laughter) Put two consonants between the S and the O.
MARTIN: Two consonants.
MARTIN: Oh, there you go.
SHORTZ: You are a scholar. Number two is March - M-A-R-C-H.
SHORTZ: That's good. Gland - G-L-A-N-D, as in the liver.
SHORTZ: That's it. Spent - S-P-E-N-T.
SHORTZ: Oh, you're good. Tight - T-I-G-H-T.
SHORTZ: Tough - T-O-U-G-H.
SHORTZ: Through is it. Fight - F-I-G-H-T.
LEFKOWITZ: It may take me a fortnight to figure this one out.
MARTIN: (Laughter) Close. F-I-G-H-T.
SHORTZ: I'll give you a hint. It's a consonant, vowel in that order.
MARTIN: F and then a consonant?
SHORTZ: And then a vowel.
SHORTZ: Not an L.
MARTIN: Not an L. F-R...
LEFKOWITZ: Fraught - no. This is a tough one.
MARTIN: (Whispering) Freight, freight.
SHORTZ: Freight, there you go. Rachel's got it.
SHORTZ: Freight is it. Olive - O-L-I-V-E. This one's tricky, too. The first letter is a vowel and then a consonant.
SHORTZ: Outlive is it.
MARTIN: Oh, good.
SHORTZ: Elude - E-L-U-D-E.
MARTIN: Oh, great.
SHORTZ: Exclude is it. And your last one is feign - F-E-I-G-N.
MARTIN: Oh. Bada boom...
SHORTZ: Oh, man, David, you are great.
MARTIN: ...Bada bing. That was just, like, no big deal for you, just knocked them out. For playing the puzzle, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and all kinds of puzzle books and games. You can check out your prizes at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, David, where do you hear us? What's your public radio station?
LEFKOWITZ: I am members of two different stations, KCRW in Santa Monica and KPCC in Pasadena.
MARTIN: Happy to hear it. David Lefkowitz of Los Angeles, Calif. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, David.
LEFKOWITZ: Thank You, Rachel. And thank you, Will.
MARTIN: OK, Will, what's up for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes. Name a famous actor, seven-letter first name, four-letter last name. Take four consecutive letters from the first name and three consecutive letters from the last name. And these seven letters, in order from left to right, will name something that's often packed nowadays when taking a trip. What is it? So again, famous actor, seven, four.
Take four consecutive letters from the first name and three consecutive letters from the last, and these seven letters, in order from left to right, will name something that's often packed nowadays when taking a trip. What is it?
MARTIN: When you've figured it out, go to npr.org/puzzle and click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for those entries is Thursday, June 9 at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, then we'll give you a call and then you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times, and he is WEEKEND EDITION'S puzzle master Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
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