Expanding Words from the Center NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. (This week's winner is Mary Alice Kohs from New York City. She listens to Weekend Edition on member station WNYC and WSHU in New York.)
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Expanding Words from the Center

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Expanding Words from the Center

Expanding Words from the Center

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From NPR News, this is WEEKEND EDITION. I'm Liane Hansen. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz.

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ (Puzzle Master): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: You are speaking to us from the studios of WFYI in Indianapolis, Indiana, today instead of our regular New York spot. Why are you in Indiana?

SHORTZ: Well, there's an annual charity event here called Mickey's Camp, where it goes for like three of four days and there's--various speakers come in, and I'm--had a part of the program on puzzles. And they raised over $100,000 for Hoosier charities.

HANSEN: Excellent. Well, I don't know if you've given them any of the puzzles that we've had on the air, but remind us of the challenge that you left everyone with last week to work on.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Dale Sugar of Brooklyn, New York. And I said, name two familiar products you might find in a drugstore or a supermarket. These are well-known national brands that compete with each other. And I said, each name has five letters. Put them together, one after the other, and you'll get a well-known geographical name, also five-five. What is it?

HANSEN: What is it?

SHORTZ: It is Ivory Coast, the country. And, of course, those are both brands of soap.

HANSEN: Oh, boy, soap radio. Well, we had over 900 entries from people who solved the puzzle. Our winner, randomly selected from the correct answers, is Mary Alice Kohs. She's from New York City, but she's joining us from her summer place in Southold, New York.

Hi, Mary Alice.

Ms. MARY ALICE KOHS (Listener): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: Having fun this summer?

Ms. KOHS: I am, indeed. Thank you.

HANSEN: Excellent. What do you do during the rest of the year?

Ms. KOHS: I'm a full-time mom.

HANSEN: Ah. How many children? How old?

Ms. KOHS: I have one six-year-old son.

HANSEN: Oh, so he's about ready to go back to school.

Ms. KOHS: Yes.

HANSEN: All right. Well, you're nice and relaxed. How long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. KOHS: I have been listening for about 10 years and I've been submitting entries for about, I'd say, a year and a half, two years.

HANSEN: Oh, excellent. So sounds like you are ready to play.

Ms. KOHS: I'm excited.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Will, meet Mary Alice. Let's play.

SHORTZ: All right. Mary Alice, I'm going to give you some six-letter words. For each one, insert two letters in the exact center to complete a familiar eight-letter word.


SHORTZ: For example, if I said `garner," G-A-R-N-E-R, you would say, `gardener'...


SHORTZ: ...inserting D-E. All right. Number one is accent, A-C-C-E-N-T. Two letters go between the C and the E, and it's something you don't want to have on a highway.

Ms. KOHS: Accident.

SHORTZ: Accident is right. Number two is Antony, A-N-T-O-N-Y. It's the name of a metal.

Ms. KOHS: A metal? A-N-T-O-N-Y?

SHORTZ: Right.

Ms. KOHS: A metal.

HANSEN: A metal?

Ms. KOHS: I don't know.

HANSEN: Is it--I'm guessing. I truly am guessing.


HANSEN: But is it antimony (pronounced an-TIM-ony), I-M?

SHORTZ: Yeah, that's how I always pronounced it, but it's actually antimony (pronounced AN-ti-mony).

Ms. KOHS: Yeah.

HANSEN: Antimony.

SHORTZ: I just learned that this week.

HANSEN: I liked putting three letters in there and got antcolony. You don't...

SHORTZ: Nice. Nice. She gets bonus points for that.


SHORTZ: Try this one, canter, C-A-N-T-E-R, something you might have in your kitchen, and it would contain things like cookies.

Ms. KOHS: Container? No.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. No, but it would contain things like cookies.

HANSEN: Flour, sugar.


Ms. KOHS: Canister.

SHORTZ: Canister is it.

Ms. KOHS: Thank you. You guys--thank you very much.

SHORTZ: Try this one, carnal, C-A-R-N-A-L.

Ms. KOHS: Cardinal?

SHORTZ: Cardinal. Good. Equity, E-Q-U-I-T-Y.

Ms. KOHS: Equality?

SHORTZ: Equality. Evince, E-V-I-N-C-E.

Ms. KOHS: Evidence.

SHORTZ: Evidence is right. Harare, H-A-R-A-R-E, as in the capital of Zimbabwe. It's a kind of store.

Ms. KOHS: Hardware.

SHORTZ: Hardware is right. Innate--I-N-N-A-T-E. It means to make new things.

Ms. KOHS: Innovate.

SHORTZ: Innovate is right. Manure--M-A-N-U-R-E.

Ms. KOHS: Manicure.

HANSEN: Oh, nice.

SHORTZ: Manicure, that was fast. Oblate--O-B-L-A-T-E.

Ms. KOHS: Obligate.

SHORTZ: Obligate is right. Try this one. Panama--P-A-N-A-M-A.

Ms. KOHS: Panjama(ph).

HANSEN: I like the word. Can we keep it? Can we just...

SHORTZ: Yeah. You know, a cross between pajama and panjandrum, I think, yeah.

HANSEN: Yeah. Well, we'll find a definition for it.

Ms. KOHS: That's what you wear in Panama when you go to bed.

HANSEN: There you go.

Ms. KOHS: Panorama.


SHORTZ: Panorama, good. Subtle--S-U-B-T-L-E.

Ms. KOHS: Subtitle.


SHORTZ: Subtitle is right. And your last one is vanish--V-A-N-I-S-H.

Ms. KOHS: Vanquish.

SHORTZ: Vanquish.


SHORTZ: Mary Alice, nice job.

HANSEN: Nice work. These were not easy.

Ms. KOHS: Oh!

HANSEN: Nice work.

Ms. KOHS: Sometimes it comes and sometimes it doesn't.

HANSEN: Agreed. Absolutely.

For playing our puzzle today, you'll 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 our new player gift--actually it's two--two Sudoko wordless crossword puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press as well.

Mary Alice, what member station do you listen to?

Ms. KOHS: I am a member of WNYC in New York and WSHU out here in Southold.

HANSEN: Excellent. Mary Alice Kohs from New York City playing today from Southold, New York. And again, thank you. You were great. Thanks for playing with us.

Ms. KOHS: Thanks. I appreciate it very much.

HANSEN: All right.

Will, a challenge now for everyone to work on this week.

SHORTZ: Well, take a two-word phrase meaning a difficult puzzle. Drop the first letter. Read the remaining letters backward and you'll get a word for part of Alaska. What is it? So again, a two-word phrase meaning a difficult puzzle. Drop the first letter. Read the remaining letters backward and you'll get a word for part of Alaska. What is it?

HANSEN: Does this qualify as your title, Difficult Puzzle?


HANSEN: When you have the answer, e-mail us at puzzle@npr.org. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline is Thursday, 3 PM Eastern time and please include a phone number where we can reach you. At about that time, 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's also information on our Web site at npr.org.

Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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