Sunday Puzzle: This Puzzle Packs Syllables Into Small Spaces For every prompt in this week's puzzle, answer with a word or name that has three syllables in four letters.

This Puzzle Packs Syllables Into Small Spaces

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Tonight, the red carpet is being rolled out in New York for the 2016 Tony Awards. The cast of the Broadway sensation "Hamilton" will perform. And apparently, they're pretty good. But I'm afraid they must pale in comparison to our Sunday morning lineup. It is time for the puzzle.


WERTHEIMER: I'm joined now by Will Shortz. He is the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Linda.

WERTHEIMER: So have you been lucky enough to snag a ticket to "Hamilton"?

SHORTZ: Well, I'm afraid not. Have you seen the prices?

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: They just increased them to over $800 for the top tickets now. I'll tell you, though, last week, The New York Times crossword had Lin-Manuel Miranda's name in a puzzle.

WERTHEIMER: So then did he send you tickets?

SHORTZ: (Laughter) Wouldn't that be nice? Then I'll start putting fancy names of cars in my puzzles.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) Could you remind us what the challenge was for the puzzle we're about to play?

SHORTZ: Yes, I said name a famous actor - seven-letter first name, four-letter last name. I said 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? Well, the answer was Richard Gere. And you can find the letters of charger in there.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Everyone needs a charger these days.

WERTHEIMER: To take on a trip.


WERTHEIMER: Well, we received more than 1,200 correct answers. Our randomly selected winner is Sam Sheagren of Carlsbad, Calif. Congratulations, Sam.

SAM SHEAGREN: Thank you very much. Hi, Will. Hi, Linda.

SHORTZ: Hey there.

WERTHEIMER: So tell us how you got the answer.

SHEAGREN: Well, in San Diego our football team is the Chargers. So we right away...


SHEAGREN: ...Got to charger is probably what you're packing. And my wife got that right away. And then from there we tried to figure out the letters of different names and got to Richard Gere pretty quickly.

WERTHEIMER: Do you play the puzzle all the time?

SHEAGREN: All the time for maybe the last 20, 25 years. We listen to it on the radio and we come up with a few guesses. But usually, there's a lot of bantering back and forth now with our sons and everybody about what could possible answers be, what kind of trick is Will trying to throw into it? And how is it an unexpected answer? And all kinds of different ways.

WERTHEIMER: So you have a lot of help.


WERTHEIMER: I don't know. You know, they're not going to be here to help you today.

SHEAGREN: I'm a little worried about that.


WERTHEIMER: OK. So, Will, let's play the puzzle.

SHORTZ: All right, Sam and Linda - Sam, I have a feeling you're going to be good at this. Well, this Thursday I'm going to be speaking and doing word puzzles at the Hawaii Theatre in downtown Honolulu. And I hope to see a lot of NPR listeners there. And in preparation, I brought a puzzle today based on the name Oahu. And oddly, it has three syllables and only four letters. Answer my clues for other words and names that have three syllables and four letters. Number one, your clue is neighborhood - neighborhood, vicinity, anything like that.


SHORTZ: Area, there you go - number two is Verdi opera.

SHEAGREN: Oh, it's on the tip of my tongue and I'm not getting it.

SHORTZ: It was turned into a Broadway show.

SHEAGREN: Oh, the one by...

SHORTZ: It's set in Egypt.

SHEAGREN: ...I know all the features of it, and I can't come up with a name.

SHORTZ: Do you know, Linda?


SHORTZ: OK, it's "Aida."

SHEAGREN: Yeah, "Aida," of course.

SHORTZ: How about a song in an opera.


SHORTZ: That's it - capital of Samoa.

SHEAGREN: Oh my goodness.

WERTHEIMER: We all should know this, and I don't.

SHEAGREN: (Laughter) Yeah, exactly. I was just talking about this the other day - no, I have no idea.

SHORTZ: It's Apia, A-P-I-A, Apia. An early state in presidential campaigns.


SHORTZ: All right, how about a brainstorm?

SHEAGREN: An idea.

WERTHEIMER: There you go.

SHORTZ: These are all good crossword words, by the way, since they're short with lots of vowels.

SHEAGREN: Yeah (laughter).

SHORTZ: Here's your next one - a brand that's billed as milk's favorite cookie.

SHEAGREN: Oreo cookies.

SHORTZ: That's it. All right, how about the Greek letter after theta?

SHEAGREN: Oh, no not Greek letters.

SHORTZ: And it also means a smidgen or just a little bit.

SHEAGREN: An iota. Is that a Greek letter?

SHORTZ: That's it. And here's your last one - villain in "Othello."


SHORTZ: There you go.

WERTHEIMER: (Laughter) Very nice job. And for playing the puzzle today you will get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at So what's your public radio station?

SHEAGREN: We are members of KPBS here in San Diego.

WERTHEIMER: Which is a wonderful station. Sam Sheagren of Carlsbad, Calif., thank you very much for playing the puzzle.

SHEAGREN: Thank you very much. It was a real treat.

WERTHEIMER: So, Will, the challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it comes from listener Andrew Chaikin of San Francisco. Take the word baci, which is Italian for kisses, B-A-C-I. And you can rearrange the letters to I-C-A-B, which sounds like a sentence - I see a bee. Now think of a unit of measurement, rearrange its letters and read them out loud to form a sentence complimenting someone on their appearance. What's the word and what's the sentence? So again, a unit of measurement, rearrange the letters and read them out loud to form a sentence complimenting someone on their appearance. What's the word and what's the sentence?

WERTHEIMER: And when you have the answer, go to our website,, click on the submit your answer link. Just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for the entries is Thursday, June 16 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Please include a telephone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you are the winner, we'll give you a call and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz.

Now one last thing, Will. I don't want to end before I ask you about the U.S. Puzzle Championship that's coming up next Saturday. Are you involved in that?

SHORTZ: Yeah, I'm head of the U.S. team. And as you say, the U.S. Puzzle Championship is next Saturday. It starts at 1 p.m. Eastern time. It's conducted online. It's free. And it's used to select members for the U.S. puzzle team, which will compete at the World Puzzle Championship this fall. And you can get more information at

WERTHEIMER: Thank you very much.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Linda.

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