Sunday Puzzle: When It Comes To The Puzzle, Don't Mail It In — Just Exchange A Letter Given two words in this week's puzzle, move one letter from one of hem and insert it in the other — without changing the order of any of the letters — to get two synonyms.

When It Comes To The Puzzle, Don't Mail It In — Just Exchange A Letter

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MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

The 25th Annual World Puzzle Championship begins today in Slovakia. Now, don't fret if you forgot to buy your ticket because we are about to bring you the latest. In case you haven't guessed, it's time for The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

KELLY: I'm joined now by the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Mary Louise.

KELLY: So I buried the lead there, which is that you are headed to the World Puzzle Championship. Tell us about the event.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it's actually two events, the World Sudoku Championship followed by the World Puzzle Championship, which will be taking place all this week. We have teams from the United States, and there are teams from all over the rest of the world.

KELLY: And you're actually competing?

SHORTZ: No, I'm the chairman of the World Puzzle Federation, which oversees the event.

KELLY: Sounds like you're in your element. OK...

SHORTZ: That's right.

KELLY: ...So remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Darrell Myers of Somerville, Massachusetts. I said name a famous actress of the past, 10 letters altogether. I said change one letter in the first name and one letter in the last, and the result is a two-word phrase naming a food item often found in a kitchen cabinet or a refrigerator. What is it? And the actress is Grace Kelly. And if you make those changes, you get grape jelly.

KELLY: Nice one. And apparently, many people out there got it. We got almost 900 correct answers this week. And our randomly selected winner is Steve Meyer of Nashville, Tenn. Congratulations, Steve.

STEVE MEYER: Thank you very much.

KELLY: How did you get the answer?

MEYER: Well, I have a friend who I got involved in The Puzzle about 10 years ago. And I actually was think - just reversing it, trying to think of what I keep in the cabinet and in the refrigerator and came up with grape jelly, and he goes, Grace Kelly.

KELLY: (Laughter) Well, congratulations again. I gather this is not your first time playing The Puzzle.

MEYER: I've been playing since the early 1990s. So this is the only thing that's been on my bucket list, so I've accomplished my bucket list.

KELLY: Oh, wow, good. I gather you maybe accomplished another item on your list, which is - we should share you are not in Nashville this weekend. You're out of town to attend a big event.

MEYER: I'm at my 50th high school reunion in Little Rock, Ark.

KELLY: In Little Rock, Ark. How's everybody look?

MEYER: Well, they've changed a little bit.

KELLY: (Laughter) So are you ready to play The Puzzle this week?

MEYER: I am.

KELLY: OK. Will, bring it on.

SHORTZ: All right, Steve and Mary Louise. I'm going to give you two words. Move one letter from one of them and insert it in the other without changing the order of any of the letters to get two synonyms. For example, if I said kid, K-I-D, and snort, S-N-O-R-T, you would say kind and sort because kind and sort mean the same thing and you're moving the N from the second word to the first.

MEYER: OK.

SHORTZ: OK. Number one is fiend, F-I-E-N-D, and rally, R-A-L-L-Y.

MEYER: Friend and ally.

SHORTZ: There you go. Annual, A-N-N-U-A-L, and repel, R-E-P-E-L.

MEYER: Annul and - where does it go in there? - repel.

KELLY: Repeal?

MEYER: Repeal.

SHORTZ: That's it. That's it. Annul and repeal. Nice one. Strip, S-T-R-I-P, and tumble, T-U-M-B-L-E.

MEYER: Trip.

SHORTZ: Yes.

MEYER: Trip and - trip and stumble.

SHORTZ: There you go, trip and stumble. Dray, D-R-A-Y, and rid, R-I-D.

MEYER: I'm stumped on this one, I think.

SHORTZ: Take a letter out of the first word.

MEYER: Well, take A out, you get arid.

SHORTZ: Arid. Arid, yeah. Dry and arid are the same. Try this one. Carful, C-A-R-F-U-L, and weary, W-E-A-R-Y.

MEYER: Careful and wary.

SHORTZ: You got it. And here's your last one. Though, T-H-O-U-G-H, and drone, D-R-O-N-E.

KELLY: Oh, I see it. I see it. Letter out of the second word, right?

SHORTZ: Yes, good.

MEYER: Done and through.

KELLY: Bravo. That was hard.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) That was a tough one.

KELLY: That was fun. Great job, Steve. Well, as you know, for playing our puzzle today you're going to get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and some puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. Steve, before we let you go, tell us what your public radio station is.

MEYER: WPLN in Nashville.

KELLY: WPLN in Nashville. Steve Meyer, thank you very much for playing The Puzzle.

MEYER: Thank you very much.

KELLY: Will, what is our challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it's actually a two-week challenge. Take the digits five, four, three, two and one in that order. Using those digits and the four arithmetic symbols - plus, minus, times and divided by - you can get one with the sequence five minus four plus three minus two minus one. You can get two with the sequence five minus four plus three minus two - put that in parentheses, all that times one.

And the question is how many numbers from 1 to 40 can you get using just the digits five, four, three, two and one in that order along with the four arithmetic symbols? You can group digits with parentheses, as in my example. There are no tricks to this. It's a straightforward puzzle. How many numbers from 1 to 40 can you get? And specifically, what number or numbers can you not get? I'll reveal my solution in two weeks.

KELLY: OK. Well, if, like me, you need help visualizing that (laughter), you can go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the submit your answer link. Just a reminder - one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries, as Will told you, is two weeks. So that's Thursday, October 27 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Please give us your phone number where we can reach you at around that time. And if you are the winner, we will give you a call and you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and our WEEKEND EDITION puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Will, enjoy Slovakia. Thanks so much.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Mary Louise.

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