Shuffling Pairs of Fives Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's winner is Stacy Merritt of Gainesville, Fla. She listens to Weekend Edition on member station WJCT in Jacksonville.
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Shuffling Pairs of Fives

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Shuffling Pairs of Fives

Shuffling Pairs of Fives

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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.

SHORTZ: And I wanted to ask you--you know, first of all, I really enjoyed being on the air with you and Neal on "Talk of the Nation" a couple weeks ago and what did you think of your week there?

HANSEN: I had the best time. I mean, it was interesting. I was very nervous before I went on the air. I didn't know what it was going to be like. But the moment I sat in front of that microphone, it was like we were a double act.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

HANSEN: You know, we were thinking each other's thoughts and communicating--I guess that's something that 20-some-odd years of marriage will do. We just never practiced it in front of a microphone before. But it was great fun, great crew and a nice challenge for me, a much different format.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

HANSEN: But you know then as a result I wasn't here last Sunday and actually missed the puzzle. So I didn't hear the clue last week. For our purposes now, repeat the challenge that you gave everyone to do.

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Steve Baggish. I said name a six-letter animal, change the second letter to the next letter of the alphabet, read the result backward and you'll name a major US city. What is it?

HANSEN: What is it?

SHORTZ: Well, the animal is the ocelot, O-C-E-L-O-T. Change the C to a D and reverse, you get Toledo.

HANSEN: Oh, elegant. We had over 2,400 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our winner, who was randomly selected from the correct answers, is Stacy Merritt from Gainesville, Florida.

Hi, Stacy.

Ms. STACY MERRITT (Puzzle Winner): Hi, there.

HANSEN: What do you do there in Gainesville?

Ms. MERRITT: Actually, I work at the University of South Florida in Tampa doing research in Florida nursing homes on residents with serious mental illness.

HANSEN: My, my, a demanding job. Do you play puzzle a lot to kind of relax?

Ms. MERRITT: I don't do puzzles on my own time. I would say the only puzzle I do is with you all on Sundays. My husband and I play it together and try to beat each other to see who gets the answer first every Sunday.

HANSEN: You sound ready to play then.

Ms. MERRITT: I hope so.

HANSEN: All right. Will, meet Stacy. Let's play.

SHORTZ: Hi, Stacy.

I'm going to give you clues for two five-letter words, switch the first and last letters of the first word to get the second, or vice versa. For example, if I said, `Make a grand speech and the muse of poetry,' you would say `orate' and `Erato.' All right?

Number one, traveled around and the capital of Delaware.

Ms. MERRITT: Dover.

SHORTZ: Dover and?

Ms. MERRITT: Roved.

SHORTZ: Roved, excellent. Number two is men and the capital of Oregon.

HANSEN: Do you know the capital of Oregon?

Ms. MERRITT: Of course, I know the capital of Oregon, but I can't think of it. Oh, my gosh.

HANSEN: I'll give you a hint. It's Salem. Isn't it?


HANSEN: All right.


HANSEN: I don't know. I don't trust myself...

Ms. MERRITT: Salem and males. OK.


SHORTZ: Salem and males, excellent. Cinnamon or pepper, and your second clue is grand stories.

Ms. MERRITT: Cinnamon or pepper, so a spice.


Ms. MERRITT: Oh, epics.

SHORTZ: Epics, there you go. Try this one: old Mongolian rulers and part of the leg.

Ms. MERRITT: The shank...

SHORTZ: Yes, the shank...

Ms. MERRITT: ...and Khans.

SHORTZ: ...and Khans. Excellent. 1960s tennis champion--and his first name was Rod; I'll give you a hint--and the second clue is become entangled.

Ms. MERRITT: OK. So Rod Laver (pronounced leh-vur).

SHORTZ: Laver (pronounced lay-vur) is it.

Ms. MERRITT: Laver. To unravel.

SHORTZ: Ravel is it, ravel.

HANSEN: Ravel, yeah.



SHORTZ: All right, try this one: Star in Orion, and your second clue is a hybrid feline.

Ms. MERRITT: Hybrid feline. I'm stumped, Liane.

HANSEN: I can only find tiger as a five-letter word.

SHORTZ: OK. That's part of the hybrid. And what's the other large feline?

Ms. MERRITT: Lion?

SHORTZ: Yes. And if you put those--if they were to...

Ms. MERRITT: Are you talking about a liger?

SHORTZ: A liger, yes.

HANSEN: And so the first clue was?

SHORTZ: Star in Orion.

HANSEN: Oh, so it's got to be Rigel (pronounced ree-gahl), because the...

SHORTZ: Rigel (pronounced rye-gel), yes.

HANSEN: Rigel.

Ms. MERRITT: Rigel.

HANSEN: Whew, these aren't as easy as we thought they were going to be.

SHORTZ: OK. Try this one. One of the planets, and a popular 19th century writer.


HANSEN: There's Earth. There's...

SHORTZ: I--that's it.

HANSEN: It's Earth?

SHORTZ: Uh-huh.

Ms. MERRITT: And a 19th century writer.

SHORTZ: First name is Brett.

HANSEN: It has to be Harte.

SHORTZ: That's it. Brett Harte is right. Try this one. Something a batter doesn't want to be in, and your second clue is fruit used in puddings.

HANSEN: A fruit used in puddings.

SHORTZ: Well, try that first one. What is--when a batter is having trouble, he would be in a...

HANSEN: Oh, a slump.

SHORTZ: He'd be in a slump, is right.


SHORTZ: And switch the first and last letters, you get?

Ms. MERRITT: Plums.

SHORTZ: Plums is right. And here's your last one. Violinists' powder, and your second clue is formal refusal.

Ms. MERRITT: Rosin (pronounced rose-in).

SHORTZ: Rosin (pronounced rah-zin) is right.

Ms. MERRITT: Rosin, OK. And say the second part of the clue, please.

SHORTZ: A formal refusal.

Ms. MERRITT: No, sir.

SHORTZ: No, sir is right.

HANSEN: No, sir.

Ms. MERRITT: Playing on the air is completely different than playing at home.

HANSEN: That's what they tell me.

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 Bros., "The Puzzle Master Presents" from Random House, volume two, and a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press.

Ms. MERRITT: That's wonderful.

HANSEN: Ah, yes. You can really enjoy that. You and your husband can do puzzles to your hearts' content.

Ms. MERRITT: Absolutely.

HANSEN: Tell us the member station you listen to.

Ms. MERRITT: I listen primarily to WJCT, and I also listen to WRUF, which is in my hometown, Gainesville.

HANSEN: OK. Well, Stacy Merritt from Gainesville, Florida, thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us this week.

Ms. MERRITT: Thank you for your patience.


Now, Will, a challenge for everyone to work on next week.

SHORTZ: Well, this week's challenge is an extension of my on-air puzzle. Name an animal in five letters, switch the first and last letters and you'll name a well-known company. As a hint, I'll tell you the company is over 100 years old and has hundreds of stores around the US and Canada. So again, an animal in five letters, switch the first and last letters and you'll name a well-known company. What company is it?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, e-mail us at 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

Hey, Will, thanks a lot.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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