Mixing Up Six-Letter Words Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's contestant is Sonia Kerns of Rockwell City, Iowa.

Mixing Up Six-Letter Words

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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.

Mr. WILL SHORTZ (Puzzle Master): Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: How are you?

Mr. SHORTZ: I'm doing great, how about you?

HANSEN: Fair to normal, thanks. I had so much fun last week doing the Tom Swifties, the on-air puzzle that we had. I received an e-mail from one of our listeners, Carl Matthewson(ph). He sent one in. I thought you might like this one, if you hadn't heard it before. I'll never pet another lion, said Tom offhandedly.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: That's cute.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Isn't that good? I like that too. They're going to keep coming in. You know that. Everybody loves them. But that was then, this is now. Repeat the challenge that you gave everyone to work on this past week.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. I said name a famous person whose first and last names total 11 letters, and this person's first and last names each contain the consecutive letters I-L-L in that order. And I said this is a person everybody knows. Who is it?

HANSEN: Who is it?

Mr. SHORTZ: It is Bill O'Reilly, the TV commentator.

HANSEN: Yes. I'm not sure he would be prepared to read his own clue on the air with us this week.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yeah.

HANSEN: Bill O'Reilly. Well, we had over 600 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our randomly selected winner is Sonya Kerns(ph) from Rockwell City, Iowa. I understand I can call you Toni(ph). Hi, Toni.

Ms. SONYA KERNS (Caller): Hi.

HANSEN: Tell us what you do there in Iowa.

Ms. KERNS: I'm a retired farmer and sort of a professional volunteer.

HANSEN: Oh, good for you. What did you farm?

Ms. KERNS: Row crops. Corn and soybeans.

HANSEN: Wow. How long have you been playing the puzzle?

Ms. KERNS: Well, I've been listening for probably 10 years, and I think I've been playing for about six.

HANSEN: Ah, finally go the bug, huh?

Ms. KERNS: I finally got e-mail.

HANSEN: There you go. Well, we received your entry. That means you are our player today. Are you ready?

Ms. KERNS: I hope so.

HANSEN: Yeah, me too. All right. Well, Will, please meet Toni. Let's play.

Mr. SHORTZ: All right, Toni. I'm going to give you some six-letter words. Rearrange the middle four letters, keeping the first and last letters in place, to spell a new six-letter word. For example, if I said barely, B-A-R-E-L-Y, you might say barley or bleary. Either one would work. Okay, number one is aboard, A-B-O-A-R-D.

Ms. KERNS: Abroad?

Mr. SHORTZ: Abroad, yes. Number two is binary, B-I-N-A-R-Y. The answer is something I think you are.

Ms. KERNS: Brainy?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: Brainy is right.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: Causal, C-A-U-S-A-L,

Ms. KERNS: Casual.

Mr. SHORTZ: Casual, yes. Chicle, C-H-I-C-L-E.

Ms. KERNS: Cliché?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. Damned, D-A-M-N-E-D

Ms. KERNS: Demand?

Mr. SHORTZ: Excellent. Fakery, F-A-K-E-R-Y.

Ms. KERNS: Freaky.

Mr. SHORTZ: Excellent. Incest, I-N-C-E-S-T. All you have to do is switch two letters here.

Ms. KERNS: I-S, let's see.


Mr. SHORTZ: Liane?

HANSEN: Insect?

Mr. SHORTZ: Insect. Good job. Try this one. Maiden, M-A-I-D-E-N. Something you might see on a super-highway. It's something that would run between the two parts of the interstate.

Ms. KERNS: Oh, median.

Mr. SHORTZ: Median is right. Mantel, M-A-N-T-E-L. The answer is the kind of challenge this is.

Ms. KERNS: Mental.

Mr. SHORTZ: Mental is right. Parley, P-A-R-L-E-Y.

Ms. KERNS: Pearly?

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. Pro-art, P-R-O-A-R-T.

Ms. KERNS: Parrot.

Mr. SHORTZ: Parrot, yes. The bird, good. Railed, R-A-I-L-E-D. Put the E after the R.

Ms. KERNS: Relaid.

Mr. SHORTZ: Relaid is right. Repair, R-E-P-A-I-R.

Ms. KERNS: Rapier?

Mr. SHORTZ: Rapier, the sword, yes. Scared, S-C-A-R-E-D.

Ms. KERNS: Sacred.

Mr. SHORTZ: Sacred. That was fast. Sliver, S-L-I-V-E-R.

Ms. KERNS: Silver.

Mr. SHORTZ: Silver. That was fast. And your last one is thirst, T-H-I-R-S-T. It's a word that's usually hyphenated. Even though there's only one vowel in the answer, it is usually a hyphenated word.

Ms. KERNS: T-R-I, let's see.

Mr. SHORTZ: And here's your big hint: put the hyphen after the T.

Ms. KERNS: Oh, okay. T-shirt.

Mr. SHORTZ: T-shirt is correct.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: I had to end on a twist, you know?

HANSEN: It was. I don't know about you, Toni, but I needed pencil and paper.

Ms. KERNS: I did too.

HANSEN: Yeah, but you were coming up with them so quickly, some of them, without - in a nanosecond. You were so great. For playing out puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin; the Eleventh Edition of Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus; the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers; The Puzzle Master Presents from Random House, Volume II; a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press; and one of Will Shortz's Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. Toni, what member-station do you listen to?

Ms. KERNS: I'm a member of KTPR in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

HANSEN: Wonderful word, member. Sonya Kerns, they call her Toni, from Rockwell City, Iowa. Thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us today.

Ms. KERNS: Well, thank you.

HANSEN: Will, what do you have for everyone listening?

Mr. SHORTZ: Well, this week's challenge comes from listener Louis Sergeant of Portland, Oregon. Think of a nine-letter word for something that is unplanned. Change the middle letter from I to U, and you'll get a new word for something that is always planned. What is it? So again, a nine-letter word for something that's unplanned. Change the middle letter from I to U, and you'll get a word for something that is always planned. What is it?

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org, and click on the Submit Your Answer link on the Sunday puzzle page. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday, 3 p.m. Eastern time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you 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 puzzle master, Will Shortz.

Will, I'll be away for two weeks, so you'll get to play with Andrea Seabrook for the next two weeks. So I'll see you when I get back, and thanks a lot for today.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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