Sunday Puzzle: The Missing Link NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro and puzzle master Will Shortz play the puzzle this week with Matt Pallai of Denver, Colo.
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Sunday Puzzle: The Missing Link

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Sunday Puzzle: The Missing Link

Sunday Puzzle: The Missing Link

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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And it's time to play The Puzzle.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining me as always is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu. Welcome back from vacation.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is great to be back, I guess. I had a lovely vacation. Aloha to the people of Hawaii. But it is good to be back in D.C. So remind us of last week's puzzle.

SHORTZ: Yeah. It came from listener Mark Oshin (ph) of Portland, Ore. I said think of a familiar two-word phrase in eight letters with four letters in each word. The first word starts with M. And I said move the first letter of the second word to the end, and you get a regular eight-letter word, which, amazingly, other than the M, doesn't share any sounds with the original two-word phrase. What phrase is it? Well, it was a tough puzzle. The phrase is mail slot. You move the S to the end, and you get maillots, which are one-piece women's bathing suits. You ever wear a maillot?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I've worn a one-piece woman's bathing suit. But I did not know that that was what it was called.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: And because of that, we only had 230 (ph) responses (laughter). It was a tough puzzle. But this week's winner is Matt Pallai (ph) from Denver, Colo. Congratulations and welcome to the program.

MATT PALLAI: Thanks so much, Lulu. Good morning, Will.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: So I have to ask you about how you knew what the word was, maillot.

PALLAI: Well, I - it was a new word to me. I went to the National Puzzlers' League website and pulled up a list of eight-letter words that start with the letter M and just started scanning through it. And, you know, fortunately, it was close enough to the beginning of the list that it didn't take me all weekend...


GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Matt. Are you ready to play The Puzzle?

PALLAI: I hope so, Lulu. Thanks.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Matt. I'm going to give you two words. Think of a word that can follow the first one and precede the second one in each case to complete a familiar two-word phrase. And the last letter of my first word will start your answer. And the last letter of your answer will start the second word. For example, if I said landing and ratio, you would say gear because of the phrases landing gear and gear ratio. Landing ends in G, which starts gear. And gear ends in R, which starts ratio.


SHORTZ: Stunned silence. OK. Number one, bus, B-U-S, and payment.


SHORTZ: Yes. That's it. Bus stop and stop payment. Number two is ranch and drill.


SHORTZ: Ranch hand, hand drill. Good. Wedding, tag, T-A-G.

PALLAI: I guess - no. No, no, no. Wedding.

SHORTZ: It's four letters.

PALLAI: Lulu, is this ringing bells for you?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So it's something that you'd - something that you give to someone at a birthday.

PALLAI: Gift. Thank you (laughter).

SHORTZ: It is gift. Yeah. Wedding gift and gift tag. Good. Sewer, S-E-W-E-R, and trap, T-R-A-P.

PALLAI: That's rat.

SHORTZ: That's it. Magic, tack, T-A-C-K.

PALLAI: Carpet.

SHORTZ: Magic carpet, good. Carpet tack. Crossing, dog, D-O-G.

PALLAI: Guard.

SHORTZ: That's it. Lens, L-E-N-S, and dating.

PALLAI: Lens. Speed.


SHORTZ: There you go...

PALLAI: Speed.

SHORTZ: Lens speed and speed dating, nice.


PALLAI: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Nice. Your next one is figure and track, T-R-A-C-K.

PALLAI: Eight.

SHORTZ: That's it. Carrot, C-A-R-R-O-T, and priority.


SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Guilt, G-U-I-L-T, and planner.


SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Chess, C-H-E-S-S, and theory.

PALLAI: Uh-oh. Chess.

SHORTZ: And it's only - it's three letters.


SHORTZ: Chess set and set theory is right. Foot, F-O-O-T, and cone, C-O-N-E.

PALLAI: Traffic.

SHORTZ: That's it. And here's your last one. It actually has two answers, but you need to think of only one. Private and exam.

PALLAI: Well, I've got eye.

SHORTZ: Private eye, eye exam. Yeah. And there's a second one that's eight letters.

PALLAI: Private entrance.

SHORTZ: Private entrance and entrance exam. Both answers. Bravo.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Matt, seriously, you're really good. I hope you feel good about that. That was really great.

PALLAI: I do. I feel good.


PALLAI: I think that the nerves are going away now - you know? - finally.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: I'm glad because you did a great job. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at And, Matt, what member station do you listen to?

PALLAI: KCFR, Colorado Public Radio in Denver.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's fantastic. Matt Pallai from Denver, Colo., thank you for playing The Puzzle.

PALLAI: It's been my pleasure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. You are traveling again, and you're heading out this time to China. So that means we have a two-week challenge. What is it?

SHORTZ: Well, it's something unusual. This is part one of a two-week challenge. You'll need to solve both parts before you send in your answer. So hold your answer for now and write down these four words - Neanderthal, embarrass, saturation and contemptuousness. And they have a very interesting and unusual property in common, something hidden in them. What is it? So the words, again, are Neanderthal, embarrass, saturation and contemptuousness. They have a very interesting and unusual property in common, something hidden in them. What is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That sounds very exciting, a special two-week challenge with two parts. We'll give you the second part on the show next week, so make sure you tune in then. But for now, thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lulu.


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