All in the Familiar Puzzle master Will Shortz quizzes one of our listeners, and has a challenge for everyone at home. This week's winner is Ranjana Murthy from Redwood Shores, Ca.
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All in the Familiar

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All in the Familiar

All in the Familiar

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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: Hi, Liane.

HANSEN: What do you know?

Mr. SHORTZ: What do I know? Well, nothing much is new. What about you?

HANSEN: Not much, not much. I know we're taking off on Michael Feldman's(ph) show here, but I'll tell you what's new. We've got a new puzzle player waiting to play, but first you have to remind us of the challenge that you left everyone with last week.

Mr. SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Michael Halpern of West Newton, Massachusetts. I said name a well-known 20th century political figure, now deceased, two-syllable last name. The first syllable is a word that is a synonym of the last syllable spelled backward. Who is this person?

HANSEN: You know, the clue seems to be a lot more complicated than the answer. What was the answer?

Mr. SHORTZ: The answer is Nixon, as in Richard Nixon, nix and no.

HANSEN: We had over 2,000 entries from people who tried to solve the puzzle, and our randomly selected winner is Ranjana - I hope I'm pronouncing that right - Ranjana Murthy from Redwood Shores, California. Ranjana, how did I do with your name?

Ms. RANJANA MURTHY (Puzzle Winner): That was great, thank you.

HANSEN: My pleasure, really. Tell us what you do there in Redwood Shores, California.

Ms. MURTHY: I work for a big software firm here, in computer science.

HANSEN: So are you a puzzle person? You've been playing a long time?

Ms. MURTHY: Yes I have. I've been playing for at least about the least few years or so.

HANSEN: Have you been sending in entries all that time?

Ms. MURTHY: Whenever I can get it right, which is maybe about 50 percent of the time, I guess. There are a lot of weeks when I can't enter because I don't get it.

(Soundbite of laughter)

HANSEN: Yeah. I feel that way sometimes every week, believe me.

Ms. MURTHY: Right.

HANSEN: You're ready to play? You sound very enthusiastic.

Ms. MURTHY: Yes, I am.

HANSEN: All right. Well, Will, meet Ranjana, let's play.

Mr. SHORTZ: All right, Ranjana. Every answer today involves a familiar two-word phrase in which the first two letters of the first word are the same as the last two letters of the last word in reverse order. I'll give you the first word of the phrase, you give me the last word. For example, if I said tight, T-I-G-H-T, you would say fit, as in the phrase tight fit, and tight starts T-I, and fit ends I-T.

Ms. MURTHY: Okay.

Mr. SHORTZ: And now the starting answers now are three letters long. Number one in linseed.

Ms. MURTHY: Oil.

Mr. SHORTZ: Linseed oil is right. Number two, railroad.

Ms. MURTHY: Railroad. Track, no - railroad...

Mr. SHORTZ: Just three letters, remember, and it ends in A-R.

Ms. MURTHY: Railroad - car.

Mr. SHORTZ: Railroad car is right. Garbage.

Ms. MURTHY: Bag.

Mr. SHORTZ: Garbage bag. Now, your next answers are four letter long, and the first one is pirate.

Ms. MURTHY: Ship.

Mr. SHORTZ: Pirate ship, excellent. Drug.

Ms. MURTHY: Drug - store, druggist. Oh, it's a two-word phrase.

Mr. SHORTZ: Two-word phrase, and this is a villainous person.

Ms. MURTHY: Lord, drug lord.

Mr. SHORTZ: Drug lord is right. Rush, R-U-S-H.

Ms. MURTHY: Hour.

Mr. SHORTZ: Rush hour, right. Navy.

Ms. MURTHY: Navy...

Mr. SHORTZ: Something good in soup.

Ms. MURTHY: Beans, bean.

Mr. SHORTZ: Navy bean is right. Motel.

Ms. MURTHY: Motel room.

Mr. SHORTZ: Motel room. Lemon.

Ms. MURTHY: Lemon peel.

Mr. SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Now your next answers are five letters long. Dust.

Ms. MURTHY: Dust, as in, okay...

HANSEN: And it ends in U-D.

Mr. SHORTZ: Right.

Ms. MURTHY: Cloud, dust cloud.

Mr. SHORTZ: Dust cloud is right. Air, A-I-R.

Ms. MURTHY: Air...

Mr. SHORTZ: And this is a proper name. It's the name of an air carrier, actually.

Ms. MURTHY: Okay, air something, I-A, air. Air India.

Mr. SHORTZ: Air India, good job.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: Time, T-I-M-E.

Ms. MURTHY: Time limit.

Mr. SHORTZ: That's right. How about circular.

Ms. MURTHY: Circular, circular.

Mr. SHORTZ: And an example would be if A equals B, then B equals...

Ms. MURTHY: Logic.

Mr. SHORTZ: Circular logic. Traffic, traffic.

Ms. MURTHY: Traffic...

Mr. SHORTZ: Ends in R-T and it's someplace you don't want to go.

Ms. MURTHY: Traffic court.

Mr. SHORTZ: And your last answers are six letters long. Metric.

Ms. MURTHY: Metric - system.

Mr. SHORTZ: Metric system is right, and your last one is escape.

Ms. MURTHY: Escape - clause.

Mr. SHORTZ: Escape clause. Nice job.

HANSEN: Ranjana.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thank you.

HANSEN: Well done.

Ms. MURTHY: Oh, thank you. That was so much fun.

HANSEN: Oh it was, because you were getting all the answers, and I didn't...

Ms. MURTHY: Oh, no, I got a lot of help.

HANSEN: Oh please no. You were just very quick, a lot of fun. And for playing our puzzle today - it's more than just fun - you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin; the 11th Edition of a Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus; the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers; The Puzzle Master Presents from Random House, Volume 2; a set of Sudoku puzzle books presented by Will Shortz from St. Martin's Press; and one of Will Shortz' Puzzle Master Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. That'll keep you busy for, oh, about an hour, right?

Ms. MURTHY: Oh yes. That would be wonderful. Thank you so much.

HANSEN: Ranjana, tell us what member station you listen to.

Ms. MURTHY: KQED in San Francisco.

HANSEN: In San Francisco. Okay, Ranjana Murthy from Redwood Shores, California. Thanks a lot for playing the puzzle with us today. You were fabulous.

Ms. MURTHY: Thank you very much.

HANSEN: Okay. All right, Will. Now, let's see if we can get a challenge with a simple clue but a complicated answer.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. SHORTZ: Okay, name a famous American singer, one who's living, six letters in the first name, six letters in the last. Write out this name from left to right. Cross our six consecutive letters from inside the name, leaving the start and end intact. The result will be the six-letter last name of a U.S. president. Who is it? So again, a famous American singer, living, six-six. Write it out from left to right. Cross out six consecutive letters from inside the name. The result will be the six-letter last name of a U.S. president. Name the singer and the president.

HANSEN: When you have the answer, go to our Web site,, 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, 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time, and 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, thanks a lot.

Mr. SHORTZ: Thanks, Liane.

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