Sunday Puzzle: Challenge Shmallenge Weekend Edition puzzle master Will Shortz tries to stump NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro and WAMU listener Jeff Zarkin of Burke, Va.
NPR logo

Sunday Puzzle: Challenge Shmallenge

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Sunday Puzzle: Challenge Shmallenge

Sunday Puzzle: Challenge Shmallenge

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


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.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So can you remind us of last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah, it was actually a two-week challenge. The first week I asked, what do the words Neanderthal, embarrass, saturation and contemptuousness have in common? And the answer is each word conceals the name of a planet in left-to-right order. So Neanderthal has Earth. Embarrass has Mars. Saturation has Saturn. And contemptuousness has Neptune.

And then the second week I asked, what do scarecrow, screensaver, camerawoman and curvaceousness have in common? And each of those when written in lowercase letters consists entirely of narrow letters - that is have no ascenders or descenders. And then I asked, can you think of a seven-letter word that fits both properties? And the answer was avenues has only narrow letters, and it conceals Venus.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's a hard one, I've got to say. And we had about 300 responses. And this week's winner is Jeff Zarkin (ph) of Burke, Va. Congratulations.

JEFF ZARKIN: Well, thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was really a tough one. How did you come up with it?

ZARKIN: I saw very quickly in the first week's challenge the planets spelled out in it. And then when the second week's challenge came out, I started looking at my computer keyboard. And I was looking - were they left-hand letters, right-hand letters? Then it dawned on me that they had no descenders. I looked a bit closer and said, oh, they have no ascenders, either - and then just went back to the original list I had been playing with of words that had planets hidden in them, and so (unintelligible) was like, ding.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. All right. And, Jeff, I hear you have a question for Will.

ZARKIN: Yes. I'm curious how your family reacted when you told them you wanted to study enigmatology.

SHORTZ: Yeah. Well, my mom was a creative sort, so she thought it was cool. My dad was more of a straitlaced type. And he thought, OK, you know, play now, and then you'll get a serious job later.


ZARKIN: I love it.

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

ZARKIN: Let's go.

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

SHORTZ: All right, Jeff, every answer today is a made-up two-word phrase. Add the letter F in front of the first word to get the second word to answer the clue. For example, if I said less than usual stream of water, you would say low flow. So here's number one. The entire autumn.

ZARKIN: All fall.

SHORTZ: All fall is it. Number two, more unusual stuff that cattle eat.

ZARKIN: Odder fodder.

SHORTZ: More aged container of office papers.

ZARKIN: Older folder.

SHORTZ: That's it. Arranges hot dogs in order of quality.

ZARKIN: Ranks franks.

SHORTZ: That's it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You're on fire.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) Exposes oneself to the chances of being searched for weapons.

ZARKIN: Risks frisks.

SHORTZ: Yeah, risks frisks. You've got it. Doesn't have any publicity agents informally.

ZARKIN: Doesn't have any publicity agents. That...

SHORTZ: You know what an informal term for publicity agents is?

ZARKIN: It's a PR man. It's got to begin with an F, unfortunately.

SHORTZ: It's got to start with an F, though.

ZARKIN: I'm stuck.

SHORTZ: It's lacks flacks - F-L-A-C-K-S.

ZARKIN: Sorry about that.

SHORTZ: There you go. Here's your next one - one who whips someone who works with timber.

ZARKIN: Seller.

SHORTZ: And someone...

ZARKIN: Works with timber.

SHORTZ: Someone who goes out and cuts trees in the forest. What would - and brings them in - what would that person be?

ZARKIN: A forester, a seller.

SHORTZ: And this is the word that does not start with the F.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: What do you put in the fire?

SHORTZ: There you go.

ZARKIN: Oh, a logger flogger.

SHORTZ: A logger flogger is right. And here's your last one - parts of Helsinki's country that are away from the coast.

ZARKIN: Inland Finland.

SHORTZ: Good job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good job. 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 Jeff, what member station do you listen to?

ZARKIN: WAMU here in Washington, D.C.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did a great job. Jeff Zarkin of Burke, Va., thank you for playing The Puzzle.

ZARKIN: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Will, what's next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah, it comes from Joseph Young of St. Cloud, Minn. who conducts the blog Puzzleria. Think of a brand name you might see on your breakfast table. Change one letter to a Y and rearrange the result to get a familiar two-word phrase that names something else you might see on your breakfast table. What phrase is this?

So, again, brand name - you might see it on your breakfast table. Change one letter to a Y. Rearrange the result, and you'll get a familiar two-word phrase that name something else you might see on your breakfast table. What phrase is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is this Thursday, August 23, 2018 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call, and you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, our very own Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.


Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.