Sunday Puzzle: Stuck In The Middle NPR's Leila Fadel and puzzle master Will Shortz play this week's puzzle with Deborah Kritzer of Coral Springs, Fla.

Sunday Puzzle: Stuck In The Middle

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And it's time to play the first Puzzle of the year.


FADEL: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor at The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Leila.

FADEL: So as we've noted, your day job is as puzzle editor of The New York Times. And before we get started today, we need to acknowledge a controversy spurred by The New York Times Crossword this past week. One of the answers was a word that is most commonly used as a racial slur. We're not going to repeat it here. The Times has issued an apology saying, quote, "Tuesday's crossword puzzle included an entry that was offensive and hurtful. It is simply not acceptable in The New York Times crossword. And we apologize for including it."

SHORTZ: That's right. It was a mistake to include that answer. It is, indeed, offensive. And I personally apologize.

FADEL: Well, I expect our listeners will appreciate the apology, Will. And now can you please remind us of last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah. It was straightforward. I said what world capital becomes the informal name for a farm animal if you change its third letter? And the answer is Moscow. Change the S to an O, and you get moo cow.

FADEL: We received over 1,500 responses. And our winner this week is Deborah Kritzer of Coral Springs, Fla. Congratulations. And welcome to the program.

DEBORAH KRITZER: Oh, thank you. Hi, Will.

SHORTZ: Hey there.

FADEL: So how did you solve it?

KRITZER: So Tuesday night, I said, OK. I'm going to try just, you know, the - this little sleep thing where you go to sleep. You tell the problem. And you say, I need the answer. And after I did that, within seconds, it came to me.



FADEL: I'm going to try that for all my problems.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

FADEL: OK. Well, are you ready to play The Puzzle?


FADEL: All right. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Deborah. I'm going to give you some six-letter words. Insert two letters in the exact center of each one to complete a common, uncapitalized eight-letter word. For example, if I said accent, A-C-C-E-N-T, you would say accident, which puts I-D right in the middle. So here's number one. Number one is barque, spelled B-A-R-Q-U-E.

KRITZER: OK. So would that be barbecue?

SHORTZ: Barbecue is right. Good. Callus, C-A-L-L-U-S.

KRITZER: OK. Callus. OK. This one's not really - OK.

FADEL: A class you take in high school.

SHORTZ: There you go. That was going to be my clue.

KRITZER: Oh, calculus.

SHORTZ: Calculus is right. Corral, C-O-R-R-A-L.

KRITZER: Corporal?

SHORTZ: Corporal, yes. Evince, E-V-I-N-C-E.

KRITZER: Evidence?

SHORTZ: That's right. Homage, H-O-M-A-G-E.

KRITZER: OK. Homage.

SHORTZ: It's actually a compound word.


FADEL: When you're online, you go to NPR's...

KRITZER: Homepage.

SHORTZ: Homepage is it. Good clue. Innate, I-N-N-A-T-E.

KRITZER: Innovate?

SHORTZ: Nice. Intact, I-N-T-A-C-T.

KRITZER: Interact?

SHORTZ: Nice. Oblate, O-B-L-A-T-E.

KRITZER: Obliterate?

SHORTZ: Not quite. That has too many letters.

KRITZER: OK. Too many letters. OK. OK. Obligate?

SHORTZ: Obligate is it. Panama, P-A-N-A-M-A.

KRITZER: Panorama?

SHORTZ: Good. Rosary, R-O-S-A-R-Y.

KRITZER: Rotisserie? No.

SHORTZ: Not quite. Something you might have in your kitchen.

KRITZER: Oh. Rosemary.

SHORTZ: Rosemary is it. Stover, S-T-O-V-E-R. And if you're on a trip...


SHORTZ: ...This might be something along the way.

KRITZER: A stop over?

SHORTZ: A stop over is it. And your last one is vanish, V-A-N-I-S-H.

KRITZER: OK. How about vanquish?

SHORTZ: How about vanquish. Good job.

FADEL: Good job.

KRITZER: Glad that's over (laughter).

FADEL: Yeah. You did well.

KRITZER: Thank you. You're being - you're so kind.

FADEL: 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 Deborah, which member station do you listen to?

KRITZER: WLRN. And we are a member in West Palm Beach.

FADEL: Great. Well, thank you so much, Deborah.

KRITZER: OK. And thank you so much. I enjoyed it.

FADEL: All right, Will, tell us next week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from Joel Fagliano, who's the digital puzzles editor of The New York Times. Name a major U.S. city in ten letters. If you have the right one, you can rearrange its letters to get two five-letter words that are synonyms. What are they? So again, a major U.S. city in ten letters. Rearrange its letters to get two five-letter words that are synonyms. What words are these?

FADEL: When you have the answer, go to our website and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 10 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. 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, Will Shortz. Thank you so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Leila.


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