Sunday Puzzle: 5-To-7 NPR's Leila Fadel and Weekend Edition puzzlemaster Will Shortz play a word game with KERA listener Adam Boyette of Fort Worth, Texas.
NPR logo

Sunday Puzzle: 5-To-7

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Sunday Puzzle: 5-To-7

Sunday Puzzle: 5-To-7

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


It's time to play The Puzzle.


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

Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey there, Leila. Welcome back.

FADEL: Thank you. So, Will, remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Tyler Lipscomb of Hamden, Conn. I said, if five equals four, six equals nine and seven equals five, what does 12 equal? And the answer is 55. Consecutive letters in each number represent a number in Roman numerals. So five has IV, which is four. Six has IX, which is nine. Seven has V, which is five. And finally 12 has LV together, which makes 55.

FADEL: So we received over 750 responses. And the winner this week is Adam Boyette of Fort Worth, Texas.

Congratulations and welcome to the program.

ADAM BOYETTE: Well, thank you.

FADEL: So, Adam, how did you figure out this week's challenge?

BOYETTE: Well, I started by trying to think of months of the year or zodiac signs, something related to the number 12. But eventually when I spelled the words out, the Roman numerals came to me.

FADEL: So I understand you play with your family every Sunday morning.

BOYETTE: We do. So we wake the kids up at 7:40 and we bring them into the living room. And the radio's on. And we can all listen to The Puzzle. And then we can spend the rest of the day trying to figure it out.

FADEL: That's fun. Do your kids ever solve it?

BOYETTE: They do sometimes. Yeah, sometimes they're the first ones to come up with it. And then, you know, sometimes it takes us all week and we still don't quite get it.

FADEL: And you will do the crosswords together, too.

BOYETTE: We do. In The New York Times, the front page section has a small 5-by-5 crossword puzzle. So me and the kids work that on the drive to school every morning.

FADEL: So a smart family.

BOYETTE: Well, I like to think so.

FADEL: (Laughter) All right, Adam, are you ready to play The Puzzle?

BOYETTE: I'm ready.

FADEL: Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Adam, I'm going to give you some five-letter words. For each one, add two letters at the end to complete a common, uncapitalized seven-letter word that is unrelated in meaning to the first one. For example, if I said uncle, you could say unclean, adding A-N at the end or you could say unclear, adding A-R at the end. Either way would work. Here's No. 1 - extra - E-X-T-R-A.

BOYETTE: Extract.

SHORTZ: Extract is it. No. 2 is surge - S-U-R-G-E.

BOYETTE: Surgery.

SHORTZ: Oh, yeah. That would work. Mine was surgeon. Either one works. Good.

FADEL: Nice.

SHORTZ: Nice going. Marsh - M-A-R-S-H.

BOYETTE: Marshall.

SHORTZ: Good. Place - P-L-A-C-E.

BOYETTE: Oh, place. If it was three letters, I could say it's placenta, but that's not it.

SHORTZ: Right. It ends in a vowel.

BOYETTE: Placebo.

SHORTZ: Placebo is it. Shell - S-H-E-L-L.

BOYETTE: S-H-E-L-L - shellac.

SHORTZ: That's it. Blank - B-L-A-N-K.

BOYETTE: B-L-A-N-K - I'm drawing a blank on this one.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) Think of where you go to sleep.

BOYETTE: Oh, blanket.

SHORTZ: A blanket is it. Infer - I-N-F-E-R.

BOYETTE: Infer - I don't know. I think you're stumping me on this one.

SHORTZ: How about something really hot?

BOYETTE: Inferno.

SHORTZ: Inferno. Inter - I-N-T-E-R.

BOYETTE: Interim.

SHORTZ: Interim. Nice. Comma - C-O-M-M-A.

BOYETTE: C-O-M-M-A - command.

SHORTZ: That's it. Whist - W-H-I-S-T.

BOYETTE: Whistle.

SHORTZ: Good. Fines - F-I-N-E-S.

BOYETTE: Finesse.

SHORTZ: Nice. Maxim - M-A-X-I-M.

BOYETTE: Maximum.

SHORTZ: Good. Viola - V-I-O-L-A.

BOYETTE: Violate.

SHORTZ: Good. Disco - D-I-S-C-O.

BOYETTE: Discord.

SHORTZ: Nice. Plate - P-L-A-T-E.

BOYETTE: P-L-A-T-E - I'm not sure.

SHORTZ: Yeah, here's your hint - add two vowels.

BOYETTE: Plateau.

SHORTZ: Plateau. And your last one is bread - B-R-E-A-D.

BOYETTE: Breadth.

SHORTZ: Breadth. Man, nice job.

BOYETTE: Well, you got me on a few of them.

FADEL: Great 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

Adam, which member station do you listen to?

BOYETTE: I'm a member of KERA.

FADEL: That's Adam Boyette of Fort Worth, Texas.

Thanks for playing The Puzzle.

BOYETTE: Thank you.

FADEL: All right, Will, we'll have a special contestant next week, so you'll have two weeks for this challenge. Tell us what it is, Will.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it's a two-week challenge from Lee Zion of Lafayette, Minn. And it may sound impossible, but it's not. You wake up trapped in a round room with six doors. A voice over a loudspeaker tells you that five of the doors are booby trapped and will bring instant death if you try to open them. Only one door provides an opening that will get you out safely. The doors are evenly spaced around the room. They look exactly alike. Your only clue is that on the wall between each pair of doors is a large letter of the alphabet. And going clockwise, these letters are H, I, J, K, L and M - H to M. Which is the correct door that will get you out and why?

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 in two weeks, Wednesday, September 4 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.


Copyright © 2019 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.