MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
It's time to play The Puzzle.
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BLOCK: Joining us is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION'S puzzlemaster.
Hey there, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey, Melissa. Welcome back.
BLOCK: Thank you. It's good to be back. And why don't you remind us of what last week's challenge was?
SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Joe Becker (ph) of Palo Alto, Calif. I said, name a world capital in twelve letters. If you have the right one, you can rearrange its letters to name two animals - one in three letters and the other in nine. What capital is it? And what are the animals?
BLOCK: OK, I got nowhere with this one.
SHORTZ: That's a tough one. The answer is Port-au-Prince, capital of Haiti. And you can rearrange those letters to get rat and porcupine.
BLOCK: There you go. Well, we received 1,193 correct responses. And among those responses, the winner this week, Richard McCurdy (ph) of Sherman Oaks, Calif.
Richard, congratulations. Welcome.
RICHARD MCCURDY: Thank you very much.
BLOCK: And I've been told that it's insomnia that leads you to solve these puzzles. Is that what happened this week?
MCCURDY: Well, some of my best work I do when I'm just lying in bed at night. It's kind of funny. But yeah, for some reason, it's more relaxing. And answers seem to come to me then.
BLOCK: And what do you do when you're not lying in bed trying to solve a puzzle?
MCCURDY: Well, I'm a sound editor for films and TV, and I also do volunteer work for a nonprofit organization that reads texts for students with dyslexia, learning disabilities and the blind. I've been doing it for years, and it's very rewarding.
BLOCK: Oh, I bet. Well, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
MCCURDY: Ready as I'll ever be.
BLOCK: OK. Take it away, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Richard. Well, I'm going to give you clues for two words. The first word has an R somewhere in it. Change the R to two S's, and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, if I said female horses and Roman Catholic services, you would say mares and masses. Here we go. Number one, singer who starred in "Moonstruck" and a game on a 64-square board.
MCCURDY: Cher and chess.
SHORTZ: That's it. Number two, a tiny opening in the skin and a group helping a sheriff.
MCCURDY: That's a - let's see - a posse.
SHORTZ: And change those two S's to an R.
MCCURDY: Oh, a pore.
SHORTZ: A pore is it. Good. Kitchen surface that stools might be next to, noblewoman.
BLOCK: Start with the kitchen surface, I think.
SHORTZ: That's the easy part. You're sitting in the kitchen on a stool. What are you facing?
MCCURDY: A counter, a sink.
SHORTZ: Yes, there you go. Change that R to two S's.
MCCURDY: Oh, a counter and a countess.
SHORTZ: Countess is it. Cry on a golf course, choreographer Bob.
MCCURDY: Oh, that's fore and Fosse.
SHORTZ: Nice. To state as fact, having fallen in social status. And the second word is from the French. To state as fact - seven letters.
MCCURDY: To state as fact - all I can think of is (speaking French).
BLOCK: I was thinking the same thing.
BLOCK: That's not seven letters.
MCCURDY: Seven letters - and I know French, too. That's what's aggravating.
SHORTZ: Well, there you go - having fallen in social status. And I'll tell you - here's a little hint. It has two accent marks over E's.
MCCURDY: I'm afraid I'm taking gas on that one.
BLOCK: Oh, oh.
SHORTZ: Oh, yeah. Melissa, go for it.
BLOCK: Getting there.
MCCURDY: Wait. Whoa, whoa, whoa - declasse.
SHORTZ: Yes. Change those two S's to an R.
MCCURDY: Declaim - no, no - declare.
SHORTZ: Declare is it. Good. German painter Albrecht and coercion.
MCCURDY: Coercion - oh. Albrecht is - what was his name?
BLOCK: I'm going to be no help with this one.
SHORTZ: If you do something under coercion, you do it under...
MCCURDY: Oh, yeah. You did it under duress - Durer and duress.
SHORTZ: Nice. All right, try this one. The U.S. flag is called old blank and a photo with a shiny surface.
MCCURDY: Well, Old Glory...
MCCURDY: ...And glossy.
SHORTZ: Glossy is it. A cattle thief and having no corrosion, as metal.
MCCURDY: A cattle thief.
SHORTZ: In eight letters, what is that?
MCCURDY: That would be a rustler.
SHORTZ: Change that last R.
MCCURDY: And - oh, rustless (ph).
SHORTZ: Rustless - that has no corrosion. That's right. And here's your last one. North or south and a biology lab assignment.
MCCURDY: Oh, my goodness. North or south - direction and dissection.
BLOCK: Nicely done, Richard.
MCCURDY: Boy, oh, boy, that was fun.
BLOCK: And you didn't even have to be lying in bed with insomnia to do it, right?
MCCURDY: Yes. Oh, my God. That was fun, but I'm glad it's over.
BLOCK: (Laughter) Well, 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 npr.org/puzzle. And Richard, tell us which member station you listen to.
BLOCK: In Santa Monica, Calif.
Richard McCurdy of Sherman Oaks, Calif., thanks so much for playing The Puzzle.
MCCURDY: Thank you for having me.
BLOCK: And Will, what do you have for next week?
SHORTZ: Yeah, it's a tough one. It comes from listener Tyler Lipscomb (ph) of Augusta, Ga. Think of an adjective in five letters and two syllables. The first syllable phonetically sounds like a synonym of the full five-letter word. And strangely, these two words have no letters in common. What words are these? So again, a common adjective in five letters, two syllables. The first syllable phonetically sounds like a synonym of the full five-letter word. And the two words have no letters in common. What words are they?
BLOCK: OK. When you have the answer go to our website npr.org/puzzle and click on the submit your answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, September 26, at 3 p.m. Eastern. Please include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we will 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.
Will, thanks so much. Have a great week.
SHORTZ: Thank you Melissa.
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