Sunday Puzzle: The 3 B's Listener Alec Sloane of Oakland, Calif., plays the puzzle with puzzlemaster Will Shortz and NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
NPR logo

Sunday Puzzle: The 3 B's

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Sunday Puzzle: The 3 B's

Sunday Puzzle: The 3 B's

  • 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 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, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So what was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Sandy Kutin of Princeton, N.J. It's not too hard. But it had an amazing bit of wordplay, I think. I said, think of a seven-letter past-tense verb for something good you might have done in a football game. Move each letter one space later in the alphabet. Rearrange the result. And you get a past tense verb for something bad you might have done in football. What words are these? And the words are tackled and fumbled.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received 2,302 correct responses. And the winner this week is Alec Sloane of Oakland, Calif. Congratulations.

ALEC SLOANE: Thank you so much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how'd you solve it?

SLOANE: Well, I figured that if it was going to be two past-tense verbs that they would probably both end in E-D and came up with tackled and then sort of did the calculation of moving the letters forward and was just left with the other five letters to unscramble and get fumbled.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And what do you do?

SLOANE: I teach private lessons for guitar and piano, mostly - a few other instruments, as well. But I'm a musician.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wonderful. All right. Are you ready to play?

SLOANE: Absolutely.

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

SHORTZ: All right, Alec. The three B's in classical music are Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. But in today's puzzle, there are three words starting with B. Each set can be followed by a fourth word to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said baseball, bathing and bottle, you would say cap, as in baseball cap, bathing cap and bottle cap.


SHORTZ: All right. And we'll start with three-letter answers. The first one is bow, B-O-W, black and bolo.

SLOANE: Bow, black and bolo. That'd be a tie.

SHORTZ: Bolo tie, black tie and bow tie. Good. Bar, bell and bunny.

SLOANE: Bar, bell and bunny.

SHORTZ: Three letters. I'll give you a hint. The answer starts with H.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: College students do this.

SLOANE: Oh, hop.

SHORTZ: There you go - bar hop.

SLOANE: (Laughter).

SHORTZ: Yeah. Boom, ballot and bread.

SLOANE: Boom, ballot and bread.

SHORTZ: Bread.


SHORTZ: That's it. Now we've got four-letter answers - brick, Berlin, border.

SLOANE: That's got to be wall.

SHORTZ: That's it. Building, bar, binary.

SLOANE: Would that be code?

SHORTZ: That's it. Big, bank, booster.

SLOANE: Big, bank and booster. Shot?

SHORTZ: There you go. Good. Blood, bee - that's B-E-E - and bottom.

SLOANE: Blood, bee and bottom - line.

SHORTZ: That's it. Good. Ball, board, blame.

SLOANE: Ball, blame - game.

SHORTZ: There you go. And your last answers have five letters.


SHORTZ: Boat, bird and boarding. Starts with an H.

SLOANE: H, OK. Bird and boarding.

SHORTZ: OK. And the bird thing might be something outside your apartment.

SLOANE: Oh, house.

SHORTZ: That's it. Butter, Bowie, butcher.

SLOANE: OK. Bowie and butcher.

SHORTZ: And the five-letter answer is something that's probably in your kitchen.

SLOANE: Yes. That'd be a knife.

SHORTZ: A knife is it. And here's your last one, bulletin, bill, backgammon.

SLOANE: Board.

SHORTZ: That's it. Nice job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good job. How do you feel?

SLOANE: Oh, I feel great. That was a lot of fun.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good. 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 And, Alec, which member station do you listen to on Sunday mornings?

SLOANE: KQED in Oakland, Calif.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Alec Sloane of Oakland, Calif. Thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

SLOANE: Thank you.

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

SHORTZ: Yeah. It comes from listener Mike Strong of Mechanicsburg, Pa. Think of a familiar two-word phrase - five letters in each word - that might be something you'd write in a letter. The first and last letters are the same. The third and eighth letters are the same. The fourth and seventh letters are the same. And the middle two letters are consecutive in the alphabet. What phrase is it? So again, familiar two-word phrase - five, five - first and last letters are the same. Third and eighth are the same. Fourth and seventh of the same. And the middle two letters are consecutive in the alphabet. What phrase is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, October 31 - Halloween - 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, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.


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.