Drop The A And The B Mary Springhorn of Bellingham, Wa., plays the puzzle with puzzlemaster Will Shortz and NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro.

Drop The A And The B

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And it's time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us, as always, 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: You know, a lot of people have been telling us at WEEKEND EDITION how important it is at this time to have The Puzzle. So you are doing, I think, a great service (laughter).

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot. We all are. Thanks.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And so remind us of last week's challenge.

SHORTZ: Yeah, it was an April foolish puzzle from Raymond Nardo of Mineola, Long Island. I said, think of a world capital, drop the third and fourth letters, and keeping the remaining letters in order, you'll name a state. What state is it? Well the capital is Beijing. Drop those letters - you're left with a state of being.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: A state of being. We received over 1,400 correct responses. And the winner this week is Mary Springhorn of Bellingham, Wash. Congratulations.

MARY SPRINGHORN: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So before you came on air, we asked you, you know, how you were feeling about doing the puzzle. And you said?

SPRINGHORN: I was moderately terrified.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) And I thought that was such a funny answer. How long have you been playing The Puzzle?

SPRINGHORN: On and off since email days.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, email days when you had to email in your answer. And let me ask you, what do you do for a living?

SPRINGHORN: I'm a retired surgeon.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Oh, wow. Well, doctors are indeed our heroes, now more than ever. So are you ready to play The Puzzle?

SPRINGHORN: Sure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. Deep breath - it's going to be fine, I promise. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Mary, I'm going to give you clues for two words. The first word starts with A-B. Drop the A-B, and you'll get a new word that answers the second clue. For example, if I said embarrass and output of a volcano, you would say abash and ash.

SPRINGHORN: OK.

SHORTZ: All right. Number one is missing, as from a class, and mailed.

SPRINGHORN: Absent and sent.

SHORTZ: That's it. A leader of nuns and first lady between Eleanor and Mamie.

SPRINGHORN: Abbess and Bess.

SHORTZ: On fire and to lie around idly.

SPRINGHORN: Ablaze and laze.

SHORTZ: Good. Like flowers in the spring and a weaving apparatus.

SPRINGHORN: Abloom and loom.

SHORTZ: Good. In another country - highway.

SPRINGHORN: Abroad and road.

SHORTZ: Uh-huh. To kidnap and a passage for air.

SPRINGHORN: Abduct and duct.

SHORTZ: Good. To avoid liquor and a laundry problem.

SPRINGHORN: Abstain and stain.

SHORTZ: Good.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wait a second. Wait a second. You're amazing. You were nervous?

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

SPRINGHORN: I still am.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. I didn't mean to interrupt. I just had to say that. OK, go on. Carry on.

SHORTZ: Your next clue is shorten and a chain of hills.

SPRINGHORN: Shorten.

SHORTZ: To shorten.

SPRINGHORN: To shorten. Hmm. Chain of hills...

SHORTZ: And here's a more helpful clue - to shorten, as a dictionary.

SPRINGHORN: Oh, abridge and bridge.

SHORTZ: That's it.

SPRINGHORN: And ridge, rather. Sorry.

SHORTZ: There you go. A source of mother-of-pearl and by oneself.

SPRINGHORN: Abalone and alone.

SHORTZ: Good. And your last one is act of forgiveness for a wrong and answer.

SPRINGHORN: Absolution and solution.

SHORTZ: Well, that was fantastic, Mary.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That was fantastic. How do you feel?

SPRINGHORN: I'm moderately relieved.

(LAUGHTER)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Everything in moderation. (Laughter) 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, Mary, which member station do you listen to?

SPRINGHORN: I'm a member of KUOW in Seattle.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Ah. That's Mary Springhorn of Bellingham, WA. Thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

SPRINGHORN: Thank you so much.

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

SHORTZ: Yeah, this week's challenge comes from listener Bruce Campbell of Kansas City, Mo. Think of a well-known U.S. city. Its population is over a quarter of a million. Phonetically, the first syllable of the city's name plus the first syllable of the name of its state will sound like a well-known brand name. What is it? So, again, a well-known U.S. city - more than a quarter-million population - the first syllable of its name plus the first syllable of the name of its state will sound like a well-known brand name. What is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, April 9, 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 very own puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Lulu.

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