Puzzle: Remove It, Replace It Rachel Cristy of Sacramento, Calif., plays this week's puzzle with NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro and puzzlemaster Will Shortz.

Puzzle: Remove It, Replace It

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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: Yeah, it came from listener Harry Hillson of Avon-by-the-Sea, N.J. I said, think of an eight-letter word for something we all crave now. It consists of three consecutive men's nicknames. What are they? Well, the answer is normalcy. We all crave normalcy now. That consists of Norm, Al and Cy. We had an interesting alternative answer, hilarity - H-I-L is an abbreviate - is a nickname for Hillary or Hildebrand, plus Ari and Ty. And I think we could all use a little hilarity now, too.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This puzzle connected with a lot of people. We received almost 2,900 correct responses. Is that a record?

SHORTZ: Not quite. We've had over 4,000 before, but I think it's the biggest number in a long time.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. Well, this clearly, you know, got people thinking. The winner is Rachel Cristy of Sacramento, Calif.

Congratulations and welcome to the program.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are in London right now. What you doing over there?

CRISTY: I have a job here. I am a lecturer in philosophy at King's College London.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wonderful. What kind of philosophy do you teach?

CRISTY: Late 19th century history of philosophy. I work on Nietzsche and William James, mostly.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Wonderful. And I hear you like to sing.

CRISTY: I do - not at the moment, but under normal circumstances, yes.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. You sang at the London Philharmonic Choir, I understand.

CRISTY: Yes, for a few glorious months.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, are you ready to play The Puzzle?

CRISTY: As ready as I'll ever be.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK. Well, that means very ready 'cause you're about to play. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right. Rachel, I'm going to give you some words that contain the consecutive letters I-T. For each one, change the I-T to two new letters to make a new word. For example, if I said titular - T-I-T-U-L-A-R - you would say tubular 'cause titular has I-T in the second and third positions. Change it to U-B, and you get tubular.


SHORTZ: Here's number one. Ignite - I-G-N-I-T-E.

CRISTY: Ignore.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Number two is commit - C-O-M-M-I-T.

CRISTY: Common.

SHORTZ: Common is it. Good. Citrus - C-I-T-R-U-S.

CRISTY: Chorus.

SHORTZ: Nice job. Citric - C-I-T-R-I-C.

CRISTY: Cleric.

SHORTZ: Good. Invite - I-N-V-I-T-E.

CRISTY: Invoke.

SHORTZ: That's it. Finite - F-I-N-I-T-E.

CRISTY: This is always easier when, you know, I'm listening to someone else do it.



SHORTZ: You're not the first person to say that.

CRISTY: Right.

SHORTZ: What if I told you I should've put this one at the end?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how about this - season...

CRISTY: Oh, finale.

SHORTZ: Finale is it. Marital - M-A-R-I-T-A-L. This is a tricky one because it's two consonants that go there.

CRISTY: Oh, well - OK. Well, you could swap them and get - oh, no - marshal, like the official.

SHORTZ: Marshal - I was going with S-H, although you're right - M-A-R-T-I-A-L would also work. How about exploit - E-X-P-L-O-I-T?

CRISTY: Explore.

SHORTZ: That's it. Explode would also work. Smitten - S-M-I-T-T-E-N.

CRISTY: Smarten.

SHORTZ: Oh, good. And your last one is backbite - B-A-C-K-B-I-T-E.

CRISTY: Backbone.

SHORTZ: Backbone. Rachel, I am impressed.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You did great. How do you feel?

CRISTY: I feel OK.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah. You did really, really well. And 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 Rachel, which member station do you listen to?

CRISTY: I still stream WHYY, which used to be my local station when I was a grad student at Princeton.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Rachel Cristy of Sacramento, Calif., currently of London, thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

CRISTY: Thank you.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yeah. It comes from listener Neville Fogarty of Newport News, Va. Think of a two-word direction or command. Take the first letter of the first word, plus the entire second word, in order, and you'll get a common name for one receiving that direction or command. What is it? So again, a direction or command in two words. Take the first letter of the first word, plus the entire second word, in order, and you'll get a common name for one receiving that direction or command. 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, July 16, 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 have to pick up the phone because we've been calling a lot of people who don't pick up the phone. And if you pick up the phone, you'll then 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 a lot, Lulu.


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