Sunday Puzzle: Next-To-Last Tom Zmozynski plays the puzzle with puzzlemaster Will Shortz and NPR's Lulu Garcia-Navarro.
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Sunday Puzzle: Next-To-Last

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Sunday Puzzle: Next-To-Last

Sunday Puzzle: Next-To-Last

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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: Good morning, Lulu.

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

SHORTZ: Yeah, it came from listener Joe Young of St. Cloud, Minn. I said, name a famous person in history - five letters in the first name, four letters in the last. And the letters of the last name can be rearranged to name a popular game, and the letters in the first name can be rearranged to name an action in this game. Who's the famous person? Well, the answer is Marco Polo. Last name anagrams to pool. First name anagrams to carom, which you do in pool. We had an interesting alternative answer that I didn't accept. It was Clare Luce, but I didn't think clear was a good description of what you do in Clue.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received over 1,500 correct responses, and the winner is Tom Zmozynski of Aurora, Ohio.


TOM ZMOZYNSKI: Thank you very much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So how'd you figure it out?

ZMOZYNSKI: Originally went to, like, board games like Clue and Risk. And then, you know, my wife said pool. Then it hit me - Marco Polo. And I remember playing it - pool in college, and there was always this one guy that would say, like, carom off the side. And I'm thinking, why isn't it just a bank shot off the side, you know? But the rest is I'm here.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. What was it like when you got the call?

ZMOZYNSKI: The phone rang, and I looked at it. And I didn't know it, and I was tempted not to pick it up. And then it rang again. I'm thinking, oh, somebody really wants to get in touch with me. So I answered it, and it was WEEKEND EDITION. And I was excited I answered it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, we are excited to have you here. Will, I think it's your turn to take it away.

SHORTZ: All right. Tom, I'm going to name some things that are in categories. Each thing I name is next-to-last in its category alphabetically. You name the only other thing in the category that comes after mine alphabetically. For example, if I said taste, you would say touch 'cause they're both ones of the five senses, and touch is the only one that comes after taste alphabetically. Here's number one - is two - T-W-O.


SHORTZ: Three is too early. It has to come after that.

ZMOZYNSKI: Thirty or...

SHORTZ: No. You - just look for single digits - not whole numbers, but digits.

ZMOZYNSKI: Oh, OK. I'm sorry. I'm kind of nervous here.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) You're not the first. Don't worry about that.


ZMOZYNSKI: (Laughter) OK.



SHORTZ: Even lower.


SHORTZ: Zero is it. You got it.

ZMOZYNSKI: Now I feel stupid. You know...


SHORTZ: Sleepy.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: Heigh-ho, heigh-ho.

ZMOZYNSKI: Tired or - OK. So we're looking at the seven dwarves. OK.

SHORTZ: Right.

ZMOZYNSKI: I always - I'm going through them all. I'm going to - Doc and Grumpy, Sleepy.

SHORTZ: Right.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: This particular dwarf would be very problematic during a pandemic.


SHORTZ: Sneezy is it. How about this? Sotomayor.

ZMOZYNSKI: Sotomayor - so we're looking at Supreme Court justices.

SHORTZ: Right.


SHORTZ: It's a conservative one.

ZMOZYNSKI: Thomas - Clarence Thomas.

SHORTZ: Thomas is it. Queens.


SHORTZ: No. Queens is plural, so...


SHORTZ: How well do you know your boroughs of New York City?

ZMOZYNSKI: Pretty good. So we got Yonkers, Manhattan, Long Island, Staten Island.

SHORTZ: There you go. Staten Island is it. How about Zambia?

ZMOZYNSKI: Zimbabwe.

SHORTZ: Good. And here's your last one - swans a-swimming.

ZMOZYNSKI: Six geese a-laying, seven swans a-swimming, six - I've been singing this song since high school here, so...

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Coo, coo, coo, coo.

ZMOZYNSKI: Three calling birds.

SHORTZ: They are birds, but they're not calling birds. Anyway, it has to be after swans alphabetically.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was sort of cooing. That was what I was doing.

SHORTZ: Starts with T.

ZMOZYNSKI: T - oh, two turtle - or three turtle doves.

SHORTZ: Three turtle doves - you got it.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yay. This was a hard one, Will.

SHORTZ: I know. I know.

ZMOZYNSKI: Like, last night I was looking at the atlas, and I'm looking at all the presidents' names. And I'm trying to figure out, you know, what's - there was nothing that I did that could have prepared me for this. So...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. He likes to mix it up. 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 And Tom, which member station do you listen to?

ZMOZYNSKI: 90.3 WCPN ideastream in Cleveland, Ohio.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Tom Zmozynski of Aurora, Ohio, thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

ZMOZYNSKI: Thank you very much.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What is next week's challenge? And don't make it hard.

SHORTZ: Well, it's actually not so hard, I think. It comes from listener Jeremy Crane of Madison, Wis. Name a deity in ancient mythology. The first half of the name phonetically names a common object, and the second half of the name, by spelling, names another object that's often put inside the first one. What is it? So again, a deity in ancient mythology - first half of the name phonetically names a common object, and the second half of the name, by spelling, names another object that's often put inside the first one. What 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, September 10, 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 if you pick up the phone and WEEKEND EDITION's very own puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.

[POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: A previous audio version of this puzzle incorrectly implied that West Virginia is the second-to-last U.S. state in alphabetical order. Wisconsin is second to last. Also, we incorrectly said that Clare Luce was the publisher of Reader's Digest.]


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