Finish The Phrase In the on-air puzzle, you must complete a two-word phrase with a word that starts with the third and fourth letters of the word given to you.
NPR logo

Finish The Phrase

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92945914/92971899" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript
Finish The Phrase

Finish The Phrase

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/92945914/92971899" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

ROBERT SMITH, host:

From NPR News, this is Weekend Edition. I'm Robert Smith. And joining us is puzzle master Will Shortz. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ: Hey, Robert.

SMITH: You know, I had a rather easy time this week of the crossword puzzle on Wednesday in The New York Times. You're the editor of The New York Times Crossword Puzzle, and I'm sure you've heard from some others that it was a particularly easy puzzle this week.

SHORTZ: Why was that?

SMITH: Because, here in the Washington, D.C., area, they actually published the answers right along with the crossword puzzle in The New York Times.

SHORTZ: Yeah. I'm afraid the newspaper goofed. That was actually a year-old puzzle. It was a test file that someone selected rather than using the correct puzzle for the day. And if you'd hung around on Thursday, you would have gotten the correct Wednesday puzzle in addition to the Thursday.

SMITH: Do you hear from a lot of people when this kind of thing happens?

SHORTZ: Oh yes. The switch - The New York Times switchboard just went crazy all day.

SMITH: I actually kind of liked having the answers right there while doing the crossword puzzle. It takes a little self control, but you can glance down and see the answers when you're having a little bit of a tough time.

SHORTZ: That's right, little hints along the way.

SMITH: Well, no answers will be provided for today's puzzler challenge. But why don't you remind us of the challenge you left us with last week?

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Trip Payne of Boca Raton, Florida, and came from the National Puzzlers League Convention. I said think of a six-letter word that ends in a silent letter. Remove that letter, and you'll be left with a five-letter word that ends in two silent letters. What words are these?

SMITH: And the answer?

SHORTZ: The answer is corpse. And remove the e, and you're left with corps, c-o-r-p-s.

SMITH: Well, I don't know if this was particularly tough or if a lot of the puzzlers are taking vacation this month, but we had the lowest number of entries that we've seen so far this year, only about 400. And so the person who got it right is one of the few, the proud, and his name is Ed McDougal from Rockville Centre in New York.

Mr. ED MCDOUGAL (Competition Winner): Hi, Robert.

SMITH: Hey, Ed. How's it going?

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Very good.

SMITH: Now I hear you had help from a friend to figure out the answer to this week's puzzle.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: I did. And I wanted to make sure that I gave credit. First of all, I've been playing this for many years. And I've probably entered over a hundred times and obviously never been picked. But on Sunday evening, we were having dinner, and I shared this with my best friend and his wife, Diana Beer(ph). And the next day, Diana called and says, I think I have the answer. And so we both entered the contest. And then when I won, I felt guilty.

SMITH: This is like buying a lottery ticket with another person. This could ruin a friendship.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: So for the one time that I got picked, I'm a fraud.

SMITH: But you have been playing the puzzle a long time, right?

Mr. MCDOUGAL: I have been.

SMITH: How long?

Mr. MCDOUGAL: It goes back many years when you used to send in postcards. So, I don't know what that is - 20, 25 years ago.

SHORTZ: Those were the old days.

SMITH: So are you ready to give another go this time by yourself? We'll get to see what your mind alone can do.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Yes.

SMITH: Well, Will, meet Ed. Ed, meet Will. And let's play the puzzler.

SHORTZ: All right, Ed, and Robert, I'm going to give you some words. For each one, you give me a word that can follow mine to complete a familiar two-word phrase. And the first two letters of your word must be the third and fourth letters of mine. For example, if I said baseball, you might say season, because season starts with S-E, and they are the third and fourth letters of baseball.

SMITH: Holy moley!

SHORTZ: All right, here's number one. Postage.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Stamp.

SHORTZ: Postage stamp is right. Number two is clerical.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Error.

SHORTZ: Clerical error is right. Liberty.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Bell.

SHORTZ: Liberty bell. Straight.

SMITH: That would be with the R-A.

SHORTZ: Right. Something you might use in the morning.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Razor?

SHORTZ: Straight razor is right. Second.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Course.

SHORTZ: Second course. OK. I'll give you that, as in a meal. I was thinking of second coming. I also would have accepted second cousin. Try this. Short.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Order.

SHORTZ: Short order. Silent.

SMITH: Starts with the L and the E. Silent.

SHORTZ: I'll give you a hint. Psychology has one.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Letter.

SHORTZ: Silent letter is right.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: It was the puzzle from last week. We should have gotten that one right away.

SMITH: Exactly right.

SHORTZ: Estate.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Tax.

SHORTZ: Aha. Intelligence. Something I'm guessing you would score high on...

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Test.

SHORTZ: Intelligence test is right. And your last one is Pythagorean.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Theorem.

SHORTZ: Pythagorean Theorem is correct.

SMITH: Ed, you did a great job all by yourself.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Thank you very much. This has really been a dream come true, so it's been fun.

SMITH: Coming up after the puzzle, we're going to take a tour of the new Woodstock Museum which they've built on the site of the famous concert about 40 years later. And to tell you what you've won for playing the puzzle today, we have someone who claims that he does not remember being at Woodstock, maybe because he was just one-year-old. That's Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep. Take it away, Steve.

STEVE INSKEEP: For playing our puzzle today, you get a box full of items from the Woodstock lost and found. There's a Weekend Edition lapel pin of course, the Eleventh Edition of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary and Thesaurus. You also get the Scrabble Deluxe Edition from Parker Brothers, "The Puzzlemaster Presents" from Random House, Volume Two, Will Shortz's "Little Black Book of Sudoku" and "Black and White Book of Crosswords," both from St. Martin's Press. And you also get one of Will Shortz's Puzzlemaster Decks of Riddles and Challenges from Chronicle Books. I'm Don Pardo.

SMITH: Ed, tell us which member station you listen to Steve Inskeep in Morning Edition on?

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Well, we're a member of WNYC in New York City.

SMITH: Excellent! Ed McDougal from Rockville Center, New York, thanks for playing the puzzle with us.

Mr. MCDOUGAL: Thank you so much. It was really great.

SMITH: Now, Will, what is the big challenge for next week?

SHORTZ: Well, a few weeks ago, I asked you to rearrange the letters in "contaminated" to spell a familiar sign. And the answer was "no admittance." This week, I'd like you to rearrange the letters in "egomaniac" to spell a familiar sign. It's a sign seen in many stores. What is it? So again, "egomaniac." Rearrange these nine letters to spell a familiar sign. What sign is it?

SMITH: I don't know if we have too many people in the audience who know the word "egomaniac." They'll have to look it up, I'm sure. When you have the answer, go to our Web site, npr.org/puzzle and click on "Submit Your Answer" link. Only one entry per person, please. Our deadline this week is Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Please include a phone number where we can reach you around that time, and we'll call if you're the winner. And you'll get to play puzzle on the air with puzzle editor of The New York Times and Weekend Edition's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Robert.

Copyright © 2008 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org 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.