SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
Time to play The Puzzle.
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MCCAMMON: Joining us is Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Hey, there.
MCCAMMON: So remind us of last week's challenge.
SHORTZ: Yeah. It came from listener Dan Pitt of Palo Alto, Calif. I said take the name Buenos Aires. Remove one letter. And the remaining letters can be rearranged to name two things that many people wish for around this time of year. What are they? And I bet a lot of people were thinking peace and bliss, but the actual answer was more mercenary. It's bonus and raise.
MCCAMMON: We received more than 2,000 correct responses. And the winner is Steven Marsey from Virginia Beach, Va.
Congratulations and welcome to the program, Steven.
STEVEN MARSEY: Thank you very much.
MCCAMMON: How did you figure out this week's challenge?
MARSEY: Well, I wrote down Buenos Aires as he was iterating it. And I hit a couple dead ends. And I thought Santa, but there wasn't the T. And so I knew it couldn't be Christmas. So I just wrote Buenos Aires backwards. And raises popped up. And so I said, all right, I'll start with raise and see what's left. And oh, sure. There's bonus. And I had an E left over. That was it. And I wasn't going to do any more. So I just sent it right off.
MCCAMMON: So how long have you been playing The Puzzle?
MARSEY: Since the early 1990s. Not the postcard days - I only hear about those - but for quite a while, off and on, at any rate.
MCCAMMON: Yeah. So, Steven, are you ready to play The Puzzle?
MARSEY: I'm as ready as I'll ever be, so let's go.
MCCAMMON: OK. It's all yours, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Steven. Every answer today is an eight-letter word that consists of a three-letter word inserted inside a five-letter word. I'll give you a clue to the three-letter word as well as the five-letter word itself. You tell me the eight-letter word. For example, if I said Wrigley's product and the word aren't - A-R-E-N-T - you would say argument 'cause a Wrigley's product is gum. And you insert gum inside aren't. You get argument.
Number one is a tennis court divider. That's the three-letter word. And you would put that inside magic.
MARSEY: Well, it's a net.
SHORTZ: Magnetic - good. Number two is an oil installation inside irate - I-R-A-T-E.
MARSEY: A rig.
MARSEY: Irrigation - irrigate.
SHORTZ: Irrigate is it. What a hot dog goes in.
MARSEY: That would be a bun.
SHORTZ: Trial - T-R-I-A-L.
SHORTZ: Good. Everything inside broom - B-R-O-O-M.
MARSEY: Everything is all.
MARSEY: Inside broom - ballroom.
SHORTZ: Ballroom - there you go. To have dinner.
SHORTZ: Entry - E-N-T-R-Y. Try it after the R.
SHORTZ: Entreaty - yeah. It's a plea, an entreaty.
SHORTZ: Opposite of young, drums.
MARSEY: Old - doldrums.
SHORTZ: Doldrums is it. To employ.
SHORTZ: Carol - C-A-R-O-L.
SHORTZ: That's it. A health resort.
SHORTZ: Ditch - D-I-T-C-H.
SHORTZ: That's it. Fruit preserves.
SHORTZ: That's it. Yeah - and Benin - B-E-N-I-N.
MARSEY: Not a banjo.
MARSEY: Not pajamas.
SHORTZ: It's a boy's name, but it's also slang for...
MARSEY: Not Benjamin for...
SHORTZ: Benjamin - that's it - slang for a sort of bill.
MARSEY: A hundred.
SHORTZ: That's it. A cry of disgust, later - L-A-T-E-R.
MARSEY: What's a cry of disgust? Ugh. Later...
SHORTZ: Yeah, that's it. Put that inside later.
SHORTZ: That's it. How about being successful at bat?
SHORTZ: Grape - G-R-A-P-E.
SHORTZ: That's it. And your last one is an affirmative response.
SHORTZ: Put that inside eight - E-I-G-H-T.
SHORTZ: Eyesight is it. Good job.
MCCAMMON: You did great, Steven. How do you feel?
MARSEY: Pretty relieved, actually.
MCCAMMON: I was impressed. You got some of those so fast. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. And you can read all about that at npr.org/puzzle. And Steven, which member station do you listen to?
MARSEY: Well, fortunately, we have two stations here, WHRO and WHRV.
MCCAMMON: Steven Marsey of Virginia Beach, Va., thanks for playing The Puzzle.
MARSEY: And I thank both of you.
MCCAMMON: All right, Will. And what's next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener David Curren of Arlington, Mass. Think of a familiar two-word phrase - five letters in the first word, two letters in the last. Replace the last letter with the next letter of the alphabet, and the result will be a palindrome. The seven letters will read backward and forward the same. What's the phrase? So again, a familiar two-word phrase - five, two. Replace the last letter with the next letter of the alphabet, and the result will be a palindrome. What phrase is it?
MCCAMMON: And when you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle, and click on the submit your answer link. Remember, just one entry, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, December 31, at 3 p.m. Eastern Time. Include a phone number where we can reach you around that time. If you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And if you pick up the phone, we'll get you 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: Thank you, Sarah.
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