On-air challenge: Here's a list of seven-letter words. For each one, change the first and last letters — but only the first and last letters — to make a new, uncapitalized seven-letter word. Both the first and last letters have to change.
Ex. TOURISM --> NOURISH
Last week's challenge: The letters C + D together sound like the word "seedy." And the letters I + V together sound like "ivy." Take the 18 letters in the phrase END BACKSTAGE TV QUIZ. Rearrange them into pairs, using each letter exactly once, to make nine common, uncapitalized words phonetically. Can you do it?
Challenge answer: AT, BD, EZ, IC, KG, NV, QT, SA, UE
Winner: Julia Frey of Brooklyn, New York
This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from Steve Baggish of Arlington, Mass. Think of two five-letter words that are opposites. One of them begins with E, the other ends with E. Drop both E's. The remaining eight letters can be rearranged to spell a new word that is relevant. What are these three words?
If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you by Thursday, Nov. 14 at 3 p.m. ET.
An earlier version of the answer to last week's challenge mistakenly said part of the answer was QD. It is actually QT.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:
Joining us is Will Shortz. He's a puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Remind us of last week's challenge. I remember it was a fun one.
SHORTZ: Thank you. Well, I said the letter C and D together sound like the word seedy. And the letters I and V together sound like ivy. I said, take the 18 letters in the phrase end backstage TV quiz and rearrange them into pairs using each letter exactly once to make nine common uncapitalized words phonetically. Can you do it?
Well, the answer was AT, BD, EZ, IC, KG, NV, QT, SA and UE, the last one, UE, being slang for a U-turn. There is an almost alternative answer with seven of the answers being the same but also doing NE and VU. But I didn't accept that VU equals view because the dictionaries say that view is one syllable.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received 1,104 correct responses, and the winner this week is Julia Frey of Brooklyn, N.Y.
JULIA FREY: Thanks so much. This is crazy and a little scary.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) Well, I heard that you leaned on Will Shortz's crossword puzzle to solve the challenge.
FREY: I did. Yeah, there was this - we always keep a book of crosswords floating around. It usually stays in the bathroom.
SHORTZ: A good place for it, I say.
FREY: Right? We sit on the toilet to think. And way back when, I did a crossword where there were similar, like, phonetic clues.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Awesome. And what do you do for a living?
FREY: I'm an actor and a video designer, but I'm also a recent mom. I have an 8-week-old.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: An 8-week old - oh, my goodness.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You must be very tired.
FREY: (Laughter) I am. I - if I don't do well, I'm going to blame baby brain.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: OK, that's fair.
SHORTZ: That's fair.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I think that's totally fair.
FREY: Our little guy is named Will...
SHORTZ: Oh, man.
FREY: ...Which I think is kind of fun.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is kind of fun.
Will, what do you feel about that?
SHORTZ: Well, I don't know if I'm flattered, but that's very cool.
FREY: He's named after a grandfather, not after Will Shortz (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: And yet I feel like there's some synchronicity going on here today.
All right, Julie. Are you ready to play The Puzzle?
FREY: As ready as I'll ever be.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right. Take it away, Will.
SHORTZ: All right, Julia. I'm going to give you some seven-letter words. For each one, change the first and last letters but only the first and last letters to make a new uncapitalized seven-letter word.
SHORTZ: And both the first and last letters have to change.
SHORTZ: For example, if I said tourism, you would say nourish because the two words share the middle five letters, and you changed the first and last ones.
FREY: OK, great.
SHORTZ: All right. Number one is partook - P-A-R-T-O-O-K. So you want to keep the A-R-T-O-O.
SHORTZ: And it's something in most newspapers.
SHORTZ: Cartoon is it. Good. Number two is tersely - T-E-R-S-E-L-Y.
SHORTZ: Herself. Nice. Gun room - G-U-N-R-O-O-M.
SHORTZ: Sunroof. Nice. Hellish - H-E-L-L-I-S-H. And here's your hint - it's a musician.
FREY: Oh, a cellist.
SHORTZ: A cellist is it.
SHORTZ: Lorelei - L-O-R-E-L-E-I. It's part of an animal or an insect.
FREY: Foreleg - that work?
SHORTZ: Foreleg. Nice.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's amazing. I was about to say this is hard.
SHORTZ: How about carcass - C-A-R-C-A-S-S? It's a kind of humor.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: A biting humor.
FREY: Oh, sarcasm.
SHORTZ: Sarcasm is it. Try this one. Gordian - G-O-R-D-I-A-N.
SHORTZ: Cordial. Nice. Lignite - L-I-G-N-I-T-E. And it's something everyone likes for themselves. That's a terrible hint. How about...
GARCIA-NAVARRO: I was about to say that's a terrible hint.
SHORTZ: Try this - self-respect.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: To carry yourself with...
SHORTZ: Dignity is it. Good.
FREY: Oh, I'm losing my dignity (laughter).
GARCIA-NAVARRO: You are not. You're doing great.
SHORTZ: Here's your last one. Parting - P-A-R-T-I-N-G.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Something good at the end of a day.
SHORTZ: There you go.
FREY: A martini.
SHORTZ: A martini - nice job.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: There you go. You did really well. How do you feel?
FREY: Oh, in need of a martini.
FREY: No, I feel great. That was super fun.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: Yeah, you were really, really great. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin for little Will, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And Julie, which member station do you listen to?
FREY: I am a sustaining member of WNYC.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Julia Frey of Brooklyn, N.Y. Thank you so much for playing The Puzzle. It was a lot of fun.
FREY: Thanks so much, Lulu and Will. This was great.
SHORTZ: Thank you, Julia.
GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What's next week's challenge?
SHORTZ: Yeah. It comes from Steve Bagish (ph) of Arlington, Mass. Think of two five-letter words that are opposites. One of them begins with E. The other ends with E. Drop both of the Es, and the remaining eight letters can be rearranged to spell a new word that is relevant. What are these three words? So again, two five-letter words that are opposites. One starts with E. The other ends in E. Drop both those Es, and the remaining eight letters can be rearranged to spell a new word that is relevant. What three words are these?
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, November 14, 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 puzzlemaster, Will Shortz.
Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks a lot, Lulu. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.