On-air challenge: This week's puzzle celebrates ringing in the new year. Take the letters Y-E-A-R. Add one letter and scramble to make a new word that answers the clue. For example, by adding the letter B to Y-E-A-R, with the clue "maker of aspirin," the answer would be "Bayer."
Last week's challenge from listener Ben Bass of Chicago: First, name a U.S. state capital. Rearrange its letters to spell the name of another American city. Remove one letter and read the result backward to spell a third American city. Finally, move the first letter of that to the end to spell a fourth American city. The cities are in four different states. What are they?
Answer: Salem, Ore.; Selma, Ala.; Ames, Iowa; Mesa, Ariz.
Winner: Zvi Rosen of Berkeley, Calif.
Next week's challenge from Sam Loyd: This challenge appeared in a puzzle column in the Woman's Home Companion in January 1913, exactly 100 years ago. Draw a square that is four boxes by four boxes per side, containing altogether 16 small boxes and 18 lines (across, down and diagonal). There are 10 ways to have four boxes in a line — four horizontal rows, four vertical columns, plus the two long diagonals. There are also eight other shorter diagonals of two or three squares each. The object is to place markers in 10 of the boxes so that as many of the lines as possible have either two or four markers. What is the maximum number of lines that can have either two or four markers, and how do you do it?
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 Thursday at 3 p.m. Eastern.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Hit pause on this New Year's resolutions because it is time for the puzzle.
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MARTIN: Joining me now for the first puzzle of the year 2013 is WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz. He's at member station WBAA at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: OK. Before we recap last week's challenge, Will, I understand we have a little mythological business to sort out, right?
SHORTZ: Yes. Last week, I identified Odin as a name from classical mythology. Actually, technically, classical mythology means Greek or Roman mythology. And Odin is mythological but not classical.
MARTIN: OK. So, thank you to those listeners out there for helping us keep our mythology facts straight. Now, onto this week's puzzle. Will, what was our challenge?
SHORTZ: Yes. I came from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. And it sounded a little complicated, but really wasn't too hard. The challenge was first to name a U.S. state capital then rearrange its letters to spell the name of another American city. Then remove one letter and read the result backward to spell a third American city. And finally, move the first letter of that to the end to spell a fourth American city. And I said all these four cities are in different states. Well, the answers were: Salem, Oregon, Selma, Alabama, Ames, Iowa and Mesa, Arizona.
MARTIN: And roughly 650 of our listeners sent in the correct answer. And our randomly selected winner this week is Zvi Rosen of Berkeley, California. He joins us on the phone. Congratulations, Zvi.
ZVI ROSEN: Thank you so much. Hi, Rachel. Hi, Will.
SHORTZ: Hey, there.
MARTIN: ...are you a geography buff? Is this kind of how you figured out the answer?
ROSEN: Not too much. I do like anagrams, though.
MARTIN: Anagrams, OK. Good for you. And what do you do in Berkeley?
ROSEN: I'm a math student at UC Berkeley.
MARTIN: OK. Math - sometimes we get math puzzles. Do we have one of those in the works, Will?
SHORTZ: No math, but we do have anagrams, so Zvi is in luck.
MARTIN: OK. Anagrams. Without further ado, Will, take it away.
SHORTZ: All right, Zvi and Rachel. This week's puzzle celebrates ringing in the New Year. Take the letters Y-E-A-R, add one letter and scramble to make a new word that answers the clue. For example, adding the letter B to the year, with the clue: maker of aspirin, you would say Bayer.
MARTIN: Aha. OK. Zvi, you got it?
ROSEN: Yep. Sounds good.
MARTIN: All right. Let's do it.
SHORTZ: All right. Number one: add the letter D to year to make prepared.
ROSEN: Prepared. Ready.
SHORTZ: Ready is it. Number two: add the letter F, as in Frank, to make a sprite. And it's a variant spelling.
ROSEN: A faery.
SHORTZ: Faery is it, F-A-E-R-Y. Good. Add an L to make before the deadline.
SHORTZ: Uh-huh. Now, add an L to make certain race.
ROSEN: A relay.
SHORTZ: Relay, good. Add an M to make one of the Ms in MGM.
SHORTZ: That's right. Add an N to make ache for.
ROSEN: A score.
SHORTZ: Ache for, A-C-H-E. And actually you don't even have to anagram this time.
SHORTZ: Yeah. Just add an N at the end. Add a P to make the first explorer to reach the North Pole.
SHORTZ: Peary is it. Add a P again to get to make good on, as a loan.
SHORTZ: Um-hum. Add an S to make singer Leo with the 1970's number one hit "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing."
ROSEN: Oh, gosh.
SHORTZ: Oh, this is before your time but...
ROSEN: Yeah, I think so.
SHORTZ: But maybe you can get it. Add an S and then...
SHORTZ: Sayer, yeah, Will Sayer, good.
SHORTZ: Add a T to make lachrymose.
SHORTZ: Teary is it. Add a V to make a big name in office products.
ROSEN: A V?
ROSEN: Rachel, I think I need help.
MARTIN: Oh man, OK. Office products. Oh, is it Avery?
SHORTZ: Avery, yeah. Avery Office Products, good. Add a W to make tired.
SHORTZ: That's it. And here's your last one: this time take the phrase New Year and add an H to get a good place to solve puzzles. Eight letters all together.
MARTIN: A good place to solve puzzles.
SHORTZ: Starts with A. I'll tell you the second...
MARTIN: Ah, anywhere.
SHORTZ: Solve puzzles anywhere. Good job.
MARTIN: Zvi, that was great. Well done.
MARTIN: And for playing the puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and, of course, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And before we let you go, Zvi, what is your public radio station?
ROSEN: KQED in San Francisco.
MARTIN: My alma mater. Zvi Rosen of Berkeley, California, thanks so much for playing the puzzle.
ROSEN: Thank you. I had a great time.
MARTIN: OK, Will. What's the challenge for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes, it comes for the great American puzzle maker, Sam Loyd. And it appeared in a puzzle column in the Woman's Home Companion in January 1913, exactly a hundred years ago.
Draw a square that is four boxes by four boxes per side, containing 16 small boxes altogether. There are 10 ways to have four boxes in a line: four horizontal rows, four vertical columns, plus the two long diagonals. Also, there are eight other shorter diagonals of two or three squares each. And the object is to place markers in 10 of the boxes so that as many of the lines as possible have either two or four markers in them.
What is the maximum number of lines that can have either two or four markers, and how do you do it?
So again, a four by four box and there are 18 lines altogether, across, down and diagonally. Place 10 markers in boxes so that as many of the lines as possible have either two or four markers each. How do you do it?
MARTIN: OK, when you have the answer, go to our website, npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 10th at 3 P.M. Eastern. Please 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 will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.
Thanks so much, Will.
SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.
(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.