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Close, But No Cigar

Sep 8, 2013
Originally published on September 9, 2013 2:09 pm

On-air challenge: Each of the following answers is a made-up, two-word phrase in which the two words are homophones, and both words start with the letter C.

Last week's challenge from listener Henry Hook of Brooklyn: Think of a well-known celebrity who goes by a single name — the last two letters of which are alphabetically separated by only one letter (like A and C, or B and D). Replace this pair of letters with the one that separates them, and you'll have a common, everyday word. What is it?

Answer: Beyonce, beyond

Winner: Kathy Emerson of Stonington, Maine

Next week's challenge: Name a famous person in history with four letters in the first name and six letters in the last. Move the first letter of all this to the end. The result will be a two-word phrase that might be defined as "the opposite of a curve." Who's the famous person, and what's the phrase?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it . 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.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. and it is time to puzzle.


MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz. He is, of course, puzzle editor for the New York Times and Weekend Edition's puzzle-master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.

MARTIN: OK. Let's kick it off quickly: remind us what was last week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes, it came from listener Henry Hook, who happens to be one of the country's best crossword constructors. I said think of a well-known celebrity who goes by a single name, the last two letters of which are alphabetically separated by only one letter. And I said replace this pair of letters with the one that separates them, and you'll have a common everyday word. What is it? Well, the celebrity is Beyonce. And change the C-E to a D and you get beyond.

MARTIN: Wow. So, I didn't know you were a bit Beyonce fan, Will.

SHORTZ: Well, I do like pop music.


MARTIN: Well, a lot of listeners out there are probably Beyonce fans, because more than 2700 correct answers flooded into our inbox. And this week's randomly selected winner this week is Kathy Emerson of Stonington, Maine. She joins us on the line now. Congratulations, Kathy.

KATHY EMERSON: Thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: So, we should say you are skilled in the world of puzzles because this is your second win, right?

EMERSON: It's true. The last time I was a winner is around New Year's Day when we had the names in the news. And I don't think I did very well, so I'm hoping I can redeem myself today.

MARTIN: Oh man. There are people out there who play every week who are raising their fists at you, Kathy.

EMERSON: Oh, I know. I feel bad. I'm sorry.

MARTIN: No, I'm sure they're also cheering you on. Do you have a question for Will Shortz that you didn't ask him the last time you were on our show?

EMERSON: I do. Actually, it's not a question. It's a riddle and actually an invitation as well.

MARTIN: Provocative. OK. Do tell.



EMERSON: When you tire of your ping-pong puzzling pace, come share in the tranquility of this favorite palindromic sport.

SHORTZ: A sport whose name is palindromic.

EMERSON: And being on an island near the water is a clue.

MARTIN: I got it.

SHORTZ: Kayak.

MARTIN: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

EMERSON: Yes, there you are.


SHORTZ: But, Rachel, you got it a couple of seconds before me. I am impressed.

MARTIN: I did. Wow. Mark it in the history books, people.

EMERSON: Good job.

MARTIN: Kathy, that was great. Well done.

EMERSON: Thank you. And it's a sincere invitation if Will would like to come to Stonington some time.

MARTIN: I love it.

SHORTZ: Thanks a lot.

MARTIN: Takes some chutzpah to challenge the puzzle-master on the air. Well done. OK. So, with that, Kathy, are you ready to play the puzzle?

EMERSON: I hope so, yep.

MARTIN: All right, Will, let's do it.

SHORTZ: All right, Kathy and Rachel. Each answer here is a made-up two-word phrase in which the two words are homophones and both words start with the letter C. For example, if I said a hidden store of money, you would say cash cache.

EMERSON: Got it.

MARTIN: OK. Let's do it.

SHORTZ: Number one: a bank draft from Prague.

EMERSON: A Czech check.

SHORTZ: That's it. Number two: a library study table for Christmas songs.

EMERSON: A carol carrel.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. A bean dish that's been refrigerated.

EMERSON: Wait a minute, wait a minute. Don't tell me.

SHORTZ: Two syllables.

EMERSON: Chilly chili.

SHORTZ: Chilly chili. Rachel, you are hot today. How about a place to play golf that has a rough surface.

EMERSON: A coarse course.

SHORTZ: Coarse course is it. A small, seedless raisin that's now in use.

EMERSON: Current currant.

SHORTZ: Um-hum. Reason for a crow's noise.

EMERSON: A caws cause.

SHORTZ: That's it. Drink to celebrate with at the University of Illinois

EMERSON: Oh, champagne Champaign.

SHORTZ: Champagne Champaign is it. Now, in the following homophone pairs, the first word in each answer starts with C but the second word starts with a different letter.


SHORTZ: Ability to handle pennies intelligently. What's another word for pennies?

EMERSON: Cent - cents sense.

SHORTZ: Cents sense is it. Lineup of billiards sticks.

EMERSON: Queue of cues.

SHORTZ: Yeah, cue queue would work. Bit of corn from certain army officers.

EMERSON: Colonel's kernels.

SHORTZ: Colonel's kernels is it. And your last one: one with a business in the basement.

EMERSON: A seller's cellar.

SHORTZ: That's a seller's cellar. Good job.

MARTIN: Great job, Kathy. And you know this - for playing the puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at

And before we let you go, what is your public radio station?

EMERSON: WMEA in Portland, WMEH in Bangor, and WMEP in Camden.

MARTIN: Great.

EMERSON: We're happy listeners and supporters.

MARTIN: Fabulous, great to hear. Kathy Emerson of Stonington, Maine, thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Kathy.

EMERSON: Oh, it's been and honor and a pleasure. Thank you very much.

MARTIN: All right, what is the puzzle for next week?

SHORTZ: Yeah, name a famous person in history. Four letters in the first name and six letters in the last, move the first letter of all this to the end. And the result will be a two-word phrase that might be defined as the opposite of a curve. Who's the famous person and what's the phrase?

So again. A famous person in history, four-six. Move the first letter of all this to the end. And you'll get a two-word phrase that might be defined as the opposite of a curve. Who's the famous person and what's the phrase?

MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, September 12th 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 he is, of course, WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Will Shortz.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.

(SOUNDBITE OF THEME MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.