On-air challenge: Every answer this week is the name of an article of apparel — something to wear. Name the items from the anagram given.
Example: LOOP --> POLO.
Last week's challenge: This was a variation on the old word-ladder puzzle. The object is to change WHOLE to HEART by either adding or subtracting one letter at a time, making a new, common, uncapitalized word at each step.
For example, you can change RED to ROSE in five steps. Starting with RED, you could add a U, making RUED; drop the D, leaving RUE; add an S, making RUSE; add an O, making ROUSE, and then drop the U, leaving ROSE.
Changing or rearranging letters is not allowed, neither are plurals or verbs formed by adding -S. No word in the chain can have fewer than three letters.
How many steps are needed to change WHOLE to HEART?
Answer: Here's an example of one possible answer: WHOLE --> HOLE, HOE, HOPE, OPE, COPE, COP, COOP, COOPT, COOT, COT, COAT, CAT, CHAT, HAT, HEAT --> HEART.
The randomly selected winning answer was done in six steps. WHOLE --> HOLE, HOE, HOER, HER, HEAR --> HEART.
Winner: Melissa Goodwin of Munster, Ind.
Next week's challenge: This challenge comes from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago, who runs The Mystery League, which conducts puzzle hunts.
This challenge isn't too hard. Name a unit of measurement. Remove two consecutive letters. The letters that remain can be rearranged to name what this measurement measures. What is 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, Jan. 14, at 3 p.m. ET.
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. There are a few of you out there who hear this music and think oh, no, not this. The anagrams are not my jam.
But I am here to tell you, even the skeptics, if you grab a pencil, engage your brain in a different way and just play, you will be a happier person. I promise. Let's play the puzzle.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
MARTIN: Joining me now is Will Shortz, puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master.
Good morning, Will.
WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Rachel.
MARTIN: So, 2016 - off to a bang. The last of couple of weeks, anything happening in your life? Year's starting out OK?
SHORTZ: Everything is good, yeah. I'll tell you a cool thing happening this week. I am playing in a ping-pong tournament for charity at Grand Central Terminal on Thursday night.
MARTIN: Oh, that's awesome. Inside the terminal?
SHORTZ: Inside the terminal. Anybody wandering through on Thursday, check us out.
MARTIN: Very cool. OK, remind us - what was last week's puzzle?
SHORTZ: Yes. It was a variation on the old word ladder puzzle. The object was to change whole, W-H-O-L-E, to heart by either adding or subtracting one letter at a time, making a new, common uncapitalized word at each step.
Well, I won't bore you with my 16-step answer, which was very elegant, but it could be shortened to just six steps. Starting with whole, you can go to hole, H-O-L-E; then hoe, H-O-E, then hoer, H-O-E-R, to her, to hear and finally to heart. Just six steps, very nice.
MARTIN: OK, so around 800 of you gave the puzzle a shot this week. Our randomly selected winner is Melissa Goodwin of Munster, Ind. She joins us on the line now. Melissa, congratulations.
MELISSA GOODWIN: Thank you.
MARTIN: How'd you figure this one out?
GOODWIN: Well, it was sort of a group effort. Our family has been playing puzzles on the way to church since the '80s when it started. And this one, our youngest son and my husband and I sat around Sunday morning and did it and thought and thought. And I worked on it a couple more days and finally, about 12:30, I came up with hoer, and that's what made the link.
MARTIN: Cool. OK, so are you ready to play the puzzle, Melissa?
GOODWIN: I am very ready.
MARTIN: She sounds ready, Will. Let's do it.
SHORTZ: Melissa, I think you're going to be great at this. And Rachel, every answer today is the name of an article of apparel, something to wear. Name the items from their anagrams. For example, if I said loop, L-O-O-P, you would say polo, as in a polo shirt.
GOODWIN: You had to give me anagrams.
SHORTZ: Anagrams, here we go (laughter).
Number one is pace, P-A-C-E.
SHORTZ: That is right.
Number two is wong, W-O-N-G.
GOODWIN: Wong. Gown.
SHORTZ: Gown is right.
GOODWIN: Oh, goat.
SHORTZ: If you went to a fraternity party, you might wear this.
GOODWIN: Oh, toga.
SHORTZ: Toga, there you go.
SHORTZ: That's it.
Fibers, F-I-B-E-R-S. This is something I wouldn't see if you were wearing these.
GOODWIN: OK. Boxers? Briefs.
MARTIN: Briefs. Good.
SHORTZ: Briefs. There you go.
GOODWIN: (Laughter) Boxers or briefs.
SHORTZ: (Laughter) Nice.
Haunts, H-A-U-N-T-S. And this is sometimes spelled as two words, sometimes as one.
GOODWIN: Sun hat?
SHORTZ: Sun hat is it.
MARTIN: Oh, great.
SHORTZ: How about repaid? R-E-P-A-I-D.
MARTIN: I know what this is.
SHORTZ: Oh, good.
MARTIN: Because they are in my life a lot.
SHORTZ: Diaper, yes.
GOODWIN: You're right. I'm way past those days, thankfully.
SHORTZ: Here's your last one.
Ungreased, U-N-G-R-E-A-S-E-D, something you'd wear on the lower half of your body.
GOODWIN: (Laughter) I'm going back to my mother's days and thinking they were called - not cropped pants.
MARTIN: I don't even really know what these are. I know the answer, but I can't - I couldn't tell you what they looked like to save my life.
SHORTZ: They haven't been in fashion for a long time.
MARTIN: Yeah. Wow, you got it.
GOODWIN: Man, oh, man. You really stumped me bad towards the end.
MARTIN: You did great.
SHORTZ: I thought you did great.
MARTIN: You did excellent. For someone who is fearful of the anagram, I thought you rocked it.
GOODWIN: Oh, yeah. That's always my worst.
MARTIN: Well done. For playing the puzzle today, Melissa, you know because you listen all the time that you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin and puzzle books and games. You can read about your prizes at our website npr.org/puzzle. And where do you hear us, Melissa?
GOODWIN: We are members of WBEZ in Chicago.
MARTIN: Melissa Goodwin of Munster, Ind. Thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Melissa. It was fun.
GOODWIN: Thank you.
MARTIN: OK, Will. What's up for next week?
SHORTZ: Yes. The challenge comes from listener Sandy Weisz of Chicago, who runs puzzle hunts there under the name The Mystery League, and this challenge isn't too hard.
Name a unit of measurement. Remove two consecutive letters, and the letters that remain can be rearranged to name what this measurement measures. What is it?
So again, a unit of measurement, remove two consecutive letters. The letters that remain can be rearranged to name what this measurement measures. What is it?
MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to npr.org/puzzle. Click on that submit your answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for those entries is Thursday, January 14, at 3 p.m. Eastern time.
Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And it goes like this. If you're the winner then we give you a call, and then you 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: Thank you, Rachel. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.