Friday, February 20, 2009

NPR Sunday Puzzle 2/15/09 - Al Capone

Last Sunday's puzzle on the NPR Weekend Edition was:
Take the name "Pensacola," remove one letter and rearrange the letters that remain to get the first and last name of a famous person in American history. Who is it?
Al CaponeWe couldn't immediately think of an answer to this one, so solved it the slow way ... with Scrabble tiles. The famous person in American history is the gangster Al Capone, who ironically ended up being convicted of income-tax evasion.

It wasn't a coincidence that this puzzle was chosen for February 15. The previous day was the 80th anniversary of the infamous St Valentine's Day Massacre which was planned by Capone's gang. Al himself had arranged to be on holiday in Florida (though probably not Pensacola - that's too much of a coincidence).

TEA Crossword Helper is great for solving (and creating) puzzles like this. To find the answer in this case, you can use the pattern ........;Pensacola which searches for eight-letter words (hence the eight dots) drawn from the letters to the right of the semi-colon.

When reporting the results, TEA optionally shows the unused letter(s) as an "anagram balance". This feature is useful when playing Scrabble, where it helps to know what letter(s) are going to be left over after playing a given word.

The answer to the slightly more difficult follow-up question I posed:
Take the name "Fort Madison," remove one letter and rearrange the letters that remain to get the first and last name of another famous American. Who is it?
is the pianist and singer-songwriter Fats Domino:

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