Sunday, August 30, 2009

NPR Puzzle -- Leading the Way

Any delays in solving this morning's puzzle can be explained by our sleepy ears & brains having a less-than-accurate grasp of what the puzzle actually wanted. When it was finally posted on the website, we were able to get the point. Here's what Will actually wants:
Name a famous leader in world history — the name by which this person is usually known. Change the first letter of the leader's name to the previous letter of the alphabet, rearrange the result, and you'll name what this person was the leader of. Who is it, and where was this person the leader?
A bit like last week, Ross wandered off while I finished the novel I was reading; when I next saw him, he'd solved it.

We'd been out late last night: dinner and various games with our friends Harry & Mary. They're high-level life-masters in bridge, but they enjoy other sorts of games. They'd happily play bridge with us, but we're so rusty, it would be like expecting impromptu lessons from them. More than a comedown from other, more exalted bridge games they've enjoyed. (Mary once played against Bill Gates...) So we played Quelf (a game, we realized, that rather depends on the lack of inhibition that children and the mildly inebriated possess; we surprised ourselves by enjoying it sober, but it could be fall-over-funny under the right circumstances), Stone Age, Tara (a variant of Go and Reversi that uses Celtic knots in very pretty ways), and Mammoth, a card game Harry had taught us last year. Everyone won exactly one game, so it was the best sort of evening.

Before I get on to the value-added puzzle, here's Will's Happy Birthday challenge, where I asked for world capitals for each of the 13 letters in Happy Birthday:

H - Hanoi, Vietnam
A - Auckland, New Zealand
P - Paris, France
P - Pyongyang, North Korea
Y - Yerevan, Armenia (also Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast)

B - Bern, Switzerland (and 21 more -- by far the most capitals in this set)
I - Islamabad, Pakistan
R - Reykjavik, Iceland
T - Tokyo, Japan
H - Harare, Zimbabwe
D - Damascus, Syria
A - Athens, Greece
Y - Yaounde, Cameroon (also Yangon, Myanmar, formerly Rangoon, Burma)

I picked some obvious capitals, but from my research there are some pretty obscure choices. And it's left as an exercise for the reader whether Libya's capital is a T (Tripoli) or an H (Hun). I've seen it both ways.

Okay, now for the value-added puzzle this week. This is how Will explained it:
Each answer starts with a clue for a six-letter word. If you drop the first letter and read the remaining letters backward, you'll get a five-letter word that answers a second clue. For example, if the clues are "flower parts" and "roofing material," the answers would be "petals" and "slate." (Remove the "p" of "petals" and read the rest backward to get "slate.")
Let's see if we can come up with some new ones!

Ah, at this point I have to confess something. I rely on Ross's software for these things, but while TEA will show me all the five letter words that are words when reversed, and all the six letter words with words in reverse, the added complication of taking off a letter rather changes the matter. It seems this will take some programming by Ross. But it's lunchtime, so I'll publish this for now, then come back and add the value later today.

Thanks to Ross, who dashed off a program while finishing lunch, we have some new value added challenges:

Armadas of ships / material they are made of

Stone of film / Jones of jazz

Type of radish / brand of cell phone

Refuses / river in France

Spies / scoop

Reviews / area

Mistake / student

Type of exam or race / type of runner

Grooms / contemptuous look

Barber's actions / recreation

Stadiums / more sensible

Oblivious / rinds

Value / joins

Advanced / pulled out

Sailboats / reel

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