Sunday, May 23, 2010

NPR Puzzle 5/23/10 -- Problems? What Problems?

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name a country that is spelled as a solid word. Change two consecutive letters in it to a single R. The result will name a problem that this country has traditionally faced. What's the country and what's the problem? 
Wow.  Not easy, I would say.  (Did Will say it was easy?  Ross will know; he takes notes!)  We haven't solved it yet (one hour later, although that hour did include eating breakfast and my winning multiple battles in Castle Age, a game on Facebook).  Ross is off now, writing a Perl program to solve it.

Now, we're not the sharpest knives in the drawer, not by any means.  If you have solved it, by all means heap scorn on us slow-wits in the comments below.  Part of the problem, of course, is that we have no idea what Will means by "that is spelled as a solid word."  Say wha -- ?  So Gambia becomes The Gambia?  (One of our reference works suggests that is the official name for Gambia.)  Ah, but he didn't tell us to use the "official" name, so that's unlikely to be the problem.  As certain people say on Twitter: we're confoozled.

Brief pause.

Okay, we know the answer.  Will, if you are reading this:  Shame on you, sir (oops, sorry) Shame on you, Doctor Shortz, sir.

I can say no more.

But I can show you.  Here's my deliberately misleading photograph of the country:

(That rules out, what -- The Netherlands?)  As always, I'll come back on Thursday and give you a proper attribution for the photo.

Meanwhile, was anyone else shocked (shocked, I tell you!) that there were only about 750 entries last week?  I was.  Ross mocked me when I took 900-1000 as my FHB pick (FHB = family hold back, the abbreviated warning both Ross and I grew up with, used by parental units to keep grubby children from eating all the food before the guests left; suitable here because Ross and I make our picks only after all of you get your shot).  Hah!  Clearly, I was too high!  That'll show him.

So, watcha gonna do.  Are we wrong to think this week's challenge is "easy" which is to say "hard"?  Did you get it immediately?  (I could discuss this, but it would all give hints.)  Will NPR get very few entries, or lots & lots?  I now have no idea.

Submit a comment with your guess; if two or more comments pick the same division, we go with the first commenter, so read the comments before you choose.  If you're new here, we have a puzzle book to give away to the winner.

Here are the divisions:

Fewer than 100
100 - 200
200 - 300
300 - 400
400 - 500
500 - 600
600 - 700
700 - 800
800 - 900
900 - 1,000
1,000 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,500
1,500 - 2,000
2,000 - 2.500
2,500 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,500
3,500 - 4,000
4,000 - 4,500
4,500 - 5,000
More than 5,000
More than 5,000 and it sets a new record.

Edited to add:  Ross came up a second answer, which he is convinced (now!) is THE correct answer.  Which means, I need a new totally misleading photograph:

A couple points:  I like the first answer better, but I concede the second answer is probably the one Dr.
Shortz intended.  And yes, with both answers, I am still censorious of the way the question was asked.  And finally, while I prefer Mystery Country #1 as the answer, I have a special special treat for you on Thursday regarding Mystery Country #2.


Roxie said...

The solid word through me off as well, I was thinking that Puerto Rico might become Puertorico... or something the likes.
After I figured out the answer (I think I'm right, though Dan has a different answer) I researched whether the country in question may have been hyphenated at some point in history, but no... The only thing I found out was that it had a different, but similar name many moons ago.

That all being said: I'll take the 1000-1100 slot :-)
And lastly, that picture is of no help at all - that looks like Kansas.

Dave said...

I'm not sure why Will used the term, "solid word." It really has nothing to do with the puzzle. Can't believe that there were only 750 correct entries last week. Maybe a lot of people submitted ABSTAIN and SOBER, instead of BASS AND BARITONE.

I'm going with 800 to 900 for this week's puzzle.

Natasha said...

I wish to select the 700-800 slot. The answer Will has in mind is very clear to me. Thanks.

Jordan said...

I still don't know the answer, but I'll go in for the 900-1000 slot.


Tom said...

I was shocked at the low number of correct entries last week. I think that this weeks solution is more challenging than last weeks. That said, I'll take the 600 - 700 bracket this week please.

Mendo Jim said...

Nice photos!
Will said "solid" twice. It is unlikely we'll ever know why.
I got both possible answers before getting out of bed. Is there a new criteria this week that makes one better than the other?
The middle range of the responses challenge is already taken, so I'll go high: 1100-1200.
Another thing we are unlikely to ever learn is if all the submitted responses are "graded" right or wrong or if only the one selected is checked. Would an "abstain/sober" submission have been rejected?

Anonymous said...

hungary hungry

Anonymous said...

I thought of WALES and WARS pretty quickly, but I don't know that it has been a traditional problem for them.

Ben said...

1100-1200 for me please.

- Ben

Marie said...

I am shocked at the low number last week, so I'll take 500-600 this week.

henry.blancowhite said...

I'll take 1500-2000. If I've misread and that's already taken, give me the next vacant slot above that.

I understood the "solid word" merely as meaning "it doesn't have a space, hyphen, or other punctuation mark in it. I think this'll be easier than last week's for the casual solver, because you can work on it fairly absent-mindedly in your head (which is how I solved it), whereas for most people a 12-letter compound anagram requires pencil, paper, and concentration.

If Roxie and I have the same answer, I don't quite agree with her comment about the "different but similar name," but I don't think I can explain why without giving too much of the game away.

Now I'll have to see if I can think of the other answer....

Dan said...

Viewing Blaine's blog, it seems that Roxie has the correct answer. All the slots I would have chosen are taken, so I will go with the 400-500 bracket.