Sunday, September 19, 2010

NPR Puzzle 9/19/10 - Just How Many Answers Are There?

Here's this week's puzzle:
Name five countries whose names are five letters long. Using the middle letter of each country's name, spell the five-letter name of a sixth country.
For some reason, Dr. Shortz has this one all mucked up before we've even begun.

In his explanation, Will said that Victor Fleming, who sent him this puzzle, used Palau, which is a sovereign nation, albeit one of the youngest to belong to the UN.  So why exclude Palau?  Maybe he worried it's too obscure.  Whatever.  We've not used it -- and still we have two answers.  In each of our answers there is a country (two countries total) that could conceivably be deemed iffy by Dr. Shortz's standards.  Our problem is, we don't know which is the "unique" answer.  Remember -- neither of our solutions uses Palau!

If you have either answer, or both, don't tell us (especially not in the comments), but do submit it to NPR here.

You know I love the country puzzles.  Here are each of our answers, in pictorial format.  What I've done is stack the countries so that when you take the middle letters of each country pictured, and read those letters from top to bottom, it spells out an answer.  I'll put a gap between the two stacks of five.  Two countries will be pictured twice, albeit with different photos.  All attributions to be provided on Thursday.  Have fun!



Fun, hunh?  I do love these country puzzles, Will.  I'm just sayin'...

Time for ...

P I C K   A   R A N G E

This is where we ask you how many entries you think NPR will get for the challenge above.  If you want to win, leave a comment with your guess for the range of entries NPR will receive.  First come first served, so read existing comments before you guess.  Ross and I guess last, just before we publish the Thursday post.  After the Thursday post is up, the entries are closed.

We have a new prize -- Les Foeldessy's cool book, Gryptics.  He sent us a copy and has offered to give them as prizes for the next couple weeks.  As it happens, I won last week with 1500-1600, so I'm keeping the one we already have.  (And I even get to solve the puzzles, because I actually won it!)  It's a very worthy prize -- thanks, Les!

Remember, troublemakers risk winning the American Girl puzzle book, so play nice.  :-)

Here are the ranges:

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 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,900
1,900 - 2,000

2,000 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,400
2,400 - 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.


Roxie said...

Curiously, I have 5 correct answers, including Palau. (And yes, I did check whether I had outdated spelling or alternate names, etc.)...

Mendo Jim said...

Don't you love it when Will says "unique?"
I have six sixth countries (including Palau, since it wasn't excluded on the web site when I read it yesterday). Of course there are many permutations for the other five.

Roxie said...

I originally had 6, but then realized that I was accidentally using the country's name in it's letters :-) Unique, indeed.

Magdalen said...

Boy, I'm glad Ross just found the two he found -- 30 photos would have been a bit much!

jimel said...

I found 7 solutions including Palau which wasn't excluded on the website (had to miss the broadcast of the today's puzzle). With that many correct answers I'll go with a higher number -- 2500 - 3000.


David said...

I got two easily.

3000 to 3500 for me.

Marie said...

I got several but not easily, I'll take 1900-2000.

Sarah said...

I've got four answers, not counting Palau since we can't use that.

henry.blancowhite said...

This reminds me of Car Talk's famous "It only works if the number is 2" puzzler.
Ross, can you run this through TEA and tell us how many answers there actually are?
Possibly WS intended to exclude not only Palau but all other obscure countries - but who is to say what is "obscure"? At 9:00 am EDT on Monday, I confirm Mendo Jim's report that the NPR website does NOT include the clause disqualifying Palau - perhaps the Palau ambassador knows somebody at NPR??

Tom said...

I've come up with four possible solutions. The answer that I submitted is the one alluded to in Magdelan's first photo array. I'll take 1,800-1,900 this week please.

Jordan said...

I'll take 2000-2100. I'm still working on the solution.


Dave said...

Looks like I'm stuck with the uncoveted 1700 to 1800 slot. Hey Magdalen, what happens if the answer is an even hundred (i.e. 1800)? Who wins? The 1700 to 1800 or the 1800 to 1900? Do you cut the book in half? If so, which way? From top to bottom? Side to side? Or do you just give one person the first half of the book and the second the second half of the book? Or does one person get the odd pages and the other the even pages? Hmmm . . .

By the way, I came up with four countries. I don't think that answers should be excluded because they involve obscure countries. Who determines what's obscure and what's not obscure? An obscurologist?

Crossword Man said...

I just made a comment and blogger ate it. That sucks. Here we go again.

Ok, Henry, I fed a list of UN members into TEA and it says three answers if Palau isn't a country and five if it is (since it allows itself and its twin with a central L to become valid).

As far as we can tell, NPR never get a round number of entries in their postbag, but if it does happen, the first commenter will take precedence for the prize ... unless Magdalen (our Grand Poohbah And Arbiter of Everything) decides otherwise.

Mendo Jim said...

If there is an "offical" delineation of the challenge, it must be what is on the NPR page with the only viable submission portal.
Since Palau is not mentioned there, I sent it in.
I'll think I'll skip the Range guess this week, but I will guess the chances that Dr. Shortz will make a serious mea culpa for the confusion in this challenge: zero.

Magdalen said...

I'm with Mendo Jim on the odds that Dr. Shortz will eat his words, or his 5-letter countries. I do think, though, that he will acknowledge that he accepted some number of alternatives -- without saying what they are!

Please, would everyone (yes, and Ross too) come back on Thursday with their lists? I'm in Boston, so I'll be doing the post remotely, and I should be able to post it right after 3 p.m. I really do want to know what people got.

Here's my thinking with regard to the number. They probably know how many "entries" they got as a precise number (you know, the mailbox will say 1,817 or 1,243 or whatever) but even if it said 1,500 exactly, it's unlikely they would announce that as precisely because what if there's some non-entries sent in? Or two entries by the same person.

My guess is that if the number was 1,500 exactly, they would say they got just fewer than 1,500 entries on the assumption that at least one could be disqualified.

Mendo Jim said...

I think everyone who stops by here is also familiar with Blainesville. I can only say that I don't have any five-letter country solutions to add to the ones listed there.
I do have some mild objections to the choices of possible countries, but that is the result of Will's lack of precision in what constitutes a "country" as opposed, say, to a "nation" or a "state" or a "member of the United Nations."
I think Wales and Aruba are fair candidates for this effort.
I could be wrong about Dr. Shortz' effort to clear up this week's confusion, but then Charlie Brown showed the same optimism about kicking the football every autumm.
It occurred to me that Will is sort of like some birds, the Cuckoo and the Cowbird among them, that lay their eggs in other species' nests and go on their way.
Every Sunday he promulgates a challenge and lays it in the nests of several thousand listeners, ignoring it forevermore, never ackowledging problems or nuances.
Birds provide a good example. The first time I found this blog was when the challenge was about turn(tern)styles, cro(crow)quet, etc. It came with the advisory that these words were perhaps the only ones with a certain quality.
By the time we got to the finish line, we had somewhere over twenty nice, satisfying and fun additions.
Will's comment? "The answer is birds."
Another week of Will's offspring being abandoned and of willing participants playing with the possibilities, but going home hungry.