Sunday, January 30, 2011

NPR Puzzle 1/30/11 - Not Quite

Here's this week's puzzle:
Think of a common word that's six letters long and includes a Q. Change the Q to an N, and rearrange the result to form a new word that's a synonym of the first one. What are the words?
Do we have an answer?  Yes.  Are we quite certain it's the only answer?  Not at first, but then Ross went at it with some software of his called "Word Botcher" and now he's prepared to say our answer is the only one.  There are at least 84 6-letter words that have a Q in them (yes, we cheated) and it's not hard to spot an answer, but it's not the tightest synonym I've ever met, so I wondered.

There.  That's all the hinting I intend to do.  If you know the answer, send it in to NPR directly; you can find the form here.  On Thursday we can discuss whether it's a tight synonym, a loose synonym, or what we think Dr. Shortz is smoking...

I love the letter Q.  Let me see what art work I can find:

And would you look at that -- nary a tree in sight!  You'd have thought I could have produced a quince or a quercus alba to keep my tree streak alive!

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.  The winner gets a puzzle book of our unspecified choosing.

Last week, we had more than 1,200 entries.  Grace is our winner.  Yay!  It's been a while since we had a woman win, and as I have a puzzle book with flowers on the cover, I'm especially happy about this.  Grace, email me at Magdalen (at) with your address and this will go out immediately.

I'm beginning to think that it's a race to see who picks the coveted 1200 - 1250 slot, as that's won a lot recently.  In which case, gentle people: Start your engines!

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

Here are the ranges:

Fewer than 50       
50 - 100
100 - 150
150 - 200
200 - 250
250 - 300
300 - 350
350 - 400
400 - 450
450 - 500

500 - 550
550 - 600
600 - 650
650 - 700
700 - 750
750 - 800
800 - 850
850 - 900
900 - 950
950 - 1,000
1,000 - 1,050         
1,050 - 1,100
1,100 - 1,150
1,150 - 1,200
1,200 - 1,250
1,250 - 1,300
1,300 - 1,350
1,350 - 1,400
1,400 - 1,450
1,450 - 1,500

1,500 - 1,550
1,550 - 1,600
1,600 - 1,650
1,650 - 1,700
1,700 - 1,750
1,750 - 1,800
1,800 - 1,850
1,850 - 1,900
1,900 - 1,950
1,950 - 2,000
2,000 - 2,050
2,050 - 2,100
2,100 - 2,150
2,150 - 2,200
2,200 - 2,250
2,250 - 2,300
2,300 - 2,350
2,350 - 2,400
2,400 - 2,450
2,450 - 2,500

2,500 - 2,750
2,750 - 3,000
3,000 - 3,250
3,250 - 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.
Our tie-break rule: 
In the event that a single round number is announced, AND two separate people picked the ranges leading up to and leading up from that round number, the prize will be awarded to whichever entrant had not already won a prize, or in the event that both entrants had won a prize already or neither had, then to the earlier of the two entries on the famous judicial principle of "First Come First Serve," (or in technical legal jargon, "You Snooze, You Lose")


DAPF said...

Magdalen, the program I am using has 162 six-letter words containing a Q (granted, not all of them are familiar words, although some are well known to Scrabble players.

In my opinion, the synonymy of the two solution words is really good. In fact, one word appears in the definition of the other in my good old (paper) dictionary. So I am pretty confident about my answer.

Tom said...

I didn't find this week's challenge particularly difficult. I'll take the 1,400 - 1,450 range this week please.

Magdalen said...

DAPF -- come back on Thursday; I want to discuss this point further. (Code language for: I disagree.)

Dave said...

I think that the two words are fairly synonymous. I'll grab the 1,500 to 1,550 slot.

David said...

I agree that, at least in Sunday Puzzle terms, that the words are synonyms. When I thought of the "Q" word, the other word as synonym was obvious to me.

In the past, there have been "synonyms" that are much further apart (less synonymy?, less synonym-like?, less synonymish?, more synonym lite with one third fewer similarities than our regular synonyms?) than these two. I'm sorry I can't easily think of an example.

Magdalen and DAPF,how many of your words rearrange into any other word, synonym or not?

I'll fill in the 1,450 to 1,500 slot.

DAPF said...

David, neither one of my words has any anagrams, as far as I can tell. By the way, I am convinced that I have the expected answer for this one 8^)

henry.blancowhite said...

I'm siding with DAPF on this one. My copy of TEA lists 84 six-letter words with a Q in "core English" and 140 in "edited English" at least some of which should be acceptable, giving a total anywhere between 84 and 224. My paper dictionary also lists one of the two words as a definition of the other (but not vice versa).
I'll take my usual 1050-1100, please.

Ben said...

I'm in for 1,600 - 1,650.


Mendo Jim said...

Well, our lessons in evolving English continue.
From nosebag to feed bag to feedbag and from Afghan (Afghani is the currency) to the unnecessary Afghanistani.
This week a word whose current primary usage has taken over an older one.
But consider this: The Wesbster's Collegiate Dictionary I got as a senior in high school (and still use despite some tatters) has the preferred (number 1) definition of the q word as "presenting difficulties; hazardous." Didn't know that.
Will's synonym comes in third, what I assume is Magdalen's second and "fastidious" fourth.
Such a versatile word!
I've done my best to avoid a spoiler, but I kind of wonder if there is any real utility in putting off a more direct discussion of the clue and answer until Thursday. I suppose someone could sneak in here or (Blaine's), find the answer and get a leg up on the lapel pin,
but it might also help Will in clarifying the occasional problem on the air.

Jimel said...

Since half the countries going to be sitting behind snowdrifts with nothing much to do but solve puzzles I'll choose the 1700-1750 range. While I see Madeline's point on the synonymity, these are closer than some of Will's other "cinnamons."

Tobias Duncan said...

Does this blog ever cover the crossword puzzle anymore?
What did I miss ?

Crossword Man said...

Tobias: see New Year's Re-Solutions for the changes at new year. There have been two new Cheat Sheets in January: A Monograph on Monograms and From Aaron to Zion.

Grace said...

I don't need another prize but I do like to guess,1300 - 1350. I do have a question about the current puzzle I would like to ask on Thursday.

Kate said...

Great puzzles...The letter 'Q' gave me hard time though..!
Here you'll find a lot of logic puzzles and brainteasers -