Sunday, September 2, 2012

NPR Puzzle 9/2/12 Autumn Leaves of Red and Gold

Here's this week's NPR Puzzle:
An anagram word ladder: Start with the word AUTUMN. Change one letter at a time and anagram the result, make LEAVES in the shortest number of steps possible.
No, we haven't solved it yet, but at least you all know what you're getting for photos!!!

I'm pretty sure I didn't break it last week, but just in case, I'll whisper: send your answer in to NPR here.

Time for...

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. Or skip the comments and send an email with your pick to Magdalen (at) Crosswordman (dot) com. 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 choosing.
There were more than 800 entries this week. Even Linda Wertheimer admitted that the number was suppressed because of the technical difficulties they had with getting answered logged. As it happens, Ross "won." No, he doesn't get a puzzle book. He'll have less to walk down to the mailbox.
Here are the ranges:
Fewer than 50       
51 - 100
101 - 150
151 - 200
201 - 250
251 - 300
301 - 350
351 - 400
401 - 450
451 - 500

501 - 550
551 - 600
601 - 650
651 - 700
701 - 750
751 - 800
801 - 850
851 - 900
901 - 950
951 - 1,000
1,001 - 1,050         
1,051 - 1,100
1,101 - 1,150
1,151 - 1,200
1,201 - 1,250
1,251 - 1,300
1,301 - 1,350
1,351 - 1,400
1,401 - 1,450
1,451 - 1,500

1,501 - 1,550
1,551 - 1,600
1,601 - 1,650
1,651 - 1,700
1,701 - 1,750
1,751 - 1,800
1,801 - 1,850
1,851 - 1,900
1,901 - 1,950
1,951 - 2,000
2,001 - 2,050
2,051 - 2,100
2,101 - 2,150
2,151 - 2,200
2,201 - 2,250
2,251 - 2,300
2,301 - 2,350
2,351 - 2,400
2,401 - 2,450
2,451 - 2,500

2,501 - 2,750
2,751 - 3,000
3,001 - 3,250
3,251 - 3,500
3,501 - 4,000
4,001 - 4,500
4,501 - 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 with a qualifier such as "about" or "around" (e.g., "We received around 1,200 entries."), AND two separate people picked the ranges of numbers just before and just after 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").  As of July 2012, this rule is officially no longer obsolete (and also I just like having fine print). 


Magdalen said...

We've done it in six steps, which obviously is the goal. I'll post six photos on Thursday so you can see visually what the words are.

EKW said...

Got it in five steps!
I pick 501-550 for the range.

Anonymous said...


skydiveboy said...

Since there were more than 800 entries last week I think it is you who won.

KDW said...

Alas, my answer looks very long....

May I have the 201-250 range, please?

--KDW, aka musettesmom, depending on how messed up I get with my Google identity

Mendo Jim said...

For some reason Blaine has his you-know-whats in a twist about discussing the number of steps involved, even though he recognizes that that is exactly and only what Will asks for.
I suppose the Puzzlemaster would like to see your work, however.

Since five letters have to be changed to get from A to L, so to speak, then five steps is the solution to the challenge.
And I'll bet there are many more ways to get there than the first one I've come up with.

Sorry Anon, four is outside the rules and six or more not good enough.
If you haven't been able to do it in five, then keep trying.

As for 800 being low due to technical problems, two weeks ago it was a glitch-free 700.

This week actually takes some time to work on, so last week's problem might not have even been noticed.

I am still a little nonplussed at how upset submitters were by the delay.

Assuming there is no comparable holdup, I'll double the 800 to 1600and then again because it is much tougher: so 3200+.

Curtis said...

Hey MendoJim,

I agree that Blaine has his unmentionables twisted into an uncomfortable position about the number. I believe this is a quasi-creative challenge, and showing our work is imperative. Now, how are we counting steps? Do Autumn and Leaves count as steps? Or do we just count the words between them? I answered by giving the word chain, and not necessarily the word count. So, my word count could vary up or down by two, depending on which words the puzzlemaster counts.

Ross and Magdalen: feel free to sanction me if I've gone overboard with my above rant.

I'll revert to my standard of 1,351 - 1,400, because this one is easy, and creative.

David said...

I tried to use as few "un-" words and plurals ending in "s" as possible. I came up with a solution far from my ideal about 2 miles into my morning run, but took another 4 miles to get to my submitted solution (one word not meeting an ideal solution by my criteria).

I'll stick with my 1001 to 1050 range.

Anonymous said...

TEA found a solution in the minimum length (four intermediate words; five steps; six words including the starting and finishing words) in a few seconds, so it is clearly not a difficult puzzle.

My usual 1051-1100, please.

Henry BW

skydiveboy said...


Joe Kupe said...

It took me about forty minutes so maybe I don't have quite the vocabulary as everyone else, just saying! 1201 to 1250 please.

Anonymous said...

601, because it's an American holiday weekend and a puzzle with several steps. I have the minimum steps, but had to test one word on a few people. They thought the word was common, not it's among the 10000 most common words.

EKW said...

I have found 70 distinct solutions of 5steps each.