Sunday Puzzle: Rare Letter Swap

Sep 19, 2021
Originally published on September 19, 2021 4:56 am

On-air challenge: The four rarest letters in English are J, Q, X, and Z — which together account for less than 1% of all use in the language. I'm going to give you some words. Change a single letter in each one to a J, Q, X, or Z to make a new word.

Example: MANOR --> MAJOR

1. SUITE
2. ENACT
3. INSECT
4. EITHER
5. CONVEY
6. DUALITY

Last week's challenge: Think of two famous singers with the same five-letter first name. Take the last name of one of these singers. Switch the second and third letters. Then advance the resulting first and third letters each to the next letter in the alphabet. The result will be the last name of the other singer. What singers are these?

Challenge answer: Billy Idol --> Billy Joel

Winner: Carlos (Charlie) Garcia from Richardson, Texas.

This week's challenge: This week's challenge comes from listener Rachel Cole of Oakland, Calif. Name something grown in a garden. Change the second letter, and double the third letter, to get an adjective that describes this thing. What is it?

Submit Your Answer

If you know the answer to next week's challenge, submit it here by Thursday, Sept. 23, at 3 p.m. ET. Listeners who submit correct answers win a chance to play the on-air puzzle. Important: Include a phone number where we can reach you.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And it is time to play The Puzzle.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Joining us, of course, is Will Shortz. He's puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster. Hi, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Lulu.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We are actually going to meet in person for the first time this week.

SHORTZ: That's amazing. All these years you've been on the show, this will...

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I know.

SHORTZ: ...Be the first time. But we're going to be together for the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress on Tuesday night. And it is the first live, in-person event at the Library of Congress in 18 months. How cool is that?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: It is so cool. And it is, of course, free to the public. So if you happen to be in D.C. on Tuesday at 7, come on down. Meantime, remind us of last week's challenge (laughter).

SHORTZ: Yes. It came from listener Charlie Parker of Exton, Pa. I said think of two famous singers with the same five-letter first name. Take the last name of one of these singers. Switch the second and third letters. Then advance the resulting first and third letters each to the next letter of the alphabet. And the result will be the last name of the other singer - sounded complicated. Anyway, the singers are Billy Idol and Billy Joel.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: We received 449 correct responses. And the winner is Carlos "Charlie" Garcia of Richardson, Texas. Congratulations. And welcome to the program.

CHARLIE GARCIA: Hi, thank you so much for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I am so happy to have you here. How did you figure it out?

GARCIA: I got to give props to my mom because she had already solved it, so she was the person to tell me, yes, that is the correct answer.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter).

GARCIA: I just started with Billy Joel and ended up working backwards to Idol.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's awesome. And I know you're from Texas. But you are right now in Estes Park, Colo. Is it beautiful?

GARCIA: Oh, it's absolutely gorgeous. It's September, so perfect hiking weather. The colors are just starting to change.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Aw.. Well, it sounds beautiful. Well, are you ready to play The Puzzle?

GARCIA: I am.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: (Laughter) All right. Take it away, Will.

SHORTZ: All right, Charlie. The four rarest letters in English are J, Q, X and Z, which together account for less than 1% of all use in the language. I'm going to give you some words. Change a single letter in each one to a J, Q, X or Z to make a new word. For example, if I said manner, M-A-N-O-R, you would say major, changing the M to a J. All right. Here we go. Your first word is suite, S-U-I-T-E.

GARCIA: Suite, OK.

SHORTZ: Change one of those letters to J, Q, X or Z. And I'll give you a big hint. Change it to a Q.

GARCIA: Oh, quite, of course.

SHORTZ: Quite is your word. Yep. Number two is enact, E-N-A-C-T.

GARCIA: E-N-A-C-T. Change to either J, Q, X or Z - exact.

SHORTZ: Exact is exactly right. Your next one is insect, I-N-S-E-C-T.

GARCIA: Insect - inject.

SHORTZ: Inject is it. Either, E-I-T-H-E-R.

GARCIA: Wanting to go to...

SHORTZ: This one makes a musical instrument. There's your hint.

GARCIA: I should know this because I played the French horn and trumpet back in high school.

SHORTZ: Whoa. OK. This is not as common an instrument as that. Change the first letter. Change the E.

GARCIA: E - zither.

SHORTZ: Zither - you got it. Ever heard of a zither?

GARCIA: I have not. What is that?

SHORTZ: Some sort of string instrument. Do you know, Lulu?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: I do sort of know a zither. But I don't think I would have gotten it had I been in Charlie's position.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) Understood.

GARCIA: OK. I feel a lot better now.

SHORTZ: Here's your next one. Convey, C-O-N-V-E-Y.

GARCIA: Convey - convex.

SHORTZ: Convex - you got it. And here's your last one. Duality, which is D-U-A-L-I-T-Y - duality.

GARCIA: Duality.

SHORTZ: All right. Here's your big hint. Change the first letter.

GARCIA: Oh, quality.

SHORTZ: Quality is the answer - good job.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Good job. This was a hard one. But you did great. How do you feel?

GARCIA: I wish I could do a few more if I could kind of get into a little bit of a rhythm.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: For playing our puzzle today, you'll get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, as well as puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at npr.org/puzzle. And Charlie, which member station do you listen to?

GARCIA: KERA.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Charlie Garcia of Richardson, Texas. Thank you so much for playing The Puzzle.

GARCIA: Thank you guys so much for having me.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: All right, Will. What is next week's challenge?

SHORTZ: Yes. It comes from listener Rachel Cole of Oakland, Calif. Name something grown in a garden. Change the second letter, and double the third letter to get an adjective that describes this thing. What is it? So again, something grown in a garden - change the second letter, and double the third letter to get an adjective that describes this thing. What thing is it?

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you have the answer, go to our website npr.org/puzzle and click on the Submit Your Answer link. Remember, just one entry per person, please. Our deadline for entries is Thursday, September 23 at 3 p.m. Eastern. Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time. And if you're the winner, we'll give you a call. And if you pick up the phone, you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzlemaster, Will Shortz. Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Lulu.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.