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Preview: Blaine's Puzzle Blog

Blaine's Puzzle Blog



Weekly discussion on the NPR puzzler, brain teasers, math problems and more.



Updated: 2018-04-20T02:40:04.404-07:00

 



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 1, 2017): Start the Year with a Word Square Puzzle

2017-01-15T06:56:51.147-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Jan 1, 2017): Start the Year with a Word Square Puzzle:
Q: Take the four-letter men's names TODD, OMAR, DAVE and DREW. If you write them one under the other, they'll form a word square, spelling TODD, OMAR, DAVE and DREW reading down as well.

Can you construct a word square consisting of five five-letter men's names? Any such square using relatively familiar men's names will count. Will has an answer using four relatively common names and one less familiar one.
This list of 5-letter names or this list of 5-letter boys names should help you get started.
A: Will's intended answer was:
KEMAL
EMILE
MILAN
ALAIN
LENNY

One of the many possible answers, and the answer of the person chosen to play on the air was:
ABRAM
BLANE
RANDY
ANDRE
MEYER



NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 31, 2016): Ponies Accept Seared Caviar

2016-08-07T06:03:13.866-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (July 31, 2016): Ponies Accept Seared Caviar:
Q: Take the four four-letter words LIMB, AREA, CORK and KNEE. Write them one under the other, and the four columns will spell four new words LACK, IRON, MERE, and BAKE.

This is called a double word square. I'd like you to find a double word square with 6-letter words. Specifically, your square must include the words PONIES, ACCEPT, SEARED and CAVIAR. These four words must be among the 12 common, uncapitalized six-letter words in the square. Can you do it?
A: Here's the answer:

ACROSS
CLARET
CAVIAR
EMIGRE
PONIES
TRENDS

ACCEPT
CLAMOR
RAVINE
ORIGIN
SEARED
STRESS



Christmas Puzzle for 2015

2018-01-23T17:30:40.020-08:00

Our annual Christmas puzzle is available now.
As in prior years, the reward for solving is a video Christmas card, but you'll need to figure out the password by solving the puzzle first.

Note: If you need some help, the full answer is posted here, but try solving it without help first... it's more fun that way.

Feel free to add a comment below to let us know that you successfully figured it out (without giving away the answer to others). We are always looking for new ideas for next year's Christmas puzzle, so submit those too.



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 13, 2013): U.S. City Population Crossword Puzzle

2016-11-13T06:30:46.923-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 13, 2013): U.S. City Population Crossword Puzzle:
Q: Take a seven-by-seven square grid. Arrange the names of U.S. cities or towns in regular crossword fashion inside the grid so that the cities used have the highest possible total population, according to the 2010 Census. For example, if you put Chicago in the top row and Houston in the sixth row, both reading across, and then fit Atlanta, Oakland and Reno coming down, you'll form a mini-crossword. And the five cities used have a total population, according to the 2010 census, of 5,830,997. You can do better. (Note: This is a two-week challenge)
The first problem is going to be finding a list of U.S. cities by their 2010 census values, to match Will's example. Using the values from Wikipedia, I get a slightly higher value of 5,831,809 for his example grid. And trying to go to census.gov returns a message that it is closed due to the government shutdown. My other issue with this puzzle is whether or not common abbreviations like LA and NYC will be accepted. I hope Mr. Shortz will post here and clarify his intentions with the puzzle, or at least give more details next week on the air. In any case, this one will be a hard puzzle to discuss or hint at since there aren't really any good ways to give a hint. Even giving your population total will give too much away, so I think it's going to be a hard two weeks to comment.

Update: Using a revised list from Wikipedia showing the Top 25 U.S. cities, I get the exact same values as Will:
Chicago = 2,695,598
Houston = 2,099,451
Atlanta = 420,003
Oakland = 390,724
Reno = 225,221
TOTAL = 5,830,997

Edit: The winning entry from Glen, accepted by Will:
A:
(image)



NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 24, 2013): Five by Five Word Square

2013-03-24T07:48:04.092-07:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Mar 24, 2013): Five by Five Word Square:
(image) Q: Take the four words "salt," "afar," "lava" and "trap." Write them one under the other, and the words will read the same vertically as horizontally. This is a word square of four-letter words. Note that the only vowel in this example square is an A. The object of the challenge is to create a five-letter word square using only common, uncapitalized English words, in which the only vowel in the entire square is A. The word in the center row, and column, is NASAL.
Aside from subjecting you to some obvious clues, there isn't much I can add, so I'll just give you a picture of the grid & let you figure it out from there.



NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 15, 2011): Four by Four Crossword Square

2018-01-23T02:07:00.470-08:00

NPR Sunday Puzzle (May 15, 2011): Four by Four Crossword Square:
Q: Create a 4-by-4 crossword square with four four-letter words reading across and four different four-letter words reading down. Use the word 'nags' at 1 across and the word 'newt' at 1 down. All eight words must be common, uncapitalized words, and all 16 letters must be different.
You could use recent hints in my other post...

Edit: My hint last week was "a tan" which coincidentally works this week as a clue to the least common word in the grid. I'd put ecru in the same family as tan, beige and khaki. In addition, reading the first letter of each word in my clue (Y,C,U,R,H,I,M,O,P) gives you the set of letters needed to complete the crossword square.
A: Across: NAGS, ECRU, WHIM, TYPO
Down: NEWT, ACHY, GRIP, SUMO