Three B's Bring You To One

Jan 19, 2014
Originally published on January 19, 2014 12:30 pm

On-air challenge: Name a word that, when combined with three words beginning with the letter B, completes a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, given "brew," "body" and "base," you would say "home" (home-brew, homebody, home base).

Last week's challenge: Name a familiar form of exercise in two words. Switch the order of the two words, then say them out loud. The result, phonetically, will name something to wear. What is it?

Answer: Tae Bo, bow tie

Winner: Christine Welch of Keizer, Ore.

Next week's challenge from Ed Pegg Jr. of Name a famous person whose first and last names together contain four doubled letters — all four of these being different letters of the alphabet. Who is it? For example, Buddy Holly's name has two doubled letters, D and L.

Submit Your Answer

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

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Last week, the oldest crossword puzzle creator turned 100 years old. No, not Will Shortz, but it is time for the puzzle.


MARTIN: Will Shortz is, of course, the puzzle editor of the New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master. He joins me now. Hey, Will.


MARTIN: So, I understand you actually attended the birthday party of Bernice Gordon, her 100th. How was it?

SHORTZ: Well, it was great. She's been making crosswords for the New York Times since at least 1953, and she had a birthday party a week ago, which I went to. I was the only puzzle person there. She had lots of family and friends. It was a good time.

MARTIN: Very cool.

SHORTZ: It was just great to be there with her.

MARTIN: Well, I imagine it's a small group of you elite puzzle creators, so it was very cool that you got to go. And with that, what was last week's challenge, Will?

SHORTZ: Yes. I said name a familiar form of exercise in two words. Switch the order of the two words then say them out loud. And the result phonetically will name something to wear. What is it? Well, that exercise system is Tae Bo. Do you know that, Rachel?

MARTIN: Of course. I used to do some mean Tae Bo in my day.

SHORTZ: All right. And switch the two halves and you get bow tie.

MARTIN: All right. So, we got just over 600 correct answers this week and our randomly selected winner is Christine Welch of Keizer, Oregon. She joins us on the line now. Hey, Christine. Congratulations.

CHRISTINE WELCH: Well, thank you, Rachel.

MARTIN: Have you done a lot of Tae Bo in your past?

WELCH: No, none at all.


MARTIN: But did it come pretty quickly or did you have to mull this one over a little bit?

WELCH: Yeah, I mulled it over a little bit, though about it the first day, you know, off and on. And it just came to me.

MARTIN: Sometimes it does that, yeah. And you are from Keizer, Oregon. I've got family in Portland and Eugene, but I've never been to Keizer. Where is it?

WELCH: It's on the northern edge of Salem.

MARTIN: I understand you're currently retired, but you used to teach high school?


MARTIN: What'd you teach?

WELCH: I taught mathematics.

MARTIN: I mean, I think there's some pretty strong parallels between math skills and puzzling skills, right?

WELCH: I think so. Doing a hard math problem is like solving a puzzle and it's fun.

MARTIN: All right. Well, let's put those skills to the test. You ready to do this?

WELCH: I think so.

MARTIN: OK, Will. We're ready.

SHORTZ: All right, Christine and Rachel. I'm going to give you three words starting with the letter B. You give me a word that can go before each of mine to complete a compound word or a familiar two-word phrase. For example, if I said brew, body and base, you would say home, as in homebrew, homebody and home base.

MARTIN: OK. You've got it, Christine?


MARTIN: OK. Let's give it a go.

SHORTZ: Number one: we'll start with three-letter answers. And your first trio is berg B-E-R-G, bucket and breaker.


SHORTZ: Iceberg, ice bucket and icebreaker, right. Brow, ball and bank.


SHORTZ: Eyebrow, eyeball and eye bank is right. Bed, breeze and biscuit.


SHORTZ: Sea, including the horse Seabiscuit. OK. The next group is four-letter answers, and your first one is board B-O-A-R-D, bird and blower.

WELCH: Snow.

SHORTZ: Snow blower, snowbird and snowboard, right. Bubble, box and bar. And bubble might be something you see in your sink.

WELCH: Soap.

SHORTZ: Soap bubble, right. Now, five-letter answers. And your first one is bottle, balloon and buffalo.

WELCH: Water.

SHORTZ: Excellent. Bean B-E-A-N, beret and...

WELCH: Green.

SHORTZ: Didn't need the third one.

MARTIN: Oh. Didn't even need the third.


SHORTZ: Is right - green. Bulb - OK. Can you get it from just bulb?

MARTIN: Light.

SHORTZ: Light bulb, yes, light beer and light brigade. OK. This time I'm not going to give you any words.


SHORTZ: OK. Here you go: it's beet B-E-E-T, baby and bowl.

WELCH: Sugar.

SHORTZ: Sugar bowl, right. Now, six letters: bagger, beetle B-E-E-T-L-E and bomb. It was a term used after the Civil War, first used after the Civil War.

WELCH: Oh, carpet.

SHORTZ: Carpetbagger, carpet beetle and carpet bomb, right? And here's your last one. It's eight letters. And your words are blade, bag and bone. And I'll give you a hint: it's part of your body.

WELCH: Shoulder.

SHORTZ: Shoulder blade, shoulder bag and shoulder bone. Nice job.

MARTIN: Christine, that was great.

WELCH: Well, thank you.

MARTIN: That was very well done. And for playing the puzzle today, you get a WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin, puzzle books and games. You can read all about it at website,

And before we let you go, the hard question. What is your public radio station, Christine?

WELCH: KOPB in Portland, Oregon.

MARTIN: Christine Welch of Keizer, Oregon, thanks so much for playing the puzzle, Christine.

WELCH: Thank you, Rachel. And thank you, Will.

MARTIN: OK, Will. What's up for next week?

SHORTZ: Yeah, the challenge comes Ed Pegg, Jr. who runs the website Name a famous person whose first and last names together contain four double letters - all four of these being different letters of the alphabet. Who is it? For example, Buddy Holly's name has two double letters, D and L. What famous person has four double letters, all of them different?

MARTIN: When you've got the answer, go to our website, and click on that Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, January 23rd at 3 p.m. Eastern Time.

Don't forget to include a phone number where we can reach you at about that time, because if you're the winner we'll give you a call. And you will get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle-master, Mr. Will Shortz.

Thanks so much, Will.

SHORTZ: Thanks, Rachel.

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