This page provides my analysis of the puzzle Will Shortz gave to NPR listeners on 2003-11-30. If you would like to subscribe to my free email list to get a synopsis of this puzzle segment each week, send a blank email to: email@example.com
Here is this puzzle:
Last Challenge (given 20031130)
Will reports that he got this puzzle from a 1929 issue of Puzzler Magazine. Unfortunately, the answer was in the next issue, so Will had to solve it himself. Take the letters of the word TEMPORARY. Arrange them in a 3 by 3 square so that each of the acrosses, downs and the two long diagonals spells a word. Each of the diagonals must read backward as well as forward, making 10 words to be spelled altogether. All the words are common and uncapitalized. What is this special square?
Actually, it should be obvious that if there is one solution, then there must be two (unless three of the 9-letter word's letters are repeated within the 9 letter; then the magic square could be its own mirror image [see "hortatory" below]):
The two solutions, of course, are reflections of each other on the NW to SE diagonal. Each solution makes the following ten three-letter words: MOP, EAR, TRY, MET, OAR, PRY, MAY, YAM, TAP and PAT. By my check of all possible permutations of TEMPORARY, these two are the only solutions using the Official Scrabble Dictionary list of 977 acceptable three-letter words.
Since I had the program all written already, I also decided to check on what solutions were available from other 9-letter words. Only 20 9-letter words can form 3x3 magic word squares.
Here is the list (omitting the mirror images of each square):
entourage[only 9-letter word making two 3x3 magic squares that are not mirror images of each other]
I extended the current NPR listener challenge to look for all 9-letter words that can form 3x3 magic word squares. Here are the results. I plan to post them on my web page at: http://rrenner.home.igc.org/1929puzzler.htm
Here is Will shortz analysis of these possible answers:
Subject: Re: 1929 Puzzler Magazine solution for NPR puzzle
Date sent: Tue, 2 Dec 2003 10:07:37 EST
Thanks for the computer analysis of the 3x3 word square puzzle.
I think I lucked out, because the Puzzler version of this puzzle simply listed the nine letters in random order -- A, R, O, Y, R, P, E, T, M. I knew that NPR listeners driving to church, say, or lolling in bed on Sunday morning wouldn't be able to remember these if I read them like that, so I tried to anagram them into a word ... and voila, TEMPORARY!
This anagram seems especially fortunate, because I'd allow very few of your 20 other computer-generated solutions. In some the 9-letter words are obscure (ISOPHATES?), some have obscure 3-letter words (SER? ERN? ALT?), and at least one has a repeated word (DRY in DROMEDARY), which I'd consider a no-no.
Not many good ones left!
In case you're interested, the original puzzle appeared in the June 1929 Puzzler.
Click here for the Will Shortz Mosaic by Ken Knowlton, for the clues written by Frank Longo.
Click here for an analysis of Sam Lloyd's Shipwreck Puzzle.
Click here for a story of one consumed with objection to a pin that might have been made in a sweatshop.
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