Where There's A Will There's A Way To Solve This Puzzle

Jun 28, 2015
Originally published on June 28, 2015 8:40 am

On-air challenge: For every word provided (all starting with the letter "W"), give a proverb or saying that contains that word.

Last week's challenge: Take the phrase "I am a monarch." Rearrange the 11 letters to name a world leader who was not a monarch, but who ruled with similar authority. Who is it?

Answer: Chairman Mao.

Winner: David Slobodin of Asheville, North Carolina.

Next week's challenge: The challenge comes from listener Daniel Grossman of New York City. Name a major American company. Drop its first and last letters, and the remaining letters in order will name a famous singer — both first and last names. What company is it?

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


Henry James, LeBron James, Etta James - what, nope? It's time to play the puzzle. So, I'm a longtime puzzle listener, first time caller, but I've got an expert here with me. Will Shortz is the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master. Good morning, Will.

WILL SHORTZ, BYLINE: Good morning, Eric, welcome to the show. And you don't have sweaty palms or anything do you?

WESTERVELT: I do. First time playing, I don't know. This is going to get ugly.

SHORTZ: It's not too bad today.

WESTERVELT: Before we play, though, I hear you're about to hit a big milestone in your other obsession - table tennis.

SHORTZ: Yeah, unless something awful happens, Tuesday will be my 1,000th consecutive day of playing table tennis. The last day I didn't play was October 3, 2012.

WESTERVELT: Wow. Keep those hands safe. No avocado-cutting for the next couple days.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) That's right.

WESTERVELT: All right. Well, secure the perimeter and remind us about last week's puzzle, Will.

SHORTZ: Yes, last week's challenge came from listener Ben Bass of Chicago. I said, take the phrase, I am a monarch. Rearrange these 11 letters to name a world leader who is not a monarch but who ruled with similar authority. Who is it? Well, the answer was Chairman Mao.

WESTERVELT: Well, more than 1,300 of you figured it out, and our randomly selected winner this week is David Slobodin from Asheville, N.C., and he joins us on the line now. Congratulations, David.

DAVID SLOBODIN: Well, thank you very much.

WESTERVELT: And what keeps you busy down there in Asheville, N.C.?

SLOBODIN: Well, we enjoy being in the mountains, hiking on the Mountains-to-Sea trail, riding bicycles on the Blue Ridge Parkway and just having a good time.

WESTERVELT: You're retired?

SLOBODIN: Been retired, yes, for 14 years.

WESTERVELT: All right, God bless. Well, are you ready to play the puzzle?

SLOBODIN: Let's go. Let's do it.

WESTERVELT: OK, Will, let's play.

SHORTZ: All right, David and Eric, I'm going to give you some words starting with W. For each one, you give me a proverb or saying that contains that word. For example, if I said war, you might say, all's fair in love and war. Now, any legitimate answer counts and you can use any form of the word that I give you. Here's your first one - worm. Can you think of a proverb or saying that contains...

SLOBODIN: The early worm - I mean, the robin - the early bird gets the worm.

SHORTZ: That is it. Number two is wheel, W-H-E-E-L.

SLOBODIN: Wheel. Oh, my, wheel. There's got to be a million of them. Wheel - that's not a proverb. Wheels keep rolling? No.

WESTERVELT: Something that squeaks, Will?

SHORTZ: There you go, yeah, what's that one?


SHORTZ: Yeah, go ahead, Eric, I think you have this one.

WESTERVELT: Squeaky wheel gets the grease.

SLOBODIN: Oh, of course.

SHORTZ: That's it, excellent. Your next one is waste, W-A-S-T-E.

SLOBODIN: Waste not, want not.

SHORTZ: That was fast. All right, how about wait? W-A-I-T.

SLOBODIN: He who waits, loses. That's not a proverb - I just made that one up.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

SLOBODIN: Wait Wait ...Don't Tell Me, no, that's not a proverb.

SHORTZ: (Laughter).

SLOBODIN: Wait until I think of an answer.

SHORTZ: (Laughter) All right, I'll give you a big hint. This one starts with all things.

SLOBODIN: All things come to those who wait.

SHORTZ: That's it. You could also have said time waits for no man.


SHORTZ: How about wealthy?

SLOBODIN: Wealthy.

WESTERVELT: Something to do with health, as well?

SHORTZ: Yes, it is.

SLOBODIN: Healthy, wealthy.

SHORTZ: Yes, what's that saying?

SLOBODIN: That sounds like Ben Franklin - healthy, wealthy and wise.

SHORTZ: Yeah, yeah, healthy, wealthy and wise.

WESTERVELT: That was a good one.

SHORTZ: Yeah, I'll give you a half point there. It's early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise. How about weakest? W-E-A-K-E-S-T.

SLOBODIN: The chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

SHORTZ: Oh, that's excellent. Good. Work, W-O-R-K.

SLOBODIN: All work and no play make Jack a dull boy.

SHORTZ: Man, you're fast. How about water?

SLOBODIN: Water - water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink.

SHORTZ: Yeah, I'll give you that. You can lead a horse to water and you can't make him drink.

SLOBODIN: Right, of course.

SHORTZ: Blood is thicker than water. There's several. How about will, W-I-L-L, as a noun? This is a proverb I like to say.

SLOBODIN: Oh, where there's will, no.

SHORTZ: Yes, that's it.

SLOBODIN: Where there's will, there's something.

SHORTZ: Yeah, yeah, there's a what?

WESTERVELT: You got it.

SLOBODIN: A way. A way.

SHORTZ: There's a way, yeah. And your last one is well, W-E-L-L.

SLOBODIN: I wish - well. Well, well, well.

SHORTZ: And a big hint, it's also the title of a play by Shakespeare.

SLOBODIN: Oh, all things - oh, all's well that ends well.

SHORTZ: That is correct.

WESTERVELT: Nice job, David. You hit your stride there after a stumble.

SLOBODIN: It's not embarrassing, at least.

WESTERVELT: No, you didn't - you did great. And for playing our puzzle today, you'll get lots of cool puzzle books and games and the fabled WEEKEND EDITION lapel pin.

SLOBODIN: Oh, man.

WESTERVELT: You can read all about it at And, David, tell us your public radio station down there.

SLOBODIN: WJLK in Aiken and WCQS in Asheville, N.C., and we're members of both.

WESTERVELT: Oh, great. David Slobodin of Asheville, N.C., thanks for playing the puzzle this week.

SLOBODIN: Well, thank you so much. It's been a pleasure.

WESTERVELT: OK, Will, what do you have to puzzle us for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday weekend?

SHORTZ: Yeah, it's not too hard a challenge this week. It comes from listener David Grossman of New York City. Name a major American company, drop its first and last letters, and the remaining letters, in order, will name a famous singer - first and last names. What company is it? So, again, a major American company, drop the first and last letters and the rest of the letters, in order, will name a famous singer - first and last names. What company is it?

WESTERVELT: All right, when you have the answer, go to our website, and click on the Submit Your Answer link - just one entry per person, please. And our deadline for entries is Thursday, July 2 at 3 p.m., Eastern. Please 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 you'll get to play on the air with the puzzle editor of The New York Times and WEEKEND EDITION's puzzle master, Will Shortz. Thanks a lot, Will.

SHORTZ: Thank you, Eric. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.