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It's A Race To The End — Of The Alphabet

Sunday Puzzle.
Sunday Puzzle.

On-air challenge: If you alphabetized the eight planets in reverse — that is, by their ending letters — the next-to-last name on the list would be Venus, which ends in "s." The last planet on the list would be Mercury, which ends in "y." I'm going to give you some categories. For each one, I'll give you the next-to-last member of the category, if all the names in it were alphabetized backward. You tell me the last name.

For example: Numbers from one to 10: Eight.

Last week's challenge, from listener Norm Baird of Toledo, Wash.: If you squish the small letters "r" and "n" too closely together, they look like an "m." Think of a common five-letter word with the consecutive letters "r" and "n" that becomes its own opposite if you change them to an "m."

Answer: stern, stem.

Winner: David Kosub of Washington, D.C.

Next week's challenge:Think of a well-known category with exactly seven things in it. Alphabetize the things from their ending letters, and the last letter alphabetically will be "e." In other words, no thing in this category ends in a letter after "e" in the alphabet. It's a category and set of seven things that everyone knows. What 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, Sept. 15, at 3 p.m. ET.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Weekend Edition Sunday
NPR's Puzzlemaster Will Shortz has appeared on Weekend Edition Sunday since the program's start in 1987. He's also the crossword editor of The New York Times, the former editor of Games magazine, and the founder and director of the American Crossword Puzzle Tournament (since 1978).