Sunday, October 12, 2014

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 12, 2014): Country and Capital Mixup

NPR Sunday Puzzle (Oct 12, 2014): Country and Capital Mixup:
Q: Name a certain country. Change one letter in its name to a new letter and rearrange the result to name another country's capital. Then change one letter in that and rearrange the result to name another country. What geographical names are these?
There's one more thing you can do. If you draw a triangle connecting the 3 capitals from the puzzle, the center of mass of that triangle is very close to the capital of a well-known country. And that country has the same number of letters as the answers to the puzzle.
A: SPAIN <--> PARIS <--> SYRIA

91 comments:

  1. Here's my standard reminder... don't post the answer or any hints that could lead directly to the answer (e.g. via a chain of thought, or an internet search) before the deadline of Thursday at 3pm ET. If you know the answer, click the link and submit it to NPR, but don't give it away here.

    You may provide indirect hints to the answer to show you know it, but make sure they don't give the answer away. You can openly discuss your hints and the answer after the Thursday deadline. Thank you.

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    1. And that capital has more than 1 spelling!

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    3. Change one letter of Blaine's massive capital (with benmar's spelling) and rearrange to get yet another country.

      Like Thad, I see at least one other answer to this puzzle. Many examples of 2 capitals and 1 country

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    4. The country with the capital is right next to one of the countries that I came up with. All of them border on the same body of water.

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    5. Mali into Lima doesn't require any letter changes.

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  2. Carrying over my 2 clues: Is it Isle or Isis & the Sunday Edition moderator's name seems to be an intentional Will clue.

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  3. If Don Giovanni had learned to change a tire, he and Donna Elvira would still be together.

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  4. if I didn't know that all your parying was in jest It would be a serious pain in the backside

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  5. It turns out that there are three answers to the puzzle. The obvious "right" answer are very well known countries and a capital, but look for the others!

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    1. The answer I have doesn't match w/Blaine's.

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    2. Me neither, but I seem to be in agreement with benmar, who seems to be in agreement with Blaine. Something's not right, but I'm not going to worry about it.

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    3. Thad, the 3 answers I have contain 15 "A"s and 6 "I"s.

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    4. Odd, the 3 answers I have contain 12 "A"s and 9 "I"s.

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    5. Has anybody else noticed that if you take the 3 different lengths of the answers, take the factorial of those, and add one to each, then you get 3 perfect squares?

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  6. I’m always happy solving puzzles using countries and/or national capitals because there are a relatively small number of them. And they are known. BTW, two of these three rhyme – the other one doesn’t.

    Chuck

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    1. Chuck, None of mine rhyme. Should I be worried?

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    2. Even worse, I have a second answer with no rhyming words!

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    3. Lorenzo,
      Mine don't wrime either. I am now certain I have the expected answer though, as I am sure you do too.

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    4. Eliza would agree - they do not rhyme.

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    5. Jim,
      But even if she didn't agree, she could Doolittle about it.

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    6. Don't worry, Lorenzo and skydiveboy. None of the 3 solutions have rhymes within, but if you find all 3 solutions, then 2 of them have the property that one of each of their countries rhyme with each other, while each one's other country rhyme with each other. One of the 3 solutions is Blaine's solution. The problem is, the other one is a toughie. The countries in the 4-letter solution don't rhyme with anything.

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    7. The only thing that doesn't rhyme with anything is orange, which rhymes with door hinge.

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    8. Now I don't know whether to laugh or cringe.

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    9. I wish I were born a Brit. Then I would have posted:
      Now I don't know whether to laugh or whinge.

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  7. I discovered the correct pronunciation of one of these locations by reading a footnote in a biography of Richard Burton.

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  9. All this geographic thinking made me remember the new custom for tourists getting off the plane in Honolulu, Hawaii these days. Now they not only present you with a garland of flowers to wear, but they also include a goat cheese log. They call it a Chèvre lei.

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  10. Now I have come up with another answer to this puzzle that I am sure is more likely to be the intended answer, but I won't drone on about it now while I'm about to cook dinner.

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    1. SDB - That suggests my original answer. And also my second!

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    2. Lorenzo,
      I agree, but my second ran off with both of my pistols!

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  11. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    2. Just as well I did not get the call last week because if I had chosen to accept and participate in the on air challenge I doubt I would have been able to correctly answer any of the questions since I do not watch television. On the other hand, maybe that would have made me look good. As they used to say in China, "Hu knows!"

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  12. I got the first (alphabetically) country and the capital in less than a minute of hearing the puzzle, then it took me about 23 minutes into the run to get the other country. I did find several country pairs and some triples that would qualify, but without a capital.

    Take a pair of countries that would qualify for the answer (maybe they are). Take all the letters of one country, plus the two different letters from the other country, rearrange the letters and get the people of a third country.

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  13. Did anyone else solve this one in reverse order?

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  14. Sideways. City to the countries.

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    1. You say sideways, I say reverse order (as in 3, 2, 1 vs. 1, 2, 3). So let's not call the whole thing off, K?

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  15. I now see I read the puzzle too quickly and misunderstood what it was asking. I went from a country to a capital to another capital rather than from a country to a capital to another country. My bad. There’s always next Sunday.

    Chuck

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  16. I'm pretty sure I have the "obvious" answer to this challenge, which seems very simple. I hope the other two answers Thad Beier refers to are more interesting, but I won't spend any time looking for them!

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  17. I get the "best" answer that fulfills Blaine's criteria. Also I find one that fits, provided that the aforementioned substitution includes the identity (i.e. replace a letter with that same letter) and a third answer, for which one of the countries in the third answer uses an old name for the country (more correctly, the region). Interestingly, each of the three sets of answers (each triad) has a different number of letters.

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  18. i have two sets of answers, no rhymes, also for fun, can anyone help me complete yemen > money> ????, get it? capital?

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    1. Monet? Lots of his paintings are in the country.

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  19. Name a country’s capital, in four letters. Change one letter to form a country’s former capital. Rearrange the letters in the country’s former capital to form a country’s current capital. Rearrange the letters in that current capital to name another country’s current capital.

    Both Hershel Walker and Charles Walker can say, “I was a runner in Georgia.”

    LegoLimaDoha

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  20. Right, I like Georgia to Algeria, much more elegant than the pretty facile answer that I'm suspecting is correct.

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  21. Thanks to Enya's reply, I discovered why I had missed Blaine's solution. There are 4 answers.

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  22. Earlier, you posted the following:

    On Mon Oct 13, at 09:37:00 AM PDT, you wrote:

    Thad, the 3 answers I have contain 15 "A"s and 6 "I"s.

    Now if we both had the same 4-letters-each solution and the same 7-letters-each solution, but you did not have Blaine's 5-letters-each solution until just now, then the names in your other solution must each have 2 "A"s and no "I"s.

    By any chance, could you have thought you had a solution due to UGANDA being only one letter away from LUANDA and also only one letter away from GUYANA? Remember it's the capital that has to be only one letter away from both of the other countries.

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    1. I'm probably using a broader definition of "country" than you are. However, I am in step with others.

      Synonyms of country:
      nation, (sovereign) state, kingdom, realm, territory, province, principality, palatinate, duchy.

      See:
      http://www.state.gov/misc/list/

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  23. Isn't specifying the number of letters too much of a giveaway?

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    1. I figured that we're getting so close to the deadline now that we could relax our restrictions a little bit.

      And hugh:

      Thank you for that list, http://www.state.gov/misc/list/

      The lists I was using (i.e. The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014, and Wikipedia's List of sovereign states) includes nothing between Armenia and Australia, but your list does and now I know your 4th answer. BTW, I was right about that answer requiring 2 "A"s and no "I"s in each name.

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  24. Right answer: Spain, Paris, Syria

    Answer I submitted on Sunday: Cuba, Juba, Baku

    Sunday morning I read the puzzle too quickly and misunderstood what it was asking. I went from a country to a capital to another capital rather than from a country to a capital to another country. Later I saw my error and figured out the right answer. I didn’t send it in because you’re only supposed to send in one answer per week. Still, I’m glad I went back and got it right.

    Chuck

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  25. SPAIN -> PARIS -> SYRIA

    > Jose Lopez

    José Manuel López, a photographer from Spain, won "Prix de la Photographie, Paris" (Px3) this year, for his photo of a massacre in Syria.

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  26. SPAIN > PARIS > SYRIA


    My hints:

    “Now I have come up with another answer to this puzzle that I am sure is more likely to be the intended answer, but I won't drone on about it now while I'm about to cook dinner.”

    This is hinting at Syria where drones are all too common these days.

    My first guess was IRAN > IRAG > IRAQ My hints were:

    “The Impalas”

    Their hit song was Sorry (I ran all the way home.)

    “I discovered the correct pronunciation of one of these locations by reading a footnote in a biography of Richard Burton.”

    NO! Not the actor, but Captain Sir Richard Burton the great explorer. The footnote I read said he was annoyed by people in the West mispronouncing Iran. It should be EEE ROON, as in Mickey Rooney and Andy Rooney. I had a bit of trouble chasing this one down as the book did not describe it well. When I asked people who came here from Iran they always said they pronounced it EEERAN as we do now, but when I expressed my dismay and explained my understanding they would then agree. I found this a major disappointment, as I think it is we who should try and pronounce names properly. One young guy I met insisted it was the way they say it, and when I persisted he told me that I was right and that is the way they say it there, but not here. He then gave me a big smile with his eyes wide and thanked me for making the effort to pronounce his country’s name properly as he was shaking my hand profusely. He was a Kurd.

    I realized I must not have the intended answer when I saw the letters were not jumbled as indicated in the puzzle description.

    I enjoyed this one for a change.

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  27. I just returned from vacation and saw this week's challenge for the first time yesterday. Here is what I came up with:

    IRAN RIGA IRAQ

    SPAIN PARIS SYRIA

    I am not sure if Blaine's 5-letter country is Italy or Malta.

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    1. Didn't you notice that in Blaine's clue, the words "center of mass of that triangle" were Clickable!?

      Right-clicking on them and selecting "Open in new tab" opens up a Geographic Midpoint Calculator.
      And if you enter and add, one by one, "Madrid, Spain", "Paris, France", and "Damascus, Syria"; then you get a map with an indicator shown very close to Rome, Italy.

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  28. 3 answers:

    IRAN ==> RIGA (Latvia) ==> IRAQ
    SPAIN ==> PARIS (France) ==> SYRIA {Blaine's answer - (center of Madrid, Paris, and Damascus is near Rome, Italy)}
    BAHRAIN ==> HONIARA (Solomon Islands) ==> ROMANIA

    And a possible 4th answer:

    ARUBA ==> RABAT (Morocco) ==> QATAR

    Aruba is not listed in either The World Almanac and Book of Facts 2014, or Wikipedia's List of sovereign states, but it is listed in The U.S. Department of State's A-Z List of Country and Other Area Pages webpage.

    However if you click on it on that page, you see that it's part of The Netherlands.

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  29. 6156 = (9)(18)(1)(14) + (18)(9)(7)(1) + (9)(18)(1)(17)
    Stevie Wonder mentions my two countries at the beginning of one of his hit songs.
    I only got one answer; not exactly a valiant effort on my part.
    My three locations have their center of mass in Georgia, but not really near the capital (unless I made a mistake).
    If SoHo turns out to be a country, I'm going to be really ticked off.
    Likewise if there's a capital city linking Cambodia and Colombia.

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  30. SPAIN >>> PARIS >>> SYRIA

    Don Giovanni is the equivalent of the Spanish Don Juan.

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  31. My idea of the "obvious" answer was IRAN - RIGA - IRAQ. I did read the challenge a few times over to be sure that it doesn't seem to specifically prohibit having three letters remain the same throughout.

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  32. Didn't you notice that in Blaine's clue, the words "center of mass of that triangle" were Clickable!?

    Right-clicking on them and selecting "Open in new tab" opens up a Geographic Midpoint Calculator. And if you enter and add, one by one, "Madrid, Spain", "Paris, France", and "Damascus, Syria"; then you get a map with an indicator shown very close to Rome, Italy.

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    1. Blaine, could you delete my above post? I meant it to be the reply to ron's post above and unfortunately we TypePad posters can't access the Delete button.

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    2. Spain>>Paris>>Syria. Does anyone else have to enter their comment twice? When I click "publish" and am directed to my gmail account and log in, and come back here, the box is empty. I've learned to always copy, and can just re-paste.

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  33. Iraq - Riga - Iran
    My clues: Gershwin: IRA
    Isis/Isil: Iraq
    Kiev/Kyev (2 spellings) being the capital of Ukraine Re-Blaine's clue.

    I must admit Spain-Paris-Syria is a better answer

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  34. Spain - Paris - Syria.
    My post at the bottom of last week's blog, regarding taking the name of one of the countries, change another letter and rearranging to get a highly localized phenomena was a reference to "The Rain(s) in Spain" which as Professor Higgins taught, "Fall mainly in the plain..."
    Couldn't find a similar clue for Iran - Riga - Iraq...

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  35. Chuck posted here on Sun Oct 12, at 09:34:00 AM PDT:

    I’m always happy solving puzzles using countries and/or national capitals because there are a relatively small number of them. And they are known. BTW, two of these three rhyme – the other one doesn’t.

    Considering that hugh would later admit that he had at first missed Blaine's answer, I believe therefore that Chuck was the first citizen here to have arrived at all 3 correct answers. Way to go, Chuck!

    Also, ecoarchitect gave a reply on Sun Oct 12, at 09:33:00 AM PDT:

    Change one letter of Blaine's massive capital (with benmar's spelling) and rearrange to get yet another country.

    I believe that he believed that benmar12001 had found Blaine's answer, that the alternate spelling of Rome is Roma, and the "yet another country" was Oman.

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  36. Above I wrote "Take a pair of countries that would qualify for the answer (maybe they are). Take all the letters of one country, plus the two different letters from the other country, rearrange the letters and get the people of a third country."

    LAOS + MALI - AL --> SOMALI.

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  37. Syria-Paris-Spain

    Respose to Uncle John's Mali into LIma was Owa Tagoo...Siam.

    Parying- Paris
    Serious pain.- Syria Spain

    Three Dog Night - I've never been to Spain.

    SDB's French for well done was piggybacked by yours truly with the Arabic jayyid jiddan which means the same. Arabic is spoken in Syria.

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  38. My “piggyback” to this week’s NPR puzzle (posted Monday 9:05 PM):

    Name a country’s capital, in four letters. LIMA
    Change one letter to form a country’s former capital. LIRA (Italy)
    Rearrange the letters in the country’s former capital to form a country’s current capital. RIAL (Iran)
    Rearrange the letters in that current capital to name another country’s current capital. LARI (Georgia)

    Both Hershel Walker and Charles Walker can say, “I was a runner (IRAN) in Georgia (GEORGIA).”

    jan,
    You should check out Paul’s October 12:20 PM link over at Puzzleria!. I vaguely recall that you knew some member(s) of this great group.

    BTY, jan, great “Jose Lopez clue,” …. Not that I got it, or anything.

    Legolatenyo

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    1. Lego, thanks for reminding me to ditto jan on his outstanding clue. I meant to do that after I returned from my bike ride, but by then I had aged and must have forgotten. As to Messrs.' Walker, I must intone that I much prefer Johnny Walker. Black, if at all possible.

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  39. It is normal here when there is an election for the State to send out a "Voters' Pamphlet." Today I was surprised when I checked my mail to find the current election is so large the state found it necessary to break with tradition and was sending us a "Voters' Pamph."

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  40. One last clue I feel I should explain: (I was the poster of it.)

    I gave a reply on Tue Oct 14, at 05:02:00 AM PDT:

    Has anybody else noticed that if you take the 3 different lengths of the answers, take the factorials of those, and add one to each, then you get 3 perfect squares?


    Ok, to save a lot of you the task of scrolling all the way back up to see my answer post, here again are the 3 correct answers:

    IRAN ==> RIGA (Latvia) ==> IRAQ
    SPAIN ==> PARIS (France), and PARIS ==> SYRIA {Blaine's answer - (center of Madrid, Paris, and Damascus is near Rome, Italy)}
    BAHRAIN ==> HONIARA (Solomon Islands), and HONIARA ==> ROMANIA

    Now for those who didn't know already, for any integer number n, n! means "n factorial"; it means 1 x 2 x 3 x .... x n. And:

    4! = 24, and 24 + 1 = 25 = 5²,
    5! = 120, and 120 + 1 = 121 = 11², and
    7! = 5040, and 5040 + 1 = 5041 = 71².

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    1. After you posted this, I thought, I bet there are lots of factorials which result in a square when adding 1. But I then couldn't think of any. Apparently these are believed to be the only factorials with this property. See Brocard's Problem.

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  41. Next week's challenge: The following challenge is based on a puzzle from a Martin Gardner book, that may not be well know. Out of a regular grade school classroom, two students are chosen at random. Both happen to have blue eyes. If the odds are exactly 50-50 that two randomly chosen students in the class will have blue eyes: How many students are in the class?

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  42. I suppose this would be a regular school in Scandinavia.

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    1. Ethnically, maybe, but the class size?

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  43. I always thought that David Lynch should have used Crystal Gayle's song in Dune.

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  44. If anyone knows how to prove that the answer is unique, I'd like to see that (on Thursday).

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