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Puzzling


I'm an inveterate fan of wordplay of all sorts -- puzzles, anagrams, crosswords. I've been known online by my anagrammatic name, SnorkelMan, all the way back to the ancient days of the text mode BBS. My continual hectoring of the staff at the Dallas Morning News over errors in their print version of the New York Times crossword puzzle led them to finally just give me the job of proofreading it. I spend way too much time on the crosswords and other puzzles, both online and in print. In other words, I'm a sucker for a good word puzzle.

My sense of wordplay was naturally piqued this weekend when I heard the latest weekly puzzle challenge from Will Shortz on NPR Weekend Edition. The challenge, from contributor David Edelheit, read as follows:

Take the names of two U.S. States, mix them all together, then rearrange the letters to form the names of two other U.S. States. What states are these?

As sometimes happens, when I heard this puzzle, and the answer didn't click immediately, my first thought was "I could write a program to solve this faster than I can figure it out myself."

That's a treacherous thought for a puzzler, because it immediately diverts that little thread in the back of your mind that is supposed to be solving the puzzle, instead putting it on the task of writing the program.

But it turned out to be an interesting problem in efficiency, and so I'm glad I went down that path.


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