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Can You Pass This -TE ST-?

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On-air challenge: Today's puzzle is an insider's test. Every answer is a familiar two-word phrase or name with the consecutive letters T-E-S-T. Specifically, the first word will end with -TE and the second word will start ST-. For example, given "sheer force," you would say "brute strength."

Last week's challenge from listener Ed Pegg Jr. of mathpuzzle.com: What familiar saying with seven words has seven consonants in a row? The answer is a common saying in ordinary English. Sometimes it's expressed in nine words rather than seven, but it's the same saying. And either way, in one spot it has seven consecutive consonants. What saying is it?

Answer: People (who live) in glass houses shouLDN'T THRow stones.

Winner: Richard Kerr of Tallahassee, Fla.

Next week's challenge: (Please note: this is a two-week challenge) Take a seven-by-seven square grid. Arrange the names of U.S. cities or towns in regular crossword fashion inside the grid so that the cities used have the highest possible total population, according to the 2010 Census. For example, if you put Chicago in the top row and Houston in the sixth row, both reading across, and then fit Atlanta, Oakland and Reno coming down, you'll form a mini-crossword. And the five cities used have a total population, according to the 2010 census, of 5,830,997. You can do better.

As in a regular crossword, the names must read across and down only. Every name must interlock with at least one other name. And no two letters can touch unless they are part of a name.

What is the highest population total you can achieve? And when you send in your answer, please include the names of the cities, in order, across and down.

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 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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