A doctor, an operation, and five missing words

Jun 06, 2005

RAY: This puzzler was sent in by a fellow named Bob Eckert. I didn't even really have to obfuscate... but I did.

TOM: You certainly did! This guy's letter is about three lines long, and you've got a page and a half of scribbling on it.

RAY: What can I say? Here we go. I'm going to read you a sentence that has five words missing. The missing words will each be denoted by a "blank." Your job, if you so choose, is to fill in the blanks.

"The (blank) doctor was (blank) (blank) to operate, because she had (blank) (blank)."

So there are five words that are missing.

TOM: I could make up all kinds of fill-ins for that.

RAY: But, here are the constraints. The letters used to fill in the first blank - after the word "the" - are going to be the same letters used to fill in the two blanks after the word "was" and, the two blanks after the word "had."

So, if for example there are ten letters in that first blank, then the two blanks after word "was" will use those same ten letters, but to make two words. That will also be true for the two blanks after the word "had."

But here's the twist. You cannot re-arrange the letters. Only the spaces between the letters can be changed.

I know of one answer. I'm sure there are others.
Answer: 
RAY: She had what?

TOM AND RAY: No table!

RAY: Now there may be other answers, but this is the only one they've heard at Harvard. Do we have a winner?

TOM: Of course we have a winner. The winner this week is John Fauerbach from Chester, Montana. And for having his answer selected at random from among all those correct answers that we got, John will get from us a 26-dollar gift certificate to the Shameless Commerce Division at cartalk.com. What a lucky guy!

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