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This week I drove to church early enough to catch an NPR puzzler. This week the challenge was to come up with your own riddle, a piece of wordplay following a particular format.


  1. What is the difference between a chess player and a jeweler hard up for money? One watches his pawns, and the other pawns his watches.
  2. What is the difference between a church music director and someone buying a Lionel toy? One trains a choir, and the other acquires trains.

I was of course excited to come up with a few of my own, and submitted three of my best to NPR.

My submissions

NPR had a limit of 3 submissions per person, so I submitted the first three. But I came up with five in total!

  1. What is the difference between a fraudster and a European bar employee?
  2. What is the difference between a bat and a swarthy turbaned Indian?
  3. What is the difference between Casey's team and a few luxurious adobe abodes?
  4. What's the difference between the CEO of Dole and a fruit with a cute hat?
  5. What's the difference between a bodega boy and what he hands you?


  1. One bounces checks, and the other's a Czech bouncer.
  2. One seeks dark, and the other's a dark Sikh.
  3. One's the Mudville Nine, the other, nine mud villas.
  4. One's the Banana Sheikh, the other, a chic banana. Although Akanksha says I'm pronouncing "sheikh" incorrectly.
  5. One bags groceries, and the other are grocery bags.


I enjoyed thinking up these riddles. I'm reminded of a debate held in pretty much every English class ever: do constraints like a rhyme scheme or a meter hinder or nurture creativity? I think they nurture creativity, and the structure from Will Shortz definitely helped me think of these riddles.

I've spent the afternoon calling various people to force them to hear my jokes. My wife is sick of this (specatular!) spectacle, but I'm having fun!