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Updated below with solution and winners.

We’re taking a break from our regular Name That Tech Tune challenge this week to present a special puzzle created by Roy Leban, the founder of puzzle technology startup Puzzazz, who is our guest on this week’s GeekWire radio show and podcast.

Here is the puzzle that Roy presented to listeners on the show, starting with an explanation and an example. Your challenge: Solve the word ladder in bold below, in as few steps as possible, and then send your answer to contest@geekwire.com. From the pool of shortest answers, we’ll select two people at random to win tickets to the GeekWire Game Night and Meetup on Feb 8 in Seattle.


Word ladders are a classic puzzle type that were invented by Lewis Carroll. In a word ladder, you transform one word into another word by creating new words by changing one letter at a time. In each step, you can only change a single letter.

For example, JOHN can be transformed into TODD in seven steps:

JOHN
JOIN
COIN
COIL
TOIL
TOLL
TOLD
TODD

The listener challenge is to make the shortest word ladder that transforms GEEK into WIRE.


As we joked during the show, we appreciate Roy looking out for our branding. Get out those pencils and paper, and send your answers to contest@geekwire.com.

Roy also challenged John and me with a separate puzzler on air. To challenge yourself before you hear the show, you can get a preview here, and to hear which of us did better, listen at 7 a.m. today and 1 p.m. Sunday on 97.3 KIRO-FM in Seattle, or check back for the podcast version later this morning on GeekWire. 

We’ll be back next week with our regular Name that Tech Tune challenge. In the meantime, we’ve updated last week’s Name that Tech Tune post with the answer and the winner. Thanks to everyone for reading, listening and playing.

Update, Feb. 3. We received lots great submissions on this, and saw many creative approaches. Several people were able to get it in five steps. Here’s an example.

GEEK
MEEK
MERK <- a “merk” is a Scottish coin, produced in the 16th and 17th centuries
MERE
WERE
WIRE

That solution was submitted by Eric Aderhold, who was one of our two winners, along with Danaw Laidlaw, both of whom were selected at random to win tickets to the game night coming up this week. Thanks to everybody who played!

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