The rules for this week’s puzzle are simple: Look at a series of first names and figure out what name is missing.

In many cases, the name will be the next one. For instance, if the clue was “George, John, Thomas, James, James, John, _______” you might recognize these as the first six American Presidents. The correct answer would be “Andrew,” as the seventh president was Andrew Jackson.

But don’t assume the answer is simply chronological. If the challenge were “Keith, Brian, Bill, Charlie, _______” you might see that the missing member of the original Rolling Stones is “Mick.”

You can tell us what the names represent if you like, but you must provide the missing name for your answer to count. The winner of a McSweeney’s book will be chosen at random from all entries with the most correct answers.

- - -

1. Janet, Mary, Norma, Marie, Helen, Katharine, ____________.

2. Robert, Richard, Howard, Mark, Joseph, ____________.

3. John, John, Oliver, John, Roger, ____________.

4. Helen, John, Jim, Alice, ____________.

5. George, John, Christopher, Tyrus, ____________.

6. Elizabeth, Lisa, Jean, Maria, Deborah, ____________.

- - -


Nine people got all five correct answers: Barbara Stewart, Matthew Dessem, Jed Scott, Bryce Chackerian, Matthew Blakstad, Angela Genusa, Christina M. Hilpipre, Mark Mathisa and this week’s winner of a McSweeney’s book, Jody Greenberg.

For the record, here were the clues as well as the answers we were looking for:

1. Janet, Mary, Norma, Marie, Helen, Katharine, CLAUDETTE (Colbert).
The first seven women to win the Academy Award for Best Actress.

2. Robert, Richard, Howard, Mark, Joseph, MONA (Van Duyn).
The first six U.S. Poets Laureate.

3. John, John, Oliver, John, Roger, SALMON (P. Chase).
The first six Chief Justices of the US Supreme Court.

4. Helen, John, Jim, Alice, S. ROBSON (Walton)
We also accepted SAM or ROB.
Heirs to the Wal-Mart fortune and currently numbers four through eight on Forbes magazine’s list of the ten wealthiest Americans.

5. George, John, Christopher, Tyrus, WALTER (Johnson).
The first five men elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. You might know George better as “Babe Ruth,” and John as “Honus Wagner.”

6. Elizabeth, Lisa, Jean, Maria, Deborah, HILLARY (Clinton).
In reverse order, the last six women elected to the US Senate.

Our gratitude, along with this week’s Amy Jo Johnson Bonus Points, go to Asa Pillsbury, Matthew Blakstad, Christina M. Hilpipre, and Jay Erdmann.

Many readers tripped over number six, but Aaron Hook had our favorite wide attempt. It will, we hope, satisfy U.K. readers who complained of the American bias of last week’s puzzle:

“This was the trickiest of the lot, but I think I have it figured out. The names are a means of linking British soap star Elizabeth Estenson to Kevin Bacon using the ubiquitous six degrees of Kevin Bacon concept. Now, your logic is flawed from the start: television shows, let alone BRITISH television shows, are not usually accepted as valid links. But we’ll let that slide. You’ll remember that Estenson was on Emmerdale in 1999 at the same time Lisa Howard had her three episode stint as Denise. From Lisa Howard you used yet another TV link, Highlander. However, you stretched the rules quite thin on this one. Of course, Lisa Howard and Jean-Paul Muel both played roles in season four of the series, but they appeared in DIFFERENT EPISODES. You should really do more research next time you create a contest like this. In 1989 Jean-Paul Muel was in the Italian movie Stradivari with Maria Grazia Nazzari. Yet another Italian movie is used to link Nazzari to Deborah Torchio. That movie (do I even have to say the name?) is the classic Il Burattinaio. And finally, Deborah Torchio had the scene stealing role of ’Joe’s Woman’ in the Kevin Bacon classic: Flatliners.”