Speech recognition was measured as a function of the target-to-masker ratio (TMR) with syntactically similar speech maskers. In the first experiment, listeners were instructed to report keywords from the target sentence. Data averaged across listeners showed a plateau in performance below 0 dB TMR when masker and target sentences were from the same talker. In this experiment, some listeners tended to report the target words at all TMRs in accordance with the instructions, while others reported keywords from the louder of the sentences, contrary to the instructions. In the second experiment, stimuli were the same as in the first experiment, but listeners were also instructed to avoid reporting the masker keywords, and a payoff matrix penalizing masker keywords and rewarding target keywords was used. In this experiment, listeners reduced the number of reported masker keywords, and increased the number of reported target keywords overall, and the average data showed a local minimum at 0 dB TMR with same-talker maskers. The best overall performance with a same-talker masker was obtained with a level difference of 9 dB, where listeners achieved near perfect performance when the target was louder, and at least 80% correct performance when the target was the quieter of the two sentences.