Submitted by Stephen Church
Here’s a game my family have been playing since I was very young (so yes – quite a while!).
The beauty is its simplicity. Each player needs a piece of paper and a pen … and a (small, medium or large) brain.
Think of it as the verbal equivalent of table tennis.
Number of Players
The ideal number of players is 4. But you can play with 2 or 5 – more than 5 could work in theory, but it’s a real struggle.
Fewer than 2? Well, that gives you a pretty good chance of winning.
Here’s how to play:
- Each player draws a simple grid – 5 x 5 like this
It must be big enough to write a single letter in each square.
The aim is to fill the grid with words both left-to-right and top-to-bottom.
Like this (but it’s hardly ever achieved):
- How to play
One player starts and says a letter. Everyone has to write it into their grid, wherever they like. Once everyone has put their letter in, it’s the next player’s turn. Once that player has played, no-one can change their mind about the previous letter they’ve just inserted. This is the bit that beginners often don’t get. You can’t go back and change letters you’ve already put in.
And that’s it! Told you it was simple.
The knack is to plan ahead – but, of course, you have to keep changing your plan, as you’re dependent on the letter choices of the others. You have to insert the letter they announce. That’s why, playing with two people is much easier than with four or five.
So – the game ends when the grid is full. Now it’s time to score and the scoring goes like this.
Every 5 letter word earns 10 points
4 letter words – 5 points
3 letters – 3 points
2 letters – 2 points
Play as many rounds as you like, totting up each player’s scores as you go along.
Any points for a 1-letter word?
What words aren’t allowed?
Foreign language words
‘Proper nouns’ i.e. any word that begins with a capital letter.
Hint – if it’s allowed in scrabble, it’s allowed in Word Squares.
How long does each round usually take?
Rarely more than 15 minutes.
Clearly, this game could be played just on the phone.
Zoom or the equivalent would be way more fun – at the end of each round, you can hold up your own efforts and compare how each of you have done.
Yes – you could cheat.