Original Word Games by David Parlett

Wordlink
More
Globe
Nav

NYMPHABET


A take-away word game for two

Players 2   Type Nim   Equipment Pencil & paper
You probably know Nim - from an old English word meaning "take" - as the generic term for any game where each in turn removes one or more objects from a line or group and whoever takes the last one either wins or loses (depending on the variant). Nymphabet is my alphabetical version of Nim. For my card game equivalent, see Abstrac.
Preparation
Write out the alphabet from A to Z.
Object
You each in turn write a word in accordance with the rules given below, and whoever writes the last word loses.
Play
The first word must begin with A, which is duly crossed off the alphabet as having been used. If it also contains a B, the B is deleted; if it also contains a C somewhere after the B, C is deleted. So is any D following the C, and so on.
For example, the first word might be ALL, deleting A; or ABLE, deleting A and B; or ABACK deleting A, B and C; or ABDICATED, deleting all four letters from A to D. (Note that ABDICATE only deletes up to C, because the D comes before it and therefore doesn't count.)
The second player's first word must begin with the next undeleted letter of the alphabet. As before, any letters consecutive to it are deleted provided that they occur in correct sequence in the word.
Here's a sample game:
1st player2nd player
ABackDEFyinG
HIJacK LaMiNatiOn
PiQueReSTaUrant
VoWXYlophone
Zip (loses)  
Improving the game
You'll soon discover that whoever deletes up to U wins the game. (Unless the other can find a word beginning with V that also eliminates W and X, since V alone loses when followed by WaXY.) Further backtracking along these lines shows that whoever eliminates up to P wins - unless there is a Q-word that also eliminates R, S, T, and U, and I have yet to find one. When you have carried out further researches and discovered that one player has an inbuilt advantage, you will look for ways of opening up the game again. Here are two possibilities.
Cyclic variant
Regard the alphabet as cyclic - that is, with A following in sequence from Z. The game is played as before, except that (a) the first player may begin anywhere in the alphabet and (b) whoever writes the last word wins. For example:
1st player2nd player
MeNtiOnPiQue
ReSTaUrant VoW
XYlemZeAl
BaCkeDEFfiGy
HIpJacKaL (wins)
Scoring variant
Also cyclic, but this time the winner is the player who makes the larger score, regardless of who writes the last word. For this purpose you make a note of how many letters you delete at each turn, and at end of play calculate your final score by multiplying them all together. For example:
1st player2nd player
QueeReST UVula
WaXYZABaglione
CeDEFiGHtIng
JacKaLMiNOrshiP (ends)
In this case the first player scores 4 x 3 x 2 x 3 = 72, but the second wins with 2 x 3 x 4 x 4 = 96.
Copyright © 2017 by David Parlett  
Balloon up wordlink Globe
Up page More games Site nav