Original Word Games by David Parlett



A sort of Battleships with words

Players 2   Type Deductive   Equipment Pencil & paper

Another form of verbal Battleships, together with Quizl. No, it's not startlingly original, but I like the scoring system.

You each take a separate sheet of paper and draw a grid of 5 x 5 = 25 squares. Number the columns from 0 to 4 across the top and the rows from 5 to 9 down the left-hand side. Now you can identify every square by quoting its grid reference. For example, the centre square is "72". This is your main grid. You also need a similarly numbered separate grid to record the results from your opponent's main grid. Next, think of a well-known phrase consisting of several words but not more than 25 letters in all. It might be a proverb or saying, or the title of a book or film. Enter this phrase into squares of the grid, starting anywhere, and going from each square to an adjacent one (not diagonally). For example, the proverb HE WHO HESITATES IS LOST has been entered into the grid below, starting at 74, and continuing 64, 63, 53, 52, 62, 72, 73, 83, 84, 94, 93, 92, 91, 81, 71, 70, 60, 61, 51.
  0 1 2 3 4
5 - T O H -
6 O S H W E
7 L S E S H
8 - I - I T
9 - S E T A
You will not be surprised to learn that the winner is the first player to correctly identify their opponent's hidden phrase.
You each in turn call out a grid reference and your opponent tells you what letter, if any, occupies that square. For example, "72" calls for the letter in the central square, and in the specimen above returns the letter E. If the square you call is empty, you score a point. (This encourages you both to think of hidden phrases that fill as many squares as possible.) Instead of calling a grid reference you may instead announce what you think your opponent's hidden phrase is. If your announcement is incorrect, your opponent scores a point. You may not call for a letter in the same turn. Whoever correctly announces the other's message first scores an additional point for each square of the message not yet shot at (unpotted blanks do not count), and the round ends.
You can, of course, play the game on a larger grid so as to accommodate longer titles, messages, proverbs or quotations. You may also agree to allow successive letters of the message to occupy diagonally neighbouring squares.
Copyright © 2017 by David Parlett  
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