Original Word Games by David Parlett

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WORDSWORTH


aka Letterbox (traditional)

Players 2 or more   Type Constructive   Equipment Pencil & paper
This is not one of my original games - it's too old and well-known for that - but I include it partly because I think my scoring system is an improvement, and partly because it is currently produced by in Australia as an online game under the name Letterbox. Alan Walker, the site's webmaster, reports that something similar was produced by the Seven Network in Perth in the early 1980s as a TV game show called "$50,000 Letterbox".
Preparation
You each take a separate sheet of paper and draw a grid of 5 x 5 = 25 squares.
Object
To enter into your grid letters of the alphabet, as and when they are called out, in such a way as to make as many words as possible, either horizontally from left to right, or vertically from top to bottom.
Play
Each player in turn calls out any letter of the alphabet they choose, and everyone writes that letter into any blank square in his or her grid. This continues until 24 squares have been filled. Each player is then free to enter any letter of their own choice into whichever space they have left blank.
Score
For each three-letter word you score 3 points, for each four-letter word 4 points, and for each five-letter word 10 points, making a (highly theoretical) maximum possible of 100 points. Two-letter words don't count.

What gives this game its bite is the feature of scoring for overlapping words. Each and every word you make scores separately, even if one or more of its letters are shared with adjacent words. The only restriction is that you may not score for a shorter word that is entirely contained within a longer.

Here's an example -
C O B A R
S P A N Y
C A N T O
B L I P W
V E X U L

This scores a total of 53, made up as follows:

Row 1: COB 3, BAR 3, total 6
Row 2: SPA 3, PAN 3, ANY 3, total 9
Row 3: CANTO 10
Row 4: BLIP 4
Row 5: VEX 3
Col 1: no score
Col 2: OPAL 4, PALE 4, total 8
Col 3: BAN 3, NIX 3, total 6
Col 4: ANT 3
Col 5: YOWL 4

Note that Row 2 could be scored as 4 for SPAN and 3 for ANY, but this counts only 7 as opposed to the superior three-way split for 9 points. Note also that column 5 yields only 4 for YOWL, and not an additional 3 for OWL as it is completely contained within the longer word - as also is the non-scorable PAL in column 2.
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