When I Googled this game, I was horrified to see that the first result was of this game on Alexa, on the Amazon website! I’ve always known it to be a pencil-and-paper game – I’ve played it since I was five – and also one of the best learning games. It really improves your vocabulary!
However many people don’t know about this game and how to play it, so I thought I’d make a post about it:
- Number of players: 2+ (a good maximum number is 5)
- Age range: Really anyone who knows how to write
- You’ll need: Paper and pencil for each player, rulers will also be useful
How to play:
- Decide how many categories you want. You can either have Name, Place, Animal and Thing; or you can increase them according to the players’ age and skill level. The additional categories are Food, Famous Person, Brand, Book, Game (although the last three are very difficult) and you can split the Name category into Muslim Name and Non-Muslim Name. This last option is, in my opinion, just the right level of difficulty.
- Once you have decided the categories, sketch out your playing papers accordingly. Supposing your categories are Name, Place, Animal, Food and Thing, then you’ll do it like this:
- Now you’re good to go. One player is told by another, “Start”. Player A begins reading the alphabet, from the beginning, under his breath, so no one else can hear him. Player B then says “Stop” at whatever time he pleases. Whichever letter Player A is stopped at, that is the chosen letter for this round. Suppose this letter is M.
- Every player writes the letter M down in the Alpha column of their papers. Now they must fill in every remaining column in the row (save for Total) with a word, beginning with M, that fits in the category it is written underneath. For example in this round, you could write Maryam under Name, Morocco under Place, Macaw under Animal, Mop under Thing, and Macaroni under Food. You can write as many words as you please under each category as long as they all start with M. No peeking at each others’ papers! And you can’t ask each other for words, either.
- A few notes: In Place you can write cities or countries, or states, but not the other type of ‘places’ such as dining room, mansion, restaurant etc. And in Food you may use words in other languages such as Italian or French. (Or Urdu.)
- Anyway, back to the game. When you finish writing at least one word under every category, you must call out “Done.” If a player takes way too long, then you can count down from ten and then at the count of zero he or she must lay down his or her pencil.
- Once everyone’s done, or force-stopped, one player – take this player to be Player C – calls out the first category, which is Name. Alpha doesn’t count because everyone knows it already. Every player says whatever he or she has written under the category Name, including Player C of course. Now, if your word is unique, you get 10 points. However, if someone has written the same word as you, you both get 5 points. If three or more players have all written the same thing then you all get 5 points. This is why it is good to write more than one thing under each category, so if one word of yours matches with another player’s, you can use your second word. Write down the points you get for each category.
- Note: However many things you write under each category, you can get maximum only 10 points for each category.
- You go on through each category the same way, with Player C calling out each category, everyone saying their words and writing down their points accordingly. When you are done with all the categories, you have completed one round (and you have filled one row.) Total your points of the round and write them under Total.
- Then you begin again from step 1, starting a second round.
- When you’ve filled your pages then total your points. Whoever gets the most points is the winner.