I come from a family of game players. Our specialty is word games. When my husband and I were first dating, I finally talked him into playing Scrabble with me. At first, I trounced him regularly. Then the tables began to turn. He played with strategy! High scoring words were no longer enough to ensure my victory – he began to block my moves. Deliberately! He could turn a Scrabble board into an unplayable assortment of letters in just a few moves. It became a whole new game. Literally. But that wasn’t a bad thing, and it made for a much more genial relationship by balancing out the scores.
This weekend, we had two 10-hour car trips to attend our youngest son’s college graduation. We carpooled with our daughter, her husband and their new baby to and from the festivities. To pass the time, I reached back to a favorite word game that was well suited to car trips in my youth – Jotto. A quick search on the internet quickly refreshed my memory of the rules. It is normally played with two players. Each person thinks up a 5-letter word. The players proceed to ask each other 5 letter words, and the number of correct letters from the secret word is revealed. By repeatedly asking words to rule letters in and out, one can eventually guess the other player’s word. It particularly appeals to my mathematical and analytical mind, as well as word knowledge. But we had three players, so we dreamed up a new approach – round robin Jotto. Player A tries to guess Player B’s word, Player B guesses Player C’s word, and C tries to guess A’s. Surprisingly, it worked out quite well! And suddenly, our game for 2 was expandable to any number of players. Once a player was out (when their word was guessed correctly), it was possible for them to review other players’ answers to try and guess their word as well.
It was good to revert back to pre-technology times and while away the hours with a mere pen and paper. Try it sometime!