Challenge

The Flashback Track Friday Prompt graphic

This is my response to this week’s Flashback Track Friday prompt, where we were asked simply:

Tell us something about your schooldays.

I had a few possibilities, here, but I decided to just write a straight post. I know that lots of you have young grandies, so it might be useful to you. I’m going to describe a game we played in class, aged ten/eleven. I never heard this game described before or since… but I enjoyed it immensely and it’s good because we’re teaching words.

It was a game, called Challenge, two players, P1 and P2, turn-based. At the blackboard but could equally be played with a piece of paper. Oh, and it’s not case-sensitive.

P1 would write a letter down. Any letter. For example:

S

P2 then adds a letter onto the front or the back. They can’t drop letters into the middle. Any letter… almost but not quite. For example:

SH

But P2 can’t just write any old letter.

First, P2 is not allowed to make a word. If they do, they lose. If they had written ‘SO’, for example, P1 just won.

Second, though, while P2 mustn’t form a word themselves, they have to add a letter such that it is still possible to form a word. ‘SX’, for example, would also be a bad move. See below for why.

Now, this game was turn-based, so P1 would add a third letter, e.g.

USH

You were allowed either to prepend or append, remember?

And P2 would add a fourth letter. Recall both players are trying not to make a word, so P2 might write

USHE

and so on. And each adds a letter until there is a winner. You can imagine the example above going along the lines rushe, crushe etc. before it reaches a climax.

The Challenge

So why was the game called Challenge?

Well, if P1 puts a letter down, and P2 doesn’t think they can make a word, they say “challenge”. P2 is challenging their opponent to make a word.

If P1 can make a word, then P1 wins. If they can’t, they lose. That’s why writing ‘SX’ would have been a bad idea. I can’t think of any real word with ‘SX’ in it. Go on, prove me wrong in a comment 🤣.

Plus, of course, the above paragraph works vice versa.

So one player issues a challenge for the other to create a word.

How’s that? Clear as mud?

I’ve never played it as an adult, but certainly at that age, with an eleven year old’s vocabulary, it encouraged me to discover new words. Maybe it might be good for grandies’ vocabularies too?

The best time I saw this game played, it only got to CHT, at which point P2 called “Challenge”. Because no words have CHT in them, right?

But P1 simply wrote YACHT to win.

So, really good for those words with odd letter combinations.

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