Original Word Games by David Parlett



Always a cross word, never a dull moment

Players 2   Type Crossword   Equipment Published crossword grid  

Doing yesterday's crossword is like reading yesterday's news. You may not have seen the solution, but the fact that it has been published takes all the bite out of it. So here's a way of filling up yesterday's undone crossword grid with some sense of competitive and creative achievement.

For each game you need an unfilled crossword pattern from any old newspaper or magazine. (You don't need the clues.) You can draw your own pattern if you prefer, but it's much easier to take one ready made.
Decide who goes first. The first player enters a word in the shortest light, which will usually be three or four letters. In a symmetrical pattern there will be more than one of these, so a further rule is that you start in the one with the lowest number.
Each of you in turn thereafter enters a word into the grid in such a way as to fit one light exactly. It must, of course, link properly with at least one other word running in the opposite direction. (The cross-over points are technically called checked letters, but in this game they're called links.)
Each time you enter a word you get a score for it, and you add these scores up as you go along.
Word score
The score for the first word is 2 points per letter (therefore usually 6 or 8 points). Thereafter the score for each word made is "length times links" - that is, the length of the word you make multiplied by the number of links it makes with a word or words in the opposite direction.
Example: For entering the word BALANCE into a light consisting of **L**** you score 7 (7 letters times 1 link), but for entering it in a light containing *A*A*C* you would 21.
No splitting
You can enter any word, name or phrase that you would normally expect to find in a published crossword, but you're not allowed to split phrases between different lights. For example, you could enter the two-word phrase TAKE COVER in a light of nine spaces, but you could not in one turn enter TAKE in one light and COVER in a different one.
Passing and ending
If you get stuck because you can't think of an acceptable continuation, you must pass and score nothing for that turn. Play continues till both players pass in succession. Whoever made the last entry adds a bonus of 10 points, and the winner is the player with the highest cumulative score.
You should announce what you intend to enter before entering it, in case of dispute as to spelling or acceptability. No hard and fast rules can be given to cover acceptability: regular crossword solvers know what sort of words and (particularly) phrases are acceptable. I'm inclined to suggest that anything is acceptable if it can be shown in print within five minutes of making the claim.
In case of misspelling, or not properly fitting the light or links, it's advisable to write in pencil so it can be easily erased without penalty. If you're writing in ink, let any such mistake stand, but deduct a penalty of 10 points for it. If the word is too short for the light, repeat the last letter as often as necessary. If it's too long, omit as many of the consecutive last letters as necessary.
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