Saturday, June 2, 2012

Games Ghulfdom Plays

Our favorite and enduring word game is My Word—actually myword! in its original formulation by its maker, Gamut of Games, Inc., once at 1133 Broadway, New York, NY 10010. Not that we noticed that address in the early 1970s when we bought the game—but a double-thirteen is surely a mark of distinction. It was a word-guessing game played on a sheet, and permitted the guessing of either 6- or 7-letter words. Herewith a scan of the original My Word sheet:

Click to enlarge; Esc returns.

This looks like Brigitte’s sheet in a game between the two of us. She gave me the six-letter word BLITHE and the seven-letter DEADPAN. I gave her DELUGE and BLUSTER. The penciled-in scoring of successive guesses is explained thus:

·         Any letter in the guess also present in the target, but out of position, gets 250.
·         Any letter in the guess which is present, and also in position, gets 1,000.
·         If none of the letters is present, the score is zero.
·         All letter-scores are added and the sum is then given to the player who gave the guess-word.

In the bottom left panel, Brigitte’s test-word, FOUL two letters were absent (FO)—0, the U was there and in position—1,000, and the L was present but out of position—250. Add the results and the score for the guess-word is 1,250. As shown on the graphic, each player does his/her guessing at the bottom and records the opponent’s guesses on the top, alongside the scores that they merit. An alphabet to the side permits recording the elimination of a letter.

Early on we could still buy pads of answer sheets. But as our fascination with the game grew, so the game’s popularity evidently faded. Gamut of Games applied for its trademark on May 24, 1972—thus forty years ago. The trademark became deactivated April 5, 1982. But we had, by then, shifted from playing on preprinted sheets to those we made ourselves. And the moment we began to type or draw our own sheets, the game also expanded. We soon had 8- later 9-letter word sheets. Our most recent innovation was to create a form on which any word, up to 11-letters may be played. It also includes additional features that help in keeping track of things.

Our game yesterday included one hard-fought exchange in which Brigitte gave me PAMPHLETEER and I gave her CIRCUMSPECT. Forty years and still at it—and the game is popular across the family.

Oh, and by the way: There is a version of it that has actually made it into the cyberage. It is called What’s my Word? It runs on the iPad and the iPhone. Same scoring conventions but a simpler pattern; and evidently you can only play six-letter words. No, that was not a sneer. But we only play 6-letter games as a kind of warm-up.


  1. Oh, too strange.. We'll have to try the iPad version of MyWord... although, after getting used to our own intensified version of the game, I suspect it'll seem simple. But, I am glad it lives on!

    Nice find.

    1. I expect that a six-letter game will be as hard as ever, computerized or otherwise. Around here we were again re-arguing which is the hardest. What is certainly true is the 6-letter needs more luck than the longer forms.


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