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Alphabet Crossword

A simple but challenging puzzle where the aim is to use each letter of the alphabet once to create real words.

Tried and tested by Friday Afternoons
Any player count
Any game length
Requirements
  • Each letter of the alphabet in a pysical form (e.g. fridge magnets or written on a small square of paper) for each player

The aim of Alphabet Crossword is to arrange the 26 letters of the alphabet in such a way that they form words that adhere to the structure of a typical crossword:

  • Letters are arranged in a grid layout
  • Any two vertically adjacent letters must form part of a word that reads top to bottom
  • Any two horizontally adjacent letters must form part of a word that reads left to right
  • Two words that share a row or collumn must have at least one space between them
  • Words may not be formed diagonally
  • Letters may be diagonally adjacent
  • All words must be conntected to all other words directly or indirectly (i.e. the solution must not be two or more separate crossword structures)

English words are allowed, following the same restrictions as the TV show Countdown (countdownresources.wordpress.com/2018/10/14/word-validity). Essentially, if it's in the Oxford Dictionary of English and is not capitalised, abbreviated, hyphenated or an American spelling, it's probably good to use.

The game can be played alone, cooperatively, or competitively. When playing alone or as a team, the aim is to simply keep going until you find a solution. If playing competiviely, it may not be practical to play until someone finds a solution as there's a good chance that no one will. One option is to set a time limit, and when the time runs out the player with an attempt that has the fewest leftover letters wins (in this scenario you can also allow solutions that break the rule requiring all words to be connected, so that players are ranked first by fewest leftover letters, then by smallest number of separate crossword structures).

Once you find a solution, there's still fun to be had in looking for more. Alternatively, you could aim to find a solution that uses two of each letter, then three, and so on.

Tips

After you begin playing you'll quickly notice some things than can't be done, some that will restrict you, and some that will make things easier. Click below to view a selection of these.

  • All words containing more than one instance of any letter cannot be used (e.g. "TEXT")
  • Vowels (including "Y") are limited and therefore extremely valuable
  • Words with a high consonant to vowel ratio are useful
  • Each letter can only be used in a maximum of two words: one vertical and one horizontal
  • Where two words cross, it's unlikely that you'll be able to get second words out of the four letters around them
  • Because of the above, words that have consecutive vowels are more restrictive
  • "U" almost certainly has to follow "Q"
  • A second vowel almost certainly has to follow "QU"
  • Because of the above, words starting or ending in "U", and the vowel that follows "QU", are very valuable (e.g. "FLU" and "ANT" can both be added to a word containing "QUA")
  • "L", "R" and "N" can often be slotted into existing words (e.g. "POT" to "PLOT") for more flexibility
  • It can sometimes help to place the more awkward letters, namely "J", "Q", "V", "X" and "Z", early on and let the more flexible letters fill in the gaps

Solutions

Click below to view some examples of acceptable solutions.

          G       Q  
    F     L       U  
W O R K M A N S H I P
  B Y     D       Z  
  J                  
V E X                
  C                  
  T                  
  M                
J O B     Q     W  
  V       U N Z I P
  E X T R A     G  
  D       C   F    
          K   L    
          S H Y    
        Q     F          
  V     U P H O L D S    
Z E B R A     G     W    
  T     C     Y   J I N X
        K           M    
      B        
      R   V    
    J A D E    
  Q   N   X    
  U   C        
F I G H T S    
  Z       L   M
        P O K Y
          W    

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