Can you figure it out? The ultimate wordplay challenge in history.
The Scrabblegram is a form of constrained writing in which you must write a piece of text that uses all 100 tiles in an English Scrabble set, and no other letters. The blank tiles must be used, and as per the rules can be any letter.
David Cohen’s example is widely regarded as one of the top examples in its genre.
This passage is impressive because it not only conveys a clear message and creates a comical image, but it also has a smooth flow, rhymes, and adheres to the required syllable count for a limerick. (Note: In North America, a “billfold” refers to a wallet.)
In 1997, Cohen created the Scrabblegram above, winning a competition held by GAMES Magazine to create a story using all the tiles in a Scrabble set. After a break of approximately 20 years, Cohen recently resumed writing Scrabblegrams, producing over 400 to date. Today, I am nominating what I believe to be his greatest wordplay puzzle yet.
Pause and focus. The hints provided are in the form of a Scrabblegram. They are brief crossword hints, accompanied by the length of the word (the numbers in parentheses.) Your objective is to discover the solutions – which are also in the form of a Scrabblegram. Congratulations!
Put simply, the ten responses are composed solely of the letters available in a Scrabble game.
The distribution of tiles in Scrabble is as follows: A9, B2, C2, D4, E12, F2, G3, H2, I9, J1, K1, L4, M2, N6, O8, P2, Q1, R6, S4, T6, U4, V2, W2, X1, Y2, Z1, and 2 blank tiles. To make the most of your Scrabble game, consider using an online Scrabblegram player which can help you keep track of your remaining tiles.
Cohen, a hospital physician in Atlanta specializing in internal medicine, has dedicated 20 years of his career to working solely night shifts. It took him approximately 10-12 hours to construct the puzzle shown above.
He has written two Scrabblegram puzzles, including this one. The solutions are also Scrabblegrams.
I will return with the answers by 5pm in the United Kingdom. Please refrain from providing any spoilers.
UPDATED: Check out the solutions below.
In 1975, the Times Diary section featured an article about a new game created by Phoebe Winch from Sherborne. The game involves creating a coherent message using only the tiles provided in a game of Scrabble, without adding any additional letters.
I am currently on a diet and my go-to snack is quince jelly. To mix things up, I also incorporate a lot of ground maize into my meals. Sometimes I’ll make rhubarb and soda, which can bring me to tears, or indulge in some extra calories.
Winch was a prominent member of the Sherborne community. After working as a journalist in London, she relocated to Sherborne and was elected as its first Liberal councillor in 1971. She went on to make history again in 1976 by becoming the town’s first female mayor. Sadly, she passed away at the age of 92 in October of last year. If you have any memories of her, particularly related to puzzles and wordplay, please share them in the comments section below.
To understand the level of challenge involved in creating Scrabblegrams, why not attempt to create some yourself? I will include my preferred ones in the answer post for this puzzle. As it may take longer than the deadline of 5pm today, I will continuously update the solution post for the next several days.
You have the option to submit your entries to me via email or by leaving them in the comments section.
I requested tips from Cohen.
Select a subject that holds true significance to you. Even if it doesn’t end up being successful, dedicating time to something you are passionate about is still time worth investing.
Check that you have all 100 tiles before attempting to finish a ‘gram. It can be frustrating to think you’ve finished a ‘gram, only to find out that you are missing a letter. Utilize the online Scrabblegram player developed by Arthur O’Dwyer.
Begin by creating a concise phrase, no more than 15-20 letters, that accurately conveys your message, without considering limitations.
Make sure to have a plan in place for the Q and J from the beginning.
Throughout the process, ensure a balance between consonants and vowels. (Many individuals end up with an impractical cluster of vowels after their initial attempts).
Ensure that you evenly distribute the vowels A, E, I, and O throughout the text. Neglecting this step may result in an excessive amount of one of these vowels at the end. This can be challenging, but it is a crucial aspect that is often overlooked.
7) Attempt to delay using any blank spaces until the very end, and if possible, save at least one (or ideally both) for the final stage. It is highly unlikely to successfully complete with actual words without utilizing at least one blank space.
It should be noted that creating Scrabblegrams can be challenging. However, as with most things, practice makes perfect. The key rule is to be patient with yourself and enjoy the process. Even if your initial attempts have a few words that make sense, consider it a success.
B3 E1 S1 T1 O1 F4 L1 U1 C3 K5
Special thanks to David Cohen for providing us with today’s puzzles. His latest publication, Scrabblegrams, is a compilation of 75 unique Scrabblegrams covering various topics such as art, history, and science. The book was released by Penteract Press, a small British publishing company known for their focus on limited and visual poetry. To purchase your own copy, click here.
Cohen’s Scrabblegrams can be found on his website. To view his daily Scrabblegram of the Day, follow him on X: @dc_scrabblegram.
HASBRO is the registered trademark owner of Scrabble.
Since 2015, I have been posting a puzzle every other Monday. I am constantly searching for new and interesting puzzles. If you have a suggestion, please email me.