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Mystery Word

detective with magnifying glass and envelope with question mark
No. of Players: 2+
Type of Game: written and spoken
What you need: pen and paper


To find a word by solving clues to its letters.

How to play

The gamemaster writes down a long word and puts numbers below each letter. The other players are told the number of letters in this mystery word and they draw that many dashes on their own paper with numbers below each dash. The gamemaster then gives clues to words that can be made from letter combinations in the mystery word, referencing these letters by their numbers. As players solve the clues, they write the letters of the answers on the appropriate numbered dashes. In this way, the mystery word slowly reveals itself. The first player to correctly guess the mystery word becomes the gamemaster for the next round.


Angelo tells the other players the mystery word has twelve letters, so they each draw twelve dashes and number them sequentially like so:

a numbered series of 12 blank dashes

The first clue Angelo gives is 'They love their teams' which he tells them references letters numbered 6, 7, 12 and 1. Blair and Christina both correctly solve this clue as fans and they write its letters on the appropriate dashes:

a numbered series of dashes, 8 blank, 4 with letters on them

No player can guess what this word is, so Angelo gives another clue: 'A play is divided into these' which references letters numbered 2, 8, 3 and 5. Blair and Christina again both correctly solve this clue as acts and write down its letters:

a numbered series of dashes, 4 blank, 8 with letters on them

But Christina is quicker than Blair in identifying the mystery word as satisfaction, which she shouts out loud. She thus becomes the gamemaster for the next round.

Did you know?

If you ask most people to name their favorite detective, they invariably say Sherlock Holmes. And if you further ask them to name the first thing that comes to mind with this fictional character, they usually give you a half-serious look and say "Elementary, my dear Watson."

Sherlock Holmes book opened at title page, with magnifying glass

But while this famous phrase is universally attributed to Sherlock Holmes, it actually doesn't appear in any of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 60 stories. The closest Holmes comes to uttering these exact words is:

  1. "Elementary" in "The Adventure of the Crooked Man"
  2. "It was very superficial my dear Watson" in "The Adventure of the Cardboard Box"
  3. "Exactly, my dear Watson" in three other stories

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