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Phrase Maze

trash can overflowing with garbage   minus letter T plus letters PH   minus letter H plus E   maze

No. of Players: 2
Type of Game: written
What you need: pen and paper


To find a phrase your opponent has hidden in a grid.

How to play

Before this game begins, both players draw a five-by-five grid. They label the rows A through E and the columns 1 through 5. In this way each square in the grid can be identified by a letter-number combination. For instance, the top right-hand corner square is A5 and the center square is C3. Each player then writes a phrase in the grid in such a way that someone can trace out its letters, in successive fashion, by moving left, right, up, or down through the grid one square at a time. On the same sheet of paper, each player also draws another five-by-five grid whose rows and columns are similarly labeled with letters and numbers. But players do not write any letters in this second grid until the game begins.

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To begin the game, one player calls out a letter-number and the second player reports what letter he has in that square, if any. The first player then writes down that letter in his blank grid, or marks it as empty. The second player calls out a letter-number and similarly marks down this information. This process continues until enough letters accumulate so that players want to guess at their opponent's hidden phrase instead of calling out a letter-number. If they guess correctly, they win the round and score points for every blank square left in their opponent's grid. But if the guess is incorrect, the game continues until someone does win with a correct guess. The ultimate winner is the player who accumulates the most points after a set number of rounds has been played. For added difficulty, players can allow phrases to use letters in the grid more than once so as to cross itself.

Other versions of this game include:

Grid Search a game which hides a single word instead of a phrase; and
Word Battleship a game which hides multiple words in a larger grid


Austin chooses the phrase 'Bless your heart' which he places into his grid like this:

alpha-numerically labeled 5 by 5 grid containing the phrase 'Bless your heart'

The first letter of the phrase is in square D1, the second letter is in D2, the third letter is in E2, and so on. Without knowing the letter length of the phrase, or the number of words in it, his opponent Bianca will need to uncover the majority of these letters before she can make a successful guess.

Did you know?

According to Guinness World Records, the largest hand-drawn maze was created by Michelle Boggess-Nunley of Detroit, Michigan in 2020. Michelle used a paper roll that was 1,000 feet long and 2 feet wide. When fully rolled out, it winds around an entire soccer field! It took Michelle 3.5 months to finish drawing the maze paths which, according to Guinness regulations, could not exceed 1 cm in thickness. She also needed to draw the maze in a public place, with the entire process recorded in the presence of two independent witnesses. The official size of the maze is 1,126.36 square feet.

thick roll of paper with hand-drawn maze

The world's largest permanent maze that you can actually walk through is located in China. The Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze was created using hedges as tall as a human and was first opened to the public in September 2017. It covers over 383,000 square feet, or about six-and-a-half football fields. But be sure to rest up before you enter. Because if you're unlucky enough to walk the entire path – dead ends and all – you'll end up walking a total of 5.88 miles!

photo of a hedge maze

Other record-breaking mazes include a 2019 snow maze created by A Maze In Corn, Inc. of St. Adolphe, Manitoba. The 30,021 square foot maze is made with towering snow walls and takes about 45 minutes to navigate successfully. Since it's located in Canada during the winter, there are warm-up fire pits inside. As well as snow sculptures to keep mazers motivated to make their way through the snowy corridors.

snow hotel interior with lounge chairs and end tables

If walking is not your style, you might try climbing the world's largest vertical maze. But you'd be the first, since this maze is situated as the front facade of a 57 floor building – aptly named the Al Rostamani Maze Tower – located in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It was completed in 2010 and has a total surface area of over 42,000 square feet. Interestingly, the maze is actually a series of interconnected balconies. Although you can't risk physically navigating the maze, you can still trace out its path with your eye from a safe distance away. Even after sunset, since the maze is illuminated at night with LED lights.

In case you're wondering, the images under the title of this word game form a rebus puzzle:


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