By indexer
158 days ago

The game of Lexicon

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Lexicon is a card game that might strike one as a cross between gin rummy and Scrabble in that it proceeds in a similar manner to the former but is concerned with the creation of words, as is the latter. It was first produced (by John Waddington Ltd) in 1933 and is therefore older than Scrabble (which dates from 1938), but it may have influenced the invention of the younger game. Although the firm of Waddingtons is no longer in business, Lexicon is still available from Winning Moves UK.

A Lexicon pack comprises 52 cards of standard playing-card size, but each card displays a letter of the alphabet (apart from the “master card” which acts like a joker or the blank tiles in Scrabble). There is a single card for 15 of the letters, three cards each for 8 of the letters, and four cards each for A, E and I.

Each letter has a score value, this being 2, 4, 6, 8 or 10, with the master card having a value of 15. Because the idea is to score low rather than high, the letters that occur most frequently in words have a higher score than those that are more difficult to use, which is the opposite of what happens in Scrabble.

The game can be played by two, three or four players (if more want to play, a double pack can be used). Ten cards are dealt to each player, with the rest of the pack being placed face-down with the top card turned over and placed next to the pack. Play then proceeds clockwise, with the first player being the person sitting to the left of the dealer.

This player has a choice between three courses of action. He or she can make a word (of two or more letters) and place it on the table so that it can be seen by all the other players. Alternatively, he or she can pick up the exposed card and replace it with one from their hand. Or they can take the “blind” card from the top of the turned-over pack and also discard a card from their hand and place it on top of the card that is exposed. If a player chooses this third option, he or she must discard before they pick up the blind card. If, during play, the pack is played out, the exposed cards are shuffled and become the new pack, with one card turned over as the start of a new exposed pile.

The next player, and all subsequent players, has two more choices. The first of these is to play one or more of the cards from their hand to change a word that has already been formed by another player (or, as the play moves back to them, one of their own words). The rule for changing a word is that cards can be added at the beginning or end of a word or inserted between two of the letters. The order of the letters of an existing word must not be changed, but any number of new letters can be added, in any position, as long as a legitimate new word is created.

As an example of how a word might be amended, “are” could become “bare” with a letter added at the beginning, or “area” with a letter added at the end. If letters are inserted it could become “arise”, or if letters are added at the beginning and the end it could change to “caress”. One could add letters at the beginning, middle and end to create “fearless”.

The other choice is to exchange a card for one already played, as long as a new word is thus created. For example, if “larch” is on the table and a player needs an A to create a word of their own, they could get rid of an unwanted U by changing the existing word to “lurch”. A player might be able to get hold of the master card by this means, but they would run the risk of being left with it in their hand if the round ends before they are able to make use of it.

As might be expected, all the words created by players must be standard English words, correctly spelled, as found in a dictionary. Proper names are not acceptable. It is open to players to challenge any word created by another player, either “new” or as the result of subsequent amendment. If a challenge is substantiated after a dictionary check, the offending player must withdraw the word or letters and lose their turn. They are also penalised by ten points. Should the challenge not be allowed, the player who made the challenge suffers a ten point penalty (penalties are added, not subtracted, because the aim is to score low rather than high).

In their turn, a player must perform one, and only one, of the above actions, so a player who picks up a card they want cannot use it until their turn comes round again. They can also only create or modify a single word in each turn.

Unlike in gin rummy, a player is not required to discard a card every turn, so all the cards in one’s hand can be used to create or change a word. This means that, should they have one card left over after making/changing a word, a player must hold on to that card until their next turn.

In each round of play, the aim is to get rid of all one’s cards as quickly as possible. When this happens, the other players must add the points on the cards still in their hands, and these points are recorded as their score for the round. Clearly, the player who used all their cards will score zero.

Play continues with a new deal, with the dealer being the player who was the first to start play in the previous round. If, after a round of play, the score of one or more players exceeds 100, they are eliminated from the game and the remaining players carry on until only one is left, who is therefore the winner.

For people who enjoy card games, Lexicon offers an extra twist by playing with letters instead of standard playing cards. Every round of play will be different due to the huge variety of words that can be created by the letters of the alphabet, and this offers skilful players many opportunities to apply their ingenuity. Lovers of word games and crosswords will find that this is a card game that can get them hooked and provide many hours of enjoyment.
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soncee Interesing artikle 👍
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milenazoran You really write a lot!
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indexer @milenazoran That's true!
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milenazoran You have a lot of time for writing.
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indexer @milenazoran It's called being semi-retired! I only one work one evening a week during the University term (which is not now), and do one voluntary public library shift a week, so that leaves quite a lot of time for writing!
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milenazoran Yeah, it's good! Where are you from?
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indexer @milenazoran Originally? I was born in Scotland but adopted by a family in Dorset on the south coast of England, where I grew up. For the last 30 years I have lived in Leicestershire in the East Midlands.
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