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The letters game is a battle of skill, cunning, guile, and vocabulary.

Players take it in turn to add to either end of a string of letters. Players must take care not to form a complete word, but, crucially, must also ensure that the string of letters is always part of a complete word.

If a player is unable to continue the string of letters without forming a complete word, they may concede (which is dull), or bluff, by adding a letter such that the string is no longer part of a real word. If the next player chooses to challenge, and the bluffer cannot supply an appropriate word, the bluffer loses. If the next player does not challenge, the bluffer is safe. If a player challenges and the challengee can supply an appropriate word, the challenger loses.

The game is best demonstrated by example. This is a two player game between Alf and Sue. Alf starts and can pick any letter he likes:

Alf:    C
Sue:    CK
Alf:   ECK
Sue:   ECKL

At this point Sue realises that Alf is heading for 'feckless'. This is no good for Sue as she may not end the word, and she can't think of another word, so she bluffs.

Alf: That's never part of a real word! Challenge!
Sue: Er. Unfeckless?
Alf: 'Unfeckless' my arse.
Sue: It's a word!
Alf: It bloody isn't.

The argument can continue until one of you wins or you get hold of a dictionary.

Proper Nouns are not allowed, obviously, but plurals are.

It's a good game for travelling, or, if you can trust the other player not to cheat by thumbing through a dictionary, you can play over e-mail. Against a worthy opponent, this is not an easy game.

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