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Pseudonumerals
The crossword game played with numbers

Pseudonumerals is a crossword game.  It is for children and adults who like forming words and playing with them.  Even young children just learning to read are soon excellent pseudospellers, and enjoy competing against adults in this game.  Pseudonumerals is like SCRABBLE, but uses numbers instead of letters, and needs no playing board.  There is more luck involved, more choices of words to use, more emphasis on thinkng up words than spellng them.  Playing your first game of Pseudonumerals is also natural way to become a confident pseudospeller.

If you don't know the ten pseudonumerals yet, you should probably read this web page first.  Here they are:

Pseudonumerals:  
 S 
 T 
 N 
 M 
 R 
 L 
 J 
 K 
 F 
 P 
Arabic numerals:  
 0 
 1 
 2 
 3 
 4 
 5 
 6 
 7 
 8 
 9 

Before the game is played for the first time, the numbers must be downloaded, printed out and cut into squares. 
Click here to open the pseudonumerals as a gif file 
Click here to open the pseudonumerals as a higher resolution MS Word document 

There are 10 numbers printed on the page.  You will need to print this three times to have 30 numbers.  Cut out the numbers along the solid lines and fold along the dashed vertical lines, and tape or glue the folded pieces together so that the number is on one side and the pseudonumeral is on the reverse.

The game
Once you have cut out the thirty pseudonumeral tiles needed, you are ready to play Pseudonumerals.  It can be played by one, two, three or four players.  The object is to obtain the highest score, by building words onto the crossword puzzle.  Each number in each word that is added or modified gives additional points to the player�s total score.

To begin
Place all the numbers in a stack, to be drawn one at a time, or place them in a bag and shake them up to shuffle.  The youngest player takes the first turn.  Each player draws three numbers and places them on the table, visible to all.  Experienced players may agree to keep the numbers hidden.

The play
The first player forms a word out of two or three numbers and places them on the table, to read either across or down.  There should be no space between the numbers, even though vowels would ordinarily take such spaces.  The player reads his word to the other players, to prove its validity.  He then adds the total of his numbers to determine his score.  Because this is the first turn of the game, 15 free points are added to the score.  The player then draws as many numbers as he has played, to have three numbers available for his next turn.

The play passes to the left.  The second player, and then each of the following players in turn, builds onto the crossword puzzle, by adding one or more numbers to those already played.  The numbers must be added as a single row, or continuation of a row, either across or down.  The added row must be added across if the across-direction of the current puzzle is shortest, and down if the down-direction of the puzzle is shortest.  Numbers may only be added so that all rows make valid words, both across and down.  However, the numbers need not represent the same letters: a 6 may represent a j in one direction and a ch in the other direction.  On the next turn the same 6 may be used to represent an sh or a g.  The player earns points from any words that are formed or modified by his play.

Example game
As an example game, consider the 30 numbers being drawn in the order that they appear in the number pi: 3.1415926535897932..846264..8..7..01..7..0..0.

Shown here are the first five turns and then the completed puzzle of this example game:
 
 3   1   4   9   5   6   2   2   6   4 
 3   1   4   8   3   2 
 1   8   9   5   6   2   0 
 9   5   5   3   1   4 
 3   1   4   3   0   1   7   1   8 
 1   5   5 
 5   9   5   6   2   3   9 
 3   1   4   7 
 1   8   9   6   4 
 9   5   6   2   5   5   8   7   0 
 3   1   4   3   9 
 1   7 
 5   9 

Example game
Turn     Words formed in this turn                           Point sum     Dimensions of current crossword puzzle (next play)
1   314:  314  motor                                 (3+1+4=8 +bonus15 =) 23   Three across, one down (next row must be down)
2   159:  9415  bridle                                           (9+4+1+5 =) 19   Three across, four down (next row must be across)
3   265:  9562  pollution                                       (9+5+6+2 =) 22   Six across, four down (next row must be down)
4   358:  853  flame (18 dove, 55 lily)      (8+5+3+1+8+5+5 =) 35   Six across, five down (next row must be down)
5   979:  979  hubcap (39 mop)  37   Six across, seven down (next row must be across)
6   328:  832  famine (85 fuel, 36 match, 22 nun)  39   Six across, eight down (next row must be across)
7   462:  264  nature (685 shovel, 436 rummage)  44   Six across, nine down (next row must be across)
8   648:  964  butcher  19   Seven across, nine down (next row must be across)
9   870:  870  fox (68 chief, 47 rake)  40   Eight across, ten down (next row must be across)
10   17:  017  stick (37 mug)  18   Ten across, ten down (next row may be across or down)
11     0:  95620  bluejeans  22   Final dimensions of example game: ten across, ten down.

A game of luck and skill
This game involves luck (at drawing big numbers, like 9 and not 0), and the ability to think of words and fit them.  Children from the age of eight are good at thinking of appropriate words, but have a bit more trouble finding the best places to fit words and gain most points.  When adults play with young children, it is possible to give the children certain advantages.
     The adults may only form words that are nouns, whereas children may use any types of words or names.
     The children may build their row either across or down, regardless of the dimensions of the crossword puzzle.
There is no need to tell the children that they have these advantages.

Pseudonumerals can also be played with 5 or 6 numbers at one time, instead of 3.   In this version, a combination of two meaningful words is allowed:  "green hats" would be allowed for 74210.   To play this way, you need to start by cutting out and gluing more tiles before the game begins.


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