Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The license plate game

Since I was a kid I've played a little game when I'm a passenger in a car (or even a driver sometimes), to while away the minutes or hours. It's quite simple: find a license plate with three letters, then find a word that has those three letters, in that order, in it. They don't have to be adjacent, and it doesn't have to start with the first letter. For instance, if you see ETY, some possible words are PETTY, ESTUARY, ETYMOLOGY, and YEASTY. Standard Scrabble rules apply: dictionary words, no proper nouns.

There's no formal rules for scoring, but the best words to find are:
  • As short as possible
  • Interesting and unusual, not everyday
  • Don't start with the first letter
  • Avoid as much as possible having the provided letters adjacent, especially doubled letters (e.g., ANN is better solved with CANYON than BANNED)
Of course if you get really hard letters like EQX you'll consider yourself lucky to find any solution. Sometimes seemingly easy letters will turn out really hard; for instance, DTF took me a while to come up with DETOXIFY.

There's rarely a drive, even a short one, where I don't do this at least once. It's almost a twitch. Of course in Vermont the game is somewhat limited since the plates that are three letters and three numbers are only up to starting with F or G, so your first letter is somewhat limited.

By the way, for the pictured plate, I'd probably use BACKWARD or PACKAGE.