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The world has its share of word games, but perhaps none as hyperactive as Boggle, which was first released in 1973.

Sixteen letters, three minutes, two or more frantically scribbling players – for more than 40 years, that’s been the formula for Boggle’s speed-writing success.

Each game started innocently enough: Someone put the 16 letter cubes (a different letter on each side) in the bubble-cased Boggle tray, shook the thing up, and let the letters fall into place on the 4×4 letter grid. And then the madness began . . .


Racing against the three-minute timer, players made as many three-or-more-letter words as they could by mentally lining up adjoining letter cubes – across or diagonally. Each letter could only be used once.

Once the timer ran out, players called out the words they’d found and the familial humiliation would begin. After the points were totalled up, the Boggle shaking was repeated and another round of speedy spelling got underway.

Anybody with basic writing skills could learn to play Boggle, but of course, not all spellers were created equal. Parker Brothers recognised that fact, and in response, the company released several variations on the Boggle idea.

Big Boggle upped the grid to 5×5, for a total of 25 letters, while at the other end of the spectrum, Boggle Junior simplified the game for those still learning the writing ropes.

The Twister-like Body Boggle had gamers spell the words on a large floor mat while Boggle Bowl added a board game element to the familiar Boggle routine. In the late 90s, the classic game even got a CD-ROM update, with five new ways to play.