The game is somewhat simple: start with one word and then change one letter at a time (into a new word) and finally end up with the goal word. For example, if you wanted to change “CAT” into “DOG”, you might do something like this:
Ideally, the goal is to get there in as few moves as possible (I mean, you could go from CAT to CUT to BUT to BUG TO DUG TO DOG but that’d take you 5 steps rather than 3).
Four-letter words are fun, five letter words are pretty awesome, once you get up to six-letter words, you’re pretty much out of luck because there are just too few real words to get you from here to there unless you stack the deck in the first place (that link will ask you to go from “CHARGE” to “COMEDO” and, according to the programmer who found it, it’s the longest word ladder puzzle ever).
Now, the above is probably the easiest example to give. The hardest ones involve stuff like “swapping the places of vowels and consonants”. It’s possible to go from APE to MAN, for example, but you’re not going to do it in 3 swaps.
The link to Lewis Carrol’s original article talks about putting a PIG in a STY, HARE into SOUP, and FLOUR into BREAD.
And there are a ton of these that are possible (though there are also a number of “aloof” words (such as “aloof”) that don’t have any word that they can change into).
And this is a fun, fun game that has been occupying me when I’m driving home from work. (I’m trying to turn “BLACK” into “WHITE”)
So… what are you playing?
(Picture is “Untitled” by our very own Will Truman. Used with permission.)