Rules to Guess Game


June 30, 2009


These are the rules to a game Douglas and I play.  We mostly play this in the car when I want to keep the driver awake. Do you know a game called, "Twenty Questions"?  Imagine a similar game with unlimited questions.  "Guess" is that game. 


(If you are from the E-mail fan list and you want to play the game, there is a link at the bottom of the page you can click on in order to do that.)


There are quite a few words and phrases in blue on here.  I have explained those words and phrases below under "Some Further Clarifications". I have tried to link the first occurrence of each word or phrase with the explanation.


The goal of this game is to find the, "ultimate answer".  Someone, the "it person," thinks of something for the "player" or "players" to guess what it is.  That "something" I will call the "ultimate answer" or the "thing being guessed".  As the "player" has a desire to know what the "it person" has thought of, the "player" asks a question that can be answered with "yes or no". 


There are certain "givens" about the "thing being guessed".  A "given" is something universally known.  For example, it's a "given" that humans need to breathe air in order to continue living.  There are certain things that need to be known upfront about the "thing being guessed".  These are the "givens". (There is a list of "givens" below.)


When the "it person" thinks of something to be guessed, they will declare [state] the "givens" up front


The "it person" thinks of something for the "player" or "players" to guess what it is. In order to "guess" at what the "thing being guessed" might be, a player asks questions.  The "player" asks, "yes or no questions" in order to try and figure out what the "it person" has thought of.  The question must be phrased so it can be answered with "yes or no".  For example, if the "thing being guessed" is an "event" an appropriate question is, "does this event happen weekly?".  An inappropriate question would be, "when does this event happen?". The player asks one question, the "it person" gives an answer.  If the "it person" does not know the answer to the question that is asked, an answer of "unknown" will be given.  In that case the player should resubmit the question rephrased, or they should ask an entirely different question.


If a question is inappropriate or the "it person" finds it puzzling, a player might get responses like, "rephrase" or "define".  If the answer is "rephrase" the question needs to be asked again, but in a different manner.  For example if the "thing being guessed" is a "dog", then, "do I own these items?" would need to be rephrased, because there is only one dog to be guessed. Of course the "player" wouldn't know that the "thing being guessed" was a singular dog.  The thing to do then, is to start by rephrasing the question as to number maybe.  Also, if the "player" knew the "thing being guessed" was a dog and the question, was, "what is the dog's name?" that would have to be rephrased to maybe, "do I know this dog?".  If a player, asks a question such as, "is it blue or green?" they will get an answer of "rephrase".  Then they should submit a question, "is it blue?", wait for the answer and then submit, "is it green?".  I can't think of an example that I have seen, but sometimes the player is thinking in totally the wrong direction.  They ask a question that couldn't possibly have anything to do with the "thing being guessed".  In that case a reply might come back saying, "no.  Rephrase.".  (suppose the "thing being guessed" was a door knob shaped like a dog, the player thought it was a real animal of some sort, the player might ask, "does this animal bark when I pet it?"---- which isn't a good example really---- most of the examples happen when a player asks a question that if you know what the "thing being guessed" is, you wouldn't ask a question like that in a million years.  Like, if the "thing being guessed" is the "Queen's finger", the question, "do I scrub the bathtub with this?" would cause much laughter from the "it person".)


If the "it person" replies, with "define" that means the player must define what he means by the terms used in the question.  For example, to "define" a question of, "is it bigger than a breadbox?" is to define what is meant by "bigger" or to define the size of the breadbox.  Sometimes the term or terms in the question can mean more than one thing.  In that case there will be a reply of "define".


If a player gets stuck, it is advantageous to try and figure out what the item is used for, or what size it is.  This might cause the player to go in another direction which can unlock things.  As for events, maybe find out if it is an annual event or if it is a one of a kind event.  Objects--- figure out if they are mass produced or if this is the only one like it in the world.  If it is a large object like a building, a player might get a response of "rephrase and unknown" if asked, "how big is it?".  The player should ask things like, "is it bigger/smaller than_____?".  It may take several such questions to determine a general size of the "thing being guessed".  If the "object" is esoteric or abstract like "your voice", then questions on size will get answers of "unknown". 


Some further clarifications:





ultimate answer = the "thing being guessed"


thing being guessed = the item to guess; an item that the "it person" has thought of and hopes that someone will guess what it is


it person = person who is running that particular game; the person who thought of the "thing being guessed"


player = person playing the game; person guessing what the "thing being guessed" is


"yes or no question" = a question that is phrased so that it can be answered with "yes or no"


unknown = the "it person" does not know the answer to the question asked


rephrase = response that happens when the "player" has not asked the question so that it can be answered with "yes or no"; the question the "player" has asked makes no sense in relation to the "thing being guessed".  The "it person" CANNOT always explain what is to be "rephrased" as that would in some cases give away the "thing being guessed".


define = response that means the "player" needs to explain what they mean by the terms used in the question (for example, if a "player" asks, "is the 'thing being guessed' a bank?", the "it person" might reply, "define" -- which would mean, "do you mean, river bank or do you mean, money bank?".  The "it person" CANNOT always explain what is to be "defined" as that would in some cases give away the "thing being guessed".


generic = a generic person, place, thing, event, etc. (a generic "person", might be, "a famous actor" not a specific actor, but one in general; a generic "event" might be, "walking through the front door" or "state fairs across the U.S.")


specific = a specific person, place, thing, event, etc.  (a specific "person" might be the name of a famous person; a specific "event" might be the name of a fair that happens every year or the first time a person opened the door to their home)



Here are the "givens" which might be declared (and some examples):


These first "givens" describe what the "thing being guessed" is:


person (singular or plural) = a specific person (perhaps, Queen Elizabeth II); a generic person (the letter carrier who delivered a package from England); a specific person from a group (the person amongst the crowd wearing the green shirt who happened to step on your foot as you stood in line [in the cue] for tickets to see the Redwings play hockey) or a group of people, (people who wear green socks, generic members of congress); a specific group of people, (members of the Methodist Church, or members of a specific Methodist church)


place = a specific place (123 Any Street, Thattown or the mall I was in when I met Douglas); a generic place, (a house in London or the towns we drove through while on this trip so far)


object/thing = a concrete object, something you can hold in your hands or view (the car we happen to be driving in or the stack of old newspapers that are waiting to be recycled); it can also be something more abstract (like a person's voice--- my father in law came up with that one once, took a long while to get the answer); it can also be something so "esoteric" that it is difficult to figure out (I had two of these for Douglas before, "index finger on Queen Elizabeth's hand" and, "a flea on a sheep in Scotland")


event = an event can be something annual (county fair or New Years celebration); it can be a "one off" [one of a kind] event (millennium celebrations on the eve of 2000 or the first day of school for a child); it can also be very esoteric (a friend once did "a coin traveling through a vending machine to produce a can of soda pop" and my father in law once did, "the electron going through the light bulb to produce the light we saw at the exact moment he thought of that")



The other "givens" describe what the "thing being guessed" is made of:


The "thing being guessed" can be made up of any or all of these things.  For example, a computer is considered to be mineral.  Suppose you had an antique sofa with the original coverings and padding on it, that would probably be classed as, animal and vegetable.  That's because they were made of wood, and they had either leather coverings or horse hair padding to them.


animal = it is either made from animal products (fur, things like milk and meat, or it has glue that is animal glue possibly); or it could be an animal itself (Dubhghall the cat who resides in this house for instance);  if the "thing being guessed" is in anyway human or it comes from a human (i.e. body part), then it is classed as animal as well.  The reason is because --- scientists describe humans as mammal and therefore animal. Which makes "it a given" or thing universally known [in some people's minds anyway] that humans are animal.  That does not mean that "players" or "it persons" have to believe that humans are, "just another animal".  It just means we needed an easy way to classify humans and we went with that one, "by default".


vegetable = it is either made from vegetable [plant] material (paper is vegetable, anything made from wood, bamboo or other plants is vegetable); it can also be the plant itself (pumpkins, or peach trees etc.)


mineral = it is made from mineral (anything that originates as a mineral, plastic is mineral because it comes from oil usually, glass is mineral, metal objects are mineral)



Here are two more "givens".  They describe how the "thing being guessed" came to exist:


naturally occurring object = something that happens naturally (pumpkin, iron ore)


man made object = a man has made it or caused it to exist (pumpkin pie, steel which is made with iron ore)









I have thought of "something to guess" for the E-mail fan list that I am on.  Douglas (my husband) thought it might be too "esoteric". He thought it might be too difficult a "thing" to start off with.  I want to see what happens.  Here it is.  Just click on the link in the word, "here" or click on the pink box to the left.  You will end up on the page for the "guess game no. 1".  This is the form where you can ask your questions.  Just read the page to learn what to do.  If you have any questions, let me know.

I will stick the questions and answers on a separate page.  ("Answer Page" for "Guess Game No. 1")

The item to guess is:

an "event"

(since this is our first try, I am giving more clues than normal)

Clues: 1. It is a "generic" rather than a "specific" event.  2. It is something "we" on the fan list look forward to. 3. It is something that, "happens" on [or is that via?] an "object" that is "mineral". [Both the "thing being guessed" and the "object that is mineral" are "man made".] Hopefully that last clue [3.] does not confuse matters.