I’m looking for a Word Chain reaction.

Part of being a fan of crosswords is enjoying the interaction of across and down entries as they construct an entire grid under the tip of your pencil (or pen, if you’re hardcore about it).

Part of constructing crosswords and similar puzzles is being able to build those grids, laying out words in an intricately woven lattice of linguistic delights (and occasional words-you-only-see-in-crosswords, like NENE or ELHI.)

But some puzzles rely more heavily on letter placement and interaction. (For one impressively visual example, there’s the Rows Garden puzzle Eric posted on Monday.)

I don’t know if there’s a more official version of this puzzle out there in the untamed wilds of the puzzle world, but I call it Word Chain (or Word Loops), and it takes letter placement and interaction to another level.

In Word Chain, the solver is given clues to a series of six-letter words. The “chain” (or “loop”, if you prefer) aspect comes from the answers themselves. The last three letters of one answer become the first three letters of the next answer, and so on down the line, until the final answer’s last three letters are the same as the first answer’s first three letters, completing the chain.

For instance, here’s a 9-entry Word Chain:

Toyota model                  _ _ _ _ _ _
Basement                       _ _ _ _ _ _
More massive                 _ _ _ _ _ _
Like some shepherds?   _ _ _ _ _ _
Devoted insect?              _ _ _ _ _ _
Cold-sufferer’s need       _ _ _ _ _ _
Soft-surfaced leathers     _ _ _ _ _ _
Tyrant                              _ _ _ _ _ _
Sherman or Harry           _ _ _ _ _ _

The biggest advantage to the solver is that one answer provides valuable clues for the neighboring answers. Let’s say you can’t think of the first or second words, but LARGER immediately jumps to mind as the answer to the third.

You fill it in:

Toyota model                  _ _ _ _ _ _
Basement                       _ _ _ _ _ _
More massive                L A R G E R
Like some shepherds?   _ _ _ _ _ _
Devoted insect?              _ _ _ _ _ _
Cold-sufferer’s need       _ _ _ _ _ _
Soft-surfaced leathers     _ _ _ _ _ _
Tyrant                              _ _ _ _ _ _
Sherman or Harry           _ _ _ _ _ _

And then you place the connected parts of the Word Chain above and below:

Toyota model                  _ _ _ _ _ _
Basement                        _ _ _ L A R
More massive                 L A R G E R
Like some shepherds?   G E R _ _ _
Devoted insect?              _ _ _ _ _ _
Cold-sufferer’s need       _ _ _ _ _ _
Soft-surfaced leathers     _ _ _ _ _ _
Tyrant                              _ _ _ _ _ _
Sherman or Harry           _ _ _ _ _ _

And suddenly, CELLAR and GERMAN spring to mind.

Now, while I haven’t completed this one, you can probably see where it’s going, with MANTIS as the next answer down the chain.

I think the inherent challenge of such an interconnected word list is what I enjoy most about constructing this puzzle.

Oddly enough, this puzzle actually becomes easier to construct the longer it is. Here’s a 13-entry version of Word Chain I whipped up just for the blog.

Jesus’s teachings        _ _ _ _ _ _
Of the hip area             _ _ _ _ _ _
Winner                         _ _ _ _ _ _
Rotation force              _ _ _ _ _ _
Canadian province      _ _ _ _ _ _
Transform into             _ _ _ _ _ _
Breakfast dish             _ _ _ _ _ _
Deadly                         _ _ _ _ _ _
Make holy                    _ _ _ _ _ _
Farthest down             _ _ _ _ _ _
Writer Friesner           _ _ _ _ _ _
“The Munsters” dad    _ _ _ _ _ _
Tropical fruits             _ _ _ _ _ _

With more time to build a chain back to the first entry, the puzzle’s loop is far easier to complete. But I set myself the challenge of creating the smallest Word Chain that still offered some challenge. (After all, while CANCAN would be a Word Chain in itself, it’s not the most taxing puzzle in the world, either to construct or solve.)

I settled on a four-line Word Chain, which was hands down the most difficult Word Chain I’ve yet constructed, because of the severe limitations the short word count imposed.

Nonetheless, here you go:

Hindu chant           _ _ _ _ _ _
Qualities               _ _ _ _ _ _
The very thing       _ _ _ _ _ _
Danny or Jenna    _ _ _ _ _ _

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed today’s post, and that Word Chains provided you with a bit of brain-teasing fun for the day. Keep calm, puzzle on, and I’ll catch you next time.

3 thoughts on “I’m looking for a Word Chain reaction.

  1. Pingback: Bonus Friday blog post! (Plus FoG Word Chain Answers!) | PuzzleNation.com Blog

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