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In the 1891 Victorian game of “Ghost,” players take turns adding letters to form words, with each person contributing a letter to continue the word. Challenging a letter is allowed, and the penalty for failing a challenge or completing a word is to gain one-third of a “ghost.” A player becomes a ghost after being caught three times and must remain silent until the game ends, making it both a word-building and memory-training activity.
Victorian Game – GHOST, a game from 1891.
Any number of people can play the game, which consists in spelling. A person gives a letter, not necessarily having any particular word in mind, his next neighbor must think of a word beginning with this letter, and then say the second letter. The third person must think of a word, using the two letters previously given, and add the third, and so on, to the end of the word. A person is not a ghost until he is three times caught. The following are the penalties. To be challenged rightfully, to challenge wrongfully, or to complete a word.
The challenging consists in doubting a letter which a person has given. One may say, “I challenge you,” when a person has added a letter, if he feels sure there is no word spelled in that order. If rightfully challenged, the speaker has one penalty against him as ghost. If, on the other hand, he gives the word which he had in mind, as he is bound to do if challenged, the challenger is one-third of a ghost.
Every word finished makes some one one-third of a ghost, but it is proper to add a letter and thus form a new syllable. If a syllable of a word is a complete word in itself, the one pronouncing the final letter has incurred the penalty. For example, take the word revelry. R E V E, have been given, and unless the fifth player can think of the letter N, and change it to revenge, or some other word, he must say, the letter L, and so the word ends.
The penalty of being a “ghost” is to keep absolute silence until the game is finished. As the game is useful in training the memory, dictionaries are not to be used except to settle a disputed spelling.