The game is played in sets of 3 rounds.
- Each player takes a folder with an answering pad and 3 category cards. Each sheet in the answering pad has three columns of 12 blank lines. In addition, the category cards have 4 lists, each with 12 unique categories, for a total of 144 categories in the game. In new versions of the game, each card has 2 lists of 12 unique categories, for a total of 16 lists and 192 categories. All players must agree on the list to use.
- One player rolls a letter dice to determine the first letter used. The timer is set for up to three minutes (I usually play 2 min 30 sec).
- One player starts the timer. In the time allotted, each player must attempt to think of and write down, in the first column on the pad, a word or term that fits each of the 12 categories and starts with the rolled letter. Any number of words in the answer is allowed, as long as the first word starts with the correct letter. For example, with a category of “vegetable” and a letter of “C”, words such as “cauliflower”, “carrot” and “collard greens” are acceptable, but “broccoli” is not (wrong initial letter), nor is “citrus” (wrong category). Alliteration is encouraged with proper nouns in one game variation; Ronald Reagan is worth 2 points, and Hubert Horatio Humphrey is worth 3.
- Writing a bad answer is still better than no answer though because there is always the possibility that the group playing will accept the answer. For example, “citrus” is “vegetable” in the sense referring to the entire plant kingdom, i.e. neither “animal” nor “mineral”.
- All players stop writing when the timer is finished. Following the list, each player, in turn, reads their answer for each category. Players score zero points for an answer that duplicates another answer in that round, and one point for an answer no other player has given. You cannot have more than one answer on a line for each number. Acceptable answers that are proper nouns using alliteration score one point for each word using the letter. (In the “Junior” version, players earn 2 points for an answer that begins with the chosen letter, and 1 point for an answer that does not begin with the chosen letter, but no points for a duplicate answer.)
- If for some reason a player thinks someone’s answer does not fit the category (for instance, “knuckle” for the category “types of sandwich”) a player may challenge that answer. When challenged, all players vote on the validity of that answer. If the vote is a tie, the vote of the player who is being challenged is thrown out.
- The die is rolled again (and re-rolled if the same letter as the previous round is duplicated), and the second round starts.
- In the case of proper nouns, all parts of the answer will be counted as adequate provided one begins with the letter in play. For example, in the case of U.S. Presidents using the letter “S”, an acceptable answer would be Harry S. Truman, as his middle name is the letter “S.” Martin Sheen, however, was never a U.S. President, and therefore is not a valid answer, rewarding zero points. Note: This rule does not apply to book titles, such as “The Count of Monte Cristo.”
- In the case of general categories, broad interpretation is allowed for fun and creative game play. For example, in the case of things commonly found in the kitchen that start with the letter K, both knife (a kitchen tool) or Kelp, (a type of food that is commonly cooked in kitchens around the world) are acceptable answers.