Word Ways


Jeff Grant


Anyone who has tried to construct a regular word square of the ninth order will understand why there have been so few good examples ever exhibited. The building of large squares flourished in the first half of the twentieth century; according to the Sherlock Holmes memorial issued by the National Puzzlers' League in June 1980, a little more than one thousand 9x9 squares were published between 1897 and 1979. However, nearly all of these squares contain a high percentage of undesirable terms, such as obsolete, foreign and dialectic words, long-forgotten place-names, questionable adjectival inflections, and two-word terms. Out of all the 9x9 squares that have appeared over the years, only three were considered worthy of inclusion in Dmitri Borgmann's classic text, Language on Vacation (Scribner's, 1965). Probably the finest of these is attributed to Wayne Goodman of Chicago, who died in 1940.