Word Ways


Leonard Gordon


The August 1996 article "Playing Jotto Against a Computer" discusses the game of Jotto as played by a commercial computer program. Toward the end of the article, the authors suggest a "better" (minimax) value of play. I agree that their method is too difficult to implement, but I also believe that it is based on a weak premise and would be useless even if implemented. There can be no compleat strategy to Jotto. Guessing your opponent's word is a matter of bookkeeping plus a little luck. Since the computer is a better bookkeeper and knows its vocabulary better than a human opponent, its best strategy is thoughtful random play.