How to Play Doublets

Doublets is an old word game that is great to play to pass the time and as a party game for both children and adults. It's most suitable for ages 10 and over because you need a fairly sound grasp of written language and the patterns within language.


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    Assemble a pen and paper for every participant.
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    Select words that you know can be turned into another word in just a few short steps. Do a search online for these rather than trying to figure them out for yourself or you'll be there for ages (as fun as it is)! For example, turn love to hate with just four letter changes:
    • LOVE
    • HOVE
    • HAVE
    • HATE.
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    Use words anywhere between three to five letters in length. Any longer and it gets a bit unwieldy although for a very clever group, that might be a good thing!
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    Compile a list of the words you're going to turn into the game. About 10 should suffice for a good round from which you can draw a clear winner.
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    Arrange all players at a table or seated comfortably somewhere. Give them their pen and paper. Set the first word for them to change. Tell them something like:
    • "Change the word LOVE to HATE in as few changes as possible."
    • You might need to demonstrate this on a whiteboard or piece of paper on the wall first. A good one to use is changing CAT to DOG: CAT -> COT -> DOT -> DOG.
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    Make it more challenging. You could add variations in to the game depending on age, so that players have to rearrange letters or come up with particular acronyms or such.
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    Award prizes. You can award the winner as the person who managed to make the most accurate changes (some players won't even manage that much) or to the winner who has the least changes to reach the target word. And it's a very good idea to award a small prize to everyone for trying.


  • If you're really good at word puzzles, try to theme the words to your party's whole theme!
  • The game of doublets was invented by author Lewis Carroll. Other names for it are: laddergraph, stepwords, transformations, word chains, and word ping pong.

Things You'll Need

  • Pens
  • Paper (small notepads are best so that players can press on the paper without breaking it)
  • Prizes

Sources and Citations

  • Sean Callery, Party Games, p.p. 127-128, (2006), ISBN 0-00-721397-2 – research source

Article Info

Categories: Party Games | Puzzles and Memory Games