What are Pyramid Puzzles?:
A pyramid puzzle or word pyramid is a word game, so named because the solution words are stacked one on top of each other (from shortest to longest) to resemble a pyramid. The letters of the topmost (shortest) solution word are scrambled with one letter added to them to determine the next answer. Then a letter is added to the following solution word and these letters are in turn scrambled for the third answer, and so on. A formula for solving these puzzles might look something like this:
(Solution #1 Scrambled + one letter) = Solution #2
Characteristics of Pyramid Puzzles:
Pyramid Puzzles usually start with a 2 or 3-letter word and increase to a 10-letter word. A hint, which may be clued normally or cryptically, is provided for each solution word. Each solution word is an anagram
of the previous word with one additional letter. Pyramid puzzles can be easy or difficult depending on how they are clued and/or whether the answers are common or obscure words.
How Create Your Own Pyramid Puzzles:
Use the bottom-up method for constructing these puzzles. Start with the longest entry and work up to the shortest. After deciding on a good 10-letter word, remove one letter and form an anagram
with the remaining ones. You may want to use an anagram generator such as Wordsmith's Anagram Server
If no acceptable anagram is returned, replace the letter that was removed and try deleting another. Keep trying until you get an acceptable 9-letter word or phrase. Continue this method until you arrive at a 3-letter word. After writing clues, arrange the blanks in a pyramid pattern and voilà! You have a Pyramid Puzzle.
Try these Pyramid Puzzles:
Want to try your hand at solving pyramid puzzles? Here are some free printable puzzles for you to enjoy.
Tips and Tricks to Pyramid Puzzle Construction:
Of course, not every 10-letter word will anagram flawlessly down to a 3-letter word. In many cases, you'll arrive at a dead-end and have to go back to a previous level and try again. Frequently, you'll have to begin again from scratch. Perseverance is the key to successful puzzle construction.
For your first efforts,
- Choose a familiar (but interesting) 9 or 10-letter word.
- Look for words that have a variety of vowels. This will offer more options for anagramming.
- Avoid words with repetitive vowels such as INFINITY or with multiple uncommon letters such as Q, J or Z.
- Not all your solutions have to be single word entries but any phrases that you use should not be contrived.
- To make your puzzles more interesting, use the name of a famous author or literary work. Something such as a holiday or event will make your puzzle topical.
The following puzzle is flawed. Can you tell why?
The single letter entry (which is given) can make the puzzle too easy. (Even a two-letter entry can be a give-away.) Also, the transition from RAKE to BRAKE and from BEAKER to BREAKER does not involve anagramming the letters. It merely requires the addition/insertion of a letter. This is not recommended in a good Pyramid Puzzle.