What could be better than a simple pencil and paper game between friends? One of them being hung when they lose! This is a classic that everyone should know.

Number of players

2 (there can actually be as many players as can fit in a room, there must be one to serve as the “executioner,” and any number can be guessers).


Pencil and paper.


The executioner draws a mini gallows on a piece of paper, and then thinks of a word or phrase to be guessed. When they have one, they draw a number of spaces beneath the gallows equal to the number of letters in the word or phrase.


Once the setup is complete, the guesser (or guessers) begins the game by calling out any letter of the alphabet. If that letter exists in the word or phrase, the executioner fills in the blanks in every spot where that letter occurs. For example, if the word is “guru” and the guesser called out “u,” the executioner would have to fill in both the second and fourth blanks with a u (the resulting puzzle would look like this: _u_u).

If the guesser names a letter that does NOT exist in the word or phrase, the executioner draws in a piece of a stick figure on the gallows. Although some variations exist, the stick figure is usually made up of six parts: head, body, 2 arms, and 2 legs. This gives the guesser up to 5 missed letters before the final piece of the stick figure is filled in and the man is hung. For every letter that is guessed, the executioner writes the letter down next to the gallows, or under the puzzle to keep track of letters that have already been guessed.


Guess the word or phrase before you get hung! As long as the guesser keeps naming letters that appear in the puzzle, the stick figure is safe. The guesser may at any time try to guess the entire word or phrase. If they are correct, the rest of the blanks are filled in. If not, the game keeps going. The guesser wins when every blank is filled. The executioner wins by hanging the guesser.

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