Here’s a deleted scene from my last American Values Crossword Club puzzle. When pitching ideas, I floated two similar themes, and the other one got the nod. Still, seemed a shame to waste this one, so here it is (as a printable pdf):
On the way home from the National Puzzlers’ League convention, having already played a whole lot of One, Two, Three and Breakfast Combo, I was trying to brainstorm a not-yet-used approach to a guessing game, and came up with this, which turned out to be pretty fun, though I think there are still a few small kinks to work out. Thanks to Ken for helping come up with the Stevie Wonder-inspired title.
Any number that does not seem totally ridiculous can play. One player (the cluer) thinks of a well-known song. If that player knows the song very well and does not feel they need any references, cool; however, it is allowed (and probably not a bad idea) for that person to get out their phone and pull up the lyrics of that song for reference.
The other players are trying to guess the song, and do so by asking Go Fish-like questions for which the lyrics of the song are the “cards”. For instance, you might ask “Do you have any beverages?”, which might be answered, “Yes, I have Coca-Cola.” The cluer does not have to give a comprehensive list of beverages in the song; one is sufficient. The guessers may later ask “Do you have any other beverages?”, but should guess at least one other category in between. Categories can be pretty much anything you can think of, but they should actually be broad categories of things and not overly specific. Let’s continue the theoretical game above by way of example:
“Is your song ‘Lola’?”
“Do you have any furniture?”
“Yes, I have an armchair.”
“Do you have any buildings?”
“Do you have any sporting equipment?”
“Yes, I have a football.”
“Do you have any other furniture?”
“Yes, I have a sideboard.”
“Is your song ‘Come Together’?”
After someone successfully guesses the song, that player thinks of a new song and the game continues until everyone would rather be doing something else. You could play noncompetitively, with guessers asking questions whenever they think of them, or you could be more rules-y and have guessers take turns, in which case I would suggest that a single player can keep guessing as long as their questions get a “yes” response; if they ever get a “no” (or “Go visit the original musiquarium”, if you wish) or if they try to guess the song and fail, play passes to the next person.
One issue that came up is the problem of “lyrics that totally give the song away.” If anyone tries this game, I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on that. For instance, I was cluing “It’s the End of the World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” and was asked “Do you have any people?” Well, I had Leonard Bernstein, Leonid Brezhnev, Lenny Bruce, and Lester Bangs, obviously, but those are all total giveaways, so I said, “Yes, I have a famous conductor” (which was still enough to solve the song, it turned out, but took a little more puzzling out and seemed more interesting, all things considered). There is also the problem of words in the title; for instance, another song was “Hotel California”, and I asked, “Do you have any buildings?” There didn’t seem to be any way around answering “Yes, I have a hotel,” which was a bit of a giveaway. I think perhaps words in the title of the song should be exempt, in which case the answer to that question would have been, “Yes, I have a building, but I cannot reveal it.”
Anyway, that’s the game. Let me know if you try it!