The story of the game’s evolution from underground craze to cultural icon is as American as, well, the SCRABBLE game. Alfred Mosher Butts, an out-of-work architect from Poughkeepsie, New York, decided to invent a board game. Analyzing games, he found they fell into three categories: number games, such as dice and bingo; move games, such as chess and checkers and word games, such as anagrams. Attempting to create a game that would use both chance and skill, Butts combined features of anagrams and the crossword puzzle. First called LEXIKO, the game was later called CRISS CROSS WORDS. To decide on letter distribution, Butts studied the front page of The New York Times and did painstaking calculations of letter frequency. His basic cryptographic analysis of our language and his original tile distribution have remained valid for almost three generations and billions of games played.
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