Selecting my first Christmas presents at a
book-store, I leafed through one about Math and Games for Sudoku
afficionados. The title is "Professor Steward's Hoard of Mathematical
Treasures" (2009), by Ian Steward.
Inspite of the author's knowledgeable
informations about the origins of numbers, measurements and babylonian
entertainments, he ignored the term "word-golf".
Botkin's Index mentions "S's predilection for it,819; see
Lass, while, in "Lass" we are directed to "Mass," and, in
"Mass," we find "Mars, Mare, see Male." Finally, in "Male" we get "See
Word Golf" (now the G is in caps).
Kinbote's entry, in relation to Shade, was
inspired in his line "Playing a game of worlds." (What's an "l" added to
"words", even if it makes a lot of difference in Word Golf?) He gave some
examples: hate-love in three, lass-male in four, and live-deead in five (with
"lend" in the middle)."
Prof. Steward describes this game under "Order
in Chaos" and in a foot-note he mentions that there is no consensus related to
the name for this kind of puzzle.* He warns that the word-exchange depends
on keeping the same number of letters and to following the rule against
exchanging the order of letters in one step only (such as CATS to
CAST, instead of CATS to BATS, or CATS-CARS-CART-CAST). He invites readers
to change SHIP into DOCK and ORDER into CHAOS.
From the mathematical point-of-view the matter
is related to establishing webs (or graphs). He speaks of algorythms, Paul Erdos
and Alfred Rényi (1960) and Steward's explanatory foot-note, related to words
and mathematics, seems to bring up items that may serve the math-inclined
linguists of the List.
My Xmas-present book is in Portuguese and I
hesitate to translate long bits of it here. Steward's presentation opens
new Nabokovian vistas of intentionalities.
A complicated word, SCRY ( crystalomancy),
appears in Nabokov, if I'm not mistaken. It's related to "giant components" by
*- Some time ago, from another source about word-games,
I brought up at the Nab-List two or there optional designations, never a link to
Kinbote, nor to Nabokov!.