Help for the Game of Lingo


Welcome to the network Lingo server. The challenge command is described here. Other commands are the same as for all pbmserv games.

  lingo challenge [-pool=number] [-place=number] [-hex] [-small|-full] [-no_twos] [-repeat] [-not_shared] userid1 userid2 [.. userid4]

starts a new game for between two and four players.

The -pool parameter sets the size of the pool that players may play from each turn. The default pool size is 4 (valid values range from 1 to 10).

The -place parameter specifies how may tiles the player may play each turn. The default placement size is 2 (valid values range from 1 to pool size).

The -hex parameter specifies that the game is played with hexagonal tiles.

The -small parameter specifies that a small set of 30 tiles is used (approximately one quarter of the Scramble set with blanks removed).

The -full parameter specifies that a full set of 98 tiles is used (full Scramble set with blanks removed). If neither -small nor -full is specified then a default set of 49 tiles is used (approximately half of the Scramble set with blanks removed).

The -no_twos parameter specifies that two-letter words are not recognised as valid words, and that players will not score points for playing them.

The -repeat parameter specifies that tiles may be stacked on top of tiles showing the same letter.

The -not_shared parameter specifies that each player has their own pool of tiles hidden from opponents, rather than all players sharing a common pool of tiles.


Players share a common pool of five tiles. Players take turns selecting up to four tiles from their pool and placing them on the board, possibly stacking them on top of existing tiles. Tiles must be placed adjacent to at least one other tile. The tile may not be stacked on top of a tile showing the same letter (unless the -repeat option is used). Players may not pass.

After the move, new tiles are randomly selected from the remaining tile set to replenish the pool.

Players then score points for words formed by the newly placed tiles, according to the server's Scramble dictionary. Only the highest scoring word formed by each new tile in each direction (i.e. along each axis) is counted. Therefore a maximum of two words may be scored for each new tile on the square board, and a maximum of three new words may be scored for each new tile on the hexagonal board. Words may be spelt backwards. For multiple tile placements, all tiles placed that turn must form part of the same valid word.

The score for each word is given by (total letter value) * (word length - 1). For instance, the word HAY would score 18 pts as (H=4 + A=1 + Y=4) * (length-1=2).

If more than one word is formed in a turn, then the combined word score is multiplied by the number of words.

The game ends when any player run out of tiles. The player with the highest score wins.


The following example shows a game in its early stages. Fred has just played the letter I (capitalised) to complete the words IT and BIZ for a total of 60 pts. Note that words do not have to fill the entire line to be counted.

   +---+ +---+ +---+ +---+ +---+
| R | | Y | | T | | H | | V |
+---+ +---+ +---+ +---+ +---+
1 4 1 4 4
      a   b   c   d   e
   1                     1
   2    | z   s |        2
        +       +---+ 
   3    | I   t   g |    3
        +       +---+
   4    | b   w |        4
   5                     5
      a   b   c   d   e 
fred made the words IT and BIZ for a total of (2 + 28) x 2 = 60 pts.
fred's score is 65.
ted's score is 12.

The following example shows a game of hexagonal Lingo in action. Ted has just played D and C (capitalised) to form the words DIG, DOC and DYE for a total of 108 pts. Note that since Ted played more than one tile, they both had to form part of the the same word (DOC).

     __   __   __   __   __
    /I \ /E \ /T \ /Q \ /G \
    \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/ \__/
      1    1    1   10    2
     a  b  c  d  e  f  g
   1                      1
   2             __       2
   3    __    __/e \      3
   4   /f \__/y  __/      4
   5   \__ D    /   __    5
   6      \   i \__/w \   6
   7      /o  __ g  __/   7
   8      \  /  \__/      8
   9      /C \            9
  10      \__/            10
  11                      11
     a  b  c  d  e  f  g
ted made the words DIG, DOC and DYE for a total of (10 + 12 + 14) x 3 = 108 pts.
fred's score is 84.
ted's score is 157.


There is no first move equaliser as the game is reasonably balanced. The opening player gets to score first, but this move generally opens up even better scoring opportunites for subsequent players.

The hexagonal game offers more scope for play and allows much higher scores, as the hexagonal grid has three axes while the square grid only has two axes.

Having a separate hidden pool for each player allows some different tactics as players may shape their latter combinations and encourages longer words and higher scores. It also makes the game easier to play in real life, since players are able to study their hand with full knowledge during the opponent's turn, as in Scramble. However, it also seriously penalises any player unlucky enough to get a bad draw of letters (for example, all Is) since their is no exchanging tiles in Lingo; bad tile must be burnt up one by one. For this reason, players share a common pool by default.


The move syntax is:

  lingo move board# userid password ac7

  lingo move board# userid password ac7,re7

Both of these commands will place the tile A at board coordinate c7. The second example will also place the tile R at board coordinate e7.

  lingo move board# userid password ac7 -c

The -c option shows a count of the remaining letters to be played (including those letters in players' pools).

  lingo word userid password word1 [word2 [word3 [word4 ...]]]

Check the dictionary to see whether the specified words are recognised.

Letter Distribution

The following table shows the English letter distribution used for Lingo (identical to Scramble):

Letter:  A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z (-)
Count:   9 2 2 412 2 3 2 9 1 1 4 2 6 8 2 1 6 4 6 4 2 2 1 2 1 (2)
Value:   1 3 3 2 1 4 2 4 1 8 5 1 3 1 1 310 1 1 1 1 4 4 8 410 (0)


Lingo was devised by Cameron Browne in 2005.

The name "Lingo" refers to the fact that the game involves fragments of a language (like a lingo), scoring lines of characters (like bingo), a certain amount of randomness (like Ringo), often throws up bizarre new words (like a gringo), and is sort of catchy (like a jingo) even though it's a bit of a mongrel (like a dingo).

Implementation and Help file by Cameron Browne, August 2005.