Nine Letter Word Puzzle


One of the daily household highlights is the TARGET puzzle in the local newspaper. There is a bit of rivalry to solve the BIG WORD first.

The real issue with the TARGET puzzle though, is finding space to do the workings. It is not considered good form to use the tiny space provided by the paper and/or to leave written words as spoilers.

Being a bit of a geek, I reckoned that there had to be an ‘app’ to play the puzzle. Google led me to Tom Paton’s Nine Letter Word Page. This was just what the doctor ordered.

Simply type in the letters from the TARGET puzzle and the display updates to show the puzzle. Clicking letters in the puzzle lets you form words. And the used letters are highlighted.

One trick that people use to solve the TARGET puzzle, is to look at the letters arranged in a different ways. For the written puzzle, one technique is to write the letters in a circle.

For Tom’s puzzle, a shuffle link is provided. Clicking this arranges the letters in a different order, keeping the used letters highlighted.

Which led to my itch.

The shuffle is awesome. But I had a use case where I try out a couple of letters and then shuffle the remaining letters looking for new arrangements.

In this situation, including the used letters in the shuffle is a little distracting. I wanted them to be excluded from the shuffle and to be pinned at the start of the puzzle – in the same order they were entered.

So after taking a look at the HTML, Javascript, CSS, and putting together a backend service, the result is the puzzle you now see.