22 March 2004


In the play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, there is a sequence in which the two practice asking questions before going to talk to Hamlet. In the dialogue, they keep score of who is not asking relevant questions.

It turns out that this is a (barely!) playable game. It's much harder than it looks, but a lot of fun.


  1. No statements: Each player must speak in the form of questions.
  2. No hesitation: The game must proceed at a converstational pace.
  3. No non-sequiters: Each player's question must follow reasonably from the other player's most recent question.
  4. No repetition: A player may not repeat a question in the course of a game.
  5. No rhetoric: A player may not use an all-purpose question without a meaningful answer.

In the film adaptation, scoring is charmingly done like tennis: love — fifteen — thirty — forty — game.

Example of play

A: Shall we play questions?
B: Are we already playing?
A: What do you think?
B: Why do you ask?
A: Does that count as 'rhetoric'?
B: What do you think?
A: Repetition! Fifteen-love. Your serve.
B: Was that fair?
A: Was what fair?
B: Aren't you begging the question?
A: Rhetoric! Thirty-love. Your serve ...

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