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This puzzle is reminiscent of the popular game Boggle and is based on the same premise as Word Wheel, a puzzle often seen in national newspapers: words must be formed using only the nine published letters and always the central letter. Word Builder is different in that clues to specific answers are provided.
There is a good reason for this cautious restriction: given a completely open challenge (ie, provide all of the words that can be made from any given letters) it is extremely difficult to offer a single comprehensive solution.
This is beautifully illustrated by a letter to the Editor of The Times about its puzzle of October 27, 2008. The seven letters provided were R, U, E, A, N W and the central letter was A. The answers provided were ana, anew, are, area, arena, aura, aware, awe, awn, ear, earn, era, near, raw, unaware, urea, wan, wane, war, ware, warm, wean, wear. The letter, from Dr Tegwyn Harris, read as follows:
Sir, It may interest you to know that the times2 Polygon for Oct 27 is capable of producing (under the standard rules) 15 words. I have been able to find: aer, anwr, arae, aren, aur, awen, awr, awran, erwan, ewa, nar, naw, nawr, rwan, waun. Some of the words are archaic and seldom used — but then, so are many of the English words claimed by your setter.
The standard way around this problem is to set the solver a target. For example, 'we found x words. If you found more, well done'. Alternatively, it is possible to provide clues for specific words, as in Word Builder.
In games such as Boggle and Facebook's Scramble, the objective is slightly different: to connect adjacent letters in sequence to form words of three letters or more. Here, as with Scrabble, it is necessary to agree in advance on a particular dictionary for reference purposes, as there are likely to be debates about the validity of certain words.