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Code Challenge 02 - Word Values Part II - A Simple Game

Posted by PyBites on Mon 16 January 2017 in Challenges • 3 min read

This week, each one of you has a homework assignment ... - Tyler Durden (Fight club)

Given a random set of 7 letters build the most valuable word

Using what we've learned the last challenge this week we build a simple Scrabble-like game (without board):

Letters drawn: G, A, R, Y, T, E, V
Form a valid word: gary  << user input
Word chosen: GARY (value: 8)
Optimal word possible: GARVEY (value: 13)
You scored: 61.5

Get ready

Start coding by forking our challenges repo:

$ git clone

If you already forked it sync it:

# assuming using ssh key
$ git remote add upstream [email protected]:pybites/challenges.git 
$ git fetch upstream
# if not on master: 
$ git checkout master 
$ git merge upstream/master

Use one of the templates:

$ cd 02
$ cp
# code

Requirements / steps

Last time we provided unittests and a guiding template. We received feedback that this was a bit too stringent. Therefore we provide two templates this time: and

  • We load in the necessary data structures to focus on the game:

    # Note that DICTIONARY is a set for O(1) lookups
  • Draw 7 random letters from POUCH.

    As said POUCH is given and contains a distribution of Scrabble letters so that the player gets enough vowels (equally drawing A-Z makes it extremely hard because you need more vowels to make words):

    ['A', 'A', 'A', 'A', 'A', 'A', 'A', 'A', 'A', 'B', 'B', 'C', 'C',
    'D', 'D', 'D', 'D', ...]
  • Ask the player to form a word with one or more of the 7 letters of the draw. Validate input for:

    1) all letters of word are in draw;
    2) word is in DICTIONARY.
  • Calculate the word value and show it to the player.

    To focus on this challenge we re-use two methods from the previous challenge for this: calc_word_value and max_word_value.

  • Calculate the optimal word (= max word value) checking all permutations of the 7 letters of the draw, cross-checking the DICTIONARY set for valid ones. This is a bit more advanced, but allows you to score the player (next).

  • Show the player what the optimal word and its value is.

  • Give the player a score based on the previous steps, basically: player_score / optimal_score.

Bonus (not required)

The optimal solution calculation might be a bit difficult for some, that's why we stop here. But if you are feeling creative you might consider expanding this game:

  • Keep scores in a shelve (file, db) and notify the player when a new record is reached.

  • Work with hints and bonuses: hints cost x points, give a bonus of y points, for example when a 7 letter word is created (complete draw exhausted).

  • Make a simple web, mobile app or pygame.

Good luck!

Remember: there is no best solution, only learning more and better Python.

Enjoy and we're looking forward reviewing on Friday all the cool / creative / Pythonic stuff you come up with.

Have fun!

Again to start coding fork our challenges repo or sync it.

About PyBites Code Challenges

More background in our first challenge article.

See an error in this post? Please submit a pull request on Github.