Reema wanted a remedy for boredom which most of us need when

  • We are in a lecture and bored to death by the yawn generators whom we call professors.
  • we are waiting for a deliverable to be completed and sent so that the team can leave the office by the 3 a.m. cab.
  • we are travelling from Chennai to Delhi by a train for the first and the last time. Last time, because you have realised that you don’t have the kind of a patience which is required to endureΒ such lasting-forever rythemic movements of your body. You realise that a flight would be better.
  • you want to show off and make somebody understand that you know many four letter words. Err..don’t take that wrong. You will know in a moment.

The remedy is a very interesting game called COWS AND BULLS. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is the name of the game. Well, the rules are very simple.

  • You must know English, which you must be knowing if you are reading this.
  • You must have at least an iota of reasoning skills.
  • Your IQ should be better than any news reporter on Aaj Tak.

The game can be played between two people or two groups. One of the group have to think of a four letter word and the other group is supposed to guess the word. You can only have 10 guesses. Fairly simple!!! I should better give an example. Suppose Team A thinks of a four letter word – KIND. They then ask Team B to start the game.

_ _ _ _ (this is what Team B has right now)

Team B start the game by telling their first guess. Let it be – PAIN.

Now, KIND and PAIN are two entirely different words as we can all see. Out of the four alphabets in KIND, PAIN has only two alphabets – I and N. Both these alphabets are in the wrong positions. In KIND, I is at the second position while in PAIN, its in the third position. Similarly, N is in the 3rd position in KIND and 4th position in PAIN. This means 2 COWS(Team A have to tell this to Team B without revealing which two alphabets they are talking about). Cows refer to the alphabets which are there, but not at the right position.

P A I N ( This is team B’s first guess. 2 COWS)

Team B now thinks of creating a new word which should have two of the alphabets from PAIN. Suppose they come up with NILE. Now in this word I is at the correct position while N again is at the wrong position. So, Team A would say – 1 BULL and 1 COW (BULL refer to the alphabets in the right position)

N I L E ( 1 Bull, 1 cow)

Now Team B know that they have one alphabet in the right position and one in the wrong position. Team B has to keep on analysing the guesses thay have made earlier so that they can make a better guess next time. Suppose this time they come up with PINE. Now this has 2 BULLS, as I and N are in the correct position.


Matching PINE and NILE, Team B can conclude that from I, N or E, two are at the correct place. Now they have to confirm which are the two bulls. They tell their next word – PINT. Team A tell them that they have 2 Bulls again and this confirms that I and N are at their correct place.


Team B now have to think of a word which have I and N at the same place as in PINT. They come up with FIND. Team A tell them that they have 3 Bulls now.


Now the 3rd Bull can be either F or D. To confirm Team B give the next word, which is FINS. Which lands them with 2 Bulls again and confirms that the 3rd Bull is D.


Team B now comes up with the word KIND which has all the 3 Bulls in the correct position. And Bingo!!!! They get 4 BULLS.


This is the end of the game and Team B wins as they were able to guess the word in less than 10 chances. This was a very simplified example but the game can get a lot more complicated with the team making a lot more wrong guesses. Also, if you give certain words which have a single alphabet occurring multiple times( For e.g. LULL), then such words are hard to guess.

So, that’s it folks. This is the game. Enjoy!!!!!!

p.s. For any queries and clarifications, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment. πŸ˜€

About the Author:

Amit Sharma is the Author of fiction novel False Ceilings published by Lifi Publications in January 2016. Amit always keeps a book and a portable reading light in his bag (much to the amusement of his fellow travellers). His other hobbies include watching world cinema, travelling, staring at hills, digging into various cuisines, cooking, listening to music, painting, blogging, making his daughter laugh and helping his wife with her unnecessary and prolonged shopping. He is currently working on his Second novel which is a thriller.


  1. sujani August 3, 2008 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    yes amit…I know the game and it was the only solace during our ILP. ?It was so much fun.

  2. harshasrisri August 4, 2008 at 12:22 am - Reply

    Cool dude… you have given new publicity to an old game… i remember my most toughest word. it took me 15 tries before i gave up on it… it was tough because it didnt have any vowel and moreover none would think of such word out of the blue… i lost out on hymn!!!

  3. harshasrisri August 4, 2008 at 12:23 am - Reply

    I am amused at the listings under “possibly related posts” πŸ˜†

  4. Atipriya August 4, 2008 at 12:30 am - Reply

    It made me remember the times when we used to play this game after midnight waiting for others to finish off work or for onsite signoffs….. used to be fun, with mostly u giving the words and me being part of the guessing team…. sometimes using google and cheating too… was fun πŸ™‚

  5. Manoj August 4, 2008 at 8:51 am - Reply

    Wow..nice game πŸ™‚ I will try this one next time. I like the fact that one needs to use mind and reasoning to win the game. Your “magic” blog comes out with an interesting topic each time πŸ™‚

  6. Reema August 4, 2008 at 8:57 am - Reply

    Wow!! thanks!! that must have required lots of effort. Will surely try it out as soon as I find someone to play with me πŸ™

  7. Abha August 4, 2008 at 9:30 am - Reply

    hiiiii, now this is one game which i have played the most during our; with you.
    Truly speaking, I had forgotten much of it. I realised this when I asked one of my friends to play it while we were getting bored, and then i couldn’t re-collect how to play it!!
    This was jus sometime back n see here u r with all the details.

    Its a novel blog posting. Great idea!!

  8. Rajiv August 4, 2008 at 9:37 am - Reply

    hmmmmm … interesting … very interesting πŸ˜‰

  9. Rajneesh Goyal August 4, 2008 at 9:46 am - Reply

    ohoooo tum dono .. abha aur tu .. ye boring game baaki sab to bataa ke bore kar doge…saari Mtech mein tumne yahi boring game khela tha .. aur ab pir ye waali bimarri falaaa rahe ho….

  10. Sakhi August 4, 2008 at 10:30 am - Reply

    good game!

    @ Reems…

    i am there… jub gtalk pe aayegi and if we are free, we will play! πŸ™‚

  11. soham August 4, 2008 at 12:45 pm - Reply

    this seems to be a tough game ..

    Let us stick to tic-tac-toe .. Hv been using my brain since my birth .. 10th, 12th science, engineering, GRE-TOEFL, MS from USA and now job as a software developer .. I think I need to rest my brain a bit ..

  12. Kamia August 4, 2008 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    U remember , we played this game on our way back to delhi from BBSR.!!!!!!
    Its really an intresting barin teaser game.

  13. smallstar August 4, 2008 at 3:25 pm - Reply

    Hi! How are ya? I hope well… πŸ™‚ *HUGS*

  14. vishesh August 4, 2008 at 4:58 pm - Reply

    already played and bored with it too πŸ™‚

  15. arvind August 4, 2008 at 7:28 pm - Reply

    the game looks complex to read …
    sure looks interesting ..
    never heard of it before .

  16. Vijaya Bharat August 4, 2008 at 8:42 pm - Reply

    Me too know this game but not played much as I surely dont think Professors as yawn generators and I read books through out my journey in trains and chat for hours while I am travelling with my friends πŸ™‚

  17. Amit August 4, 2008 at 11:53 pm - Reply

    @Sujani : Only ILP? Didn’t we play this in Chennai too?

    @Harshasrisri : Hmmm…yes hymn is difficult. And many people still don’t know about this game. Strange!!!
    About the “related posts”, well, its quite funny. πŸ™‚

    @Atipriya : You used Google??? When did that happened??
    Cheaters!!!!! πŸ˜›

    @Manoj : Its quite interedting once you start playing. πŸ™‚ Thanks. Magic blog?? Indeed!!! πŸ˜€

    @Reema : You are welcome. πŸ™‚ No, not much of effort. I found the pics very easily. πŸ˜› Grab anyone in your class. Whoever is sleeping. πŸ™‚

    @Abha : Yes, we have played this a lot. Especially in Ashok sir’s class. πŸ™‚ We used to play it like crazy.

    @Rajiv : A very apt first comment. πŸ˜›

  18. Amit August 4, 2008 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    @Rajneesh : Well, it was not boring and you too played this with us. Remember?

    @Sakhi : Yes it is. Yes, go ahead and play with Reema till she finds someone in her class. πŸ™‚

    @Soham : Even I am a Software Developer. πŸ™‚ And it does not require too much of brain. Just some reasoning and that is one thing which is in plenty in S/w engineers. πŸ˜‰

    @Smallstar : I am fine. Hope you are fine too. πŸ˜€

    @Vishesh : Great!!! Someone who has played it already. πŸ™‚

    @Arvind : Its not that complex once you start playing it. πŸ™‚

    @Vijaya Bharat : Ok. Well, some professors are Yawn generators. Those who are not meant for the job. πŸ™‚ And train journeys are too much when you are going from Delhi to Chennai after 6 months and that too for 5 days. You can’t afford to waste the time.

  19. S August 5, 2008 at 9:34 am - Reply

    Never heard of this game so never played too πŸ˜€ but initially it looked like Hangman to me πŸ™‚

    Will try it soon πŸ™‚

  20. smallstar August 5, 2008 at 1:32 pm - Reply

    @Amit: beh, let’s say that I am well, but without exaggering… πŸ™‚


  21. Mahak August 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm - Reply

    Ah cows and bulls was my fav chidhood game..but we played with digits instead!! it was lil easier! πŸ˜€

  22. Withering Willow August 5, 2008 at 4:09 pm - Reply

    This is a sure shot time killer! πŸ˜€

  23. Reema August 5, 2008 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    @Sakhi Awww thanks dear for offering to play with me!

  24. Vijaya Bharat August 5, 2008 at 11:57 pm - Reply

    I agree with u. In which train u travelled for 5 days from Chennai to Delhi ?

  25. pr3rna August 6, 2008 at 1:44 pm - Reply

    What a game!

  26. Suda August 6, 2008 at 3:11 pm - Reply

    Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)

    * Cow Calf: Breeding Soundness Exams Good Investment
    * Careful Bull Selection Crucial to Future of Cow Herd
    * Managing Market Cows & Bulls


    Good game, I forwarded it to many on-bench friends and in-college juniors πŸ˜€

  27. ish August 7, 2008 at 5:53 pm - Reply

    Heh, interesting game this. I’ll try it out in the bus next time. However, can you come up with a game for when there’s just one person and is totally bored? I guess he should just listen to songs or go to sleep. :/

  28. smallstar August 7, 2008 at 6:03 pm - Reply

    Hi! How are things going? I hope well. I am leaving here some hugs and kisses for ya! πŸ˜›

  29. Poonam Sharma August 8, 2008 at 3:52 pm - Reply

    Well, it looks like you really made an effort to write this game rules. πŸ™‚

  30. Joel August 9, 2008 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    This is something really very interesting…Will have to try this out in my class πŸ˜‰
    And this would seriously irritate while you play with longer words… πŸ˜€

    Thanks for sharing man πŸ™‚

  31. Priya August 10, 2008 at 3:04 pm - Reply

    Amazing !!
    Loads of efforts must have gone in making this post.
    Cheers to Amit! πŸ™‚

    Anyone wanna play the game ?? πŸ˜€

  32. Nikhil August 11, 2008 at 10:10 am - Reply

    Team A chooses “Team” and Team B guesses it as “Book” in the first guess. So, does A tell B “No Cows!” or what? πŸ˜€
    And what if B gets confused when A screams out “Bull!” when someone says something stupid..? πŸ˜€

  33. Amit August 11, 2008 at 9:15 pm - Reply

    @S : Yes, its kind of Hangman but its multi-player and more fun. πŸ˜€

    @Smallstar : Oh!! I am fine. Just a little busy. πŸ™ *Hugs to you too* πŸ˜€

    @Mahak : Digits?? 😐 Never heard of that one.

    @Withering Willow : Yes, it is. Big time!!!

    @Vijaya Bharat : I meant a 5 day holiday not 5 days travelling. πŸ˜†

    @Prerna :

    @Suda : Wow!!! So the game is quite popular now. Yes, the related posts are amusing.

    @Ish : OR he could read a novel. That is what I do in bus now a days. But I dont think you read much. Do you?

    @Poonam : Hmmmm…lemme think. Yes, if you say so. πŸ˜€

    @Joel : I think longer words would be much difficult. Never tried though. 4 words can get really difficult at times. Thanks.

    @Priya : Thanks. I guess you can also play it on Gtalk or messenger.

    @Nikhil : Well, if nothing matches, then its No cow and No bulls!!! πŸ˜† to your second query.

  34. Aaarti August 12, 2008 at 11:17 pm - Reply


    Cool blog you got here and i so love the game Cows n Bulls.. infact even now play with friends when we are bored or just time pass!!! love the pics…. πŸ˜€

  35. Amit August 13, 2008 at 10:16 pm - Reply

    @Aaarti : Thanks and welcome. πŸ™‚ Yes, its a very good timepass. πŸ™‚

  36. smallstar August 14, 2008 at 3:32 am - Reply

    @Amit: oh… I am very happy to know that you are fine, but at the same time I’m feeling sad to know that you are busy! 😐 however, I hope a better week for ya! πŸ™‚ *HUGGG*

  37. surya August 22, 2008 at 6:41 pm - Reply

    It is favorite game of mine but honestly……. I find it far far better when played with five or even six letters rather than just four…. That is how I and my friends have played it all these years. Just think of the enormous possibilties ……
    Of course, you would have to increase the number of moves to 20, which I have found to be just about perfect.

  38. Amit August 22, 2008 at 10:38 pm - Reply

    @Smallstar : Thanks. πŸ™‚ *Hugs*

    @Surya : Welcome! πŸ™‚ I have never heard about 5 or 6 letters. That must be interesting to play.

  39. Den Relojo September 3, 2008 at 8:45 pm - Reply

    I think this game has a counterpart here in the Philippines.

  40. Amit September 3, 2008 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    @Den : Oh!! Can we have a post about it then? πŸ™‚

  41. […] The Legendary Back Benchers – The ones who sit on the last benches in the hope of playing cows and bulls or do other naughty activities during class. Yet once in a while some smart ones also emerge from […]

  42. h September 18, 2008 at 10:46 pm - Reply

    hymn is quite easy because there are no vowels!
    actually someone’s yet to give me a word which i couldn’t solve. Neither could I give one to my friends which they can’t solve.

    Could you suggest some challenging words?

  43. Amit September 19, 2008 at 11:10 pm - Reply

    @h : Welcome! πŸ™‚ Well, there are certain words like lull, waif and pelt which people find difficult to guess.

  44. h September 24, 2008 at 1:33 am - Reply

    hmm . for us LULL is against the rules, and WAIF and PELT were solved by my friends. πŸ˜€ How do you guys do with repetition of letters? seems too tough! Anymore?

  45. Amit September 24, 2008 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    Against the rules? Why? If the letter is at the right position, then its a Bull else a Cow. Simple! Out of the 3 Ls, if one is at the right position and one at the wrong one, then its 1 Bull and 1 Cow.
    I can’t remember more words right now but will think about it. πŸ™‚

  46. h September 25, 2008 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    Suppose the word to find is LULL, and we guess LEAF, isn’t is 1 bull and 2 cows?

  47. Amit September 26, 2008 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    @h : Nope. Its 1 Bull. 1 L is at its correct position. If you would have guessed TILL, then it would have been 2 Bulls.

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