How to Play 20 Questions: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

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How to Play 20 Questions: 9 Steps (with Pictures)
How to Play 20 Questions: 9 Steps (with Pictures)

20 Questions is one of the classic types of games that has triumphed since the 19th century. In the game, one person who plays the role of the questioner will be asked to imagine an object; Meanwhile, the rest of the people playing must ask a maximum of 20 questions to guess the object in question. Interested in playing it with the people closest to you? Read the easy tips below!


Method 1 of 2: As a Guesser


Step 1. Determine the rules of the game

Basically 20 Questions has different variations of the game; that's why your friends will probably have a different understanding of the rules and concepts of the game. For that, know who your co-stars are and the rules they understand; after that, try to compromise and agree on a new rule.

  • Usually, the questioner will mention the object category before the game starts. Generally, they have two choices of categorization patterns:

    • Is the object classified as animal (living and breathing), vegetable (growing), or mineral (not living, not growing, coming from nature)? This pattern of categorization is more complicated because an object can fall into several different categories (such as a leather belt).
    • Is the object a person, place, or thing? This pattern of categorization is much more straightforward although it is very open to more abstract ideas such as "San Francisco".
  • Participants in the game may determine that the object in question must be within their line of sight. This kind of game rules are suitable for players with limited attention spans or for games of short duration.
  • Sometimes, some players were even willing to sacrifice their chance to ask, "The object hasn't been determined yet, has it?" after 20 questions ended.
  • The questioner's answer may be limited to “yes” or “no”, or in the form of adverbs such as “usually”, “sometimes”, or “rarely”.
  • Someone should be in charge of counting the number of questions asked. Generally, the person is a participant in the game who is not the questioner or guesser.

Step 2. Ask questions based on the previous answers

Try asking general questions first; only then can you move on to more specific and detailed questions.

Start with general questions like, “Is it bigger than a bread box?”. If the questioner answers “yes”, ask the question again in the same pattern while increasing the size of the object (e.g., “Is it bigger than a refrigerator?”). When the questioner answers "no", immediately switch to a different pattern such as the color of the object. After that, you can combine the various information obtained to guess the object in question


Step 3. Don't ask too specific questions at the start of the game

Think of more general and broad questions first to get you on the right track.

For example, a question like "Is the object a technology for communicating, working, or having fun?" is an example of a really well thought out question. If the answer is "yes", you can start asking more specific questions. But if not, you've managed to eliminate many possible objects anyway


Step 4. Guess only if you are absolutely sure

It's best not to ask, "Goats, okay?" on the second question if you can't read other people's minds because most likely your guess is wrong. Guess only if you are absolutely sure of the answer.

  • In other words, as you approach the 20th question, set aside a few chances to guess. Remember, one guess counts as one question! However, if on question 16 or 17 you're still not sure, take the risk to ask.

    If the object in question turns out to be impossible to guess (like the little finger on the right foot of the pen), you have the right to protest! After all, that means the game is unfair


Step 5. End the game

If you win by guessing the object in question before the 20 questions are over, get ready for revenge. Now it's time for you to turn into a questioner and choose an object for the other gamers to guess!

If you can't guess the object in question until the 20 questions are over, it means you still have to be the guesser in the next game. After observing how your friends play, try to think about what strategies you might change in the next game

Method 2 of 2: As Questioner


Step 1. Understand the rules of the game

Sometimes, each participant of the game has a different understanding of the rules of the 20 Questions game. For that, re-understand the rules and concepts of the game before the game starts.

  • What category does the questioner use to start the game? Are you going to mention it as the questioner or wait to be asked by the guesser?

    • Select the following categories: animals (living and breathing), vegetables (growing), and minerals (non-living and naturally occurring) or people, places, and things. Unfortunately, the “BSM” or animal-vegetable-mineral category can cause technical problems (for example, does a wooden table fall into the vegetable or mineral category?). On the other hand, the “OTB” or person-place-thing category has a wider range of possible answers.
  • Does the selected object have to be in the room or can it be located anywhere?
  • Do you allow the guesser to give the final guess in the form of the 21st question?
  • Does your answer have to be a “yes/no”, or can it be an adverb such as “sometimes”, “usually”, or “rarely”?
  • Who monitors the game? Do you monitor their questions or do they do it themselves?

Step 2. Think of an object

It's best to choose an object that is familiar to all participants in the game, not too easy to guess, but also not impossible to guess.

  • Do not choose the object in the form of your sister's diary that she hides under the bed. Believe me, no one will ever guess and as a result, the game will feel less fun.
  • If you're obsessed with Star Trek, don't pick any Star Trek-related objects! Remember, if Garfield wanted to fool Odie, he wouldn't have chosen lasagna as his object. Choose objects that your co-stars won't expect (especially if they know you very well).

Step 3. Give an accurate answer

If you don't know an accurate answer to a question your friend has asked, try to guess; however, make sure they know that you are not sure about the answer. Don't lead them down the wrong path!

Don't think too complicated. If they ask, “Is it bigger than a refrigerator?” Don't answer, "Maybe. Whose fridge are you referring to?” Remember, think according to common understanding and knowledge. If you do, chances are your answers will be more consistent


Step 4. Determine the winner

The game ends on the 20th question (and guess). If by then no one has guessed, you win! Get ready to beat them again in the next session.

If your opponent manages to guess the object in mind, throw the chance to be a questioner at them. Hopefully they don't think of objects that are too hard to guess, either


  • Don't choose objects that you don't understand; make sure you are able to answer all the questions asked accurately!
  • Don't choose objects that are too easy or too difficult to guess. Besides the risk of making the game feel less exciting, after that the mood of the playing parties may also worsen because of it.

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