Tourney Challenge Adjudications Using WHAT (26-Jun-15)

WHAT, Wolfberg's Helpful Anagramming Tool, is really a toolbox of powerful tools, with many facilities.

This document describes the facilities in WHAT for performing challenge adjudications, especially in a tournament situation.

Acquiring WHAT

For about ten years, WHAT was a sold program, but as of January, 2015, it is a free program.

We now accept donations to support this software.

The WHAT program is available at no cost for downloading. It currently runs on on Microsoft Windows operating systems. We hope to also offer it on smart phones, especially on Androids at first.


Version 2.1 of WHAT comes with current the lexicons for adjudicating challenges. Assuming that is what you will be wanting, you can skip the remainder of this section.

When using WHAT only for challenge adjudications in a tournament setting, you can ignore much of the available controls in the WHAT window, including the menus. One section of the window which may be of use is in the upper right, where there is a set of tabs. One of those tabs is dedicated to the control of which lexicons are involved in both anagramming and in challenges. To see the current settings and to change them, click on the Lexicons tab, and then click on the Change Lexicon(s) button.


WHAT is controlled mostly using a command line interface, and there is a graphical user interface (GUI) to help you construct these commands. Commands are typed into the program in the black portion of the screen, which is called the workspace. When WHAT is waiting for you to type a new command, it prompts with:

You are then expected to type a command on that very line following the prompt. The typical use of the program is to type single-line commands terminated by pressing the Enter key. If there is some error in your command, when you have pressed Enter, you will see an error message in the workspace, and you will often see the first offending character colored red.

When using the program for challenge adjudications in a tourney setting, there is a small repertoire of commands you need to know in order to set up the program, and these will be covered below. The players using the program will not be using the command line interface. They will be typing into a Challenge Dialog which describes how to use it.

As the person setting up the program, you should be aware that pressing the Backspace key will erase the most recently typed-in character, and the cursor is moved to the left by one character. There are several other editing characters, but this one is the only one that is essential for you to know.


When you use WHAT in a club environment, it will likely be both for adjudicating challenges and also for doing game postmortems. However, in a tournament situation, the program will be constrained to operate only in the Challenge Dialog.

In the club environment, when you are using the program interactively and are dealing with the anagramming facilities, you can bring up the Challenge Dialog in many different ways:

The Challenge Dialog explains a few options of how to provide words to be adjudicated and how to get back to other WHAT use. Pressing Esc is the easiest way.

WHAT can be made to default to making a file of challenged words on specified days of the week and at specified times. You can override the default via the File menu or with the commands:

      /+RC - turn on the recording of challenged words for other than tourney adjudications
      /-RC - turn off the recording of challenged words for other than tourney adjudications
When using the program to do tourney adjudications, the recording of challenged words is done by default, but you can inhibit this.

The WHAT initialization file (such as what2.ini), specifies the beginning of the path to use when creating such files.

When using the program other than in a tournament setting, Without going into the Challenge Dialog, WHAT can tell you whether an individual word is acceptable in the primary and secondary lexicons:


When using this command, recording of the word is not done.

Tourney Adjudications

Here are some guidelines for using WHAT in a tourney setting. There is on-line help available from within the program -- pick Tourney Challenge Adjudications... from the Help menu to see the following text.

  1. Stop running all word-oriented programs, especially anagramming programs, on your computer other than one running copy of WHAT. Look at the MS Windows task bar to be sure you have done this.

  2. It is desirable that no word-oriented program, including WHAT, can be started by using Shortcut Keys (such as Ctrl + Alt + A). These would be controlled by the Shortcut key property in icon files on your desktop.

  3. It is presumed you will be using WHAT to adjudicate challenges for words found in the OWL3 lexicon. Support for this lexicon is being delayed until it is clear there is no legal problem in offering this lexicon. The program comes (or will come) with that lexicon as the one used for challenge adjudications. If you have changed this in your initial settings file and are indeed adjudicating using OWL3, then you are advised to modify your initial settings file and revert to specifying OWL3 as the lexicon to be used for challenge adjudications. This is not necessary, but it affects the color of the Challenge Dialog. Usually the background color is aqua, but if the lexicon for challenges is different than the one being used when WHAT starts up, the color is fuchsia.

  4. When using WHAT in an informal or club setting, you are likely to want to use it for both adjudications and anagramming, but in a tourney setting, it is appropriate to have it be doing only adjudications. To bring up the Challenge Dialog and lock it there with a password, type a command such as
    where (in these examples) 456 is your chosen password. By default, all challenged words are recorded in a file. When a minus sign is included in the command to start tourney adjudications, the recording of challenged words is skipped. Such passwords are decimal digits only, where up to the first 8 digits are significant. Using a 7-digit phone number is suggested. Terminate your command type-in by pressing the Enter key.

  5. Check that the correct lexicon is being used - the short name is given in the dialog, and the full name is in the header of the window. If you have chosen to record challenged words in a file, the header line will also indicate this. You are all set for tourney use.

  6. When finished, type in the password. It will not be shown as you type the digits, but when you have typed the correct password, the Challenge Dialog will go away and WHAT will once again be available to do anagramming and other useful things. At this point, you could exit WHAT.

Recording Challenged Words

When using WHAT to perform tourney adjudications, all challenged words are recorded in a file by default. You can inhibit this by including a minus sign when bringing up the Challenge Dialog with a password.

When using the program to adjudicate in other than the tourney style, you can control when challenged words are recorded using commands +RC and -RC, as mentioned above. You can also set up the program to do this recording according to the day of the week and hours.

When recording of challenged words is being done, this is indicated in the header line of the Challenge Dialog, where you can see the name of the file where the words are placed (using uppercase). The program makes a file name based on the date, and there is a file name prefix which you can adjust. The date for the file name is what the date was six hours earlier. In this way a late night session yields one file of recorded challenges, as long as challenges stop getting made before 6 a.m.

The program comes with the file name prefix as sc, and therefore on September 23, 2014, the challenged words file would be: C:\Program Files\WHAT\sc140923.wds

You can change the prefix via the dialog to create a new initialization file; that dialog can be invoked via the File menu.


This introductory material should be sufficient for you to make effective use of the basic facilities of WHAT to the extent of using it to adjudicate challenges. There are considerably more facilities, which you can read about in the "WHAT User Guide" and other documents.