The Game of Mastermind

Since 1970, Mastermind has been challenging players to the breaking of codes.  Playing the game is one of the easiest and most enjoyable ways to exercise the mind.  A player’s objective is to break his opponent’s code before the time it takes his opponent to break his own.  Mastermind is similar to (and most likely inspired by), an older game called Cows and Bulls.  Both games entertainingly test a player’s logic and deduction skills.

As a parent, the game is great to play with kids.  Not only will it help sharpen and keep your brain in shape, but by the playing the game with the family, you are spending fun, quality time with them.  Additionally, the game will certainly help remind you just how smart your kids actually are; and how you, as a parent, better keep your mind in shape in order to stay ahead of their cleverness.

Mastermind is a two-player game and begins by choosing one player to be the ‘codemaker’ first.  The other is the ‘codebreaker’.   After a round is over, players change roles.  The codemaker is then the codebreaker, and vice versa.  A game is considered two rounds; each player having a turn at being both a codemaker and codebreaker.  The winner of the game is the player who solved his opponent’s code in the fewest turns or who won the most out of a predetermined number of games.

To begin play, the codemaker secretly places four of the colored code pegs in his shielded area on the code board.  The pegs can be any combination of six available colors.

The codebreaker then chooses four colored pegs and places them in the first row on the board.  This is his attempt to correctly break the code.  The code is correctly broken if all four colors are accurately matched, and positioned in the exact spot, as the codemaker placed them.

Depending on any correctly chosen colors and/or positioned pegs of the codebreaker’s, the codemaker places ‘key pegs’ on the side.  For most games, the key pegs are white or red.

  • If the codemaker places a RED key peg, it means the codebreaker has matched a color and it is also correctly positioned.
  • If the codemaker places a WHITE key peg, it means the codebreaker has matched a color, ONLY.
  • If the codemaker does not place any key pegs on the side of the code board, it means the codebreaker has not identified any correct colored pegs.

The codebreaker continues his attempt to correctly break the code by placing other sets of code pegs in the following rows of the first.  From the feedback (the key pegs) of the codemaker, the codebreaker can deduce and eventually break the code.  Upon doing so, the codemaker would place 4 RED key pegs and lift his shield.  The codemaker receives one point for each row used by the codebreaker to determine the code.

If the codebreaker cannot solve the code with the amount of rows on the code board (10), then the round is over and the codemaker receives 11 points.

Quick to play, Mastermind challenges and works the mind in an amusing and fun way.  The benefits from playing are definitely worth finding a game and playing a game, today!  Best of luck!


Jenny Kile

Admin. of All About Fun and Games. Along with being an avid collector and player of table top games, I am a writer, researcher, treasure hunter, and Founder of Kardtects ( ) I believe fun is everywhere and you are welcome to visit my other sites: (which explores mystery, adventure and the search for treasures) and (which takes building card houses to completely new levels. Kardtects is the next generation of card house building!) Email:

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