Today's post is about word chains, where the last letter of one word is the first letter of the next, and making the chains as long as possible.
For example, if you were trying to make a word chain out of the signs of the zodiac, this is the longest you could make.
The longest word chain using only the names of signs of the zodiac Libra, Aries, Sagittarius, Scorpio
No sign ends in L or starts with O so four is as long as we can go.
Specifically today's post is about making word chains from the names of stations on the tube map.
Here's one I made earlier, using only the names of stations on the Overground.
The longest word chain using only the names of Overground stations?
Cambridge Heath, Honor Oak Park, Kew Gardens, Seven Sisters, Surrey Quays, Shepherd's Bush, Hampstead Heath, Hackney Wick, Kentish Town West, Turkey Street, Theobalds Grove, Euston, Norwood Junction, New Cross, Stonebridge Park, Kensington (Olympia), Acton Central, Leyton Midland Road, Dalston Kingsland, Dalston Junction, New Cross Gate, Emerson Park, Kilburn High Road, Denmark Hill, London Fields, South Acton, North Wembley
My word chain contains the names of 27 different stations, which out of a total list of 112 isn't bad.
No Overground station starts with M or Y, so that's 13 stations ending in M or Y which can't be included (unless it's at the end of the chain, as I did with North Wembley). No Overground station ends in B, C, I, P, Q or W, so that's another 39 excluded for similar reasons. Only 3 Overground stations end in H, all of which I fitted in, but this left 12 starting with H with nowhere to go. Similarly only 3 Overground stations start with D, all of which I fitted in, but this left 13 ending with D with nowhere to go. Those four restrictions have already ruled out over half the stations on the network. These are the some of the trials and tribulations which face the would-be maximal word chain compiler.
But reader Mark B has beaten my 27 with the following, which contains 30!
The longest word chain using only the names of Overground stations
Barking, Gospel Oak, Kensal Rise, Edmonton Green, New Cross, Seven Sisters, Shadwell, Leyton Midland Road, Dalston Junction, New Cross Gate, Emerson Park, Kensington (Olympia), Acton Central, Leytonstone High Road, Dalston Kingsland, Denmark Hill, London Fields, Shepherds Bush, Hampstead Heath, Hackney Downs, Stonebridge Park, Kew Gardens, Surrey Quays, Stamford Hill, Liverpool Street, Turkey Street, Theobalds Grove, Enfield Town, Norwood Junction, North Wembley
If you think you can improve on this, either by slotting in some extra Overground stations or coming up with a completely different ordering, I'd be interested to know.
I'm going to leave the next three word chains up to you.
The longest word chains using only the names of TfL tram stops
Mitcham, Merton Park, King Henry's Drive, Elmers End, Dundonald Road
Gravel Hill, Lloyd Park, King Henry's Drive, East Croydon, New Addington
The names of the 39 tram stops don't connect very well, so the longest chain is rather short. Reader steeevooo has found more than one way to reach five (the only fixed point being King Henry's Drive in the middle).
The longest word chain using only the names of DLR stations
Bow Church, Heron Quays, Shadwell, Lewisham, Mudchute, Elverson Road, Devons Road, Deptford Bridge, East India, All Saints, Stratford International, Langdon Park, King George V
This time there are 45 DLR stations to juggle, which gives a bit more wriggle room. Reader Ali C has fitted 13 of them together (which I think is the maximum).
As for individual tube lines, I've started off these lists...
The longest word chain on each of the tube lines
Bakerloo: Waterloo, Oxford Circus, Stonebridge Park, Kilburn Park, Kensal Green, North Wembley (6)
Central: Ruislip Gardens, Shepherd's Bush, Hainault, Theydon Bois, St. Paul's, South Ruislip, Perivale, East Acton, Notting Hill Gate, Epping, Gants Hill, Leyton, Northolt, Tottenham Court Road, Debden, North Acton, Newbury Park (17)
Circle: Blackfriars, St James's Park, Kings Cross St Pancras, South Kensington, Notting Hill Gate, Euston Square, Embankment, Tower Hill, Liverpool Street, Temple, Edgware Road (11)
District: Plaistow, Westminster, Ravenscourt Park, Kew Gardens, Southfields, Sloane Square, Earl's Court, Temple, Elm Park, Kensington Olympia, Aldgate East, Turnham Green, Notting Hill Gate, East Ham, Mansion House, Edgware Road, Dagenham East, Tower Hill (18)
Hammersmith & City: Plaistow, Whitechapel, Ladbroke Grove, East Ham, Moorgate, Euston Square, Edgware Road (7)
Jubilee: Southwark, Kilburn, Neasden, North Greenwich (4)
Metropolitan: Chalfont & Latimer, Ruislip Manor, Ruislip, Pinner, Rickmansworth, Hillingdon, North Harrow, West Harrow, Wembley Park, King's Cross St Pancras (10)
Northern: Waterloo, Oval, London Bridge, Elephant & Castle, Edgware, Embankment, Tooting Bec, Clapham South, High Barnet, Tufnell Park, King's Cross St Pancras, Stockwell, Leicester Square, Euston (14)
Piccadilly: Hammersmith, Hyde Park Corner, Ruislip Manor, Ruislip, Piccadilly Circus, South Harrow, Wood Green, North Ealing, Green Park, King's Cross St Pancras, Sudbury Hill, Leicester Square, Eastcote, Earl's Court, Turnpike Lane, Ealing Common, Northfields, South Ealing, Gloucester Road (19)
Victoria: Pimlico, Oxford Circus, Seven Sisters, Stockwell (4)
...and you've completed the full ten, thanks! But could they be even longer?
I'll update the post with your best efforts as they come in, and tell you whether I think they can be beaten.
Finally a seriously tough challenge, widening the scope to every tube station on the network. This word chain contains 99 of them.
The longest word chain using only the names of tube stations
Bromley-by-Bow, West Harrow, West Ruislip, Pimlico, Oxford Circus, Seven Sisters, Stockwell, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Hale, Euston Square, Euston, North Harrow, Waterloo, Oval, Leicester Square, Eastcote, East Ham, Marble Arch, Hatton Cross, South Harrow, Westminster, Ruislip Manor, Ruislip, Pinner, Ruislip Gardens, St. Paul's, Shepherd's Bush, High Barnet, Totteridge & Whetstone, Edgware, Elm Park, King's Cross St Pancras, Shepherd's Bush Market, Tooting Bec, Canary Wharf, Fairlop, Piccadilly Circus, Stamford Brook, Kennington, Northwood Hills, South Ruislip, Plaistow, West Ham, Mornington Crescent, Theydon Bois, Sudbury Hill, Lancaster Gate, East Acton, North Acton, North Greenwich, Hyde Park Corner, Rickmansworth, Hornchurch, Holland Park, Kew Gardens, South Ealing, Grange Hill, Lambeth North, Hammersmith, Hounslow East, Turnpike Lane, Ealing Common, Northfields, Southfields, St James's Park, Kensington (Olympia), Amersham, Mill Hill East, Tower Hill, Ladbroke Grove, Earl's Court, Tufnell Park, Kentish Town, North Ealing, Green Park, Knightsbridge, Elephant & Castle, Embankment, Turnham Green, Notting Hill Gate, Edgware Road, Dollis Hill, Leyton, Newbury Park, Kilburn Park, Kilburn, Neasden, Northolt, Tottenham Court Road, Debden, Northwick Park, Kenton, Northwood, Dagenham East, Temple, Epping, Gants Hill, Latimer Road, Dagenham Heathway.
With 270 names to choose from, potential word chain length increases significantly. I managed to link 91 together (by shuffling cells around a spreadsheet), then Ali C trumped that with 92 (via some nifty computer code), then Jerry connected 95 (as a distraction from doing some work), then reader X-Plaistow emailed an even longer string of 97, which I tweaked to squeeze in one more. That record of 98 stood for six weeks until X-Plaistow sent in a 99, and also attached a six-page proof that this must be the maximum possible. Alas 100 just can't be done, but who doesn't love a 99?
» Station names should be as given on the tube map.
» Station names must not be repeated (even if there are two Hammersmiths in real life).
» Please write your word chains as a long string of names, not a vertical list.
» Your updates to the longest word chains on the Overground, trams, Crossrail and DLR and individual tube lines in the appropriate comments box please.
» Musings about the all-tube-stations challenge can go in the comments box too.
» But potential solutions to the all-tube-stations word chain by email only, thanks (because they're likely to be rather long, and because it makes for a better individual challenge).
If it helps, here are full lists of tram stops, Crossrail stations and DLR stations, here are Wikipedia's lists of tube stations and Overground stations, and here's a tube map.