We are going to construct word ladders, but unlike the classic word ladders in which only one letter can change per step, you may change as many letters as you like at each step. However, each letter can only move up or down one click in the alphabet.
For example, BOOMERS changes to COOLEST in a single step. (The B moves down to a C, the first O doesn't change, the second O doesn't change, the M moves up to an L, the E doesn't change, the R moves down to an S, and the S moves down to a T.)
For added fun, let's agree that A can move "up" to Z, and Z can move "down" to A. In other words, the alphabet forms a wheel. This might remind you of a bike lock, with alphabetical wheels in place of numerical wheels.
Let's walk through an example.
Go from PUTTING to PURRING in three steps:
start: PUTTING step 1: OUSTING step 2: PURSING step 3: PURRING
Obviously, each intermediate step must also form a known word.
See if you can solve these:
1. Go from ACTRESS to BARTERS in five steps or fewer 2. Go from SKINLESS to SKILLETS in five steps or fewer 3. Go from DONNING to BONKING in six steps or fewer 4. Go from EARNEST to HAULERS in nine steps or fewer