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Subject: Late Afternoon Summer Scrabbling rss

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Dave C
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Last Saturday my wife agreed to a late afternoon game of Scrabble. The sun was flooding the kitchen—pooling our frequent Scrabble arena in a perfect light. And I do not use the word “arena” easily.

Before the actual Session Report, let me provide just a quick bit of back story: Around 1996, my wife (M) and I were boyfriend and girlfriend, living on the opposite coast of the United States. I had won a job teaching English Literature in California and my girlfriend came along. That Christmas we flew back to visit family. My soon-to-be father-in-law, an excellent Scrabbler and one of those monsters who completes the Sunday New York Times crossword puzzle with a pen, suggested we play a game of Scrabble. He figured this English professor/boyfriend would make a good opponent. Well, Scrabble is more a math game than it is a word game and me being a math-illiterate, I got trounced by them both.

The particulars of that long-ago game are still foggy: I think I spent the game playing words like TIN and CAT. I was roasted by M’s entire family for the entire week.

I vowed to compensate for my weaknesses: the game rewards spatial intelligence and numeracy—my kryptonite. My one strength would be my memory. I would memorize excellent words for the game. I learned several useful word stems: TISANE, ARSINE, and RETAIN. I learned most of my twos and threes. I then realized that Pop and M were taking way too long with their moves and bought a chess clock and put them on it. They screamed at first but eventually fell in line. I had a custom Scrabble board made, bought tournament tiles, had custom racks made, learned more words, learned hooks, started recording my racks to see bingos missed. Started trouncing them.

Pop and M welcomed the more severe competition. M still wins most of the time—she is a natural. But they both dread my Scrabble vocabulary.

So it is quite the arena.

As the sun lowered in the sky, M pulled a T to my A so I went into the bag first, pulling

VOZFNLB (Gah!); M played AIRED

I exchanged all seven and pulled GIEONBA; M played PROW

I miss BEGONIA and play BOA; M, with a nightmare rack, plays FAIRED (M’s primary weakness in the game is sticking with a horrible rack of letters—she feels that exchanging tiles is a form of defeat. Ha!)

A few plays later I have INTEELS on my rack and it really looks like there is a bingo in there; actually, there are four: LENITES, LISENTE, SETLINE, and TENSILE. And since I know none of them (Ugh!), I play EL, hoping to find a few tiles that make a seven-letter word I know.

At this point M is still slogging through that rack. She is holding at this point to: IUEJFOX. She is confounded yet refuses to exchange.

I pull TENIT?S and immediately know I have a bingo thanks to memorizing the TISANE stem. Though I probably have other bingos on my rack, I am sure I have SaTINET. But alas, there is no place to play it! I eat up about four minutes on the clock searching and searching. You must understand that most of the time my victory against M depends on at least one bingo. And it has two outcomes—more points of course and it has a way of destroying M’s morale. So it must be achieved! I search further and lo and behold I see M’s earlier word FRIED. I imagine my rack with an R: TENIT?SR. I have learned, when looking for big words, to always move IER to the right side of the rack, potentially making a comparative adjective. And it appears: SNoTTIE(R). Boom! 64 points.

When I hook a seven-letter word onto one of M’s, it fires her spirit. When I play through one of her letters for an eight-letter bingo, she blossoms into an intense, word-smithing warrior! “How is that possible?” she intensely asks herself (M does not study endings or bingo stems.) And then a loving, “Oh you!” (I must tell you that wine is often a factor in our Scrabbling—it keeps things on the safe side of lovey dovey.)

A play or so later, M puts down HUMANE on the TWS for 33 points—she has a way of eating away at my bingo gains.

And this is how she typically wins: while I am searching for the next big word, she is simply looking for points. It makes for a fun match, Point Hunter vs. Captain Bingo, but it frequently ends in a win for M.

With KIWRROC on her rack, M plays KI for 27 points—I no doubt would have looked for a fancier word for fewer points—that is my weakness in the arena.

Other highlights of the game: I exchanged tiles three times, M did not exchange at all; no words were challenged off the board in this game, but M snuck in DA* while I was probably looking for a bingo; M came close to challenging WINGY, but thought better of it.

M wins 325 to 302. The August crickets sing.

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George Husted
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That was terrific! Thank you for sharing that story. It was both exciting and interesting...which is no small feat for a Scrabble session report. My wife and daughter (and once in a blue moon, my mother) play scrabble and have a wonderful time. My most beloved is a much better speller than I am and she is pretty good at playing the board, so I have to keep on my toes.

During one session, my wife and I allowed my daughter to use the made up word,
BONAG.

It has since entered our private family vocabulary as a noun (usually said with a faux Scottish accent for added flair) and never fails to elicit a chuckle and moment of pleasant reminiscence.

"Aye, 'e's such a bonag!" or "Ach, look at the wee bonag man; he cann'a spell 'is Scrabble words arrright!"

Fortunately for all concerned, there are never any genuine Scotsmen in earshot of our admittedly atrocious accents and made up word. I'm certain it would be painful.

Happy gaming!
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Randy Cox
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Thanks for the writeup. But I have 2 questions:

1) Doesn't closest to A go first? It appears that you went second. I'd hate to think I've been playing wrong all these years. :)

2) Shouldn't KI have scored 32?
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Dave C
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Coldwarrior1984 wrote:
That was terrific! Thank you for sharing that story. It was both exciting and interesting...which is no small feat for a Scrabble session report. My wife and daughter (and once in a blue moon, my mother) play scrabble and have a wonderful time. My most beloved is a much better speller than I am and she is pretty good at playing the board, so I have to keep on my toes.

During one session, my wife and I allowed my daughter to use the made up word,
BONAG.

It has since entered our private family vocabulary as a noun (usually said with a faux Scottish accent for added flair) and never fails to elicit a chuckle and moment of pleasant reminiscence.

"Aye, 'e's such a bonag!" or "Ach, look at the wee bonag man; he cann'a spell 'is Scrabble words arrright!"

Fortunately for all concerned, there are never any genuine Scotsmen in earshot of our admittedly atrocious accents and made up word. I'm certain it would be painful.

Happy gaming!


George, we run into each other this far away from Risk? Like running into a friend in a Cafe on the other side of the world!

Thanks for the kind words!

And "bonag" as a family-coined term--we come from similar tribes! Hilarious.

Good gaming to you, Sir.
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Dave C
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Randy,

Quote:
1) Doesn't closest to A go first? It appears that you went second. I'd hate to think I've been playing wrong all these years.


I might have written it poorly, but yes I did go first--I pulled an A. The wife pulled a T.

Quote:
2) Shouldn't KI have scored 32?


It did. Thanks for catching that. When I was writing the report, I hastily referenced the wife's notes and mine--I wrote down the wrong number.

I'll leave the error there just to spite myself

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Joe Neff
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Randy Cox wrote:

2) Shouldn't KI have scored 32?


And along those lines, SNoTTIER looks like a double-double for 78 rather than 64. Either way, nice play, and terrific session report.
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Dave C
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drjoe1e6 wrote:
Randy Cox wrote:

2) Shouldn't KI have scored 32?


And along those lines, SNoTTIER looks like a double-double for 78 rather than 64. Either way, nice play, and terrific session report.


Oh my god I missed that--during the game! I just checked to see if it changed the outcome, but alas, 14 was not enough.

Thanks for the catch and the kind words.

I need to be more a bit more careful during transcription AND during the game shake Maybe it was the wine...
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roger cox
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Don't you think Scrabble should be played with a better reference book than "The Scrabble PLayer's Dictionary"? I think Oxford's English, or just a plain ol' Funk & Wagnall's would be more accurate. Brrr? Psst? C'mon!
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Dave C
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roger cox wrote:
Don't you think Scrabble should be played with a better reference book than "The Scrabble PLayer's Dictionary"? I think Oxford's English, or just a plain ol' Funk & Wagnall's would be more accurate. Brrr? Psst? C'mon!


You are not alone in your contempt for weird words scoring points in Scrabble.

Many people think Scrabble should be played with a limited vocabulary: only words that are used in everyday circumstances, only words that are found in this dictionary or that one, or only words that are "normal." This of course, ignores the fact that the English language is constantly "stealing" words (think ENNUI), creating words (think EMAIL), and voiding words (think NEQUIENT*). Our language trancends the everyday circumstances of our lives, participants in the language coin words at will, and in general our language is weird. English's top-tier game is going to be weird as well.

And though this weird language is in a constant state of flux, its top-tier game needs a rulebook, yes?

Official Scrabble dictionaries--all around the world--often make certain that a word shows up in one or more "official" or "accepted" dictionaries. The resulting volumes give us our word boundaries for the game.

Examine Scrabble through the lens of Kung Fu (and let me make clear the fact that my understanding of Kung Fu comes purely through movies): their are different schools or methods of Kung Fu--some much more secret and sinister than others. Some strange and disarming. Those who practice the most have an advantage and so on.

When I memorize the fact that TISANE + C makes CINEAST, I am present in my practice, I am in training. I seek clarity where others are confused.

My wife has a natural energy for the game, let's say. She has a natural Scrabble Fu. I do not. I must practice and practice still more. I have memorized three or four bingo stems (see above) for a total of about 250 interesting seven-letter words I can see on the rack. I have played with people that have memorized 700 such words.

They make excellent opponents.

Think of the game as a mirror for how much Scrabble Fu you have. You already have much with PSST and BRRR (and BRR is also good ). If I play INGESTA, will you challenge it? Will I accept ARF when you play it? How much Scrabble Fu do you have? Dismissing these fine acceptable words is like dismissing Jackie Chan using a ladder as a weapon. Strange yes. But acceptable?
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George Husted
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We use the official Scrabble Dictionary.meeple
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Brian Williams
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August222 wrote:
M snuck in DA* while I was probably looking for a bingo;



Is DA not valid in the USA? (It's a heavy Burmese knife - it's been in the international word list for years.)
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Dave C
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seacook wrote:
August222 wrote:
M snuck in DA* while I was probably looking for a bingo;



Is DA not valid in the USA? (It's a heavy Burmese knife - it's been in the international word list for years.)


It was in the OSPD for years but then was removed in the 80s I think. It is no longer good (at least in North America, Israel, and Thailand).


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Dave C
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August222 wrote:
drjoe1e6 wrote:
Randy Cox wrote:

2) Shouldn't KI have scored 32?


And along those lines, SNoTTIER looks like a double-double for 78 rather than 64. Either way, nice play, and terrific session report.


Oh my god I missed that--during the game! I just checked to see if it changed the outcome, but alas, 14 was not enough.

Thanks for the catch and the kind words.

I need to be more a bit more careful during transcription AND during the game shake Maybe it was the wine...


This happened at the start of the week on Monday. I have meant all week to come back to this session report, but it kept slipping my mind until today. I unplug on Friday and begin to remember things

I was getting out of the shower, and it occurred to me: I would never in a million years miss a double-double bingo. I checked the photo and sure enough. M's FRIED had already eaten the hotspot, her R.

Just needed to set the record straight.
 
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