Friday, June 06, 2014

The Scrabble Rant

I'm all worked up. About Scrabble, no less.

I play Scrabble on line via Facebook. And I love it. I have had as many as 14 games going at once.  So it's serious.

On-line Scrabble is different from regular board Scrabble in a couple of ways. One thing, which is just lovely, is that the game provides you with a handy-dandy list of all of the two-letter words known to mankind. Which kind of levels the playing field to a certain extent. There's also the fact that players don't have to worry about how long it takes for them to figure out what word to play. That's nice.

Then there's the serendipitous opportunity to do something amazing without having to make eye contact: I once played a very, very bad word on a triple word score spot and earned 39 points while at the same time using up one of those pesky C tiles. Yup, that word. 39 points is 39 points.

There's a certain amount of integrity required that comes into play. I have it on good authority that there are websites where one can go and enter one's rack of letters and just like that it will give you all the words possible from your letters. If I'm playing with an ordinary person and he starts throwing in words like the name for a five-cent piece in 15th century Romania or the leaves from a shrub known only to grow in Paraguay, I get to suspecting that he's using, and don't play with him again. My linguist friend is exempt from suspicion; she actually knows these words and I've learned a lot from her.  And because in a previous life I was a medical transcriptionist, I can drop words like "hamate" and "fovea" in good conscience.

Another thing that's problematic is the putting together of letters into what might be a word and playing it. In the board version, one wouldn't be likely to do that because the opponent might challenge. But on line, if it's not a real word, the game won't accept it and if it is, well, how about that! What I'm getting at here is that there seems to be a great deal of playing by hunch rather than by knowledge. The other day an opponent played UNLIMES, and I think a blank was involved. In any event, it yielded more than 90 points, and I just turned right into a COW*.  UNLIMES, for crying out loud. What are they? Lemons? Sheesh.

My second son is a Scrabble purist who longs for the days when playing a Q was a real challenge. One had to sweat it out until a U came along and then hope there was enough else to get the darned thing on the board. Z wasn't quite as bad. Now we have QI and QAT and, truth be told, I find I play one or the other of them almost automatically. And I don't feel good about it. Andrew exacts a promise of non-QI non-QAT play before he accepts an invitation to play on line, and I'm thinking his way really makes the game more fun.

I'd like to continue this rant. To go on and on and ON. But I can't. Because I have to go deal with IAYSZCD before Marilyn gets impatient. DAISY looks promising, but then there's that Z . . . .

*Cranky Old Woman


Janet O. said...

I play Scrabble once a week with my Mother--in real life, face-to-face, gameboard and tiles. We have been doing this for probably almost 2 decades. I have also done a little online play, but very little. I don't have a smart phone.
I still try to use the "Q" and "Z" in "real" words, but I admit that when I draw them near game's end it is awfully nice to be able to dispose of them and not be stuck subtracting their points from my score.
Had to LOL over "unlimes". : )

Gretchen said...

I'm hoping you get to play QUINOA :)

AnnieO said...

I play Words with friends and have met a couple of dinkwads I'm sure are using some type of word generator. I'm guilty of repeatedly trying letters to see if they work, but like you I'm a transcriptionist and Big Book reader so have a pretty varied vocabulary :)

Anonymous said...

And with that q...qaid and qadi. Those are good on WWF so I assume on Scrabble as well.