Feeling Scrabulous (With an important update!)

I have a confession…
I am (just a tad) competitive. Honestly, just a little bit. It doesn’t manifest itself often – except against my sister, or close friends, or total strangers… Ok. Maybe I’m very competitive.
This character trait (flaw?) is particularly an issue with board games. Take Trivial Pursuit for example, I am the undisputed family champion – well, at least the ‘dream team’ of me and my Dad are. As a teenager, on miserable family holidays in a caravan on a damp and dismal Yorkshire moor, board games were the entertainment of choice. (There was a TV, but who needs a TV when you’re on holiday, with your family, having enforced fun??) It was usually a choice between Trivial Pursuit or Scrabble. I always went for the former, and would often resort to tears if I didn’t get my way.
Here’s the thing – I wasn’t good at Scrabble, therefore I didn’t want to play. Even my little sister was better than me. I’d simply stare at the board in despair, thinking of all the words I could play “if only I had an A” or “if only there was an open T”. In fact, if you looked at the notebook that accompanies our set of Travel Scrabble, you’d see that I sat out of most of these matches and whiled away the time identifying the London bus routes that the different scores represented. If that’s not a truly pathetic image, I don’t what is!
It was therefore a great surprise to my sister, when she rang last Tuesday, to hear that I was in the middle of an online Scrabble game. I was bored, a friend made the suggestion and I figured it was about time I grew up and learned how to play it properly. So, for the last week I’ve been engaged (on and off) in this most wholesome of pursuits…
…I’ve still not won a game. Currently the score stands at 5-0. As my opponent helpfully pointed out after our last game, “you now need to win 6 in a row to beat me”. Thanks very much Mr Stating the Bloody Obvious! (Yesterday I think they realised that I wasn’t a very good loser, I’m just impressed it took them till game 4 to notice!)
Research has been conducted: The Wikipedia page is useful. (So is the dictionary tab on the online version, which I only discovered after loss #2.) Today the Guardian printed a cribsheet for Scrabble, which may or may not come in handy. I’m definitely improving. Today I scored my highest score so far (280) and was only beaten by 10 points.
In fact, I would’ve won, had my opponent – right in the closing stages – not succeeded in using all his tiles spelling a rather controversial word. I’m not going to write it, but see if you can spot in the picture below. Needless to say, he didn’t take Facebook up on their suggestion that he tell all his friends that he’d just scored 72 points in using it!
One day I will win and it will be a joyous experience. In the mean time I’m actually enjoying the challenge of it. It seems a much more worthwhile online activity than Facestalking or aimlessly floating from one page to another.
Only thing is, I’m realising my tactics won’t wash in the real world (no dictionary tab), so I’m definitely not ready to join the wholesome group of Scrabble players I found in the pub before church on Sunday. That was really a sweet sight to behold – bless Phil and his small group!
Update: My Scrabble mojo has clearly been flowing today. Beginning a new game this evening, I immediately used up all my letters, garnering an impressive 68 points (‘venites’ – thanks Latin lessons). My lead was overtaken, so my statement of “here begins my 6 game winning streak” was looking rather presumptuous. However, shrieks (and cackles) of joy could be heard across London (if not the country) as I played ‘eccrine’ – a discovery via the shuffle & dictionary functions – making 3 other words in the process, a total of 91 points if you please… My losing streak is finally over. Whoop!!

Comments

  1. Intentional community. What can I say.

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