One of my deepest, darkest secret shames has to be that I am completely, utterly, and embarrassingly bad at Scrabble. So bad, in fact, that it actually makes me angry.
Sure, Scrabble’s a board game and is (apparently) fun. But the latent, almost physical frustration I feel at not being able to mentally manoeuvre single blocks of letters into witty, wise, or obscure words that are proved right by the dictionary (much to my opponents’ surly indignation) gives me the absolutely willies.
I’m not sure why I’m so rubbish at Scrabble. If I had to hazard a guess, it would be that I was born without that spatial thingy that would give me the ability to first visualise and assemble word possibilities from the letters before me in my little, upstanding tray, and second, to see a spot where those word and letter possibilities can fit in with those already laid down on the board. I also doubt either is helped by the brain-freezing, weight-of-expectation anxiety that even thinking about playing brings upon me.
The frustration at not having/being able to do whatever this game requires of me is compounded by the fact that being a writer and editor and all means that everyone a) expects me to be completely kick-ass at it and b) wants to beat me.
I’d say it’s a pretty hollow victory for them when my opponents realise their apparent Goliath of an opponent is a whimpering ninny. Case in point: my friend Tahnee put down ‘bristle’ on her very first go last time we played. She earned herself something like a triple word score for her savvy placement plus 100 bonus points for using up all her letters. Suffice to say, I never even came close to competing.
For most people, though, they’ll never get a chance to find out, because after too many games of voluminous embarrassment and frustration that I know is irrational and juvenile but that sees me get so frickin’ angry that I want to fling the board and letters across the room and throw myself on the floor in a full-blown adult tanty, I now refuse to play. At all. Ever. So please stop asking me.
The latest incarnation is apparently Words With Friends, a seemingly innocuous-sounding, potentially copyright-infringement-avoiding name for what is, for all intents and purposes, a version of Scrabble. Please see above paragraph re: I refuse to play. At all. Ever. Please stop asking me.
Also while I’m getting my grump on, please stop sending me the Crikey article that heralds the news that the official Collins Scrabble dictionary has added almost 3000—yes, folks, 3000—new words to its almost a quarter of a million existing permissible words. This means 3000 new words that are guaranteed to outrage your opposition, who’ll argue that you can’t have them and then have to eat their words when you prove to them that they are, in fact, in the dictionary.
While I love the idea of these additions—you would think that the availability of more words would ease my anxiety—the reality of it makes no difference to me. It’s not that I don’t have enough word combination possibilities; it’s that I have too many. My brain seizes up and freezes up or attempts to put down words for which I’m missing one crucial letter or for which there’s no actual space on the board. That or I simply can’t see visualise the word to begin with.
What I will leave you with, though, just in case you’re a keen Scrabble player, is a selection of the newly acceptable words and their point values. Methinks there’ll be some chagrin from old-school Scrabble players who think this is lowering the tone and literacy levels. Me? I think these words are kind of funny:
- innit (5)
- thang (9)
- Facebook (19)
- bling (12)
- tik, tina, gak (7, 4, and 8, respectively; they’re apparently drug terms, although I’ve personally, in my naivety, never heard of them)
- inbox (14)
- vlog (8)
- wagyu (12)
- webzine (21)
- wiki (11).