I play Scrabble most Monday afternoons with friends – there are five of us – not your usual Scrabble number, but we enjoy each other’s company – and after all, that’s what’s important.
Most days, we grumble about the ridiculous words in the Scrabble dictionary, particularly because of the rules say that no foreign words are allowed – well, hello? What’s zho? and qi? and zo? – not words that I’ve ever heard in English and the only place they seem to exist is in the aforementioned Scrabble Dictionary. We are not precious about the game, consulting our lists of 2, 3 and 4 letter words, and the Scrabble, Macquarie and Oxford dictionaries or all three, depending on where we are meeting. We have even been known to accept dodgy spellings if someone is a long way behind ….
One day we decided to play without all the meaningless two letter words that are at the heart of high Scrabble scores – what an eye opener that was – it was so HARD! No wonder they use them!
The other thing we find, not being Scrabble highbrows, is that the game works against the use of long words – which seems counter-intuitive in a word game. It is often a better ploy to use small (meaningless) words to get high scores, than clever, longer words which bring only a few points.
So it was with interest that I saw the Wordplay column by by David Astle in the Saturday Morning Herald a couple of weeks ago – October 9-10 edition. I laughed out loud at the attention grabber “On one board I spy SOOGEED and ZOL, DIOTA and YRENT, and wonder if the game is being played in Klingon.” For those of you who are not crossword addicts, David Astle is the “DA” of Friday SMH crossword fame – the joke amongst our friends is that his initials stand for “DO not ATTEMPT” – especially the cryptic crossword – it is HARD.
Yet, despite his obvious superior intellect and facility with words, I read that DA is in fact a fellow traveller – to him Scrabble is ” a social joy – wine essential, score disposable” – he also approves of dictionary use “with authentic words encouraged“.
In our case it is afternoon tea that is essential – now all I have to do is convert my Scrabble friends to wine in the afternoon and my joy will be complete!