Posts Tagged scrabble

One kind of fun

I used to work with a guy who thought I was the squarest of the square people in the world.  One of his key examples of this was that I enjoy playing board games with my friends at gatherings.  (He, conversely, had midgets in dunk tanks and inside of large bowling ball thingees at his shindigs – seriously.)  Now I may not always be the hippest cat in the pet store, but I think he exaggerated my lack of coolness a bit.  That said, I can only imagine the faces and comments he’d make if I told him about how much fun I had last weekend with some friends.

There were a few couples of longtime friends and a total of six kids between us, so there wasn’t that much in the way of grown-up entertainment going on during the day.  (I almost wrote “adult entertainment,” but that has a different connotation, no?)  Once the kids were asleep though, we busted out the wacky fun super happy time…and the alcohol.  What followed was a rousing series of Scrabble games – but not your typical Scrabble, mind you.  Instead, this was Dirty Scrabble (played on a normal Scrabble board with the regular tiles).  The rules were simple: your words didn’t have to be real words, but they had to be dirty in one way or another.  I know it sounds simple and juvenile – and you’re 100% right – but it was also hilarious…for us at least.

The first game started off simply enough; the team didn’t have anything good, so they went with just the letter F by itself.  Things got a little stranger and funnier from there.  Some words you might expect, like “hole,” tata,” and “bj.”  But when someone plays “nard,” another team adds “crab” to the beginning of it, and then someone later makes it “evilcrabnard,” well that’s just pure magic.  I was personally proud of my use of “regonad,” a verb many eunuchs and neutered dogs would love to employ.  “Slutzoo” was particularly inspired, as was the equal-opportunity “sexinoun.”  All of those pale in comparison though to my two favorites on the board.  First, my team played “fistee,” as in “one who gets fisted.”  Not content to leave that alone, another team added to the end of it to make “fisteedent.”  Yes, the physical evidence that remains after said fisting.  Lovely, I know.  Second, the game ended with the board asking the incredibly polite query, “mayivagu.”  That’s just some glorious game-playing there, my friends.

We played the game again that night and twice more the next night, but none were as fun as the first one.  (Some of the words in the second game are far too dirty for me to write here, believe it or not, and yet they weren’t as funny as our Game 1 creations.  I guess novelties can wear off.  Go figure.)  So there you go: call it square, call it boring, or call it the opposite of midgets in big bowling balls, but when a few couples in their 30s got together and played an alcohol-aided game of Dirty Scrabble, it was a hell of a good time.  I’m left with just one question: Do you think there are fisteedent wizards who repair that kind of damage?

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Use your words

Despite being a person who loves words and word games, I was never a big fan of Scrabble. The problem was that I cared much more about putting “good” words out there (or ones I just liked for some reason) instead of focusing on getting the most points (which is, ya know, the goal of the game). I’ve always loved word jumbles, crossword puzzles, and more than half of the things found in the word puzzle magazines I get at the airport. But when it came to Scrabble, I preferred not to play because of the combination of my deficiencies and my desire to win at every game I play.

With all of that in mind, it was a bit of a leap for me to download a Scrabble-esque game on my iPod touch. I’d heard two good friends of mine talking about playing against each other and how much fun it was, so I wanted in. I especially liked that it might be hours or even days between moves so that I wouldn’t have to devote a certain amount of time to sit and focus on an entire game. So I took the plunge and started games with each of them.
Sure enough, I lost each of the first several games I played. I had fallen into my old traps, choosing to play a word like “debut” for 10 points over “box” for 13. Much more importantly, I didn’t pay attention to how my words were opening up the coveted Double/Triple Letter or Double/Triple Word spots, which ended many of my games before they ever really got started.

After a little while though, I became hip to all of that and slowly let my preference for “good” words fade into the background. I started playing for points and adopting a keep-away strategy when it came to the multiplier spots. I learned to use established tricky words (qat, adz, xi, etc.) to my advantage, and I started winning some games and making my losses more respectable. I also learned that two people can play against each other on the same device, so my lovely wife and I have taken to passing the iPod back and forth throughout our evenings and occasionally talking a little trash. I feel like I’m reformed and even will to play the real board game again sometime (even though I love the fact that the scores are automatically tallied in this version). Two things I’d like to point out though:

1. I’m not completely “fixed” with my word issues. Earlier this week, I played a word against my friend Lisa that we both agreed should’ve netted me more points. She had “ado” already on the board, and I masterfully (if I say so myself) added letters before and after it to turn it into the far more exciting “matador.” I knew I wasn’t maximizing the Doubles or Triples, and only the M was worth more than 1 or 2 points, but I couldn’t help myself.

2. Playing this game is causing me to overthink even more about words and their composition than I already do. While we were making dinner, I said to my lovely wife, “‘Shrub’ is a good word, especially if you’re stuck with only one vowel.” Later that night, she called our son a “champ” for some reason. “‘Champ’ is a good word too,” I said. “Even better actually.” I paused while my wheels turned. “Hey, you can put four different vowels where that A is in ‘champ’ and they all have very different meanings.” Being a wonderful partner who listens to me and humors me from time to time, she agreed. We spent the next minute or two talking about how different it is to be a champ, a chump, a chimp, or to chomp on something. “Three are nouns,” she said. I nodded, noting her accuracy.  “‘Chump’ would give the most points since the U is worth 2,” I added.   She nodded back.

So there you have it, friends.  I/we have a new little obsession that I never would’ve expected based on past failures.  It’s not as drastic as me taking up ice skating, but a fun and bold move nonetheless.  Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s my turn in three different games to assert my wordnerdiness.

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