Epic Scrabble, Explained
August 11, 2023 6:38 PM   Subscribe

Not only knowing obscure words, but memorizing tiles and strategizing: why the simple looking 'tan' was a stunningly resourceful play. [YouTube]
posted by blue shadows (19 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
I'm such a freaking Scrabble piker.
posted by mollweide at 8:40 PM on August 11, 2023

I am generally considered to be a pretty decent scrabble player by my family and friends and I didn't even know most of those words existed.
posted by jacquilynne at 4:25 AM on August 12, 2023 [3 favorites]

I really enjoyed Will's video on Nigel Richard's incredible challenges, and super-duper enjoyed the game with no words.
posted by betaray at 6:08 AM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

and I didn't even know most of those words existed.

Probably because they don't appear in any "Scrabble Dictionary", and in some cases in any English dictionary: "Although OSPD bears the name Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, no country’s competitive organization lists the OSPD as its official dictionary; the NASPA Word List is the official word list for tournament Scrabble in the United States, Canada, Thailand and Israel."
posted by mhoye at 6:33 AM on August 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

Oh lovely, I'm looking forward to watching this later! Not a Scrabble player myself, I just like the clickyclacky tiles. My grandma, who was A Scrabble Player, had the 1989 deluxe edition board. That particular set has been part of my entire life, there to be (GENTLY) played with every time I saw grandma (NOW DON'T LOSE ANY PIECES). She died many years ago, but I'm super lucky that her house remains in the family and we can visit a few times a year. I always check on that board. My own children are now able to (gently!) play around with making words (don't lose the tiles! they're as old as me!) and while they won't have the same attachment to this particular Scrabble board, I love that we can play with it together.

We do have an ongoing (endless) Quiddler tournament with my parents, sibs, and whichever long-suffering partners can be lured into playing. Quiddler is a scrabble-like card game. Practicing on your own time is seen as a bit unsporting because it's more fun to watch people grabbing for the dictionary and doing the frantic flip through. Perhaps balanced out by all the agonized staring at one's own hand though.

QUE is not a valid English word, but sometimes you can get away with it because people conflate "cue" and "queue". Surprisingly, AI is not just an abbreviation.
Last game, my little bro, who mainly just reads code, got fed up with all the "archaic" but valid words we were playing. I put down AIL and he started ranting, "Ail?? AIL?! What is THAT?? Like you're gonna 'ail a taxi???"
posted by Baethan at 6:37 AM on August 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

I'm going to be a curmudgeon here! I think the internet and the various Scrabble documentaries (no matter how artful, informative, etc) have taken a lot of the fun out of the game Scrabble for me.

Just knowing words and maybe looking up a few in an old paper dictionary was much more fun than playing with people who have memorized a list of 2 and 3 letter words that they would never use in conversation or even personal writing. Even if it's not playing with "pros" or hyper competitive people. It's just dull to me that way. I know it's fair play, but it used to be that Scrabble was a laid back, fun game that people played using their own knowledge and skill. Now it's become so commodified. Not sure if that's the right word, but I just don't enjoy it as much anymore.
posted by SoberHighland at 9:26 AM on August 12, 2023 [8 favorites]

From where I'm looking at it it's just one of many things that have been competitively optimized into the ground.
posted by tigrrrlily at 11:20 AM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

I wonder whether a bilingual version where the across words have to be English and the up and down words have to be French or Spanish or something could refresh the game.
posted by jamjam at 11:37 AM on August 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

I'm not a super serious player, but I appreciate the two letter words and use them when I'm playing with someone else who knows them. To me, they make the play more interesting and flexible. I don't use the weird ones with someone who doesn't know them, though.

It's obviously so much easier to find video of competitive matches now and information about two and three letter words. Has that changed the way most people play? Clearly there's always been a cadre of super competitive players. Has that the size of that group increased as knowledge of and resources for competitive Scrabble have become more accessible? I only play a few people whom I know in real life, so I don't have the personal experience to know.
posted by mollweide at 11:48 AM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

This isn't the way I'd enjoy playing Scrabble, but the video itself is some very-entertaining sports recap. A fun watch, blue shadows. Thanks!
posted by straight at 12:08 PM on August 12, 2023

We have managed to enjoy Scrabble and play at least one time a week by playing with our house rules: extra point spaces count each time a word is made using them; we help each other by showing each other our tiles; we don't actively block other players as a competitive advantage; we focus on cool words and the aesthetic of the board; no competition; we have a Scrabble playlist of bad pop songs that we listen to; and we always cheer the winner. So basically the direct opposite of competitive Scrabble. That video was fun though, loved seeing the various options that weren't taken
posted by ajayb at 12:15 PM on August 12, 2023 [6 favorites]

We have a list of two-letter words (from the North American word list - there are too many non-words in the international scrabble dictionary) that we always hand out to any player who isn't already aware of them, at the start of the game. It makes the game more fair when everyone knows them, and there are far more possible places on the board to play when you do know them.
posted by metonym at 12:45 PM on August 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

I have an acquaintance, who I used to boardgame with, who got his (on the spectrum) son involved with scrabble. They are both pretty hardcore, having just been at some big championship last week. And that is not the scrabble anyone else plays. All the weird little words, and being able to bingo all your tiles on eight letter words are where it is at. Not for me.

But I think that this can be said about most high-level games competitions. They are playing a different game from the rest of us...
posted by Windopaene at 12:53 PM on August 12, 2023 [2 favorites]

I keep the two letter word list in my scrabble box, as well, and players can consult it while they strategize.
posted by jacquilynne at 2:22 PM on August 12, 2023

Oh no, I was rooting for Narsan at the end. The way he complimented his opponent for his great play at the end of that one game won my sympathy. They both seem like fine people though!
posted by JHarris at 5:23 PM on August 12, 2023

I won the U of M's inaugural scrabble tournament with 'expat' on the triple word score, but only because the other player challenged it and I won the challenge... and it was the first year of the scrabble club and not that competitive yet. Probably if I tried to play now I'd be clobbered. Haha.

That was really interesting, thanks for the link!
posted by subdee at 8:51 PM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Growing up, being the older by several years and more into reading than him, it's fair to say I had a decidedly larger vocabulary than my brother. When we'd play Scrabble, while I was looking for longer or more obscure words to play that might get me a bingo or at least combine high scoring tiles, he was seeing where he could play overlaps and what they call in the video here "hooking" plays. I'm glad he never memorized word lists or counted tiles, because yeah, that level of intensity wouldn't have been as much fun to play against, but as it was I always enjoyed seeing our different styles play out on the board. (He usually beat me pretty handily.)
posted by solotoro at 8:54 PM on August 12, 2023 [1 favorite]

Someone once said that their favorite board game was Chess played with someone who didn't study the game. It's not that they wanted to wallop lesser players, they just didn't enjoy the memorization or situational responses and rote openings.

There are few games that don't fall prey to this kind of hyper-optimization. C'est la jeu, I guess.
posted by midmarch snowman at 7:53 AM on August 13, 2023 [3 favorites]

Yeah, this is a different sort of game, but it's kind of fascinating the way the announcer can just say, "He was, of course, going for THISLONGWORD and here he could have played OTHERLONGWORD but he was thinking about the letters left in the deck and was hoping to get this and this so he could do CRAZYLONGWORD but he also had to think about blocking SHORTDEVISTATINGWORD in this position and his opponent could TINYOBSCUREWORD and TWOLETTER and OTHERTWOLETTER but if then he played TAN..."

All said like every one of these examples is as obvious to both players and anybody watching as the possible moves on a Tic Tac Toe board.
posted by straight at 9:08 PM on August 13, 2023 [2 favorites]

« Older Eric Adams's Administration of Bluster   |   Car Rental problems Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments