September 6, 2011

Scrabble Art

By now, most of you may have heard that Rob and I are fans of word games. We're crossword buffs and scrabble nuts and frequently pass our time together either collaborating on a NY Times puzzle or butting heads in a vicious scrabble match. Last night we were in the mood for the latter and after dinner sat down on the bed with the colorful grid set up between us to duke it out.

We're pretty equally matched as opponents--I don't think either one of us has ever been more than 2 games ahead of the other and we've each had our fair share of "bingos" (when one is able to play all 7 letters in a single turn and is given a cleverness bonus of 50 points) and fairly regularly score above 300 (the number of points one must achieve to edge onto the respectable side of Scrabble play).

Our last couple of games had been somewhat slow--very low scoring for both of us with frequent annoying "hands" of letters (for instance: ending up drawing 4 Us--when all you really need is an E--and then being unable to get rid of them all for 5 turns)--and I was eager for some excitement. So, when I played a bingo on my second turn I knew it was going to be a great game...

Then, during the next few turns something spectacular and beautiful began to occur. First I need to make sure you understand the following scrabble strategy--which I'm sure you do--but I'm just covering my bases because it was actually a long time until I finally figured out you could play words this way. I know, I know...yes, I'm blushing.

So, one great way to rack up scrabble points is to play words immediately parallel to one another by creating strings of two letter words. For instance, if I were REALLY lucky, and had the proper letters, on my next turn I could play "OFFERED" right off the "DOOR" section of "TRAPDOOR" by making the words "DO," "OF," "OF," and "RE." Not only would I get 50 additional points for another bingo, I'd also get the regular points from all 5 of the words I'd just created. Here is the official list of 2-letter words accepted by the National Scrabble Association as legal plays in the game. If you can memorize these (along with a comparable list of "Q" words that don't require a "U") you're set for rackin' up some serious points.

Anyway, check out this beautiful string of parallel plays...

I finally decided to take a photo of the board when Rob nailed that corner triple-word.

I've personally never seen a series of plays quite like this. I almost wonder if the two of us just got so carried away by the constructive novelty of it all that we kept trying to build the words in a continually ascending diagonal just to see how long we could keep it up. Still, with each consecutive play we both continued to insist that these little word bundles were our highest scoring options. It's true...having every word land on a double or triple-word-score square is pretty awesome in and of itself.

But the best part is...the pattern kept going in the opposite direction!

And finally, after a momentary (and pointilliscious) diversion of "LEGS," we reached the spectacular end of the line...

Ok...I know...I'm a TOTAL nerd (perhaps more so because I seem to think that you will find this as beautiful as I did), but I couldn't get over how cool this series of plays had been. I've never seen a scrabble board like this. It is almost sculptural...the way the two "pinwheel blades" almost seem to rotate about the "X" on the center line...and how they are almost mirrored by the smaller pinwheel of "ZING" and "LEGS" on the left...simply gorgeous!

The game ended fairly well for both of us.

I achieved a personal-all-time-high score of 355 and though Rob didn't quite make 300 he did get pretty darn close with a more than respectable 294. And besides, as Rob reminded me after we finished, if I hadn't lucked out with that first bingo I would have only won by 11 points.


  1. There is beauty everywhere! Awesome game! Great board!