Monday, November 21, 2011

12 step scrabble...

I love playing scrabble.

It was one of those games that we used to play at home growing up. Sure we had the games of Mousetrap, Operation and Twister that all kids had, but when it was game time with the parents we either played cards; Hearts in paticular which usually left someone in tears (me) when my dad would get them all and we would all get 36 points; or Scrabble.

I have fond memories of playing it with my mom and dad. We played lots and lots of games. Most were unmemorable, the ending always the same with my dad winning. My mom was a good player, but didn't have the savvy my dad did. He could get 30 points with just playing one letter. As a kid, it was highly annoying. But I continued to play. My mother used to write down the unusually high scores in the lid of the scrabble box with the date and who was playing.

As you might know, my mother passed away a couple of years ago. We had somewhere along the line replaced the older version of our scrabble game with a new one as one of the tiles got lost somewhere in the 25 years that we had that particular game. But I still have the original box and game. It’s old, the cardboard sides are broken, the velvet bag torn…but I keep it. I pull it out from its nesting spot under my bed and look at it from time to time. I read the entries in my mothers’ neat hand and caress the well worn tiles. It holds a lot of nostalgia for me.

One particular memory holds like it was yesterday. I had come home for a visit from college and played a quick game with my dad before going to bed. It was my dad’s birthday and as a joke I had given him a paperweight. I had it engraved with “Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Scrabble Play”. I thought it was funny. It did bring a smile to his face. And it still to this day sits on the bureau in the living room.

Ironically it was that very night we played a quick game. And I beat him.
For the first time in my life.

I had come close several times, but I had never won. His vocabulary was just superior to mine own, his plays more clever, the use of tiles played close to not allow others free play. Triples were guarded and rather than make the big 6 letter word that might open up one for the next player, he’d be content taking a lesser single score and look for that spot the next turn. It was like when we played chess…he was always severals moves ahead.

But this time it was I who won. And he couldn’t believe it.

Oh sure, he gave me the congratulations. When I went up to get ready for bed and then came back down for a glass of water, there he was...sitting on the couch RE adding all the scores just to make sure.

The game HAD been close.
I won by a mere 6 points.
But I won.

It was the first time that I really felt as if I had become a young adult.

Here we are so many years later; Enter Words with Friends.

Help me.
There must be a twelve step program for me somewhere.

I am addicted.

You’ll find me in a basement somewhere, iPhone tucked into my palm nervously glancing at it to see if any one of my 23 opponents has made a arecent play.

“Hi, I’m Nancy. I haven’t played a word in 46 seconds….”
"Hi Nancy..." all the other people with smart phones will answer.

I wake up in the middle of the night and make a play. I’ll take a break from work to see what the score of a particular game is. The other night my daughter had crawled into bed with me. My phone was under my pillow. I heard the familiar ‘ding’ when someone plays. I pulled out my phone to see…”Mom? Are you playing words? What time is it?” came her voice. I had forgotton she was even there. The glow from my phone illuminating the room. “Uhmmm, yeah. I’ll turn it off. Sorry. It’s late.”

And I did turn it off.
For a moment.

I grabbed my phone and snuck into the bathroom for a quick bladder release and a double word score.
I know. It’s sad.

It’s been years since I downloaded the app. At first I was just playing with my then boyfriend. He had a Blackberry so we would just pass my phone back and forth between us to play. We'd be out to dinner and between bites we'd make plays. I should've seen this addiction coming. But I didn't.

At the time I thought it odd to just pick up a random opponent.  But one afternoon I got bored waiting for him to get home from work to play. I wanted to play NOW. So I did. I hit the Random Opponent button. Enter in Justbreysmom. Turns out she lives in Arizona, her name is Melissa and yes, she has a son named Brey. We’ve now been playing for over 3 years. I can’t even fathom how many games we’ve completed. I feel as if I should send her a Christmas card.

I’ve many games going with people that I feel as if I know. But don’t really. There’s Km in Malassia whom I can’t tell if she cheats or not. Her knowledge of the English language is seamingly better than my own. Or sparkles4u, she (I assume she’s a she…but I really don’t know!) she either plays poorly or really really good. I’ve had to look up a few of her words just to know what they are.

The Facebook connection has gotten me playing with a lot of people now that I DO know. But I still like to pick up random games from time to time. You can always tell if they are newbies by the plays they make. Simple two letter words from the get go. One I started yesterday; her first play was “no”. Which I turned into “noirs” making it a double word, she added “head” to the s which opened up the triple.

Silly girl.
Leaving open a triple.

I’m currently beating her by 160 points. We have 48 more letters to play.
Her screen name is aptly named WeepingGirl.

Joe146 couldn’t take the heat and quit the game when he opened up the triple and I added a s to his play of zinc. It was an 86 point play. C’mon dude. Play it out! Bah.

The highest single play that I’ve ever made was 162 points. I played a triple word with the Q and Z with the Z landing on the triple letter. It was beautiful. My opponent, Jennifer, didn’t resign. She just played harder. She’s a tough competitor. Her husband, also my friend and a good scrabble player, I’ve played as well. He is currently on Words Hiatus as it was taking over his life. I'm sure I'll see him in the basement with all of us trying to desparately break free of the Words bug.

Jen and I are pretty evenly matched. She makes some stellar plays that I even scratch my head at. “Wow Jen….that was a doozy! Take it easy on me!” In our games, the median play is between 30 and 40 points. We’ve had some pretty high scoring games.

That’s all a far cry from when I used to play on that old board with my dad.

And although I love my electronic version of scrabble that I play…the memory of my playing with my folks I will always hold dear.

Oh…and the last time we played as a family? daughter joined us.

Guess who won.

She did. With a little help from dear ol’ mom when grandpa was in the bathroom. THAT score I wrote on the box.

My mother would have been so proud.

Happy Thanksgiving!
And if you want to pick up a game, you know what my screen name is: f8hasit. With a little f. Someone out there has taken it with a capital F...but that ain't me. :-)


  1. I always loved Mousetrap. I liked putting it together. However I also love the Scrabble. Fortunately I have yet to Facebook or Do the smartphone thing so I aint addicted yet. Dont even know if I have time as I steal the wifes phone for my Angry Bird addiction.

  2. LOL! There are worse addictions, that's for sure!
    I love that you still have the old box with the high scores written down by your mother. :)

  3. At one point I had 12 games going on WWF at the same time. And the fact that I can play them on my phone, iPad, or via Facebook makes it that much more of a vice.

  4. imagesisee.blogspot.comNovember 21, 2011 at 11:23 AM

    I just started playing with a real-life friend on fb. I'm getting womped. I have a decent vocabulary but just don't get the Scrabble stategy, so I get only mediocre scores.

    I'll hang in there, though.

    My game of choice is Big Boggle. For some reason, I do better with that game. Can barely get anyone to play with me...

    I LOVE words.

  5. I avoid all FB games, they are so addictive. I have a problem, I go to my Gaming Anon meetings all the time, though my procrastinators anon interferes quite a bit ;D

    No I am with you, you get addicted and want to use it all of the time! Have fun and kudos to Boo :D

  6. I'd rather play ya Twister.... and without an App.


  7. There is nothing wrong with that...just saying!

  8. I sympathize. I'm addicted to game-playing, but just me against the computer. I decided it wasn't hurting me. But if it ever morphs into playing the slots at the casinos, I could be in big trouble!

  9. Are you one of those annoying people who uses words like Qi and Wu and all these nonsensical things -- I hate when people do that, I like real words!

  10. I have found that I dumb down my plays just so people will continue to play with me--they always resign after a couple of plays. It would be nice to play with a worthy opponent--a 162 point word--amazing!!! I think my highest is in the 120's. I'll be looking for you with your small 'f' :-)

    I always played with my parents as well. And oddly enough, it was my father too, who was always the more savvy player making crazy scores with one letter or using words that we would challenge and they were always there in the dictionary! Sometimes he'd cheat though, and I'd only realize it after he put down the 4th or 5th blank tile :-) I was a gullible kid...

  11. i think i might have to find that 12 step program too - on fb it is their scrabble ap and on my phone it was first word feud, but then i switched to words with friends.

    but as with reading a book book, i still love the playing scrabble as a board game where i have the pleasure of sitting across the table from my gameplaying friends....

  12. I know many people who are addicted to WWF. I'm immune, since it doesn't involve shooting something. ;-)

  13. I may have to try this. I love word games. And yeah... it sounds addicting.

  14. Hi Nancy! This is a heartwarming and totally charming entry. And it rang bells with me, as I learned to play with my folks as a kid! So, thank you! But remember - it's not addiction if it's still making you happy ;> I've not played WordsWithFriends, but I'm a mean sonofabitch with a Scrabble board in front of me, and nodded at all of your dad's tactics. If I ever get over to your neck of the woods, I'll look forward to a head-to-head game in which Boo kicks our asses. Indigo

  15. I hope your memories of laughter and scores written on boxes warm your heart always. It's been a long time. Just swung by to say hello.

  16. OK, Now you've done it... Now you've got me hooked on another game... Sigh... Well at least I can see if my vocab matches up to a real American...

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