I’m Old, Part LXXII: Scrabble Humiliation

My mom was a wonderful person with an incredible education and an astounding vocabulary. We had a Webster’s unabridged dictionary in the house as well as a copy of Mrs. Byrne’s Dictionary of Unusual, Obscure, and Preposterous Words to supplement it. I remember a time when me and my brother got into a fight (I was 11) and our punishment was to look up the words ‘bellicose’, ‘belligerent’, and ‘pugnacious’.

We played Scrabble and the games turned into competitions of playing powerhouse words. I thought because of my exposure to this that I was good at Scrabble. Turns out, I was very wrong.

One of my co-workers on Acrobat, Gordon Dow, was very much a Scrabble and wordplay enthusiast. He had been working on his own Scrabble application for the Macintosh since the existing ones were not so good. He tracked changes in the OSD and had Very Strong Opinions about them.

He invited me to play.

When we sat down, he gave me a few cheat sheets: useful q words, legal 2 letter words, j words. Then he proceeded to destroy me in the nicest possible way. I thought I knew how to play Scrabble and I was very much mistaken. Gordon lured me into traps, played 3 letter words that scored in the 30’s, blocked me from hitting triples, all the while complimenting me when I managed to throw a boulder at him. I learned more about the strategy of playing the game in that one resounding defeat than I did by scrubbing the dictionaries. I doubt that I could hold my own against Gordon today (certainly better than my initial showing), but I’d certainly be interested in learning more.

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