Sunday, December 07, 2008


Hands down, the game my family is most obsessed with plays most often is Scrabble. I'm not even sure when this habit got started, but anytime my brother, sister, and I are together it is ALL ABOUT the Scrab. Being the Word Girl in the family, I assumed I would have a natural advantage, but that is not the case. My brother, the visual artist (and in recent years, his wife--another artist) is the undisputed champ. I talked him up so much that two years ago, one of our neighbors came over on Christmas Eve for a game just to see Steve in action (and got his butt kicked for his trouble).

Steve and his wife:
  • have memorized all the 2-letter words legal in Scrabble
  • brought a travel Scrabble set on their month-long camping honeymoon and played nightly
  • keep track of all the games they play on a spreadsheet. Data gathered includes total points scored, who played the Q and Z, any bingos, and probably more obscure information too.
I still play against them. But I go into it knowing that if I come within 50 points of their scores, I've done really well.

We also do have an alternate game in case we are all tired of getting clobbered. Syzygy is a fast-paced, board-free version of Scrabble. Each player creates her own grid of interlocking words using letter tiles. You start with 9 tiles, and when you've used them all you call "Draw!" and all players must grab another. You then continue to incorporate these new letters into your crossword; you are free to change anything you've already put down. The game is over when all the tiles are gone and one player has a complete crossword with no leftover tiles. (And then, half the fun is checking everyone's work and arguing about the liberties they've taken with the English language.)

(Gift tip: If you're shopping for someone Scrabble-obsessed, they must read Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. Both a fascinating character study and a how-to manual for Scrabble nerds.)

If you smelled blog blast on this one, bingo! (50 points to you.) Post yours by midnight tonight and you could win a fat pile of fun video games from EA.


Lady M said...

Wow, that is one competitive family game!

I mostly remember family time playing Battleship - nothing all that complicated. SwingDaddy and I like Trivial Pursuit though!

Magpie said...

Love Scrabble. Hate that Scrabulous done be got bashed over the head, because the replacement on Facebook is lousy.

And yes, the Fatsis book is awesome.

A game you might like to get your brother for Christmas is Royalty.

Heather said...

I do enjoy a game of Scrabble now and then but I have to admit I'm lousy at it. You'd think I'd be better, but alas, no.

ewe are here said...

We were big on scrabble in my house, too... This Syzygy game sounds right up our street. ;-)

Kate said...

I really love scrabble, too but haven't played for years. I'm hoping once CJ gets older we can start to play together.

Patois said...

Try Quiddler. You. Must. I'm from a Scrabble-playing, highly competitive family, too, and Quiddler almost levels the playing field for the less adept of my siblings.

Mandy said...

Love it! I used to play online and on Facebook until the app was taken off.

My problem? No friends or family will play with me anymore. I have to spot David 100 points before he'll even consider it.