Sunday, July 26, 2009

Why I suck at Scrabble

I am terrible at Scrabble. I've never won a game against my well-practised sisters (one of whom can beat native-speakers in both English and French versions), and my Scrabulous record shows 2 wins to 9 losses. Things are so dire that my friend Sandlot has withdrawn my licence to play with her, noting that "If I beat you anymore, I feel that you may begin to second-guess your literacy skills." (Although maybe she's just protecting that 17-0 record)

The fact of the matter, however, is that Scrabble has nothing to do with literacy. If this blog is any indication, I have no difficulties with verbosity. My vocabulary is adequate - I can spin synonyms with ease (though, when in a pinch, one always has a friend in the thesaurus). My syntax is immaculate.

The conundrum is that Scrabble taps into an entirely different set of brain functions. Synthesizing words at will is one thing. Assembling them from a fixed and limited set of letters is entirely different. The key problem lies in the fact that my brain works aurally, whereas Scrabble is more visual. Even as I am writing, I am dictating the words in my mind. I think in phonemes; Scrabble demands I think in syllables.

Take for example, my desire to use the letters O, X, and E. I read this fragment aloud in an attempt to complete a bona fide word and wound up with "occipital." Of course, this word is not spelled "oxepital," but my brain is fixated on the sound. Stuck.

Another challenge associated with Scrabble is that size matters not. It's not the complexity or length of the word that matters, but how you align your word with those that are already in play - particularly how you use the bonus tiles. Land a triple word score? Intersect two words at once? You too can score 34 points for FIG.

So while I may not be illiterate, I'm surely no Scrabble champ... yet. But with some practise I could be, and don't call me Shirley. I said: phonemes.


sandlot rules at scrabble unlike andy said...

Someone's getting a little defensive b/c of losing twice in a row huh? hahahaha jks jks.

Also was the misplacement of the letters on the board in the picture deliberate? I surely hope so.

... did someone also recently watch airplane?

a_ndy said...

It was, and don't call me Shirley.

shirls said...


Jerry said...

You know andygen...all I read in this post were a bunch of excuses. Yo, you gotta MAN UP and think about how you can improve your game.

If you need tips on being a man, just PM me lol

a_ndy said...

What excuses? I was merely describing the challenges associated with the game as well as asserting confidence in my own literacy in the hopes of being stricken from the no-fly list. I'll take you on any day, bub.

Jerry said...

Big words haha which is all you bring to the table...the scrabble table that is. You are going to get pwned by my superior placement of words and usage of expensive letters. You watch :D

Maybe we should make a video of our game, so that your avid fans can be the judge of your scrabble game!

a_ndy said...

Dude, even our Rock Band songs (which were like 2 minutes each) took 2 gigs. Can you imagine how much memory it'll take to record a whole Scrabble game?