We were looking to quickly select the gift for a birthday party and I suggested a Scrabble set. The suggestion was not met with much enthusiasm. Apparently in today’s digital world there are better ways to improve one’s vocabulary.
Besides few people have the patience and inclination to spend hours sitting across a Scrabble board with a child who is bound to be distracted till he discovers the game.
The incident brought back happy memories of the game from my teenage days. It was not a fancy set that I had – a basic colour cardboard with plastic alphabet tiles in the traditional yellow colour. But that set lasted for years for me. And I often played the game with any visitor who was interested and could spare a while.
Our home was of course a den of recreational activities in those days. My elder brother and his friends used to spend a lot of time at home particularly on Sundays. My brother was already working as Sales Medical Representative with an MNC pharma company while I was still studying 8th Grade. Obviously there was a strong age difference amongst us but it didn’t matter. The most popular game was Carrom but it was followed by Cards and Scrabble.
Scrabble is often not a game that catches a kid’s fancy as soon as he starts to play, but if he were to continue to explore the game for a while he is quite likely to enjoy it. Your partner can make all the difference to your engagement. I was given special benefits to encourage me to play the game – I could refer the medium-sized Oxford dictionary that I used for school, quite often people helped me with their own suggestions as well while my opponent watched on with an indolent smile.
If I make it sound as if it was all casual play then that’s the wrong sentiment towards it – it was highly competitive and I would find it very difficult to bear a loss. But we only played around the love for words and did not quite have strategies for the game.
Scrabble at a professional tournament level is quite a different league – strength of vocabulary and word patterns don’t matter much. Nor do you have to rely on good luck to pick a good set of tiles. Instead its a bit like Bridge wherein placement and strategy help you score the points. You deliberately create a small word and then build it along further.
The ‘score’ multipliers are targeted with precision using letters having ‘High Value’ to ensure you build the score. And finally you keep an eye on the board to learn the tiles that are out of game – this becomes increasingly important as you come towards the closing part of the game. And you do all this while playing at rapid speed. A game should not last more than an hour at the most. Still all this adds to the interest of making it more competitive and attracting patrons to support it.
Quite a change, when I try to remember those lazy Sunday afternoons when I would play a game or two with anyone interested accompanied with refreshing Tea and snacks.