Monday, January 3, 2011

Cut-throat Scrabble– You Really Don’t Win Anything

13 points x 2 for the first word on the board and plus 50 points for emptying your deck = 76 points
Yippee! or Yuck!

When my son was about 8 years old I bought a Scrabble board.  He and I would play Scrabble in the evenings.  We never kept score and I was always complimenting him on the words that he used and the hooks he built.  We laughed and we had fun.  We quit playing after my husband decided he wanted to be part of the “fun” and came to the board with the sole intention of “scoring” and with the intention of using two letters words worth the most points that (in my words) constipate the board.

When I play Scrabble I love to see a bingo (when someone uses all 7 of their tiles to make a word); I look for unique hooks (building words off of other words) and I will sometimes use parallel words, but not very often as they “constipate the board”.

When I play Scrabble I do it for fun and I like to see the entire board filled with letters at the end of the game.  Yes, playing Scrabble is about strategy and scoring points – BUT to me it’s also about making sure that everyone gets a chance to play their letters and that everyone sitting at the board is having fun.  I’m not a cut-throat Scrabble player, to me it’s supposed to be “just a game” and fun for all the players.

On to the Story
To me cut-throat Scrabble is when the person you are playing with is only concerned with finding bonus squares and hot spots and they don’t care at all about the playability of the board.

I vacation with the same people almost every year over the holidays.    In the past we have spent hours having fun playing Scrabble and drinking wine, talking and laughing while we played Scrabble.  Not this year.   Last year I couldn’t go on vacation because of work commitments.  In the past two years, my Scrabble partners have learned how to play cut-throat Scrabble and when I left my vacation this year – I could care less if I ever played Scrabble again while I am vacation.  There was no fun, no talking and no laughing – only staring at the Board, looking for hot-spots and high scores using one letter.

The first two days of vacation, I pretty much sat back and tried to figure out what the hell had changed and then I got bored.  I would spend my time trying to “open up the board” so it was easier to play and they would block the word with a one letter high scoring hook and the board would get constipated.  Day three and four – I was really bored.  Days one through four I lost every game by at least 100 points - I absolutely did not care.  It didn’t matter – my worth is not based on my Scrabble score.  Day five, I put on my game face (even though I didn’t want to) and gave them a run for their money at cut-throat Scrabble – winning two games just before I came home.  None of it was fun.

On the plane trip back home and for the past two days I have thought about this experience and how I was going to write it up.  What did I learn from this experience?
  • Was I traumatized playing cut-throat Scrabble when I was a kid – hell no – that’s not it.
  • Is it about people knowing more two letter words than me – hell no.
  • Is it about people being savvier about tile placement – hell no.
  • Was I a sore loser – NOT!  (I consciously chose to not play their type of game.)
It all came down to my expectation (based on previous years) that Scrabble was about having fun.  Playing Scrabble was about spending time with other people - talking and laughing.  Playing Scrabble was about enjoying a glass of wine and the company of good friends.  Playing Scrabble was about connecting with people.

Cut-throat Scrabble is about connecting with the tiles in your deck and the hot spots on the board.  Cut-throat Scrabble has nothing to do with interaction with the people you are playing Scrabble with.  Cut-throat Scrabble is only about you and your score.

The moral of the story –
        Please play cut-throat Scrabble only with other blood lust people.
        Please play cut-throat Scrabble on line.
        Don’t expect others to be amazed with your hot spot prowess and your ability to “constipate the board” if the other people at the board are looking for a friendly game of Scrabble.
        If it’s all about “you and your score”, please play by yourself.
If you are into cut-throat Scrabble and the other people at the board are not – you really don’t win anything, even if your score is huge.

Life is about change – and sometimes your expectations have to change.  Sometimes it’s a good thing.  Sometimes is a sad thing.  Next year I’ll bring my Domino tiles and maybe we can forget about hardcore competition while on vacation and get back to wine, whining, talking and laughing.

Tags:  cut-throat Scrabble, cutthroat Scrabble

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