Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The family that plays together...

Family scrabble: a way to stay sane while staying with the parents in the Land of No Internet, or (more likely, this) a way to stay insane?

While I was in Raymond Terrace, I played several games of scrabble, mostly with Mum, but at various intervals, joined by my brother and my father. My high point was playing all my seven letters to get the word NERDIER, achieving the bonus 50 points. That was in the first game - my low points all came after.

After a detailed scrutiny of the styles and temperaments of my opponents, I have a few observations to make regarding their likelihood as Scrabble players:

MOTHER: Clever with words (makes puns like calling magazine 'The Spectator' the 'Speckled Potato'), but surprisingly, this wit doesn't always make it onto the board. Has a shocking ability to make you feel guilty when you play three seven-letter bingoes on the board in quick succession in one game, and not even complaining about it.

LITTLE BROTHER: Cunning. Only plays one game, but quickly reveals a propensity to store up all his high-scoring letters for the high-scoring squares, and reading the dictionary when it comes turn for his move. It begins when he asks if there is such a word as BANDO. When told that the word BANDO does not exist, that the world BANDO has never existed, and that if he was thinking of playing the word BANDO, then he'd probably better think about playing a different word to BANDO, because BANDO, being a non-existent word, cannot be played. It is at this point that he asks us (again) if the word BANDO exists, causing us to turn in frustration to the dictionary - which, as it turns out, is the only such publication that definitively lists this as a word.

FATHER: Has a shockingly extensive and accurate (to the point of being pedantic) knowledge of the English language combined with an extremely whimsical approach to their use in word games. For instance, once, when playing a variant of scrabble, he used the word GUNARM. When challenged on the existence of this word, he replied,

'Gunarm. If I were a shooter, this'- (waving his arm around in the air with a look of self-satisfied innocence on his face) - 'this would be my Gunarm!'

The first word he deploys in this game - for a horribly low score of seven points - is LEAT.
He explains (rightly) that it is a measurement relating to water, and that it might be 'archaic, and not used anymore.' He gets a similarly low score with his next move, TINEA, and assuming that we will continue to doubt his verbigerating abilities, begins to lecture us on that, too, before we cut him off pre-emptively. (Despite his undoubted verbal prowess, he gets the lowest score on the board.)

MYSELF: Shocking personality. Takes note of all the eccentricities of other family members so as to use them in evidence later.

I'm not sure if I could recommend family scrabble, if not for the fact that 'the family that plays together stays together.' However, playing scrabble with family members is probably better than playing scrabble with members of The Family. In that version of the game, your brother keeps aiming a gun at your head, and you really don't want to beat the Godfather, even if you have all the best letters. Trust me on this.

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