oh man. i had something cool to write about that had been simmering all day, soaking itself in the back of my mind, ready for a delicious typefest before bed, and now, with hanging out with Jenna and watching ANTM and cutting in new slices for the Design Trip quicktime... i just can't remember what it was. so much for my memory.
but worry not, where one story shall ferment a bit longer, i'll stay in my games kick and reminisce about the summer of '01. yes, before an unsheduled stop at the twin towers penthouse, and even before summer proper, i was hanging out with the gorgeuosly prudish Chithra and the totally egomaniacal greg barlow (in his defense, he has the smarts and talent to back it up, but the attitude puts some people off), when somehow the game of scrabble was brought up. i had never played before, but was confident that my vocabulary and chess strategy would be enough to compete. Chithra started with an okay placing of ham. i connected to the h with some stupid word, and then barlow, (also a linguistic master in his own right, but more importantly, a player of the game since a young child with the rest of his brainy family) built two words, placing axe down from the m to also make ma, hiting the x on a double letter, and doubling chithra's and my score. and just like that it all came together. i recognized that scrabble wasn't about how cool your words were, but how you placed them on the board to maximize points. i started playing better but ultimately lost to barlow, though i thought i won because of an addition mistake for a while. but i had caught the bug.
cut to the summer, after and incredible trip to italy with my family, i chose to comeback to campus a month early to live in a house with some very cool peeps. including joel sanders in the duplex next door. he too was a scrabble aficionado, and we started going at it. then we learned about the cherished scrabble players dictionary, the bible of allowable words, which includes some archaic nonsense that doesn't seem gramatically right but helps you score higher. joel and i, playing at least twice almost everyday made an incredible insightful decision: instead of playing by actual rules of challenging words, we played with the slightly more pussy "open dictionary" policy. this meant we could go in and check if we thought we had a permissible word, and not lose a turn. the magic of this, is that you can confidently play what you think is the better choice, but more importantly, you learn more admissable words. especially those two letter words that allow your to form long chains of connected plays. a necesity in any good scrabble players arsenal.
that glorious summer of porch chillin' and free sandwhiches (half the people in the house worked at the deli up the street) instilled in me the basic strategies of scrabble, and i am happy to share them with you. always look for a way of making more words, and use high pointed letters as the pivots (the ones in both words, down and accross) to really get the max play. guard your esses and only use them for good word doubling, as they are easy to attach at ends of words. if you have an ess and a blank, chances are you can probably get a bingo, a 50 point bonus for using all 7 tiles on your rack, so don't settle for less. watch your placement, don't put down words that open up an avenue to the tripple word score, let your oppenent give that to you. if you are lucky enough to get the high point tiles, j q x z and k, don't just squander that pointpower, use them on premium squares to juice it up, just don't get stuck with them at the end. think about your next move, don't leave yourself a rack that has too many vowels or repeats. and finally, nobody but the obsessives have time to memorize wordlists, but you should know the 23 acceptable two letter words, and the few q without the u words like qat (a shrub) or qaid (don't remember, maybe an arab chieftan?). find them on scrabble.com and just leave them in your scrabble set, it i'll make you a happier player.
so after that summer of games and games with joel, which i one a bit more of, but which i would sometimes, like three or four ocassions, cheat and change my tiles if he left the room (i confessed it later in the school year and have not done it since), i was suddenly a scrabble living room master. i would meet barlow that fall, randomly having my travel set, and i was ready for my revenge... but the tile gods were not with me, giving him all but one ess and both blanks, and me the hawaiian curse of mostly vowels. as he totaled the massive spanking, he casually dropped that he really didn't remember the last time he had ever lost at scrabble. well, i bit my tongue, knowing his hubris would fuel a glorious comeuppence through my newly developed skills
it took a while, we played again that winter, but with a newbie (this crazy nerd christos, who was a chess wiz, but didn't know he was swimming with scrabble sharks) in front of him leaving all the juicy openings, he won again. at the beggining of spring, a four way game had the same result, too many other variables. finally, graduation weekend, at the eclectic reception (my antifrat house which i joined senior year, ill touch on that later) after playing some eclectites that i knew were good, i had barlow all to myself. except i was not armed with a copy of the official dictionary, all we had was an unabridged random house, so i was unsure of some of the better tricks up my sleeve, like ae, a three toed sloth, or aa, a lava flow. but i continued on, playing well and staying within reach, when i got the q a bit late in the game. i played a low score to try and get a better position, and sure enough, i had qua (as in, like sin qua non or something like that) on the triple word. only i didn't know if that huge unabridged would have it, but i had to take a chance. and sure enough, cocky barlow, who had won mostly from his vast intelligence, but not from a real devotion to the nerdier aspect of word list memorization, could not fathom this would be an actual english word, and challenged. bam! i handed him his first loss.
he still brings it up to this day (okay, fine, not as much now, but you'd be surprised how much), my cheapness of knowing and using this basically dead word.
booya mutherfuckers. revenge is a dish better served nerd. i loved that summer. thank you joel sanders.
(i'll end by saying that we stopped playing as much at the end of the month because joel was tired of all the shit he was getting for being too much of a scrabble junkie. oh joel, you silly rabbit, trix are for hookers).