The perils of Scrabulous on Facebook were highlighted to me recently by a former work colleague.
“I’m taking a break,” he said when I challenged him to a game, “since someone pointed out how a lot of people are cheating.”
Chastened, even though we’d never played and he wasn’t accusing me, I replied, “Well we’ve all tried out combinations we weren’t sure about and pressed ‘Submit’, only to be told it’s an invalid word.”
My challengee kindly pointed out that this wasn’t what he meant and indicated that people have been using certain anagram-style sites to find good words from the combination of letters on the rack.
My best mate and I talked about this recently on a night out in the pub. He brought up a great Woody Allen piece of writing called The Gossage-Vardebedian Papers where two people spar during a game of postal chess.
Their game ends when one suggests playing ‘postal Scrabble’ instead. The exchange ends brilliantly with this:
I shall make the first play. The seven letters I have just turned up are O, A, E, J, N, R, and Zâ€”an unpromising jumble that should guarantee, even to the most suspicious, the integrity of my draw.
Fortunately, however, an extensive vocabulary coupled with a penchant for esoterica, has enabled me to bring etymological order out of what, to one less literate, might seem a mishmash.
My first word is “ZANJERO.” Look it up. Now lay it out, horizontally, the E resting on the center square. Count carefully, not overlooking the double word score for an opening move and the fifty-point bonus for my use of all seven letters.
The score is now 116â€”0.