Friday, May 11, 2007

Scrabbling for Words

Okay--I confess.

Although I am both an English professor and a self-proclaimed verbivore, have been nickname "Verbinator" and "Walking Dictionary," and am a reigning Boggle champ among friends and family, I have discovered that what I once thought of as my "fairly extensive" vocabulary is truly substandard. I am now in my fifth round of e-mail Scrabble (3rd round with two aunts and a cousin, soon to begin a 3rd round with a friend and colleague) courtesy of, and I have been soundly defeated each time--and in some cases, embarrassingly so!

Granted, strategy has something to do with it, and trying to make words with only 7 letters fit into little pink, red, light blue, and dark blue squares, making sure that the highest-point letters (q and z, each worth 10 points, I think) hit the best colors while at the same time working around the words that are already on the board is more than I can handle at times. Strategy games (for example, chess) have never been good for me, because I am not a visual person. But working with words, well, I thought that would be a breeze!

And, granted, the other players always seem to get the high-point letters while I get stuck with all vowels. Or all consonants.

But what really gets me are the little two- and three-letter words that are being used against me, like QI (31 points), ZA (26 points), PI (18 points), OX (27 points), GAE (8 points), and KOR (14 points--okay, that one was mine). I mean, what the heck is ZA, for heaven's sake? Who knew that a Q word existed without the ubiquitous tag-along u? Two-letter words are outlawed in Boggle, but apparently they are perfectly acceptable in Scrabble. I just can't get my mind around it.

So, enough whining you say. Get over it. Okay, I'm working on that, and I figure if I play 100 more games or so, I might actually be able to whip out a ubiquitous on somebody given the right cadre of tiles. I thought I'd spend a few moments providing you with definitions for some of the more annoying two- and three-letter words I've been up against, thanks to

Apparently za (a noun) has a couple of meanings: slang for pizza, and either the 11th or 17th letter of the Arabic alphabet. I'm not sure how it can be both the 11th and/or the 17th letter; it seems to me it has to be one or the other. I think may be flawed, or the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 2006, that claims to have pulled the definition from.

A variation of chi, qi is the inherent energy or life force of all things.

A variation of gay, meaning "blithe" or "cheerful."

A kor is equal to a homer, which is an ancient unit of measurement equal to about 10 bushels.

Whew. That exercise has drained the qi right out of me. I think I'll order a kor of za to restore my gae nature.


jkz1017 said...

Kris, I feel your pain. But, just wait, the luck of the tiles is in your near future and soon you will open the game to find the high-point tiles neatly stacked in your tray and those pretty little colored boxes in just the right spot to plunk them in. Trust me, I know, it happened to me!!:-) Scrabble on, dude!

Love, Aunt Judy

Michelle said...

Ah, you know, it might be time for you to invest in a scrabble dictionary and keep it by the keyboard!

EnglishProf said...

As a follow-up to this thread, I am happy to announce that after many, many games, I FINALLY won my first e-mail Scrabble game! My cousin and aunts have been absolutely thrashing me! But I can't rest on my laurels yet. I suspect this win was simply a FLUKE.