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So many words with friends

When I was a kid, I used to play Scrabble all the time. I was a “word geek” who loved to read, so Scrabble was right up my alley. I loved the game and all the many possibilities for making words. Playing Scrabble was fun, but winning the game was my goal.

I was never good at sports, or playground games like dodge ball. I shied away from all things competitive in my childhood, preferring the company of books. But, when facing an opponent for Scrabble, the gloves were off. I was the fiercest of competitors when it came to laying down those little wooden tiles.

Of course, as all bygone childhood games must do, my Scrabble days faded into the past. Or so I thought. Imagine my surprise, when last year, I heard that people were playing a Scrabble-like app on their phones, computers, iPads, and Kindles. The app was called “Words with Friends” and it seemed like everyone was doing it. Being an old school Scrabble player, I was amazed to find out that one could play “Words with Friends” with more than one person at a time. My daughter was juggling several games at once with friends and relatives.

I felt left out. I didn’t have the kind of phone that did much of anything except make calls. I had no handheld internet devices of any kind, and I made it a habit to never load game apps onto my laptop. So there I was, desperate and wordless, sitting on the sidelines while everyone else, it seemed, was having a great time making words with friends.

Until this past December, when I was graciously brought up to speed with a gift of a handheld internet device. I downloaded “Words with Friends” almost instantaneously, and I’ve been wording non-stop ever since. Much to my irritation and surprise, I don’t always win. It seems that I’m not quite the word genius I thought I was.

Even though I refuse to be beaten, it’s amazing how often I am. This revelation only makes me try harder. So at any given time, I’ve got several games going with friends, siblings, nieces and nephews, and virtually anyone who will play with me. In fact, I’ve got two games waiting for me now.

I’ve learned a lot. For instance, did you know that “QAT” is a word? In fact, it’s a word that can be worth upwards of 50 points, depending on where it’s played on the board. The word QAT defies everything I know about the rules of English, and yet, it’s the go-to choice for Words with Friends. It took me a while to catch on.

There’s a strategy of sorts to the game. This also took me some time to figure out. It’s not enough to know a lot of words. It’s more important to go for those triple and double word scores, while sabotaging one’s opponent’s chances for scoring on those squares.

My brother is a great strategist. I never knew this about him while we were growing up, but his skill in “Words” strategy far surpasses my large vocabulary. Don’t tell him though, because then he’ll never let his guard down so I can win.

So, it appears that Scrabble is taking over my life once again, in its new high-tech form. This can be viewed as good or bad, depending on how I look at it. The good comes from the challenge of trying to win. It’s keeping my brain sharp, and at my age that’s what it’s all about. The bad part is that the game is completely portable, so at any given time, I can play. Therefore, I’m playing it all the time. Before work, after work, in the middle of the night… whenever and wherever I can.

I suppose I’ll stop someday. But for now, I’m just trying to learn every possible word that starts with “Q” and all the words that have an “X” in them. This way, maybe I’ll start to win more of those games.

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