Archive for March 1, 2012

My Scrabble™ Dilemma

My friend Andy and I used to play Scrabble™ several times a week. But he now lives in Vancouver, so I downloaded the Scrabble Free app for my Android phone, and now we play electronically.

But then I noticed that the app has a “Play Random Opponent” option. I press the button, and a game between me and WordMan26 is immediately in progress. Except for completely killing my productivity at work, this is an awesome feature. At any given time, I may be involved in as many as eight games.

Well, yes, in fact, I am addicted. What’s it to ya?

Yesterday, I was playing a game against CatLady356, and I was getting my ass handed to me — she scored a bingo on her first turn with VEHICLE and collected 188 points. Ouch! I thought I was back in it when I countered with HOARSELY for a bingo and 70 points on my first turn, but then she got another bingo with GEEZERS for 85 more points. After a few more turns, I found myself trailing 323‑218.

This is what the board looked like:

Scrabble - CatLady356

That’s when I was presented with a dilemma. On my rack, I had the letters U, N and T, which fit vertically between HOARSELY and GEEZERS to form HUG, ONE and MEDIATE. So if I were able to create a word of the form *UNT and cover the Triple Word square, I’d score at least 36 points.

Guess which other letter I had on my rack?

In my mind, CatLady356 was an elderly woman who would be offended by the word I was considering. I imagined taking my turn and then having the game sit idle while I waited for her to take her next turn. Three days would pass, then four. A week would go by. Then another. And the entire time, I’d be thinking, “Did CatLady356 have a heart attack when she saw *UNT on the board?”

Was that kind of stress worth 42 points?

I decided it wasn’t. Instead, I played TIC across the I in VEHICLES, which also made TAE and COY, scoring just 19 points.

Within minutes, CatLady356 played her next turn. She placed SODOMIzE using the S in ACOLYTES, earned 66 points, and was now leading 389‑237. And in the chat box, she left me a message:

Suck it! Vulgar words rock!

So much for overthinking my turn.

Perhaps I should instead adopt the philosophy of Fran Liebowitz:

Children are the most desirable opponents at Scrabble, as they are both easy to beat and fun to cheat.

In the course of writing this post, I reconstructed the game using Scrabulizer. If you’re a word freak, you have to check it out.

In our game, CatLady356 played three bingos, and I played two. That seemed pretty good. So it got me to wondering:

  • What’s the highest score that’s ever been attained in a Scrabble game?
  • What’s the highest possible score that could be attained?

On October 12, 2006, Michael Cresta scored 830 points in one game. His opponent, Wayne Yorra, scored 490 points. These tallies set records for the highest individual score (830 points), the highest combined score (1,320 points), and the most points for a single turn (365 points for QUIXOTRY, which covered two Triple Word squares).

As for the highest possible score, it seems that may still be an unsolved question. On the Scrabulizer blog, Arian Smit has a nice discussion of what he believes is the highest-possible single play: SESQUIOXIDIZING for 2044 points.

I reckon I’ll never score anywhere close to that… especially if my conscience continues to prevent me from playing slightly offensive high‑scoring words.

March 1, 2012 at 9:45 pm 1 comment

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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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March 2012

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