Wednesday, October 19, 2005


I watched the award-winning documentary, "Word Wars," this weekend. It was OK, though not as good as I hoped, being a Scrabble devotee since the late 1980s. The film did, however, make me realize I haven't played Scrabble in months, months. Although not the kind of Scrabble addict as "Word War's" main characters (and that word "characters" is used to its fullest meaning here), I did find myself pining away for another game soon. In lieu of that any time soon, I did a bit of research on the game itself:

> In 1931, Alfred Mosher Butts, an unemployed architect, developed the game. Being the height of the Great Depression, it's no wonder he was unemployed.

> He first named his new game Lexico, and then "Criss-Cross Words." (OK, although I like Lexico.)

> My fave fact: Butts used the front page of The New York Times to calculate how often each of the 26 letters of the English language was used. After figuring out frequency of use, he gave different point values to each letter and decided how many of each letter would be included in the game. (He did, though, decide to include only four S's in the game to limit plurals.)

> In 1948, Butts and his partner, James Brunot, refined the rules and dubbed it Scrabble, which means "to grope frantically." The game was trademarked in 1948.

> Today, a National Scrabble Association exists, with 10,000 Scrabble-ites in the United States and Canada. The NSA sanctions nearly 200 local Scrabble tournaments annually, hosts the National Scrabble Championship, and organizes the School Scrabble Program.

> And because tempers can run hot when one is left holding a Q with no place to play it, the NSA outlaws bad manners, foul language, and intimidation of other players.

I've got to find someone to play with soon...