Monday, 26 March 2018

Scrabbling around

The Bear family love words. We play with words. We make silly puns. We write stories. We do crosswords. Some of the Bear family even set cryptic crosswords occasionally. Words are a source of joy and fun. So obviously, being inherently competitive bears, we also enjoy competitive word-smithery, and we play Scrabble.

Playing Scrabble with a six-year old is a different sort of game, when I play it, to playing Scrabble with other adults. It's more akin to playing Scrabble against myself, where my Ego has to help my Id to win*. Not only do I have the challenge of finding good words from a motley collection of letters, but I also have to attempt to manipulate the board to expose useful letters, close to high-scoring squares, that mesh with the letters that I know LittleBear has, so that I can then "help" him to achieve awesome scores. It's more of a meta-Scrabble really.

The good news is that LittleBear loves playing Scrabble, and the more we play, the more words he's beginning to find for himself. Today's words included "frank", "jew", "woven" and "drain". All his own work.

The bad news is that BigBear gave me and LittleBear a joint Christmas present of an official "Scrabble dictionary" so LittleBear is now quite happy to play words such as "qin" and "xi" because he's carefully studied the list of obscure short words for use with tricky letters. BigBear is regretting giving us this book, as he feels this is not in the spirit of Scrabble. I think he may have a point.

The worse news is that LittleBear's expectations are getting higher and higher, such that he is disappointed in any game that doesn't result in at least one seven-letter word and associated 50-point bonus. And today, I excelled myself. LittleBear had the slightly daunting selection of DOXYAIS. I had an unnecessarily large number of vowels, plus an L and a blank. So I nobly threw myself upon my linguistic sword, and played CLUE using my blank as a C, thus liberating LittleBear to play the record-beating, eight-letter OXYACIDS, across two triple-word scores.

Partially-completed, triumphant Scrabble board

LittleBear thus scored 212 points for one word. Just for comparison, I scored 214 points in the entire game. I really have set the bar a little bit too high for myself now...

* I have a pretty feeble grasp of Freud's theories of the self, so apologies to anyone who actually knows what they're talking about on this subject.

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