Revisionary bloggings and a slice of za

Friday, 17 June 2005 — 1:55am | Scrabble

From page 62 in the paperback:

BLOG n pl. -S a website containing a personal journal

BLOGGER n pl. -S one who maintains a blog

BLOGGING n pl. -S the act or practice of maintaining a blog

Yep – BLOGGING is going on the magic -INGS list, one of the biggest sources of phoney confusion in the lower divisions (along with the many creative prefixations of RE- and UN-). WEBLOG sits on page 652 along with WEBCAM, WEBCAST (which takes -ED and -ING as well as the expected -S), WEBPAGE, WEBRING (which goes on the magic “can’t drop the -ING” list) and WEBSITE. INTRANET is in, INTERNET* is not; it seems generic internets, which were once playable in SOWPODS but subsequently deleted, weren’t in any of the dictionaries consulted. And let’s not forget this gem of a prospective bingo: CYBERSEX.

Crazy stuff is going on in the Z section. ZYZZYVAS has lost its claim to fame as the last word in the hypothetical pseudo-English of the Scrabble Crossword Game, dethroned by the interjection ZZZ. ZUZ (pl. ZUZ), I’m told, is yet another piece of foreign currency – a silver coin of ancient Hebrew origin. And who actually uses ZA as slang for “a pizza”? I gather it must have been part of this whole Ninja Turtles revival that’s been taking place over the past few years.

Then there’s the Qs not followed by Us, whose ranks are joined by the likes of QABALA, QABALAH and QADI. The newly-added BURQA looks familiar, thanks to the popular media and the unpopular French. And then there’s QI, which – like ZA – opens to North American players the possibility of scoring over 62 points with only two tiles should the opponent be imprudent about vowel placement. It is defined on page 456 as “the vital force that in Chinese thought is inherent in all things.” It surrounds us and penetrates us; it binds the galaxy together.

I actually thought it would be defined as a variant of chess, as in xiang qi, or Chinese Chess – an elegant board game for a more civilized age. I’ve never been very good at it myself, primarily due to a sparsity of English-speaking opponents to practice against. An uncle of mine, who was a distinguished ivory carver before the trade was banned, was a master of the game’s many strategic nuances, but all I ever managed to pick up was some rudimentary tactics like lining up the two cannons on the same file.

DOOWOP is in, and it takes an S. See, this kind of lexical overhaul only happens once in a Blue Moon.

That’s enough of the new OSPD for one night, methinks. Amusement aside, it’s not a book that will serve much purpose in the immediate future; I received confirmation yesterday that it will not have any effect on what I thought would be my next rated tournament, the Western Canadian Championship in Calgary (9/28-10/2), and certainly no effect at all until the corresponding OWL is published with all the juicy new dirty words we don’t know about yet. The word is that the hard deadline for incorporating the new word list in tournament play will not be until January 2006, so at this point it is better far to live than die and study the existing list. Then once the OWL2 is out, it is just a matter of putting the two editions into plain-jane text files and running diff.

I said I thought the WCSC would be my next rated tournament, but that is no longer the case. Ken Middleton, who directs the Sherwood Park club, is running Edmonton’s first-ever rated Scrabble tournament on the weekend of 17-18 September. Ken hosted an eight-round mini in the Park back in April 2004, but this time it’s a full fourteen rounds over two days in Edmonton proper.

Needless to say, this is a big deal and is exactly the kind of thing that will hopefully get Scrabble off the ground in this municipality that fashions itself a cosmopolis of champions. Aside from the admittedly huge kink of a dictionary transition happening directly afterwards, this is also a great opportunity for those of you who like the game but are hesitant to try it competitively to get your feet wet.

Over the past few weeks I’ve played against some local Scrabblers already on the club scene, some of whom have never left the city for a tournament or played under time constraints, and they are reachable – they won’t clobber and intimidate the recreational newcomer, though they will be a welcome challenge. The Division 3 roof is a rating of 800, and if you’ve never played a tournament before, that’s where you’ll go.

Seriously – if you are tired of beating your friends and have an interest in taking your game to the next level, that’s almost all you need to walk in and do well. I would recommend this much preparation: memorize the 96 two-letter words, know the Qs-without-Us, at least look at all the three-letter words, and play two or three practice games with the clock to get a sense of how long you should spend per turn and how the hold/challenge procedure works. Three months is plenty of time to get ready; last year, Dan Lazin hit the WCSC after just a month of doing the same, and this time the field is easier.

None of the local clubs are active in July and August, so if you want to practice, contact me and we’ll set up a game. (Pay no attention to the predatory salivation behind the curtain!)

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