Monday, November 21, 2005

The Games We Play

No, I'm not referring to the "he called me Friday noonish hoping to make plans for Friday night therefore I'll accept the date but won't sleep with him till Wednesday of the following week just to show him who he's playing with" game. (Even though that's one I like to think I play especially well...) I'm referring, of course, to the World Scrabble Championships that took place in London this past weekend.

Word-lubbers from around the globe gathered to test their ability to come up with as many words starting with the letter "q" that weren't necessarily followed by the letter "u" as they could. The scores of these pro-players reached well into the hundreds as they hung their "x's" and "z's" on triple word score boxes. Ultimately, the winner of the game, a 30 year old Canadian mathematician named Adam Logan beat out 30 year old Thai architect, Pakorn Nemitrmansuk, with a score of 465 to Pakorn's pathetic 426. But if I'd been a betting woman I would have chosen Pakorn as triumphant work geek since it appears the fiercest Scrabble competitors have names that predispose them to the game. Take last year's champ, Panupol Sujjayakorn. I mean that guy has two j's and a y in his surname alone!

Okay, now time for a bit of disclosure: my interest in this particular story has nothing to do with the fact that I enjoy a good game of Scrabble or that I think it's high time to celebrate gamesmen of the non-aggressive, one could even say anti-muscular variety. Rather, I was piqued by this subject because this summer I played Scrabble for the first time in years, and I'd been shocked by the result.

You see I talked a mean game before the tiles were set out. I tried to intimidate my competitors with my fierce knowledge of our goodly English language -- I might have even begun speaking in Middle English while doing so -- and I'm certain I alerted those sitting around me that I'd bee practicing SAT vocab since I was in fifth grade and hadn't stopped to to that very day. And yet... and yet I was trounced, routed, demolished, destroyed, annihilated, embarrassed and practically stripped of my diplomas at game's end. The only words I managed to set down on the board were not of the 25 cent "this is why I won a thesis prize"-type, they were penny-candy words at best. I came up with "pop" and "at" and "and." At the end of the game with a score of 23, I was put in the corner and officially pronounced a Scrabbletard. Oh, it smarted!

...But, like any cunning linguist, I've been looking for a way to exculpate my abject humiliation that hot July day ever since. And today, with this story, I have found it! You see, apparently even the best Scrabble players from Trinidad and Tobago to Zambia admit that Scrabble is not really a game for wordies, it's a game for MATH GEEKS. In fact the T&T's national champion admitted that "for the purose of the game, the meaning of the word is not important," and Panupol Sujjayakorn, though he had an encylcopedic memory apparently doesn't have a broad knowledge of English. How else could you explain the totally non-catchy slogan they sold to participants on T-shirts: "Funky not Geeky." That doesn't even rhyme, you lousy word-whores!

Ever since the day I lost face at my loss of language, I've been hesitant to get back in the game. But now at least I can explain why: in the words of my heroine Barbie, "Math is hard!" So hand me a slice of pie, because yes, Trivial Pursuits, that's what this Barbie girl is all about.


Blogger Robin said...

Steve! Hi! Wow, good to hear from you! Pardon the use of exclamation points, but Dan just told me you and Sarah have much to exclaim about these days -- congratulations on your new babe and the little child, too! When are you bring them East?

Now as for this interesting revelation about Adam Logan from your description I instantly got the picture (which, naturally I cross-referenced in my handy facebook that still sits too close to my desk) and sure enough, yes, indeed, I believe I recall him haunting Fine Tower, no? Sadly I don't think he came to the reunion, but now I realize it was probably because like any great athlete, he was in training.

What's next for him you think? I hear that whole Fermat's Theorem solution is dissolving. Or maybe he'll just start riding the Dinky back and forth to the Junction. Actually, that doesn't sound too bad to me right now...

November 23, 2005 4:57 PM  
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