Blogs Sept 2020 to Dec 2020

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It was a Thursday like every other Thursday.  Club #350 was playing scrabble like every other Thursday at Borders Booksellers at the South Coast Plaza off the 405 Freeway.  Obviously it was about a dozen years ago before Borders went belly-up.  Club #350 played at Borders for several years.  It was ideal in my opinion.  It was very spacious and we were allowed to spread out in an aisle where the public walked right by us.  It was a great way for us to meet scrabble players who happened to be shopping in the bookstore.
On this particular evening, a few minutes before 6PM (our starting time) a thirty something, clean shaven stranger approached me and asked if anyone could play.  He forked over the usual $5 fee and I filled out a form along with forms for all the other players.  The stranger told me his name was Steve Adler so I introduced him to several of the other players as they wandered in and set up their boards.  Steve told me that he had played at a club before and knew the basic rules and how to play.
Not knowing Steve’s ranking, I paired him in the first game with one of the more Novice players.  In games #2 — #4 I used a swiss-pairing method to pair players in twosomes.  A respectable score for a novice at club is 300 points.  In Steve’s first game against Irma Poulyx he won 437 to 284.  When he turned in the tally cards at the end of the game Steve mentioned to me that he was very lucky in that he drew both blanks and had excellent letter combinations.

Having won game #1, in game #2 Steve was paired with another player who had won their first game.  Game #2 paired Steve against Gerry Greenside who was visiting from Las Vegas.  After I finished playing my second game, I roamed the floor and took a peek over Steve’s shoulder at his rack and his board.  As I watched Steve plopped down a triple-triple, ABOIDEAU, through an ‘I’ that hung there on the far right column between the two triple word score squares for 167 points.  (It was beginning to look like Steve had snookered us.  He had all the moves of a talented EXPERT.)  Final score: Steve 548, Gerry 382.
Steve took no prisoners that evening at Club #350.  He was cold and calculating.  He left all his opponents bloodied on the battle field.  A few of his other plays that wowed us included: ngultrum, gjetost, and goatlike.  He had a total of 12 bingos during the 4 games and a total of 1878 points during his 4 wins.
Before Steve left that evening he confessed that he was really Ed Kovalcheck from New York and he frequented Joel Shermans club in Manhattan.  He is an Expert with a rating of over 1800.  I provided bandages and splints for those in need.


Scrabble is a trademark

While researching the theme for today’s blog among several clubs scrabble players, I received this response, “Easy For You To Say”.

Wrong answer, Bad Answer.  Too NEGATIVE.

Take a deep breath and remember some of the methods you were taught to remember facts, how words are spelled, the steps and techniques to use to bolster your memory.

  1. See a word that is new to you.
  2. Say the word/s that is/are new to you.
  3. Write down that which is new to you.
  4. Keep a diary/journal in which you write word/s that is/are new to you.
  5. Create a flashcard for each word/s that is/are new to you.
  6. Create a video flashcard for word/s that is/are new to you.
  7. Play those  NEW’ words whenever possible.
  8. Use other methods that assist you to learn new words.

Learn Something, Teach Something.

When you teach, something about that item or concept taught is imprinted even deeper into your own memory.  Some players become a bit selfish with ‘new’ words feeling that if they share with others it will come back to haunt them if and when that person plays that word against them.  You can pretty much count on the fact that most players WILL NOT employ the 8 steps listed above.  But you will learn that words which you teach unto others will live deeper in your memory.

Scrabble is a trademark

I make it a regular habit to follow up with scrabble players who have taken my challenge to take my online class ‘Scrabble 101’.  Here are two polar opposite results I received earlier this year.

Player ‘A’ described herself as a long-time kitchen-table scrabble player who had only recently learned that there was such a thing as scrabble clubs.  Like so many other home players, she shared that she seldom lost at home and when she got to a local club she rudely learned that she didn’t know how much she didn’t know.  She loves the challenge of learning all the scrabble ‘jargon’ and was more than eager to learn the methodical study regimens that assist players to learn faster.  She took the class very seriously.  As she delved into learning about all the pieces of the puzzle she took careful notes during the 21 days and since completing the class she has gone back to her notes, especially on the pieces that offer the greatest return.
Player ‘B’ gave me a very different story.  He told me that he had been playing at clubs for more than 10 years.  He described his club experience as frustrating.  He shared that he was still in the bottom third of his local club and has watched many new players join and pass him by in their first 3 months of play.  The reason he enrolled in ‘Scrabble 101’ was he wanted to STOP THE BLEEDING.  He knows that he is relatively smart and he just wanted to learn and review the basic tricks to carry his game upward.
I asked Player ‘B’ if he found specific lessons in the class useful.  He shared that when the class reviewed things he already knew he passed over those parts and gave his full attention to things that were new to him.


Even a broken clock has the correct time twice a day.  If he really had wanted my class to make a significant difference in his game, he wasted his time and money by interacting with the information so casually.
I told him that he had MISSED THE BOAT.  If and when anyone takes a class they should follow the direction of their teacher,  The most difficult task I have as a teacher is getting my students to leave their BAD HABITS behind.  If you continue to do what you’ve always done, you’ll continue to get the same results that you’ve always gotten.
I offered him the opportunity to take the class again FOR FREE if he would proceed with a different attitude. Instead of saying YES, he told me that he’d think about my offer.
This guy wasn’t ready to make any changes.  ‘Scrabble 101’ is not a magic pill, it is not a silver bullet.  You’ll have a big harvest only after you’ve carefully sown the seeds and tended your garden.  People like this guy give my class a bad name.  The class didn’t fail; the student failed.

He continues to go to club and lose, not even applying the lessons that he claims to have studied.

Scrabble is a trademark

Let’s pretend.  Let’s make believe that you just discovered the game of scrabble when a friend was talking with you and described a local club that they had played at last year after the holidays.  Your friend was so animated while sharing his experience that the enthusiasm captured your curiosity.
You are now really motivated to take a closer look at the game.  Your friend disappears for a few minutes and when he returns he is carrying his scrabble game, a scrabble dictionary, and a two-faced time clock.  The two of you make your way into the den where you set the board and racks up on a card table and before you know it you are learning the rules of the game and begin playing.

This first game is an ‘OPEN’-game during which your friend will pause frequently in order to demonstrate and share points of information that will help you become more successful.  You’ve always considered yourself to be a worldly person and very knowledgeable.  From the very beginning, you watch your friend play an assortment of words you have never heard of.  Each time you are shocked and say “That’s not a word,” your friend opens the OSPD6 (Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary, 6th Edition) and shows you the word.
After only 10 minutes you are totally overwhelmed by all the pieces of the game:

  1. The scrabble jargon; 
  2. The time clock;
  3. The minutia about how to complete a turn;
  4. How to keep score and effectively boost your score by using the Hot Spots; 
  5. The strategy of where to place your word to avoid a high scoring come-back play by your opponent;
  6. Tracking so you can always know which tiles remain unseen.

A new president is about to be inaugurated and you get it in your head to use a motivator ‘THE FIRST 100 DAYS’ to get a running start at becoming a good scrabble player.  With NEW Year’s DAY only a few days away, you decide that January 1, 2021, would be a special day to begin your self-challenge.

You jot down a TO DO LIST of ingredience you’ll need to become successful:

  1. Purchase OSPD6 at Barnes & Noble
  2. Obtain a ‘Count-Down’ calendar.
  3. Obtain a time-clock.
  4. Designate a place in the house to study.
  5. Create A Study Plan.  (Make a commitment to self, 30 minutes/day minimum.)
  6. List Study themes for the first 10 days.
  7. Print Out the rules from the NASPA website.
  8. Create a 3-Ring-Binder called:  Legal Words That Are New To Me
  9. Begin on January 1, 2021
  10. You can also enroll in SCRABBLE 101 with Gary Moss
    3367 Punta Alta Laguna Woods, CA 92637
Scrabble is a trademark

And Another One Bites The Dust
It’s with a twinge of sadness that I relay the sad news that my scrabble friend Gerry Greenside  has passed from Covid-19.
Gerry was cut out of a unique mold.  I was one his friends who was unbothered by his sharp edges and ideocincracies.  If it weren’t for the game of scrabble our paths would probably never crossed.  I can’t remember the date or place where we first met, but during the last 25 years his friendship and hospitality was always there for me at the drop of a hat.
Gerry was classic Type-A personality.  He came off like an assertive New Yorker.  Gerry was a control-freak and a take-charge kinda guy.  When I moved west in 1995, while I lived in LA then Orange County, I was a frequent vistior at Gerry’s home in Las Vegas.  Gerry hosted one of the Las Vegas sscrabble clubs on Tuesdays from early morning to as long as you wanted to stay and play.   On days other than Tuesdays any scrabbler could find themselves invited to stay over as long as you promised to play never-ending rounds of scrabble.  In recent years I spent many visits at Gerry’s especially when my son, Marty, moved to Vegas in 2002.  Gerry was an excellent player.  He began playing tournaments in 1983 when he had a rating of more than 1800+.  He was better than me but I could put up a good fight.  He didn’t like to lose to me and if and when I had a lucky streak he would insist that we keep playing until he could retake the lead.
I learned a lot about Gerry.  In his younger years he was a pretty good baseball player and had played minor league baseball.  His home was filled with trophies and other momentous of seasons past.  Gerry liked a good deal and he learned how to take full advantage of deals to be had on and around the Vegas strip.  He loved to eat at Casino Buffets and knew where to get passes and discounts for himself and his friends.  He took me and others to enjoy bands and singers and comedians where we’d experience quality shows for little to nothing.
Gerry was a top handball player.  There happens to be an annual handball tournament played in Orange County California.  When he’d come to town to attend the handball tournament he’d visit my scrabble clubs too.
May his memory be a blessing.

Scrabble is a trademark


December 26, 2020
TO ALL WHO CELEBRATE from Gary Moss & Karen Hale, editor


December 25, 2020
Memories from  9/13/19
Are you ‘superstitious’?  I’ve relied on my personal radar to pick up on some of the superstitions of scrabble players and I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. You’ve undoubtedly heard about the role that ‘black cats’ play in superstition lore.  Well, some scrabble players believe if you can play both ‘BLACK’ and ‘CAT’ in the same game, your opponent is sure to lose.
  2. Never set up your game under a ladder; it’s bad luck for the owner of same.
  3. If you draw 5 or more vowels for your rack on any 3 consecutive turns . . .  on your next draw you should always pick tiles with your other hand.
  4. If you don’t draw a blank in 2 consecutive games . . . before the third game you need to walk around your chair counter clockwise 7 tims.
  5. Always sit higher than your opponent at the table.  Use cushions if necessary.
  6. Place a current, sanctioned dictionary, under the cushion you sit upon.  The contents may filter their way into your consciousness.
  7. When leaving the room walk backwards from your chair until out of the room.  This supports forward thinking.
  8. Wear two different shoes (one black, one brown =or= one lace up, one loafer).
  9. Never stare at the place on the board where you intend to place your next word.  It’s the same as a tell.
  10. Never overdraw!  It’s a sign of weakness and insecurity.  You’ll lose for sure.

Don’t Worry;  Be Happy!
Dont Worry Be Happy

Drove from Cleveland to Detroit today (about 3 hours).  Ate a Coney Island hot dog. There seems to be more Coney places in and around Detroit as there are Starbucks. Sheesh!
Visited several old haunts.  I walked into Francis Scott Key Elementary School and talked with a hall monitor.  I explained that I was a 5th Grade teacher there in 1964.  She ask who was my principal and I remembered it was Ed Cervanic.  The teacher now teaching there with the longest tenure has only 35 years . . . so I was long gone before she began teaching there.  My old classroom still houses a 5th Grade Class.  Then I drove by the house we built on Labelle Street in 1966.

**Memories create smiles
Scrabble is a trademark

If you are a competitive scrabble player, you know too well that the road to winning lives in the realm of doing all you can do to move up on others and pass them up when you can.


Think of competitive scrabble as a race.  The road to winning begins well before the games begin.  You prepare yourself by stretching, warming up, and day-to-weeks of training.  If you are a sprinter you are well aware that sometimes the race may be decided just getting off the blocks.  If you’re a cross-country runner you know that pacing yourself may be the best plan to get you across the finish line.
My observations tell me that many enthusiastic players come to a club without any training at all.  Successful kitchen table players who initially come to the club are often amazed by the word knowledge and strategies of club players. The measure of skills is way beyond what they had imagined.

“How do club players find and play so many BINGOS”, they ask?  “Sometimes players learn one word at a time”, I answer.  And then I go on to tell them about the 170,000+ words on the OWL and that while the average kitchen table player knows about 5% (8,500) words, club players know more.  I tell them “You too can learn the secrets of the champions and build your own arsenal of words learning anagrams, stems, and Mnemonics.”
Some newies become overwhelmed, drop their heads, and walk away telling me that they only want to PLAY FOR THE FUN OF IT.  Then they exit.  I can’t imagine anything more FUN than learning new words and then playing those same words against other opponents.  It all depends on what your FUN is.

  • You wouldn’t expect to win the Boston Marathon if you never ran a race before.

  • You wouldn’t expect to win a round of golf playing against Tiger Woods.

Why would a kitchen table player expect to have a long winning streak when first playing at a club.  I encourage you to attend your local club when the covid regimen allows.  Go there with an I CAN ATTITUDE and be ready to learn and grow.


Scrabble is a trademark

Allow me to pass along some powerful advice from a scrabble champion, Mike Baron,

  1. C/V ratio is the ratio of consonants to vowels. A complete tile bag has a 56:42 ratio (plus two blanks). When playing off letters, try to leave a relatively balanced group of letters on your rack, ideally with a difference no greater than one between the number of consonants and vowels left on your rack. If an odd number is left, better to have an extra consonant than vowel.
  2. Rid duplicates: You’re most likely to get higher scoring plays, including bingos, if left without duplicated tiles on your rack, possibly excepting the S and the E.
  3. Rid high pointers: Letters worth 3 or more points (BCFHJKMPQVWXYZ). The best would be to have the remaining rack be the low-point, bingo-prone tiles (ADEGILNORSTU). These are “the 3%-ers,” as there are at least 3 of each tile in and account for 75% of the 100-tile set. They spell out phrases like REGIONAL STUD or U DATE NO GIRLS.
  4. Break up “death combos”: WU, VU, YU, UU, II, VV, WW, YY, QW. If you can’t play off both, playoff one, as your future scoring chances will otherwise be compromised.”

While many players have heard or read this information before, many of those players do not take the time to apply these suggestions for the following reasons:

    • I can never remember all that.
    • It takes too much time and my clock is running.
    • When I do all that it feels like work and not a game.

When I first began playing scrabble at club and wanted to be able to compete I sought out players better than me and I asked many, many questions so I might learn information like that quoted above. Let’s acknowledge that WINNING against the top players who use these kinds of tools can become very frustrating. I met one frustrated player who rarely-to-never lost a game among her family and friends.  She had attended Club #350 only for 3 sessions (12 games). She had not won a single game at club.  She complained to me that:

  1. All those silly 2-Letter-Words aren’t real words.
  2. Players at club don’t know the meaning of the words they play and that is wrong
  3. I shouldn’t have to keep both my score and my opponents’ score.

I politely explained that all sanctioned clubs play by the same rules and use the identical OWL (Official Word List). Players at club are not required to use strategies to help them win their games.  But, why wouldn’t any player expand their word knowledge and game strategies to build their scrabble game skills?

Scrabble is a trademark


As far as I know, all motor vehicles have batteries.  I can think back to at least 6 or more occasions when I’ve gotten into my car, turned the key in the  ignition, only to hear a clicking sound.  To me, that meant that my car battery had lost its charge.  (It usually happened to me in the middle of a Michigan winter when the temperature was hovering less than 30 degrees.  It seems like most of the time this occurred when I was in a hurry to get somewhere and thus I’d be late.)


  1. After I last drove the vehicle I had inadvertently left an inside light turned on and the battery drained its charge over time.
  2. The battery was simply old and had given up the ghost.
  3. The ‘alternator’ had failed and the battery had not received a proper charge.


  1. Buy a new battery and install it.  (But how to get to an auto parts store without a ride there and back?)  
  2. Find my charger cables that sat buried under the spare-tire and then find a motorist who’d permit me to hook up those cables from their battery to my battery to jump-start my car. 
  3. Call road service to jump-start my car (usually a minimum of a 45 minute wait time).

Once my car started, I had to drive to a service station to replace my battery.  On a few times when I didn’t take care of the matter right there and then. . . I could count on it that later the same day my battery would fail again.  UGH.
Most often, all procrastination works the same way and there is usually a price for not doing what has to be done NOW. 
I always hated to clean the gutters on my home (just not one of my favorite tasks).   I put it off in October because there was always a great football game on TV and I’d think to myself that I’d do it tomorrow.  Tomorrow never came.  Near the end of November, the temperatures would have dropped and it had rained multiple times, creating a greater issue.  The gutters had clogged by then and the rain spilled down the side of my home and leaks appeared into my home.  Now I had to drag out a ladder on a cold, rainy November day to unclog both the gutters and the downspout.  UGH-UGH.

More than once I had been commissioned to produce sets of WHIZ CARDS for scrabble friends.  I got right to the task (because I enjoy making these cards.  I’d usually deliver the cards promptly and receive payment.   Then at club, I’d find myself paired against the same person who had purchased the WHIZ CARDS.  (I had convinced myself that while I configured the WHIZ CARDS I would absorb the knowledge into my personal memory, without taking time to study them properly.)   And so there I sat across the scrabble board from my card client/opponent having a high-probability stem rack.  I had A-I-N-E-R-S + ‘J’.    I remember making the card just a few days ago, but there I sat staring at my rack without a clue as to the answer.
I felt rather stupid at that point.  I hadn’t reviewed the AINERS stem.  I put it off for some future time.  That is called PROCRASTINATION at its worst.

The answer is INJERAS.

Scrabble is a trademark

My handmade tile rack made by Maliha Mahmood.  Maliha organized and hosted one of the only Super-Scrabble Clubs in the US.  When players attended their 10th visit to her club she awarded them with a handmade tile rack adorned with a variety of gems.  My rack has a giant amber gem and it is a magical rack.
I wear three rings on my hands.  One of the three is 18 carat gold with a malachite gem with the face of a century,  It was gifted to me by my paternal grandfather more than 40 years ago.  He told me that he received it from my grandmother more than 100 years ago when they became engaged.
As you might imagine I have many scrabble boards.  Two of them are my favorites.  One of the boards I created with my own hands.  When I first began playing club scrabble I saw that many of the players used special, personalized scrabble boards.  These boards were prized by their owners.  Back then as now, there were only a few individuals who were making and selling these boards.  For a period of about 5 years (1988 – 1993) I made and sold two dozen or more boards.  I kept one of the boards for myself and still cherish it.
My WHIZ CARDS and word workbooks.  While none of these reflect an original idea on my part.  I altered common study tools that I used as a school teacher and adapted them using a scrabble theme.  WHIZ CARDS are flashcards.  I organized sets to teach STEMS, 4-Vowel-6s, or 5-Letter-Words with a ‘J’.  Two of my favorite books are ‘STRANGE BEGINNINGS’ and ‘STRANGE ENDINGS’ which focus on the lesser-known words with unusual combinations like **the words that begin with ‘GJ_ _ _ _ _’ or the words that end with ‘_ _ _ _ _ YK’.
At times my scrabble friends have asked me to create lists for them.  Most of the time I would put these requests onto WHIZ CARDS.  My friend Tim Anglin had me create a set of all the 5-Letter-8s.  Edna Miller played at the Livonia, MI club and commissioned me to make a set of ‘Monetary Units’.  When I made these items, some percentage of the cards I made stuck in my memory.  Some of the monetary words I still remember are NGWEE,  NGULTRUM, and EKPWELE.

My most treasured things are the hundreds and maybe thousands of friends
I’ve made over time,
What is on your list of your favorite things?

Scrabble is a trademark

Even without a mission statement to ‘Teach Thy Neighbor,’ scrabble clubs create an environment for incidental teaching and learning.  It’s sorta like a ‘word virus’.
While competitive players spend significant pieces of their free time to salt their word knowledge and word power by studying, an unanticipated set of ‘NEW-TO-YOU-WORDS’ come your and my way by playing a variety of opponents from different clubs and at tournaments.
The same boost is available to players who attend a single club but on a smaller scale.  While you may learn ‘SCRABBLE JARGON’ at clubs you’ll learn much less at the kitchen table.  Home-based players are generally satisfied with playing familiar words, they don’t find many 7-letter-Bingos, and when they earn a large score using the ‘HOT SPOTS’ it’s more due to luck than plotting.
I was rather lucky, by living outside Detroit, Michigan when I began playing club scrabble.  Why LUCKY?  There were many scrabble clubs in and around Detroit.  I could play in clubs seven days a week at that time.
Each player is unique and possesses different vocabularies.  The greater the number of individuals, the greater the variation of words played on the board.  With Detroit being a short drive, over or under the Detroit River, I could easily be in Ontario, Canada.  Even though Canadians speak English, I learned many words from my Canadian friends that are rarely used in the States.
While there is a lot to be learned from our associates if one aspires to become a threat in the scrabble community one must develop a study regimen.  BUT, one can learn quite a bit by being mindful during every game played.  When a word that is ‘New-To-You’ is played. . . write it down, learn it, use it when you can.
When I learn a word from my opponent I usually remember the person and where we were playing.  While playing a tournament in Reno, Nevada, while playing against Stu Goldman, I learned ‘STRIGIL’ and I have played it a dozen times over the years.  While playing against Chuck Armstrong, at a club in Livonia, Michigan, Chuck played ‘OBVIATE’, hooking the ‘O’ to the top of ‘PACIFIED’ making ‘OPACIFIED’ and scoring over 200 points on his turn.

Scrabble is a trademark


It happens every year at this time.  We are now in the season of ENDINGS and BEGINNINGS.  Many of us take a personal inventory of the year we have just survived with our focus on the accomplishments and disappointments that stand out.
2020 has been a doozy.  One year ago the word ‘PANDEMIC’ was not a part of the vocabulary of most people.  Now we not only know the word but we have learned that it doesn’t have a legal anagram, and either does ‘COVID’.
For me, like so many of you, life made an abrupt turn just a few weeks after the virus invaded our shores.  I live in a huge senior community, Laguna Woods Village, with about 20,000 residents.  Because of the vulnerability of seniors to Covid-19, my community prudently shut down.  On one hand, I was pleased that the leadership here was being cautious and so many of us thought that we might get this plague under control in a few weeks.  One of the consequences I faced was that with the shut-down I was furloughed from two part-time jobs and forced to close my scrabble club.  Losing income makes retirement more difficult.   I also quickly learned the real non-monetary value of my jobs, spending time working in the community, provides me some greater purpose to my life.
The weeks turned into months and our home has morphed into a protective cave.  My wife and I only venture out to forage for food at the market and trek to the pharmacy to pick up our meds.  In my neighborhood, most people wear masks, which is good.  But we no longer are able to see the pleasant, friendly smiles from our friends and neighbors which are hidden away.   What a difference a smile makes.
One thing I have learned, 9 months into the year of Covid is:  DO NOT TAKE THS PERSONALLY.   Covid is an equal opportunity menace, not out to get only YOU.  Simply follow the CDC protocol: 

      1. Wash your hands,
      2. Wear a mask, 
      3. Social Distance.

To go out into crowds without a mask or packing yourself into crowds is no different than poking a sleeping grizzly bear with a stick.
Finally, find constructive things do with your time.  Begin by making a list of things you can still do safely.  THEN, just do those things.  My personal list includes:

  1. Playing Words-With-Friends;
  2. Reading Novels,
  3. Watching Netflix,
  4. Writing my BLOG;
  5. Recording my PODCASTS
  6. Doing the grocery shopping, 
  7. and Enjoying sweet memories.

Get something done and Stay Safe.

Scrabble is a trademark

Have you ever felt like you were a balloon that has been punctured and all your air is escaping and you can’t reach the spot where you need to put pressure to stop the WHOOSH?
Just so you know, I am well physically.  Just out of breath emotionally.  I’m sure that many others have experienced something similar due to the stress of the pandemic and the politics of 2020.
So, I dipped back into the thousands of blogs I’ve written over the years in an effort to mentor myself.  While my blogs each have the distinct flavor of scrabble, they also shine a light on many life lessons.  And I learned a valuable AHA.  There may come a time when we are so deflated that we have to patch our wounds and heal ourselves.  While we are in a wounded state it becomes hard-to-impossible to even turn off the TV and get up and out of the recliner.
Today, on the day the vaccine cure has begun to be injected into persons from Maine to California and the same day that the Electoral College has tallied their votes to reaffirm the election of Biden and Harris, I took myself outdoors where I breathed in the fresh air and soaked in the California sunshine.
Next, I logged onto this website and got in touch with the fact that I’ve had 280,000+ hits in the last 16 months, confirming that I’ve made some difference in the scrabble lives of multitudes.  And now, having patched my leak I am creating an outline to guide myself to share more scrabble stories and tips to HELP YOU learn the secrets of scrabble champions.

Make some time to pamper yourself
and lessen your stress.

Scrabble is a trademark

It may be Writer’s Block or COVID Brain (no Gary is NOT ILL!) but he has taken a short break from writing his blogs.  Yesterday I posted that I was going through the BLAH’s  (, we all experience those days – but with a little persuasion Gary will return or I will Kick Him in the butt!  (Karen, editor)

Scrabble is a trademark

Are you deft?  No not deaf, ‘deft’.  In order to be deft, you also have to be persistent
and practiced.  Seasoned scrabble players are seen as deft by their acquaintances.  People who are deft show skills and are experts.  Being recognized as an expert is relative to the company you keep.  When I play scrabble in Escondido I am considered an expert’.  When I play scrabble in the top division at Bruce D’Ambrosio’s club in L.A., I’m just another piece of fresh meat for the experts to feed off of.  But that’s okay.
Playing among the sharks and taking your lumps is not a bad thing.  When you play with others who are better than you, you have an opportunity to learn both words and techniques.  Playing with sharks can provide valuable lessons in humility too.  But, be kind to yourself by playing in some areas where you are ‘top dog’.  If you want to feel really smart, play with children or with aliens who do not speak much English. 
I’ve discovered over the years that teaching others is an avenue to becoming better at whatever you are teaching.  In your preparation to teach others, you relearn the basics at a deeper level.  When you empower others you empower yourself.  If you permit your creative side to shine you’ll create learning tools that will bring you many aha’s.  It can be amazing.
Scrabble is a trademark

When you are matched with a player who is ranked higher than you in the scrabble world, the ‘rule of thumb’ is to shut down the board, providing fewer open lines that serve up a lane for a bingo.  Playing BINGOS is the main advantage that the EXPERTS have when playing lower-ranked opponents.
With this in mind I would be remiss without pointing out that when either player closed down the board, it creates a greater challenge to both players.  Many times the EXPERT will close the board, keeping in mind that he/she may have a greater knowledge of lesser-known-hooks.  (Ex:  HOW takes an end hook of ‘F’, and then HOWF takes an end hook of ‘F’ HOWFFWho knew?)
When you begin a word with a ‘V’ or ‘C’ it will usually stymy your opponent from making a parallel play because there are NO two-letter-words with ‘C’ or ‘V’.
Just like in so many other kinds of competitions, THE BEST DEFENSE IS A STUNNING OFFENSE.  When you are playing a higher-ranked player in a game of scrabble you might call on the TILE GODS to furnish you with a huge portion of GOOD LUCK. There will be times when you will find yourself paired with a scrabble GIANT.  My advice is
  1. FAKE IT.  Put on an intimidating face and never allow fear to show.
  2. NEVER create the opportunity for the higher ranked player to earn a triple/triple or a double/double. 
  3. If any opponent sets up a T/T or a D/D, shut it down immediately unless you have a bingo somewhere else on the board. 
  4. NEVER GIVE UP!  Play your best, thoughtful game.
  5. Learn from the experience and be a gracious opponent.  Don’t whine during the game.
If you happen to win, DON’T GLOAT in front of your opponent.  Go outside and get in your car before screaming with joy.
Scrabble is a trademark

It is not yet known what the motivation might be for these actions. As you may know, both NASPA and WGPO organizations have banned official head-to-head play at clubs and tournaments since the start of the pandemic, March 2020. The only action for scrabble players at this time are online clubs and competitions and a similar game, Words With Friends, (WWF).
Most players of WWF enjoy this word competition online that offers tens of thousands to play a word game with similarities to scrabble. And while WWF may be fun, players who play serious scrabble may be creating confusion for themselves when they return to play at scrabble clubs. The two main differences in the games that cause the confusion are

  1. The boards are laid out differently with regard to the location of their HOT SPOTS. 
  2. The lexicons used in the two games are very different.

During this pandemic, if you’re like me, staying at home day after day, avoiding groups of people, I search for fun things to fill alone time. WWF is available 24/7 and being a word game it coaxes me to play. I have no desire to master the WWF 2-Letter-Word list which is different from the 2s in the OWL and OSPD6. There are many other differences too. SO, when I play WWF I am often annoyed by the many words played by opponents which I don’t know. The only reason I know that these strange words as legal on the WWF lexicon is that WWF does not allow players to play phonies.
Frequently I remind players that the OWL has more than 170,000 words on its lexicon. Players who have been competing over time may assume that they’ve seen most words. And so when your opponent plays ‘WHATSIS’ you may snicker to yourself and call out “CHALLENGE”. You and your opponent walk up to the computer in the room for an adjudication . . . and when the computed tells you “The play is ACCEPTABLE,” you flinch and deflate.
The average guy or gal on the street knows about 5% of the words on the OWL (8,500 words). Competitive club players and study and expand their word knowledge to 10%, 15%, or even 25%. That still leaves up to 75% of the rest of the words somewhere under the radar.
I’ve been warned that some of the entries that hackers have melded into the OWL are words from PIG LATIN, TAGALA, and SIGN LANGUAGE. Just sayin’.

Scrabble is a trademark.


Wearing a mask during the game is not against the official rules when competing at scrabble. In fact, it may be a sound practice. Wearing a mask will conceal your smirk/smile which could be your ’TELL’. We more often think of a ‘TELL’ in connection with the game of poker. It is an involuntary action that occurs in a player that unwantedly signals ‘delight’, ‘annoyance,’ ‘glee’, ‘disappointment’ which provides a clue to your opponents of your pleasure or displeasure of you with your cards.
The same kind of TELL may appear to your scrabble opponent, especially when a challenge might be in order.

Consider This Scenario: Your opponent begins to make a play that he/she is uncertain of.

  1. The word is placed on the board.
  2. He/she pauses and sits there staring at the word.

You look at the word just played and you don’t like it and scrunch your nose. If you were wearing a mask, your opponent wouldn’t see your facial expression.

  1. You don’t think the play is on the OWL and call ‘CHALLENGE’!
  2. Because your opponent has not officially ended his/her turn, the word can be taken back.
  3. A turn ends only after the opponent hits their clock and picks new tiles to replenish their rack.

The opponent takes back the word, plays a different word, hits the clock and replenishes tiles to their rack.

  1. Don’t jump the gun.
  2. Don’t be over-anxious.

If you want to challenge a play, wait until your opponent hits their clock. At this point, you have two remedies.

  1. You can say CHALLENGE. (If you say CHALLENGE, the clock is stopped and you MUST challenge.) -or-
  2. You can say HOLD. If you say HOLD the clock remains running on your time while you decide if you wish to challenge or not. You can be on HOLD for as long as you wish.

If you decide not to challenge, announce, NO CHALLENGE, and proceed with the game.
If you decide to CHALLENGE, stop the clock, and follow challenging protocol.
If you are not wearing a mask, be aware of any TELLS you may have and do your best to camouflage them.

Scrabble is a trademark

If you check my Word-Of-The-Day list ( may have noticed that it’s raining Nouns on most days. Since I select the entries randomly I’m not certain why.
Lately, I have been paying a lot of attention to words that have anagrams and there are oh so many. I’m sure that you may do the same from time to time. It is my experience that we all create our own rut until something else piques our interest and nudges us to look in another direction.
While there is no single theme that is THE BEST place to spend our study time, I urge you to assess your personal strengths and weaknesses, write out a plan of action, and distribute your time rotating your focus from the 2s to Anagrams to Extensions, to 5-Letter-Words, etc. I can recall times when I allowed myself to stay focused on ‘A’ Hooks and spent weeks making lists, making flashcards, creating Bookmarks, and developing puzzles, all about ‘A’ Hooks. While I was mastering this one narrow path others were passing me by with their more diverse agendas. It took a losing streak at club to make me consider what I was doing wrong. Oops! By being so focused I was being too limited by my own omission. I changed my schedule and regimen and saw a quick improvement in my W/L record.
When I’m self-evaluating my game it is easy to overlook key elements unless I use an outline I created years ago for teaching my online class, ‘Scrabble 101’. That outline covers all the important pieces of the game. I’ve noticed that when I am NOT USING my outline I end up spending most of my study time on STEMS, HOOKS, and ANAGRAMS. I would frequently overlook practicing TRACKING, and Words-With-3 ‘I’s. I am better prepared to compete when my study regimen is well-rounded.
It is in my best interest to assess my ‘scrabble’-temperature no less than 3 times a week. I do a simple exercise by playing a solitaire-scrabble game with specific goals to look for various kinds of words. I’ll use an anagrammer to identify words on each rack and take note of any word that is new or interesting to me.
Playing scrabble is a lot like the weather; wait a minute and it will most likely change. One game you can be HOT and then you can experience a COLD losing streak, you might have a drought of vowels or a flood of a specific letter, you might draw the ‘Old McDonald’ rack (E-I-E-I-O-O-i).

Always keep an umbrella and a hoodie nearby.

Scrabble is a trademark

You just moved into a home in a city that is new to you. It was a time before there were GPS contraptions. The first day or two you made a few wrong turns while driving around town. To get from home to your place of work to the DMV, to your new doctor, to the market and the shopping center. You used the try, try, try again method to expand your knowledge about the local geography.
You were five years old when you received your first two-wheeler. Your mom or dad or older sibling helped you learn how to ride and balance on that bicycle. At first, they may have run alongside you, holding the rear of your seat as you pedaled. At first, you were wobbly. By the fourth try, you were already improving but fell down after 10 yards. You were encouraged to try, try, again. Then magically on another attempt, YOU GOT IT! From that point onward you rarely fell down again. You had mastered riding your bicycle,

Scrabble is pretty much the same . . .
BUT there are many pieces in the game which one must master to become a maven.

I’ve worked with several impatient students who after becoming good with Lesson #1 in my ‘SCRABBLE 101’ class began feeling very confident knowing all this information. The game became easier because they could now play words from their rack onto the board, using the 2s as HOOKS. The game was bumped up one level. There were still several kinks that needed to be addressed and what made matters worse is they became satisfied with the small improvement and ignored the next 20 Lessons.
It’s all about ATTITUDE. There is a HUGE difference between

  1. Try, try, try again and
  2. Try again
  3. There is a HUGE difference between repetition, repetition, repetition and
  4. Just repetition

Lesson #2 in ‘SCRABBLE 101’ is all about the front and back hooks to all 107 of the 2-Letter-Words. Some players know and learn 60 of the 107 and give up because they are satisfied with their new knowledge. Then a week later at club, their opponent played ‘HM’ and they realize that that 2-Letter-Word is not one of the 60 which they mastered. WHAT TO DO? I’ll tell you what to do. Go back home tonight and learn the rest of the words in the exercise. By not completing and repeating until you are a MASTER, you are just another pretty face in the room. IF and WHEN you become a MASTER of ALL THE PIECES the other players will shake in their shoes when you sit down across the board from them in a game. You’ll become a MASTER HOOKER.

Once you master a topic you need to hold on to the information.
In order to achieve that you MUST do REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION.

Scrabble is a trademark

An a vector illustration of child wash hands.


We can all agree that hand-washing is one of the key actions that we can all take during the era of COVID-19. It can help keep us safe. BUT, what about the rest of the time? Washing your hands before playing scrabble is a courtesy and acknowledgment of your opponent. Your hand enters the tile bag an average of 34 times during a single game. Germs that live on those hands can find a convenient way of transferring from one host to another thanks to you and your opponent. Just think of what that hand was up to before starting your game. It touched a face, it caught a sneeze, it wiped someone’s bottom, it touched a doorknob, oh the places it has been.
What about catching a sneeze? Catch that sneeze in a tissue. If the sneeze sneaks up on you and happens quicker than you can pull out a tissue, turn your head and sneeze into your shoulder. HINT: If you did sneeze into your hand, excuse yourself immediately and wash your hands.
If you can Just Wear A Mask.
Be careful about going maskless with everyone. Even if the other person tells you that they tested negative for Covid this morning. That’s not good enough because of the incubation period. Why would you allow yourself to be vulnerable to this virus? Stay safe.
The RESTROOM RULE in the scrabble rule book: If one has to leave the game and the room during the course of a game, the player leaving the game shall    

  1. play their turn;
  2. does not replenish your rack at this time;
  3. hits the clock to start your opponent’s turn;
  4. leaves the room;
  5. your opponent will take their turn, not replenishing their tiles then hitting the clock so your time is running in your absence.

When you return

  1. the clock is neutralized
  2. you replenish your rack, learn what your opponent has played, have the option to consider their play
  3. then restart your clock.

The reason for not replenishing your rack before leaving the room is so that you cannot use a device to consult for a potential play.

  1. No Cheating
  2. No Fraud
  3. Count Every Legal Ballot.
(Scrabble is a trademark)

Scrabble strugglers are very creative and in my opinion; however, they are very wrong, if just in search of a scapegoat to take the rap for their deficit. Their excuses include but are not limited to:



In lieu of the array of claims enumerated above, I would claim that the complainer is the product of ‘genetic mis-breeding’ and/or poor upbringing.
To those of you reading this and may never have played club scrabble and/or tournament scrabble, let me assure you that THERE IS NOT a preponderance of that kind of behavior exemplified above. AND YET, it does appear at times. Just be aware that each and every player is responsible to protect themselves from the outrageous antics of any strange behavior thrown at them. The one simple solution is to stop the clock, raise your hand and call ‘DIRECTOR”! The director must come to you, hear you case and issue a ruling. The kind of behavior I described above is unacceptable.
If you have been playing any period of time and you yourself have experienced a time when a path to victory was hindered by hurdles from poor rack to physical distractions within the room and/or an attitude in your head, you must face the challenge. The challenge is for you to find the inner strength to not give in to the circumstances
Also know the reality of how ‘LUCK’ works. Sometimes luck smiles upon you and other times it laughs in your face. Part of the answer is, ‘The More You Know, The Luckier You Become’. And even the highest ranked players will have time when they will face extremely bad luck.
Genetic mis-breeding as a cause for performing poorly in scrabble competitions might be the prime factor for less than 1% of the population. It would be very rare if you or I were in the 1%. That leaves the result of our play to the amount of work and time we put in to the effort. It is not easy to be a star among other aspiring stars. I happen to find it fun and still learn something new almost every time I play, even after 30+ years.

It’s all up to you.

Scrabble is a trademark


MY NAME IS GARY MOSS and I approve this message.
I once met a middle-aged woman at a scrabble club in Los Angeles and I asked her how she enjoyed attending the club. She took a deep breath and her eyes looked down and misted. She began talking and unloading that she had always loved playing the game and was the best player in her circle. A few months ago one of her friends told her about club and she was very excited to learn that there was a local club. However, since she began attending she feels inferior to all the other players. She hasn’t won a single game and is very nervous about the clock, using the computer for challenges, and all the strange words that are legal.
I invited her to sit down and talk with me. I asked her if she enjoyed learning all the words that were new to her. She said yes. Then I shared my personal experience of finding the scrabble community when I was a newbie. I told her about the weeks I lost game after game and assured her that her experience was not unlike almost every member of the club. Then I gave her some advice about getting up to speed. Finally, I asked her if any of what I said was helpful. She smiled and thanked me. She hadn’t really reached out to anyone in the club for help. I introduced her to a player who I knew would be a good teacher and would have a sympathetic ear.ry
Scrabble is a ‘game’ and also club scrabble is a ‘GAME’. While the game of scrabble is about creating words from the lettered tiles on your rack and placing them legally onto the board, a key factor in the game is your MEMORY. Winning the game is determined by amassing the greatest score, earned from the words you played on the board.

  • Some people are better than others at looking at jumbled sets of seven lettered tiles.
  • Some people have larger vocabularies than other people.
  • Some scrabble players who want to be the best in their club will spend hours each week, at home, studying the OWL (Official Word List) while other players show up to play each week, never thinking about scrabble jargon between club sessions.

It has been said, “The More You Know The Luckier You’ll Become”.

There are people who want to WIN but don’t care to put in any time ‘studying’. Those people may win some of the time because there is a ‘LUCK FACTOR’ of about 30% in the game related to the random drawing of tiles and knowing the ‘HOOKS’ for the words that are played on the board. However, most frequent winners it is noted have put in the time to learn some of the ‘tricks’ of the champion scrabble players.
**The ‘TRICKS’ aren’t tricks at all. They are strategies that players learn and apply to the game while playing. These methods will lead to higher scoring plays and more frequent wins.

My online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’ will show you HOW TO.
You’ll still have to put in the time to master the techniques and knowledge.
If you choose, YOU CAN do it. Call me 949 510-1673.

Scrabble is a trademark


There’s a lot of talk these days about the potential power of a vaccine to fight and protect you and I from the dangers of the COVID-19 virus. During my lifetime vaccines have provided protection from Polio, varieties of the Flu, Shingles, and other threatening illnesses.
My idea of a scrabble vaccine WOULD NOT be one to protect you from scrabble, rather it would boost your abilities and memory to make you an even better player than you already are and help you rise in the ranks among scrabble mavins. It would be like SCRABBLE ON STEROIDS.
Do you think that would take the FUN out of the game if everyone was a ‘SMARTIE PANTS’ or a walking, talking WIKIPEDIA?
I imagine that the focus of the game would shift from word knowledge to strategy, where and how to place all those words which both opponents would know.


Being an avid TV and NEWS junkie I’ve watched and listened to a parade of doctors and scientists talking about the COVID-19 Virus. One thing I’ve picked up on is the fact that viruses have the ability to mutate into different strains. And so, as the researchers are working to develop a vaccine for the COVID strain, they are also thinking about the next strain. . . and there will be some.
That hit a nerve in me and it rubbed my nose into some scrabble advice I’ve been serving up to my students for more than the last twenty years. It goes like this: ‘WHEN YOU ARE TAKING THIS TURN, FIND A PLAY, THEN PAUSE, AND LOOK FOR A BETTER PLAY. ALWAYS CONSIDER YOUR NEXT PLAY AND THE COMEBACK PLAYS YOU MAY BE CREATING FOR YOUR OPPONENT.’

Meanwhile, stay safe.

Scrabble is a trademark


The game of scrabble is too big to learn in a single session. The most common experience for those of us who initially learn the game from our parents or from friends only received an overview. We learned just enough to stumble forward in order to take our turns during the game. Then we were served up time and again to those parents or friends who made themselves appear as superstars.
On a Thursday evening about 20 years ago a 20-something young man showed up at Scrabble Club #350 at BORDERS BOOKSELLERS at the South Coast Plaza in Santa Ana, California. He introduced himself and told us that he had always enjoyed playing scrabble, learning from his mom when he was only 9 years old. We were happy to have him play with us. I first paired him with one of the Novice players in the club for game #1. Our young friend amassed an embarrassing number of points and beat our Novice 547 to 210. After game #1 at club, I paired players using a Swiss-Pairing System that assigns winners to winners. The young man moved through the evening demolishing opponents in all four of his games. Before he left he let us in on his joke; he had a rating of over 1900 and was currently ranked among the top 25 players in the USA.


IF and WHEN you find yourself wanting to move up a wrung in the scrabble ranks, there is a time tested recipe that will put you on the path as long as you have the DESIRE, the POSITIVE ATTITUDE, and the PERSISTENCE.
It is my experience to have witnessed all sorts of people move up in the ranks, some higher than others; some faster than others, but all rising from one level to the next. I’ve known players as young as 7 and 8 (Andre Ornish and Cooper Kumatsu) and players in their 90’s and 100’s (Renee Peters and Virginia Miller).
The way YOU achieve the knowledge and expertise is the same as the way you eat an elephant (one bite at a time).
Attack the project on your own or seek out a mentor, little old me. I’ll explore your goal with you and enroll you into my carefully planned out online scrabble class, SCRABBLE 101, and lead you through 21 days of lessons and exercises that identify the pieces of the game. Your biggest challenge will be to UNLEARN the bad habits that you’ve picked up and REPROGRAM yourself to the winning ways of champion scrabble players.

WARNING! Once you begin to MASTER the pieces of the game, old friends will no longer want to play with you because you will be unbeatable in that circle.

BUT, DON’T WORRY. There’s a whole other world of players who will want to meet you and play with you. And you’ll have tons of fun all along the way.

Call me: (949) 510-1673.

Scrabble is a trademark

If you are one of the millions who have participated in making New Year resolutions in past years, you may be interested to know that more than 80% of resolutions are made casually as an afterthought on New Years’ Day when people think it’s a cute idea to create a resolution to lose weight, quit smoking, do more exercise, get better grades in school, etc.
Would you believe that 98.9999% of those resolutions break down and disintegrate between January 1 – 7 ?

New Year’s Day is still more than a month away. May I suggest that if you recognize some ‘bad’ habit or behavior that you’d really/truly want to STOP! or CHANGE! You can DO IT. BUT, you need to take an entirely different approach.

YOU need a PLAN.

  1. Find a quiet PLACE; block off an hour of uninterrupted TIME; get a notebook and several working pens or pencils. Leave your cell phone somewhere far away, out of earshot. Be away from any/all distractions.
  2. Create a thoughtful list of changes that YOU can make to improve your:
  3. THINK BIG, create written lists for each of the 7 areas of your life, listed above.
  4. If you find that an hour isn’t enough time to complete this challenge, arrange for additional time (later that same day or the next.) Don’t allow this to disrupt your life and obligations, but don’t drag it out to more than a day or two or three.
  5. When finished with your lists, prioritize the items in order of the greatest benefits to your world.
  6. Close your eyes and visualize your life with these changes being a part of it.
  7. Share your list with your significant other or best friend, or trusted confidant. If anyone belittles your plan, hear them but DO NOT ALLOW OTHER TO SABOTAGE YOU. Consider other points-of-view and modify your plan… ONLY IF YOU SEE FIT TO ALTER YOUR PLAN.
  8. Develop your plan-of-action that will begin on January 1, 2021. Create a list of specific ACTIONS that you will take and assign a date and time to each. Create a way to track your progress that will reflect your daily/weekly/monthly achievements. It could be a simple checklist, a chart, or a diary.
  9. Continue to review your plan at least every other day until 12/31/2020.
  10. On 1/1/2021 JUST BEGIN IT, no matter what.

Good luck.
Sent me a note about your progress on
1/15/2021 and again on 1/31/2021.
I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Scrabble is a trademark

Diet contributes to your general health in ways that continue to be discovered and understood by doctors, dietitians, and scrabble directors.
My mother was no doctor but she frequently spouted homeopathic advice which she believed came by way of ‘baubee mices’, stories. The following information is the home remedies she espoused, however; they weren’t the only ones. I confess that I heard all these claims before Prevagen and Mem-Tabs were on the market.
I’m sure there were many more.

      • Eat FISH it will expand your Brain-Power.
      • Eat CARROTS to improve your Vision.
      • Avoid CHOCOLATE; it fosters Zits.
      • ONIONS will maintain a clear completion.
      • Do not eat PORK, but PEPPERONI is permissible.
      • You can eat SHRIMP at a restaurant, but never at home.
      • SPINACH, like Popeye says, will make you strong.
      • CANDY rots your teeth.

Mom did not make a 1:1 connection for every kind of food. But I do believe that I am essentially the way I turned out because of Peanut Butter & Jelly, Spaghetti, Tomato Soup, Grilled Cheese, Canasta Cake, Greene’s Hamburgers, Canned Peaches, Challah, Schmaltz, Latkes, and Chopped Liver.
And then there is my dramatic aversion to TUNA FISH. On the one occasion when my folks took a weekend get-away and had me stay with my aunt Betty and uncle Dave, mom didn’t provide specific instructions to not feed me Tuna. So, when my aunt served us kids tuna sandwiches on Saturday afternoon and I decline to eat it, aunt Betty told me that in her house people were expected to eat whatever was served to them at the table. I began to cry and declined again. Betty and Dave took me to the living-room, sat me down on the sofa, and stood over me. They repeated their house rule and warned me, “If you don’t eat your sandwich we’ll have to feed it to you like they do in Chicago.” I had no idea what that meant but I was terrified. I went back to the table and took one bite. I became very ill and regurgitated everything right back onto the plate and ran to the bathroom. I never stayed with them again and I have never allow tuna fish to enter my mouth again.

P.S. I will eat Yellow-Fin Tuna. That’s a whole different thing.

(Scrabble is a trademark)


When we think of ANAGRAMS we usually think of taking the letters from a single word and rearranging them to create different words.
We regularly apply this skill and knowledge when we play scrabble.

There are several clever wordsmiths out there who have rearranged the letters in longer words and phrases as an exercise that resembles anagramming. Thanks to scrabble club director, Vivian Minden, from Dundas, Ontario, Canada, for sharing this with us.



**There is no anagram that I can create for ‘happythanksgiving’, Can you?**

Scrabble is a trademark


I love the scrabble world because of the diversity of people in terms of race, religion, political views, height. weight, handedness, eye color, levels of formal education, styles of learning, and shoe size.
If we were all the same the scene would be boring. There would be too many tie games. When your opponent played a word there would never be a surprise because we would all know the same words.
Having grown up in Detroit, Michigan, and having visited Windsor, Ontario, Canada on many excursions, just across the Detroit River, via the tunnel or via the Ambassador Bridge, it wasn’t like being in a foreign country to me. They all spoke English and they drove on the same side of the road as we do in the US.
BUT when I began playing club scrabble and identified scrabble clubs in Canada, eventually competing there. . . I found myself learning words that are commonly played there and rarely played here.

BUT I could probably say the same thing comparing a Club from Detroit to a club in Knoxville, Tennessee.

If/when you play a word I don’t know, against me at club, I will most likely remember it and find myself playing at some future time against a different player. We learn from and teach each other word and strategies every time we play.
Thumb through the OWL or OSPD6 and consider the inclusive ethnicity that lives through words in Farsi, Yiddish, Spanish, Indian, French, and American Slang.
This wide variety of verbiage and the artificial limit to just over 170,000+ words demonstrates that the game which uses these words is a MEMORY GAME. There are many ‘REAL WORDS’ which do not have a home on the OWL. Just compare the lexicon which is used on the world scrabble stage (The Collins) which has about 300,000 words?

So, memorize onward.
If you plan to compete in the US, ignore any words unacceptable in accordance with the OWL.

Scrabble is a trademark

While there is no shortage of words spoken on our planet, the average person within the US society only manages to use about 5% of the words on the OWL (8,500).
That’s why newspapers are written at a 5th Grade Level. Most folks don’t want to do anything more than necessary when it come to learning how to use language to express themselves more fully. I have been very annoyed watching interviews on TV of the people at the Trump rallies. To me they are a reflection of the lowest of the low in regard to their word usage, their herd mentality, and lack of truth (a perfect storm for any autocrat).
Scrabble players who relish language and learning, thrive in the competitive world of scrabble clubs and competitions where the focus of individual players is on the dynamic expansion of word knowledge and usage. It is not uncommon to witness players expand their personal knowledge to 10%, 15%, 20%, or more of the words listed on the OWL. The rare birds are those who have claimed to know the entire OWL. One such person is my friend Mark Landsberg. The last time I saw Mark he was nearing his 80th birthday and he related that he had again memorized the entire OWL. I chuckled to myself and Mark could tell I wasn’t believing his claim. Mark handed me a dog-eared copy of the OWL and said I’ll show you. As I held the OWL Mark asked me to pick any letter from A to Z. I chose ‘O’. Mark told me to open the OwL to ‘O’. I did as he asked. Then to my amazement, he began reciting: OAF- O-A-F; OAK- O-A-K; OAKED- O-A-K-E-D; OAKNESS- O-A-K-N-E-S-S; then he said the next word was for me and he continued: OAKMOSS- O-A-K-M-O-S-S. Mark paused and asked me to pick a different letter of the alphabet and I chose ‘V’. Mark paused, thoughtfully, appeared to be visualizing something and then began again: VAC- V-A-C; VACANCY- V-A-C-A-N-C-Y; VACANT- V-A-C-A-N-T. I just stood there, my jaw had dropped after he had begun with the Os.
While you and I will most likely never achieve Mark’s level of expertise, we do have the ability to grow our vocabularies and memories to levels greater than whatever we enjoy now. It doesn’t occur naturally. It requires having greater expectations of our abilities and taking a planned action to make it happen.
If and when you or I create an intention to make things happen, that’s when things have the possibility of happening. That applies to learning scrabble jargon and to every other facet of our lives.
Assuming that you currently know 5%-10% of the words on the OWL, how many more do you want to learn and memorize this month? this year? in the next 5 years?

  • Do you know how to create an effective plan to accomplish your goal?
  • Do you know someone else who can assist you to create such a plan?

If you have the INTENSION of going forward, ask me for assistance. I’ll show you a path that will get you from HERE to THERE.

Scrabble is a trademark

Imagine yourself standing alongside a roomful of strangers and you are a bit confused and disoriented. You’re on your way to a special dinner date at 7PM. Right now it’s 6:40 PM and you’re aware that you are about to be late. You’re lost; earlier you thought you knew how to get to your destination but now you realize you were obviously wrong. You approach the group and explain your problem and ask for directions. Several of the people seem eager to help you with directions from here to there. The Alpha-Dog in the group begins telling you directions to follow (turn left out of the parking lot; at the second traffic light turn right; drive about 5 miles just past a fire station on your right and turn left at the next traffic light . . .). At that point, another person in the group interrupts and says I’m sorry, that’s not right. The second person provides you with a different set of directions. Now you are really confused.

Many people will eagerly get involved giving directions for all sorts of things.

Imagine you recently learned that there are scrabble clubs all across America as well as around the world. You find that hard to believe since you’ve been playing scrabble with family and friends your entire life and have never before known about scrabble clubs. You are excited and google ‘scrabble clubs’ and find one that plays only a few miles from your home. You call the director of the club and make plans to attend next week. When you walk into the room at club you feel very welcomed and special. Everyone, there are friendly, and as you play different opponents during the evening give you hints and instruction about the difference between playing casual scrabble with friends and competitive club scrabble.

Question: Which one of the people at the club do you seek out to ask advice to help you find the answers to the many questions about the game that confounds you?

  1. The nice lady who was very friendly and even gave you her phone number and an invitation to play her at her home if ever you found it convenient.
  2. The guy who played all those weird words and beat you by more than 200 points.
  3. The young woman whom you met at the computer, who showed you how to challenge a play and how to use the computer for adjudication.
  4. The man you played in the third game and you beat him.

Answer: Not enough information.

Do not take advice from just anyone. Be nice and friendly with everyone.
BEWARE! Nice people do not necessarily know the correct answers. If you are serious about learning the game ask someone who knows the ‘CORRECT

ANSWERS’.Ask a club director. I’m a director, ask me:

Even many of the BEST players may not have all the answers. DO NOT LEARN THE WRONG WAY.


Scrabble is a trademark


In any/every game or piece of life there need not be any fraud, especially when there are RULES and REMEDIES to deal with the occasional Ooooops, or Planned Assault to slant the playing field in favor of the perpetrator.
If and when such a thing occurs simply throw a flag, shout foul, call out ‘DIRECTOR,’ call your Representative or Congressman, call 911, make a citizens’ arrest, pull the rug out, put on your mask securely, shame the bad guys on Facebook, Tweet the face/s of foul play, take two aspirin and call me in the morning.

Fraud is unacceptable, even for bullies like a certain POTUS.

  1. DO NOT be Passive. Don’t be anyone’s’ door mat. Push back; organize a national response and call it SCRABBLE GAMES MATTER.
  2. Research the rule. Become an expert on the rules and share that information among the minions. Post it on Billboards. Post it on Pop-Up Ads on every computer screen. Appear on CNN with Wolf Blitzer or 60 Minutes with Scott Pelley.
  3. Create a ‘HOW TO’ documentary about the frauds happening around the world for the purpose of exposing the truth, naming names of the bad guys who are usually hiding in plain sight.
  4. Follow the money and build obstacles to dry up or divert the streams of money that funds the Fraud.

In scrabble circles there is a ‘ZERO-TOLERANCE POLICY’. It is applied via the Official Rules administered by the CLUB and TOURNAMENT DIRECTORS. One director, Larry Rand of Phoenix, AZ. has create a novel practice at his events which helps insure against any Ooops or Fraud in relationship to reporting the correct results of any/every game that occurs at a competition. (After a game is over, both players have the responsibility to verify the data and initial, confirming there oversight to the correctness of the data. That data is reviewed by the director. If and when any error is identified and includes a sign-off, both players who submitted that data slip are fined $1). Then Larry shames you by sharing the names of the players who have been fined. THAT WILL KEEP MOST ON THEIR TOES.
In scrabble the possible mistakes made by word-judges has been remedied by introducing highly accurate computer programs to handle the adjudication of all word challenges. (Errors on the computer can still happen if/when the word being challenged is mistyped into the computer.)

Bully, bully.

Scrabble is a trademark


Did you ever read or hear the fable about the six blind men who experienced meeting an elephant? Each of the men experienced different parts of the pachyderm and attempted to share their impressions with the group. The one who touched the elephant’s trunk had a completely different understanding of the animal than the one who touched a leg. The one who touched the tusk had a completely different experience than the one who touched the tail. Enough said.
Once upon a time, there was a scrabble club in Laguna Woods, California that had the good fortune to have a stream of newbies show up at club over a period of the months of January and February 2019. The eight newbies all showed up on different dates. When the club director finally got around to it he called the eight newbies, one after another to ask them how they ranked their experience at the club and he invited them to come back again.
The club director was not at all surprised when each of the eight newbies offered completely different accounts of their experiences. While they all shared that they felt very welcomed by the club members, each explained the way we played the game with different perspectives.

Newbie #1 was impressed by the clock and how quickly we played.
Newbie #2 was overwhelmed by the words played by her opponents.
Newbie #3 had never before witnessed anyone earning more than 250 pts/gm.
Newbie #4 was in awe by players using the Hot Spots so effectively.
Newbie #5 never knew there were rules for overdrawing.
Newbie #6 was blown away by the frequency of bingos played.
Newbie #7 was impressed by parallel plays with multiple hooks.
Newbie #8 was excited by the anagrams played (liver=ervil=viler=livre).

Just like the elephant, scrabble looks very different to different individuals depending on the way they look at it.
There is no BEST way to view the game. There is not ONE THING that a newbie SHOULD learn first. The frustration is that all the parts are important. The best way to learn and become a better player is, begin with an INTENSION to become the best you can achieve; make a written plan; develop a study regimen, and then simply step off the cliff and be true to your plan.


  1. How does one eat an elephant?
  2. How does one consume the knowledge to play a challenging game of scrabble?

ANSWER: One bite at a time.

Scrabble is a trademark

If you watch football games in the US then you are familiar with the concept of moving the sticks. The team on offense has 4 downs (opportunities) to forward the ball a minimum of 10 yards to ‘move the sticks’ to maintain their possession of the offense. If they fail to do so, the opposing team takes charge of the ball and the transition of offense and defense occurs.
In the game of scrabble, we play both offense and defense throughout the game. Think of ‘moving the sticks’ as a form of building a lead in our point differential. Earn better scores than your opponent on every turn and consistently build your lead in the score.
In order to achieve this goal, you’ll need a plan that relies upon having an impressive arsenal of words and the knowledge of playing words on HOT SPOTS where you will earn premium scores which in turn will build your score faster than your opponent. If you are the primary mover of the sticks you will most likely be a frequent WINNER.
The STATE OF THE STATUS of scrabble players in our land IS WHAT IT IS. There are all types from those who are still just discovering the game for the first time to others who are Novices with the average vocabulary, knowing 5% of the dictionary. Then there is the other camp of devotees of the game where there is a staggering assortment of different levels of expertise.
What drew you to play scrabble? Are you one who only plays when the family gathers together at Thanksgiving and Christmas? Do you enjoy the learning and competition enough that you sought out a scrabble club? Have you made an effort to learn ‘scrabble jargon’ so you can score higher scores? Do you consider yourself a ‘casual player’? A ‘serious competitor’? A ‘driven mavin’?

You may enjoy scrabble as a casual player; you may not enjoy the higher levels of competition where you will initially encounter players that seem like brainiacs.

If you give me 3 weeks as your mentor, I can take you from HERE to THERE. All you’d have to do is:

  1. Come to the experience with a degree of your ’INTENTION’ to put in the time
  2. Have an ‘I CAN ATTITUDE’ while woking assignments and
  3. Let go of the way you’ve played the game in the past while trusting me to lead you to learn the ways of the scrabble champions.
  4. Call me: (949) 510-1673
Scrabble is a trademark


There some people who make their livings off of trash. “One mans’ trash is another mans’ treasure.”
There have been times when my desk was so over-piled that some important things slipped over the edge and fell into the trash basket. On a few occasions when I realized what had happened I rescued the important stuff before transferring the rest to the trash bin. Has that ever happened to you?
I was one of the pioneers when office computers first came on the scene. There wasn’t an Apple Store in 1975 when I bought my first Apple computer. There weren’t yet programs that you could purchase to do your bookkeeping and other office functions. Like others, I hired a computer geek to write specific programs to fit my needs and do my bidding. At that time I owned and operated a private school (Grades preschool – 8), a summer day camp, and a variety of weekend programs for kids. By 1975 it was a very busy operation, especially in summers when I had more than 50 staff and hundreds of campers. I used the computer to enter the names of campers and their wide variety of schedules which they chose to attend.
One time I had entered data, over a period of days, without making a backup copy. You know where I’m going with this. I inadvertently touched a key on the keyboard and to my dismay, I erased a weeks’ work which I could not retrieve.

I ALMOST learn my lesson from that experience. I wrote myself a note and taped it to the computer to remind myself to BACK-UP every time. THEN on June 1st when I started getting the bulk of summer enrollments for day camp I worked 12 hour days doing data entry. I had entered nearly 400 sets of data with attendance schedules, lunch schedules, transportation instructions for pick-ups and drop-offs, and latch-key instructions. There was a knock on my office door and in walked my insurance agent. I paused and chatted with him and proudly showed him my computer and explained how it would permit me to do my job more efficiently, from here going forward. He listened intently and even asked a few good questions.
A moment later my telephone rang and I turn to answer it. In only a few short seconds, my agent/friend touched my computer and touched the delete key. I almost had a heart attack. I had been sabotaged. SHAME ON ME.

These days I save everything (way too much).
These days I get pop-up messages on my computer that read: WARNING, your startup disk is almost full; delete some files in order to make more room.

If you’ve followed my BLOG you may assume that I have created almost every kind of list and learning tool you and other scrabble players might desire at one time or another. While I gladly give away for free a few of the basics, I sell other items for a modest fee. If you are interested, simply send me an email.

Scrabble is a trademark

STOP THE STEAL (at the scrabble board, that is).
In my opinion, there are not many scrabble players who are trying to purposely cheat you to win a game. But in the spirit of the STOP THE STEAL movement out there I am prompted to share some advice to you and other scrabble mavins.

  1. Before you begin to play, be positive that the tile bag contains all 100 tiles.
  2. If you are not using PRO-TILES when you play, get some. The tiles that normally come with the game (purchased in stores and online) are wooden, letters on one side and blank on the back. Considering the value and versatility of the ‘BLANK’ (a wild card), some sneaky players have played a flipped lettered tile as a BLANK. Don’t be fooled even if it is an innocent discretion. When a wooden BLANK is played, take the time to pick it up, turn it over, and verify that it is truly a BLANK.
  3. Count your opponent’s scores. We are usually too trusting, accepting the score that our opponents announce after they make their play. You have the right to recount their score if you choose. You always want to know THE REAL SCORE. When opponents overcount their score, unchecked, you lose. If they undercount their score it can be a scam to cheat you too. How that works is you think you’re ahead in the game. In a close game, in the end, the opponents ask for a recount. And SURPRISE! You LOSE!
  4. KNOW THE RULES. Play by the rules and hold your opponent to play by the rules. If a dispute occurs, don’t argue, call the director for a ruling.
  5. The only time the clock is supposed to stop is when a player is challenging a  play or when the director is called. Do not permit your opponent to stop their clock at other times. That’s called stealing TIME.
  6. In the rule book, the are several steps to completing your turn. Learn the steps. Complete your turn properly and demand the same from opponents. When these steps are not followed, a player may be replenishing their tile rack out of sequence.
  7. At the end of the game when you record your scores, make certain that you and your opponent agree on the scores, write them down, and initial.
Scrabble is a trademark


11/ 17/2020
While we all know that we earn a bonus of 50 points when we play a BINGO (using all 7 tiles from our rack on a single turn), we frequently have the opportunity to score many more points when we thoughtfully use the HOT SPOTS on the board to maximize points earned.

  • Triple/Triples occur when you use all 7 tiles from your rack Plus one or more tiles on the board (between two TWS spots). There are 8 places on the board which may provide that opportunity.
  • Double/Doubles occur when you use all 7 tiles from your rack on a turn which covers two DWS spots. There are 4 places on the board where that can happen.
  • DWS to TLS occurs using 5 or more tiles from your rack in 8 different spots on the board: (B2-F2), (B2-B6), (J2-N2), (N2-N6), (B10-B14), (B14- F14), (J14-N14) and (N10-N14). Very high counting scores can occur if you play a ‘Q’ or ‘Z’ or ‘J’ or ‘X’ on the TLS as part of a play that touches the DWS.
    Example: If you play ‘HAFIZ’ at (B2-F2), the ‘Z’ =30pts, the entire word = 40pts. and then is doubled to 80pts plus the value of the words hooked. That better than the score of many bingos.
  • 3 Letter Words played on Hot Spots. Don’t play of high valued tiles casually. Have a plan to use tiles like J, Q, X, and Z on DLS or TLS especially if you can play them in two directions on a single play. In order to do that you MUST remain aware of which HOTSPOTS are available while the game goes on. If you don’t actively look for the HOT SPOTS you may gloss over them and miss your chance to SCORE BIG. A ‘Q’ or a ‘Z’ play two ways on a TLS will earn you 60pts. That’s a very good reason to KNOW THE 2s and 3s and 5s.

You can create these crucial lists on your own -or- if you want a fast start these lists are readily available from JFTSOI (Just For The Spell Of It). Call me today and let’s talk about your scrabble playing goal. )


Scrabble is a trademark

We live in a period of evolution that provides us with easy solutions, formulated in laboratories that resolve our issues from staving off viruses to allowing us to plan our families and assist us in losing weight while we sleep.
I am one of those ‘weak’ people who has embraced the promises of doctors and snake oil salesmen rather than just living a life-style to cure my ills. When people like me begin to believe that they require prescriptions and supplements to fine-tune their body-engines, it can become a slippery slope.
Since my late twenties I battled with weight gain. I stand about 5’6.5” and should probably keep to a weight of about 150 lbs. The truth is that I enjoy eating; I am guilty of overeating and/or simply eating the wrong foods for a healthy diet. Some of my favorites are cheesecake, fast foods, pasta, bread, and desserts. As a result I’ve tried so many different diets that I don’t have enough fingers to count them on my two hands. Some diets have helped me lose weight when I was true to their regimen. But after the weeks of losing the weight I’ve rewarded myself with my favorite foods and regained the weight. I’ve been as heavy as 220 lbs. That time my doctor gave me a magic pill (CONTRAVE) and I lost 50 pounds in 4 months. I know that I’m not being smart about my health and have frequent talks with myself about my status. Some days I’m better than others. As a result I have Type II Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and a variety of other conditions. In order to manage my health, I take two handfuls of pills every day along with injections of insulin. If I was living a hundred years ago I’d probably be dead. I don’t think that I’m too different that many, many others.
So, when I see a TV ad for some simple solution in the form of a pill which promises a cure or a benefit my ears perk-up. Most time the reason I don’t take all of those pills is the economics of the situation. Every promise is accompanied by a price.
Some of the promises below are specific to assist memory, cognition, and brain health. I have no proof that any of these products can do what they promise.


With that said, in my opinion, there is no substitute for expanding memory than using learning tools and spaced-repetition, along with a plan and a regimen. A memory supplement will not build your vocabulary and word power by itself. If you have experienced one of the remedies above contributing in a positive way, please share that information.

Scrabble is a trademark


Let’s Do An Exercise For Your SHORT TERM MEMORY
Every day we are bombarded with all sorts of information (stuff on the radio as we are traveling, on TV newscasts, printed material in newspapers,  billboards, Podcasts (Like mine –, and even from reading books). Most of that SHORT TERM MEMORY (STM) ends up getting lost in the brain.  During a day you meet someone who shares something that you deem to be more important and want to remember it. So you request their email address to connect later. One of two things will happen:

  1. that information will slip away or
  2. you will shift that information to LONG TERM MEMORY(LTM) by taking an action.

That action might be writing the email down on paper and stuffing it into your pocket -or- you’ll take out your phone and record the email onto your phone. When you use that email later that day you’ll be taking another step in building a place for it in your LTM (Long Term Memory.)
Without STM, when you have a conversation you may find that while listening to your friends you will have already forgotten the first thing or two that they shared. **Most things that come and go through our STM never get placed into our LTM. We’d probably become overwhelmed if we remembered everything.

STM only hangs around in our memory for 10 – 15 minutes before it dims and its opacity drifts from 100% to zero.
Let’s do an STM experiment. You’ll need a pencil and paper.
Below you’ll find several sets of numbers.

  • Look at the line of numbers like you’re reading an address; look away from your paper and write down the line of numbers.
  • Then do the same for each line.
  • When you’ve done all 5 sets look back to see how many you got right.
  • Then try the same with the emojis.

8 3 4 7

2 5 2 6

7 1 4 9

6 3 2 8

2 3 8 7


To move items from your short term memory so you will remember these items in the future, you need to take an action. Make a flashcard, draw a picture, review the data on a regular basis. Substitute words in place of the numbers and emojis.

Scrabble is a trademark

Hidden deep within my MacBook, in an unlabelled file, where no one would think to look, that’s where I have hidden the POO LIST. If my mother would have ever found this list she would have washed out my mouth with soap. A bar of Ivory soap was her favorite. I know from experience. She wouldn’t approve; not one little bit.
Up until the mid-1990s the OWL included all words, including the ‘naughty’ ones. THEN, at some point, the word committee decided to add words to the current OWL at that time. If my memory serves me correctly, a committee of ‘CHURCH LADIES’ from one of the southern states took a stand. They made quite a fuss and got the attention of Merriam-Webster and protested, asking that the next version of the OSPD exclude the ‘NAUGHTY WORDS’. And so, from that time forward approximately 140 words from the OWL were eliminated from the OSPD. Their objection was that schoolchildren used the OSPD and their sensitivities should be protected by having a cleansed dictionary. And it remains that way till this day. *The naughty words remain on the OWL and are legal to play in adult circles. ABO and SKIMO are just two of the offensive words that have been banished.  {***I looked up both words and I suggest you do too. KMH, editor.}
It was reported that one of the most outrageous naughty plays occurred at a novelty tournament in Hell, Michigan (not far from Brighton, MI. off US96 and US23). Player ‘A’ placed the word ‘SUCK’ on the board at (I,1) to (L,1). Player ‘B’ then played all seven of her tiles creating a triple, triple with ‘COCK’ as a front extension and ‘ERS’ at the end for a Whopping score of 293 points (using a blank for the first letter ‘C’). [*That’s not even the all-time highest scrabble score ever played.]
Anyone who wants a current updated copy of the Naughty-Word-List can drop me an email at and I will send you a PDF file for your eyes only.


Scrabble is a trademark




  1. You have learned all 107 of the 2-letter-words from AA-to-ZA.
  2. Your clock has gone into negative time.
  3. Your automatic pencil runs out of lead.
  4. You have the urge to play words diagonally.
  5. You can’t remember all the words that end with W-O-R-T.
  6. The letters have worn off of your pro-tiles.
  7. You’ve been obsessing about specific squares on the scrabble board.
  8. The pages of your dictionary are dogeared.
  9. You’ve forgotten the route to your scrabble club.
  10. You’re hooked on the HOOKS.
  11. Your right hand is tired of playing against your left hand.
  12. You miss your ‘scrabble-daddy’. (The person who always beats you.)
  13. You’ve forgotten how to conjugate.
  14. You freak out imagining your opponents putting their hands into your tile bag.
  15. You’re beginning to like Words-With-Friends because its easy and available.
  16. You are studying twelve and thirteen letter long words.
  17. You dream about conjunctions attacking adverbs.

Scrabble is a trademark

When I watch other people play scrabble I always learn something. It might be a word that is new to me or some lesser-known hook to a word that is already on the board. The more unusual the play, the more likely I’ll remember it just because it makes an impression on me. I have a greater propensity to remember things when I follow my own advice and write the word down and review it later.
Several years ago after learning more than a few words with lesser-known letter combinations at the beginning and at the end of them, my curiosity got the best of me and I spent weeks-to-months compiling two separate tomes. The first is entitled ‘STRANGE BEGINNINGS’. Guess what the other is called? If you guessed ‘STRANGE ENDINGS’ you are correct.
Some of the words in ‘STRANGE BEGINNINGS’ include words beginning with ‘CN . . .,’ ‘BD . . .’, ‘GJ . . .’, ‘JN . . .’, ‘PF . . .’, ‘MN . . .’, ‘PT . . .’, and more.
The ‘BEGINNINGS’ book includes 180+ pages, each one drawing your attention to these lesser-known, seldom played, words that will make you appear to be a ‘smartie pants’. if you drop them on your opponent you are likely to draw a challenge or minimally you’ll cause them to THINK and waste some time off their clock. On page 13 of my book, you will find the letters ‘CN’ and the hint that there are 4 words on the OWL that begin with these 2 letters. The next page holds the answers; all forms of ‘CNIDA’ (a jellyfish). Each book sells for $30 (including shipping). Order via Paypal to the account of

Playing scrabble can be a wonderful learning experience if you make it your intention to build your word power. Some people who enjoy the game never learn the lesser-known words. They are content with playing a smaller set of common words game after game after game. Many of these folks will even become upset with opponents who play challenging words and say to their opponent, “That’s not a REAL WORD.” While there are more than 170,000+ words on the OWL, most players know fewer than 10,000 words from that list.
I encourage you to have fun with learning and expanding your memory by learning more. Put on your Einstein and stretch your comfort zone. While I like to WIN and not lose a game, I will sit back and applaud my opponent when they play some lesser-known word on their path to victory.

Scrabble is a trademark


Veterans Day is a federal holiday in the United States observed annually on November 11, for honoring military veterans, that is, persons who have served in the United States Armed Forces. IF YOU ARE A VETERAN, I THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE.

Have you ever considered what is within Veterans?

  • 8’s – VETERANS
  • 2’s – AE, AN, AR, AS, AT, EN, ER, ES, ET, NA, NE, RE, TA, TE


Scrabble is a trademark


Experiencing Shortness Of Breath, Tingling In Your Feet & Fingers?
If that is your experience, it sounds to me like you must be playing a challenging game of scrabble.
After I discovered club scrabble in the late 1980s, and after playing weekly at the scrabble club in Livonia, Michigan against players, the like of Chuck Armstrong, Rod Nivison, Paul Epstein, Karol Foss, Rosetta Brooks, Eunice Smith and others, someone invited me to join them at a tournament in Gatlinburg, TN.
Boy was I excited. Boy was I nervous. Boy was I scared. The GOOD NEWS was that I would play in one of the lower divisions (lower-rated players). I had been studying scrabble jargon and strategies, day and night, for weeks prior to heading south on I75.
Years before, from the time I married in 1964, my wife insisted we spend spring break in Gatlinburg, TN., her family’s tradition. She was an outdoorswoman. I went reluctantly. I didn’t enjoy all the hiking, in spite of the beauty of nature. When I rolled into Gatlinburg with all my scrabble friends, they knew that I had been there more than a dozen times, so I was asked to be their tour guide. Most of my hiking on that long weekend was thankfully no more than the 40 yards from the seat at my scrabble table to the front of the ballroom where I deposited my WIN slips.
One of the happenings during the tournament that I never forget was during a game in which I was paired with a lady, my senior, who resembled my grandmother. We were very close in score, each alternately making nice scoring plays. There came a time in the game when I had a five letter word on my rack that played from (J,14) a TLS to (N,14) a DWS. The five letters: C-F-K-S-U.
I cringed as I played the word and she challenged me, thinking that crude words were not allow to be played. That made me the winner in that game.
(There are currently more than 140 naughty words on the OWL. Send me a request by email and I send you the list.)

Scrabble is a trademark

All of us are multi-faceted. We all have had countless experiences in our life times that assist us when we play scrabble, if and when we take off our blinders and see some of those words in plain sight and others pushed down into the hidden depths where our memory resides.
Stan is 42-years-old. He grew up with two siblings in Farmington Hills, Michigan. Both of his parents were school teachers and education was a very important focus within the family. Some of the activities that the family enjoyed were extensive family road trips each summer to national parks, museums, and to the beaches along the Florida coasts. Their home was filled with fun. They all loved board games, card games, playing catch, badminton, collecting stamps, watching Jeopardy, and playing Monopoly, and scrabble. Each of these experiences brought words along with it. All those words are most likely a part of Stan’s daily vocabulary at age 42 but they still live somewhere within Stan. With a little prompting we could stir up memories within Stan and I’d bet you that things would resurface after lying dormant for thirty or more years.
I was turning 55 and living in a 32 foot long RV in southern California. My daughters Sue and Stacy both announced that they were getting married that summer, Stacy in June and Sue in August. I saw an opportunity to drive myself cross-country, stay the whole summer, and even play a few tournaments along the way. It was a fun, scary, challenging endeavor for sure. The best thing was I would not forget anything at home because I was bringing my home with me. I was even towing my automobile behind me. I parked my wagon-train in a cozy RV park near Kensington Metro Park, a convenient distance from family and friends. The weddings were beautiful and I enjoyed myself immensely. Both going and returning home, as I drove through cities I stirred my memories of times when I knew and visited friends in those cities. Of all the cities I drove through I often considered stopping and calling an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in 20+ years. But I only stopped once.
It was on my way back home when I stopped to play in a weekend scrabble tournament in Cincinnati, Ohio. I remembered a friend from the time I was a teen in a synagogue youth group. How could anyone forget a name like Millard Lucas? I didn’t know if Millard still lived in Cincinnati. I planned on calling him after the tournament had ended. The second day of the scrabble tournament I made plans to go out to dinner with some of my scrabble buddies. Someone else in the group who knew the city picked the restaurant. I was feeling great because I was in 4th place in my division with only 5 more games before the tournament ended. My friends and I stuffed ourselves into taxies and road the couple miles to dinner. There was a short line of people standing in line at the check-in stand. I offered to go in and secure our reservation. I brushed my shoulder against a man in line and turned to say “Excuse me”. And there was Millard Lucas. Neither one of us could believe it. Serendipity. I ended up eating with Millard and his party. We talked about the good old days and who we had become in the 37 years since we’d seen each other last. I shared about my trip and the two weddings of my daughters, I told him all about my passion for scrabble and invited him to drop in on Sunday when the tournament concluded.
On Sunday I finished in 4th Place and received a cash reward. Millard came by and we share another meal. As I drove out west, of town I felt full of satisfaction and when my euphoria began to settle I realized it had been five days since I turned 55, and here I was, driving on Interstate 55.   Next stop Portland, Oregon.

Scrabble is a trademark

It was the late 1980s, I was in my mid-40s, I was coming out of a contentious divorce, my business was bleeding and dying due to an egregious action taken by my ex. One moment I was the headmaster of a brilliant progressive school and in the next moment, my ego and identity were dissolved. I was shot down. In order to survive I needed to reinvent myself and find my way out of my own darkness. Ready or not, life and the world was moving on.
One-piece missing from my puzzle at that moment was my circle of friends. I began searching the local newspapers for Singles’ activities. While most singles relied upon dances to meet others, I found those parties to be less than satisfactory. On one Thursday morning in February, just after Valentine’s Day, I read about a Singles’ Scrabble gathering on the following Saturday. I circled my calendar and pulled out my local street-map to plot my route to the event.
When I walked in the door I was greeted warmly. While I was there a good 45 minutes early, there were already more than two dozen people in the room. The people in the room ranged in age from teenagers to some in their seventies. One of the greeters explained that the editor of the newspaper misplaced the event announcement in the wrong column. This event was a competition to determine the players who would qualify to play in the upcoming US National Scrabble Tournament.
I was disappointed at first. I had just driven 20 miles through a snowstorm to get here.  [A wasted day?] I decided to stay awhile and check it out because I didn’t want to go back out into the snow.
The players were sitting at card tables, only 2 at a board, and each table had a two-faced chess-clock sitting next to the scrabble board. As I looked from one board to the next I saw a lot of letter combinations that looked foreign to me (HOWFF, NGULTRUM, OOGONIA). I ask the director what language they were playing with. He smiled and told me that all legal words MUST BE IN the Official Word List. Then he handed me an OWL to look at. He also gave me a list of the 2-Letter-Words. I didn’t know 20% — 33% of the 2-Letter-Words.
I found myself wanting to try to play when one of the players offered to play a game with me and show me how they played. Even keeping score was different from how I scored at home. She was a great teacher. She explained that Scrabble certainly uses words but it is primarily about MEMORY. She told me that there were a few tricks that the better players used to help them learn and remember volumes of words. She told me about STEMS, ANAGRAMS, and MNEMONICS. It was sorta overwhelming. But the teacher part of me wanted to know it all and she could sense my interest. She invited me to play at the Tuesday Scrabble Club in Livonia, Michigan which was less than 10 miles from my home.
The following Tuesday when I showed up to play at the club, the players were rubbing their hands together and salivating. I was FRESH MEAT. That first night they taught me how to use the CLOCK, how to keep SCORE, and the legal way to COMPLETE A TURN. The players were very patient with me and I learned that the best players in the club were actually studying word lists during the week when they were not playing games. During games at the club, I began recording words played by my opponents, that were new to me, in a notebook. Every week I’d come away from club with a set of 12 – 30 words (CWM, ETESIAN, SWARAJ, and more).
It took me weeks until I won my first game. By that time I was hooked. I used my experience as a teacher to develop some study tools for myself (WHIZ CARDS, CATEGORY LISTS, and HOOKS).
I made countless good friends. I attended and played in many clubs. In no time at all, I was brought up to speed and jumped into playing local and regional tournaments across Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Tennessee, and Ontario, Canada.
That all began for me more than 30 years ago and I’m still going strong. On August 24, 2019, I enjoyed a personalized Scrabble Road trip that took me 6,000 miles over 2 months, from Laguna Woods, California to Saratoga Springs, New York, with 23 stops at scrabble clubs and tournaments on my ’77 Sunset Trip’.

Scrabble is a trademark


The thing that usually brings people out to find a club is they are the BEST player in their family -or- the BEST player among their friends. Then, someone in their circle acknowledges how well they play and suggest they seek out the better competition. I’ve seen it countless times at Club #350.
Scrabble clubs depend on people who want to play the game to be there to participate and compete with one another. So, if you were a newbie who wandered into Club #350 you’d find me to be very welcoming and coaching you about some of the unique characteristics of club play. Then I’d put on some kid-gloves and invite you to play your first game against me in which I’d stop the clock a lot to coach you during our games.
Please know that club players show up to compete . . . so if you are in opposition to playing TUG-OF-WAR in favor of HUG-OF-WAR, club scrabble you may not find the club to be your CUP-OF-TEA.
With that said, I can promise you, if you love the game, competitive environments, learning words, and enjoy meeting others with a common interest, you are going to love the scrabble club experience.
WARNING! ! If you become a regular at a club and begin soaking up the jargon commonly used by scrabble club players, few-to-none of your family and friends will ever want to play with you again. You can also count on them telling you (about the jargon you play) “That’s not a real word”.
So, I invite you to challenge yourself to join a scrabble club and try it on for size.
The truth is: YOU HAVE THE ABILITY TO BECOME VERY GOOD at the scrabble club scene if you are willing to expand your horizons.
One lady showed up and Club #350 and while I was playing and coaching her as to how we played with club rules, SHE kept telling me that she is used to playing without a clock, without keeping score, with 3 people at a board, using only words they could define. That’s not how club scrabble works.
Put on your EINSTEIN and join us.


Scrabble is a trademark

I’m sure glad that the final results of a scrabble game are determined faster than this presidential election. WHEW!
Maybe that’s why we use time clocks for games at clubs and tournaments.
Those of you who know me and my style of play will recall that I usually play very quickly. Some people have accused me of playing fast as a ploy to confuse and rush my opponents. They’re wrong. I just happen to play that way. There are some negatives about playing really fast. If I’m not careful I can miss some great opportunities for better plays. But, while I usually have close to 7 – 10 minutes on my clock when the game ends, I am not feeling that I’m pushing myself. If you are my opponent I’m doing most of my thinking and planning while you are taking your turn. I find that by having a lot of time left on my clock, in close games I have the leisure to track or search for a great END GAME.
One negative of being a speedy player is that I spend a lot of time waiting for other players to finish before I can move on to my next game.
I think that you’ll agree with me that Winning is much more fun than Losing. But unless you are one of the 2%ers with a rating over 1800 or you’re at the other end of the spectrum with a rating under 750, you will generally find that many competitions will feel very good when you win more than 50% of the games you play.
When you sign up to play in a tournament sometimes you can choose your division. Other events take all the players and rank them according to their ratings, then group players in accordance with a pairing system designated by the director.


Your motivation for playing at a tournament might be one of several different reasons:

  1. The sheer fun of playing the game.
  2. You are planning to win and boost your rating.
  3. Your incentive is to win the prize money.

If you happen to be the highest-ranked player in your division you may think you’re better than the others in your division, but there is always the LUCK FACTOR to consider. When you lose to lower-ranked players you will lose more rating points than losing to higher-ranked players. To win the top ca$h prize in your division you’ll probably have to win ALL your games to be safe.

Bottom Line:
There’s the THRILL of Victory and the AGONY of Defeat.


Scrabble is a trademark

And the Beat Goes On…


Scrabble is a trademark

Watching the election results still rolling in.           


Scrabble is a trademark

Have YOU VOTED?  If not, GO VOTE before you read this.

  • IF YOU LIVE IN CALIFORNIA you are frequently reminded that when it comes to the topic of EARTHQUAKES, it is not a matter of ‘IF,’ but a question of ‘WHEN”.
  • IF YOU LIVE ON THE SOUTHEAST COAST of the US mainland you are frequently reminded that when it comes to the topic of HURRICANES, it is not a matter of ‘IF,’ but a question of ‘WHEN”.
  • IF YOU LIVE IN THE HEARTLAND you are frequently reminded that when it comes to the topic of TORNADOS, it is not a matter of ‘IF,’ but a question of ‘WHEN”.
  • IF YOU ARE ALIVE ANYWHERE you are frequently reminded that when it comes to MOTHER NATURE, you are small and a mere insignificant speck. You are forever vulnerable. It IS NOT a matter of ‘IF,’ but a question of ‘WHEN”.

And so we keep up a reasonable level of preparedness with storehouses of bottled water, canned food, toilet paper, flashlights and batteries, full gas tanks in our vehicles, and snow shovels.
WHY SHOULD SCRABBLE PLAYERS dare think that their world is any different, being immune from challenges and disasters? THEY ARE EQUALLY AT RISK.
SCRABBLE PLAYERS must remain alert and anticipate the unexpected just like everyone else.

  • If you are playing outdoors, playing on the patio, you need to be prepared for a sudden breeze to swoop in and blow your unsecured scoresheet across the yard and into the pool.
  • If you are playing on a table with slats you need to anticipate one or more tiles falling through the cracks.
  • If you are a newbie and not recognizing the words being played on the board you may be playing against a ‘SMARTIE PANTS’ who is rubbing your nose in the SCRABBLE-ETHER.


Scrabble is a trademark



  • What’s in your wallet?
  • What tricks do you have up your sleeve?
    That is your advantage; that is all you can control.
    Some people spend way too much of their energy worrying about their opponents. This is often counter-productive when it disrupts your focus. The same goes for the whining and pouting that happens when you are drawing poorly or having bingos without a home on the board.
    Don’t work yourself up and fall into the trap of negativity. SHIT HAPPENS. Teach yourself to control your emotions. Develop a mantra, a routine, some positive response to adversity.
    In the days and weeks prior to a competition build your word arsenal by anticipating some of the challenging scenarios that come up and frustrate you:
  • Too many vowels;
  • Too many Consonants;
  • Hooks other than ’S’.


Have a few of those lesser-known words up your sleeve: AIYEE; EEJIT, WHATSIS; GJETOST; BASHLYK, and others.
When it comes to YOU being matched against any of those GIANTS in the game:
Remind yourself that while you are unlikely to WIN, you will play your best game by making your best play on every turn.
I’ve watched several players lose to champions because they lost their focus because they were intimidated. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot. Breath deeply, be in the game, not in your head. Your opponent is only a human. Imagine your opponent sitting on a toilet.


Scrabble is a Trademark


How do the scrabble experts
make it difficult for us to play the game and beat them? They have mastered the kind of words that are hard to play around and hook. How many times have we had a good word on our rack without anyplace to play it? That is not just a fluke or bad luck when you’re up against an expert. They know how to manipulate the board by playing words that begin and end with ‘C’ or ‘V’ that do not have any ‘2-Letter-Words’.
How do the scrabble experts make it difficult for us to play the game and beat them? They keep the board-wide open by playing loooong words so they create many available lanes for playing bingos They double down on long words with their anagrams, They know what they know. On average, the schooled expert scrabble player knows as much as 500% more words than the novice player.
While the novice may begin knowing 8,500 (5%) of the 175,000+ words on the OWL, the average expert with a study regimen knows 25% of the OWL (42,500 words). Sounds overwhelming, doesn’t it? But with the proper guidance and 30-minutes a day it is possible for you or I to achieve the same level of expertise.
The process to achieve more most often begins with self-evaluation. Next comes the ‘pledge to self,’ taking a stand, making a choice. If you’re all ‘IN’ the rest becomes much easier, but not simple.
Choosing a mentor maharishi is critical. There will be times, if you fall into the traps and blind spots that are familiar to humans, you’ll need to have someone who has your back. That partner will help keep you focused. That partner will shine a light onto the path you must follow. That partner will prop you up when you get tired and just want to quit. That partner will provide a shoulder to cry on when the going gets hard and reminds you why you chose to that this path.
Next, you have to create an efficient regimen to address the things you know you don’t know and to discover the things you don’t know you don’t know.


Scrabble is a trademark

PERCEPTION makes a huge difference. One of the greatest challenges that I have faced as a scrabble teacher was one ‘artistic’ player who sought my help. She wanted to be a competent scrabble player. She possessed intention and a positive attitude. We began with all the basics and worked with commitment and a specific intention, focusing on scrabble skills.
It took me several weeks to figure out why my guidance and mentoring was not making any significance with this student. After our session on day 15, I asked for a sit-down to investigate the ‘WHY’. We played a game in which my instruction to my student was to apply all the lessons from days 1 thru 15 to the game we were playing. After about 5 turns each I noticed that my student was choosing to put down her words in the most unusual places on the board.
I paused the clock and showed her how she could have placed her last play in a different location and would have earned an additional 20+ points. I asked her WHY she chose the spot where she had played. Her answer was very telling. She had chosen that particular spot because the ‘look of the board’ was more pleasing in her eyes than if she had played elsewhere. It hadn’t mattered to her that she earned fewer points. PROBLEM EXPLAINED AND SOLVED.
She continued to find it difficult to change her thinking about where to play her words, in spite of understanding my coaching. For her, playing in any spot that was esthetically displeasing was comparable to creating that awful screeching sound that sometimes occurs from chalk on a blackboard. Her sores began to improve after that.

See the entire board.

  • When you take your turn
  • Before you hit the clock to end your turn,
  • PAUSE . . . consider if you opened any major HOT SPOTS for your opponent.
  • Think about what your next play might be.
  • Look and identify any HOT SPOTS on the board that will straddle your play.
  • If you are satisfied, make your play.
  • Play thoughtfully.
Scrabble is a Trademark


If you’re like me, while we may have different political positions, I sure we still look forward to Wednesday, November 4th when this election will hopefully be over.
One important piece that is obviously missing from most impassioned politicians is EMPATHY. Maybe it has to be that way when your intention is to WIN at all costs and grow your ideas and values in the direction you hold to be TRUE. There go the Righteous.
I understand. When individuals are committed to some ideal, part of that includes seeing your opponent as being ‘wrong’. One does everything they can to come out on top and push all others down into the mud. That’s one of the behaviors that drive competitors toward the finish line. That’s the behavior that differentiates those who prefer to play HUG-OF-WAR to TUG-OF-WAR.
One of my dearest scrabble friends of all time was Maliha Mahmood. Maliha was a proponent of Hug-Of-War. She loved the game, but it was her love of the words that matter many times more than winning the game. Maliha lost much more than she won during competitions. And she’d applaud her opponent whenever they made strong or creative plays. And yet she knew what she knew. One game in which she beat me was when I under-estimated her by not blocking a line on the top TWS line. Maliha played ‘PHARISEE’, a triple-triple, through an ‘I’ that was sitting between two TWS, for 198 points. I applauded her and felt her tempered joy in her achievement.
It is impossible to see things as others see them. It is impossible to know what our opponents know. Therefore our focus requires us to know what we ourselves know and develop regimens to grow and expand our personal word arsenal.
YOU and I have the power to mold our own style to become Killer Competitors, Hug-Of-War Players, you are still welcome to compete within our circle. It is not easy to shift back and forth between styles of playing if you have the desire of moving UP in the ranks. To be a TOP rated expert and maintain that status you MUST become a KILLER and always go for the jugular. The top tier of players builds and maintains WINNING HABITS. Many times the EXPERTS have already won the game against their opponents, even before the first word is placed onto the board.
There’s a feeling of intimidation that settles upon the player being challenged and confusion is experienced whenever the ‘masters’ play words, setting themselves up for hooks on their next play.  This often overwhelms an opponent with lesser-known words, often drawing losing challenges, and more.
Opponents can use the experience as an opportunity to learn a few things. Some do/most don’t. When a lesser-known word is played . . . write it down; learn it.
When I’m directing my Club #350, some people who show up will come to me and ask me to pair them with some of the weakest players. I rarely to-never honor that kind of a request. Pairing for the first game at Club #350 is totally random, like a lottery. After that, I employ a swiss-pairing format to pair opponents. The opportunity to learn on-the-job is greater when you play higher rated players where you’ll learn things you may not have known when you walked into the room.

Scrabble is a trademark


MALIKA and CHAYA completed middle school last June. Both were excited about the next school year when they would be entering High School and both were excited knowing that they could join the cross-country team.
CHAYA planned to spend the summer traveling with her family, reading a variety of novels for pleasure, and hanging with friends.
MALIKA planned a regimen around training for cross-country. Every morning throughout the summer she was up and dressed at the crack of dawn ready for a 5 mile morning run. Later in the day she spent time in the gym, followed by swimming.
No matter what your passion might be, you can take the initiative to pursue it at your own rate, on your own timetable. THE MORE YOU PRACTICE, THE BETTER YOU”LL BECOME. If you are a budding scrabble player, you surely know THE MORE WORDS YOU KNOW, THE LUCKIER YOU BECOME, considering that there are more than 170,000 different words in the OWL and the OSPD6.

Are you more like Chaya or Malika?

Neither way is RIGHT or WRONG. It is what it is, your choice.
John Alman was a 12-year-old boy in 2008 living in Alma, Oklahoma. John was known by friends and his teachers to be very athletic and his greatest accomplishment was being the fastest runner in the school. John’s name was on the Honor Roll Board which was proudly displayed in the school foyer with the names of students who excelled in academics and sports. During the summer of 2008, in August, John was glued to a chair in front of the TV in his home, watching the track events from the Olympic Games in Beijing, China. When school resumed in September, John eagerly took park in state-wide olympic style extravaganza, mirroring the Olympics. John signed up to run in the 100 and 220 yards dashes and the 13 mile half marathon. Many family members and friends came out to support John. As good as John was in his school and in his community, he finished in the middle of the pack in each of his events. While John was thrilled to have participated in the races, he felt defeated and saddened by not winning a single race.
REALITY is that no matter what your skill, and what your passion, there is most likely someone else who is better. No matter what you collect and have a lot of . . . somebody else out there most likely has more.
John was inspired by the other runners in his races and became determined to work at becoming better. As a result, during his high school years, John continued to run on the track team and won many ribbons and trophies. John developed an attitude that THE JOY IS IN THE DOING and was a winner every race.

Scrabble is a trademark


If you are paying attention, while at a scrabble club or tournament, you will most likely hear and observe a particular scene. As frequently happens, one of the players in a game falls behind in the score, and then to make matters worse he/she draws an awful rack that offers little-to-no opportunity to spring back with a high-scoring play. The losing player shrinks in their chair sighs heavily and mutters phrases like: “Give me a break, I can’t seem to draw a balanced rack,” or “I haven’t had a vowel in the last three racks,” or “I haven’t seen a blank all day long”.
Even though the official rule is “DO NOT SPEAK DURING PLAY” (with the exception of calling CHALLENGE or calling DIRECTOR}, many frustrated players whine aloud, looking for SYMPATHY from their opponent. That’s foolish. I think that it emboldens an opponent and gives him/her free license to play lesser known words, inviting challenges from the whiner, frustrating him/her to an even greater extent.

What should a struggling player do?

  • Remind yourself that the SHIT HAPPENS.
  • Play through the awful racks using that which you know.
  • Stay hopeful and positive.
  • Draw tiles with your other hand.
  • Pick tiles from a different place in the bag.
  • Stand up and turn yourself around 7 times.
  • Take deep breaths being careful not to hyper-ventilate.
  • Make a mental note to yourself that the next time you’ll study emphasizing  – HEAVY ON VOWELS’ and ‘HEAVY ON CONSONANTS’. (AIYEE, EULOGIA, MIAOUED, LYNCH, HWYL, WYND)
  • Visualize yourself in THE WINNERS’ CIRCLE, receiving a trophy,

There is NO SYMPATHY for whiners.

Scrabble is a trademark


Some people believe that the key to becoming a frequent winner is simply playing more often and reading the dictionary.
EXAMPLE: A lady came into a Club #350 session and asked if she could play scrabble with us. “Of course,” I said. I asked if she had ever played at a club before wanting to teach her the things she might not know about using the clock and about the OSPD6 dictionary. She assured me that she was on top of the game. She shared that she was a professor of English at the local Community College and she’d fit right in. Apologetically she warned that she expected to sweep the field and win all her games.
Imagine that you were part of the team that invented and built the Model T. Ford.
You knew everything about the mechanics of that car. You could rebuild that engine with your eyes closed. Then you entered one of today’s auto service departments to troubleshoot an engine problem on a 2020 Chevy. Your skills would be so outdated that you’d think you were on another planet.
The lady didn’t know many of the 2’s; While she was able to identify many words on her rack . . . she was unable to hook critical words onto the board. While she had an amazing vocabulary . . . she lacked knowledge of scrabble jargon and consequently lost several challenges, She ultimately felt embarrassed, lost all 4 games, and never returned.
EXAMPLE: A pharmacist from Chicago drove more than 5 hours one-way to West Bloomfield, Michigan to play in a 7 game tournament which I was directing. He told me he belonged to the NSA (National Scrabble Association) so I assumed he knew the way we played competitive scrabble. He shared, almost apologetically, that he held a certain advantage over all the other players because of his medical vocabulary. I listened but I doubted that he had an advantage. He experienced a deflating tournament; he didn’t win a single game. Most of his medical vocabulary included many very looooong words that didn’t fit onto the board. Most of the words in his medical vocabulary included letter combinations that rarely show up together on your rack. He didn’t know the scrabble jargon and he sunk like the Titanic.
You don’t need to have a Ph.D. in order to become a good scrabble player. More important than having a degree is to have desire, passion, persistence, discipline, and an open mind to earn the game.
I can help YOU ‘turn the corner’. I can show you the pieces that will allow you to overwhelm many of the PhDs who believe their superiority stems from their own expertise.

Call me: (949) 510-1673
You can see America talking.

Scrabble is a trademark


It only makes sense that if you are going to invest your time studying words to improve your scrabble scores . . . study words that contain high-value tiles. There are only 5 different tiles with a face value of 5 or more points:
J = 8,
K = 5,
Q = 10,
X = 8,
Z = 10.
I figured that eventually, I’d get around to all of them again. But on this day I am going with ‘J’.
At a minimum, I decided that I should become familiar with all the words that contained ‘J’ from 2-Letters-Long to 5-Letters-Long. Before beginning, I knew this would take some time, longer than licking an all-day-sucker. And so I began.

  • 2’s with a ‘J’: JO
  • 5’s with a ‘J’: JABOT
  • 6’s with a ‘J’ = 339 WORDS
  • 7’s with a ‘J’ = 460 WORDS

Whenever I meet up with a word I did not know, I make a flashcard and put it in the pile of cards that I review weekly. It takes more than a simple glance to plant a word into your memory.

How many of the words listed above are new to you?

You are welcome.

Scrabble is a trademark

Some people I meet are amazed and/or surprised that after more than 30 years I can still entertain myself with words. It’s probably something in my genes that moves me. Several members of my family are/were word masters including my paternal grandfather, my dad, my brother, my sister and moi. And having been a school teacher, requiring the need to be entertaining, creative and motivating I continue to dream up things like Sundae On Sunday. Below I’m going to take the flavors in a Sundae and expand each flavor with it’s sub-anagrams.




ANNA, NAAN, ABA, ANA, BAA, BAN, NAB, NAN, AA, AB, AN, BA, NA that’s all folks.






Pick a word, any word. Use only the letters within that word to create a sub-anagram list. Have fun with it.

Scrabble is a trademark

98% of Americans have long-term systematic scrabble infections according to scrabble-health advisors at JFTSOI. You should know that testing as well as antidotes are available in two different forms: QUICK FIX & SUSTAINED REGIMENS. To make it easier for you and others. The solutions and injections are available both online and at a distance of 6+ feet apart at local sites.
TESTING is available which will provide you with results in less than 48 hours.
The tests are designed to expose your strengths and weaknesses. As you are well aware, there are more than a dozen skills used while playing scrabble. You may be weaker in just 1 or 2 parts of the game or require tutoring in a general approach to all the pieces. The online class, ‘SCRABBLE 101’ could be the solution to your needs.
During this COVID-19 Pandemic, while social distancing, we all find ourselves with pieces of time available during which we could take on the task of bolstering our scrabble skills and word power. Can you spell ZELKOVA?
Do you know a front-Hook for ‘HERO’ is ’S’ (SHERO)? Do you know that the word ‘STRONGYL’ is not a typo?
If you enjoy learning words that are NEW to YOU, all the better. I find it a lot more fun to learn more words than to watch RERUNS and endless COMMERCIALS on TV. Learning words is a great way to escape all of the endless politics that only become ‘NASTIER’.
Do you know that NASTIER has 8 ANAGRAMS? Do you know all of them?

If you’re like me and many others you keep some reading material and some puzzle books somewhere in the bathroom within reach of the throne. Most people have crossword puzzles or sudoku in the collection. Do you have any of my scrabble-skill booklets in the stack? Anagrams? Hooks? Consograms? Pyramids? Definitions? The booklets sell for $12 each + shh.

Be prepared; Stay safe.


Having missed the bus is no excuse for being late arriving at your appointment. Be creative and imagine how you can get to where you are going in some other way.


“You missed the bus, Gus.
You need a new plan, Stan.
So what can you do, Sue?
Getting there is your duty, Judy.
You could put out your thumb, Chum.
You could take a first step, Lek
Whatcha gonna do, Lou
Could you ride your bike, Ike?
Fall down and start to crawl, Yawl.
The clock is ticking
Will some neighbor come to saveya, Ava?
Could you ride on a horse? Morris
Should you call ahead, Fred?
Think up a good excuse, Bruce
Do you have a phone? Joan
You coulda cab, Babs.
Do you have time to skate, Mate?
Is there time to skip, Chip?
Will anyone come to your aid, Jade?
Oops you’re late.”

And then there’s the whole thing about missing the “scrabble bus”. Any chance you missed that one? If so, no worries. There’s always another bus coming later today, tomorrow, and whenever you’re ready and wanting to hop on.
People are getting on and off the scrabble bus all the time. I know a guy who got on to the 2-Letter-Words Line near his home and rode it toward town where he transferred to the STEMS line and did a loop of the city before getting off at ANAGRAM Plaza. Then he made his way back home only to take another ride two days later.
Different routes build different skills. Which skill would help you the most?
I drive a bus. I am willing to pick you up at the bus stop on your corner whenever it is your pleasure. Just let me know the day, time, and location and I will be there on time.

Scrabble is a trademark


Have you ever had the awareness that there are times after you’ve learned something and really know things that after some undetermined number of days or months, if you don’t use that knowledge, . . . it sorta gets away from you?


Where does the knowledge go? 
What is it’s escape route? 
Out of your ears?
Out through your pores? 
Do you sweat it out?  

I’ve created a scrabble CAP that works wonder with slowing down a stunning percentage of knowledge evaporation.  The way it works is revolutionary.
  1. First, you purchase the cap, pictured below, from JFTSOI.
  2. Next, develop a habit of wearing the cap whenever possible.
  3. Third, you develop a scrabble word study regimen and wear the cap each time you study.
  4. Wear the cap each time you go out.
        • When people stop you and comment about your cap and scrabble, be an ambassador, and engage them. 
        • Tell them about local opportunities to play at club. 
        • Share something that you recently learned while studying.
        • Leave them with a written copy of the address to the Just4thespellofit web site.
  5. Always wear your cap to club.
  6. Keep a notebook for recording all the words you’ve played while wearing your cap, that you’ve learned since using the cap.
  7. Purchase a second cap, being prepared, in case your original cap is lost or stolen, or soiled.
  8. Consider getting a fast start by following the regimen ‘ZAP IN YOUR CAP.  It entails taking the online, 21-day class, ‘SCRABBLE 101’.

Scrabble is a trademark

“There are two different kinds of truth in this world. There’s the truth that is the unalterable bedrock of one’s life and mission. And the other malleable truth of the politicians, charlatans, corrupt lawyers, and their clients, bent and molded to serve whatever purpose is at hand.” ~Michael Connelly

That dichotomy doesn’t exist in the competitive scrabble world. The games are governed by a specific set of rules and by agreed-upon lexicons. Even some of the most minor and insignificant circumstances are addressed in the official rules.

  • Things like who plays first,
  • What kind of equipment has a preference,
  • What’s the procedure if a tile is discovered on the floor, under the table, before the game has ended,
  • When is a game officially completed, can a review of the final score take place after a game is finished,
  • Can the results be amended?

Over the years, when questions arose to address events that occurred during competitive play, directors defined situation after situation, adding to the rules in a way that has established clarity. The Official Rules is a living document and remains open to any new questions about the play during eve game. It, therefore, becomes the important task of every competitor to KNOW THE RULES, play by the rules, and hold your opponents accountable to the rules.
Amidst all the effort and energy of our director and tournament producers, there still remains an element of human nature that presses some scallawags to use sleight-of-hand, like a magician saws a lady in two, to take advantage of his/her opponent in an effort to WIN at all costs. (That’s why you have to KNOW THE RULES and keep your third eye on your opponent during serious competition.)

  • CHEATERS have been known to palm tiles (especially the blanks, esses, and power tiles).
  • CHEATERS have been known to drop an unwanted tile from their rack to the floor, hiding it under their shoe, until the game is over.
  • CHEATERS have been known to not follow the steps in completing their turn to draw tiles out of turn.
  • CHEATERS have been known to count their scores incorrectly in their own favor.
  • CHEATERS have been known to undercount their score with the intention of giving their opponent a false sense of security, with the intention of asking for a recount at the end of the game and regaining the points to achieve a WIN.
  • Don’t get me wrong. There are very few CHEATERS, but when they cheat on you IT STINGS BADLY.

Beware if you ever play a game with the likes of DJT
and wear a mask!



Scrabble is a trademark

What does ‘The Pandemic Is Getting Worse’ have to do with scrabble?
Just shut your eyes; clear your mind of everything; calm your thoughts and opinions.

Now, open your eyes and take a few steps back so you can see the wider, panoramic view of the situation. People view what’s happening in one of two ways.
The set of us who are educated to look at the world in terms of science and logic (doing THIS leads to THAT), listen to the scientists and doctors, and follow their lead. We follow their direction in this instance by frequently, Washing Hands, Wearing Masks, and Socially Distancing.
The other set put their actions in the hands of their Divine Intervention and Beliefs. They KNOW that their GOD will watch over them and that their leader, (POTUS), will show the way. They believe that if they get COVID-19 it is GOD’S WILL and that is just fine.
This is not NEW. The anti-vaccinating people in our society have continued to send their unvaccinated children to public schools putting the other school children at the risk of contracting Measles.

I see similarities to the game of scrabble. Just shut your eyes; clear your mind of everything; calm your thoughts and opinions related to the way you have played the game. Now, open your eyes and take a few steps back so you can see the wider, panoramic view of a scrabble board.
There is one set of people who just want to play a game. They just want to have fun. They want something simple. They don’t want to have too many rules or have to study and learn arcane words that they’ll never use in their daily lives. They want to play as they did years ago during their childhood.
The other set of people know that all ‘GOOD’ games have rules to establish order and fairness during play. They understand that all players coming to the game usually know about only 5% of the words in the dictionary. These folks embrace learning and invite scrabble jargon and rules to create the challenges to create an environment of growth.

Whenever you are taking an oppositional stance against people of faith and belief you will face frustration. People of faith follow their path blindly just because. People who come only to PLAY will rarely-to-never adopt the ways of competitive scrabble players . . . JUST BECAUSE.


Scrabble is a trademark

It was the GREAT DEPRESSION in 1929 that started a cycle that would later lead to the creation of all the scrabble fun that you and I enjoy in our lives. An architect from Poughkeepsie,_New_York was laid off from his job due to the depression and during some of his idle time, he wasn’t so idle. That’s when Alfred Mosher Butts crafted a word game which he called Kriss-Kross. Like so many other inventions Butts tweaked the game and looked for connections to others who might help him produce and package his game. It was during the late 1930s that he met and corroborated with James Burnot. It still took more time until Kriss-Kross evolved into Scrabble and the game began to explode on the board-game market.

  • What’s your story?
  • When did you first play scrabble?
  • Who did you first play with?
  • Which dictionary did you use to adjudicate the words that you played?
  • If you have discovered competitive scrabble, how did that happen?
  • When?
  • Have you ever attended a scrabble club or tournament? Where? When?

I have memories of playing scrabble in the early 1950s around the dining room table, growing up on Northlawn in Detroit, Michigan. I think it was with my mother. Next, I think I brought a scrabble game into my classroom when I was a 5th Grade teacher at Francis Scott Key Elementary School in Oak Park, MI.
Years later in the mid 1980s I was headmaster at The Moss School when I introduced scrabble to the students and produced a competition with another private school. Then in February, 1987 I followed an ad in the Southfield Eccentric Newspaper to a scrabble event at The Presidential Inn in Allen Park, Michigan. The event blew me away. It was a mini-tournament with the top finishers qualifying to represent Michigan at the Nation Scrabble Tournament the following summer. I had never witnessed scrabble being played at that level. I even approached one of the directors and asked, “What language are they playing with?” That day I first saw the OWL (Official Word List) and I was introduced to many of the EXPERTS who then invited me to join their community. The rest is history.

My version of the GREAT DEPRESSION was going to the Livonia, Michigan Club where I played week after week without a victory for months. BUT, I was determined to learn the scrabble jargon and the tricks of the champions. I worked my way up to the bottom of the expert group. It took me a dozen years. It required persistence. But there was great fun along the way and developing many special friendships.

I invite you to join a club in your community.
You’ll love it.
If you can’t locate a club, send me a request in an email and
I will provide you with a connection.

Scrabble is a trademark

Which is most important in growing your skills . . . Tools or Talent?
Can you imagine being gifted with artistic talent in a world without crayons, paints ad brushes, or super-glue? If you’re a creative caveman or cavewoman you might still figure out how to take a sharp rock and scratch out a picture on the wall in your cave. You might take the uneatable skins from the animals you’ve slaughtered for dinner and fashion it into a coat or shoes for your sweetie.

Now, consider part of a family where your seamstress/mother owns and uses a spiffy Singer Sewing Machine to create fashions, everything from shirts to suits to evening gowns. Your oldest sister is known to be a gifted auto mechanic and you’ve just purchased a used classic car, but are limited by your current knowledge of how to turn a key to start the thing. The opportunities are all around you to expand your talents with instruction on using their tools.
We all have a limitless opportunity to build upon our current talents by seeking out guidance from experts.

CAUTION! You do have to THINK SMART?

  • Don’t go to the seamstress for advice about tuning the engine on in your car.
  • Don’t go to the auto mechanic for advice about how to shorten trousers.
  • Do go to any NICE person in the scrabble club for guidance about developing skills to advance your word power and memory.
  • Choose your teachers and mentors from the pool of people who know how to teach you those skills.

In my opinion, you can own or have access to all the tools and they can exist unused in your workshop because you don’t know how to use them. Meanwhile, the person with talent will be more likely to explore and discover ways to express their talents.

  • Do you know people who own the finest golf clubs but have never invested in lessons from a pro? How’s that going?
  • Do you know scrabble players who own a custom board, tiles, and even travel to and play in tournaments who have never studied the STEMS? I’m sure you know who I’m talking about.

Send me an email.
Give me a call. 949-510-1673
I am at the ready to mentor you about scrabble, word power, and available tools.


Meet some of the brightest minds and become one. Now is the time to join the in-crowd of the world of words. Don’t suffer any more with a weak vocabulary and limp tongue trying to form woods, being thwarted by your foggy eye-teeth.
You’ll discover legitimate tactics from the new friends you meet and make. You’ll learn words you never knew were words. You’ll be empowered to analyze verbiage; you’ll be empowered to view technical data and KNOW the difference between RIGHT and WRONG. You’ll become a walking, wandering thesaurus simultaneously.
What are your intentions?
You may want to start a compost pile diced with lesser-known nouns and other parts of speech. As the words break down and decay over time their essence will simultaneously leave duplicate copies in the files within your mind. One recent study at the Self-Esteem Institute predicts that there is a huge tendency for such a process to multiply the output from an average mind by 46.2%.
Furthermore, there seems to be an exponential growth witnessed as the number of players in this arena grows. This is designated as the BOOMERANG EFFECT (what comes around, goes around).
The Institute predicts that while the THOUGHT of playing scrabble may appeal to the multitudes, the cream-of-the-crop may continue to be limited to only the TWO-PERCENTERS. The raw number reflecting the number of 2%ers will grow.

What does that mean?
If you want this . . . immerse yourself. Don’t hold back. Go for it. Don’t put if off for another day and another time. You need a jump-in approach. You will be celebrated and remembered. You will be an example and a blessing. THEY will tell stories about you and invent new words for YOU.
Open a thesaurus to a random page and read until you discover a word you didn’t know this morning. Write it onto a paper, say it out loud. You Got It.

Scrabble is a trademark

FRIDAY,  10/16/2020
Sometimes you can get yourself in so deep.   Are you mesmerized and hypnotized by the game of scrabble?  If you play online, how many total minutes or hours do you play in a day?
Just like all the other games online, the scrabble and words-with-friends apps are designed to addict you to come back again and again and again. How do you avoid the addiction . . . or do you just go with the flow.
Playing head-to-head is equally addictive, just not as convenient. If you live in one of the scrabble-hubs in the US you may have found yourself putting countless miles on your odometer by traveling from club to club to club, day after day after day. When I lived in Michigan (prior to November 1995) my weekly scrabble radius reached from Lansing, Michigan on the West to Flint, Michigan on the East. Other locations in between included Northville, MI, West Bloomfield, MI, Farmington Hills, MI, Livonia, MI., Southfield, MI, and Rochester Hills, MI. When it came to playing weekend tournaments the radius was much larger: west to Chicago, IL, south to Cincinnati, OH and Gatlinburg, TN., east to Cleveland, OH, Toronto, ON., and even Montreal, Canada. I’d frequently play 7 days a week; some days playing at an afternoon club and then driving to and playing in a different evening club.   AND let’s not forget the many time’s players came to my house or I drove to their homes.
In 1989, after I had played in a tournament in which I finished in 1st Place in my division, my local newspaper in Union Lake, MI. published an article highlighting a local scrabble champion (me). A few days after the article appeared, I received a telephone call from a total stranger who told me that ‘HE’ was the best scrabble player in the state; then he challenged me to a game. I was up for a challenge and asked him where and when. His name was Andrew Allie and he was a chaplain at a hospital in Pontiac, MI. only 10 miles from my home on Union Lake. He asked me to meet him the next day in the cafeteria of the hospital where he work.  I showed up promptly at 4PM, per his request. Andrew was a very likable guy and we hit it off right away.
I brought my custom scrabble board and set it up. I had to teach Andrew about using the clock. He had never played with a clock before. From the get-go Andrew never had any difficulty with his time; he played as quickly or faster than me. He was very savvy.   I was able to trip him up when I played scrabble jargon (CWM, UNHAIR, EKPWELE) but when I did so Andrew immediately learned those words instantly. I beat Andrew in our first game by a small margin of 35 points. At the end of the game Andrew insisted that we play again, then again, then again. I won game #1, #2, and #3; Andrew won game 4. He didn’t want to quit.  It was now about 7:30PM and he offered to buy us dinner there in the cafeteria.  And he wanted to continue playing while we ate.
That was okay with me. And so we continued game after game after game.  Before we knew it the clock showed it was nearly 4AM. We had played 17 games and Andrew had won 5 games. Our session ended but Andrew wanted to pin me down to agree to a future day and time for our next session. For the next 6 years Andrew and I were frequent opponents. With my prompting Andrew attended the Livonia Club and even a few local tournaments. He and I played hundreds of games over the years. Can you spell OBSESSION?

Have you ever been addicted to some activity?

After meeting Andrew and playing long, long sessions I thought that he and I were unlike other scrabble players.  Then, over the years, I discovered many other players who shared the same obsession. When I became a tournament director I produced several MARATHON TOURNAMENTS in which players played 24 games during 24 consecutive hours. I never had to beg people to play; there were always many willing players.
Recently, John Karas of New Mexico directed a tournament in which players played 100 games over 9 consecutive days.
Obviously, most people don’t have that much free time in their lives to be a binge player.  But to some, binge playing is like being in heaven.

Check out

Ask 10 people for a definition of HARD WORK and you’ll most likely get 10 different answers.

  1. Changing a flat tire on your car (on the side of the road during a winter snow blizzard).
  2. Wallpapering a small bathroom where you feel cramped and have to piece paper around mirrors, vents, fans, sink, and behind the toilet.
  3. Gathering data, writing, proofing, and creating a presentation to hand to your professor to secure your Masters’s Degree.
  4. Memorizing the 5 vowel 8-Letter-Words (about 200 words like ABOIDEAU).

I like to play with words. I like to create word puzzles, lists, and projects. I don’t like the job of proofreading. I’m not proud of it . . . but I have an annoying reputation for creating lists and flashcards, and booklets that have typos still in the final, printed copy. I do use spell-proof and grammar-proof programs to help me clean up my work. I also have used others to proofread some of my creations. Amnon Meyers, a scrabble friend and computer programmer, proofed my cherished BACKWARD DICTIONARY, and my sister, webmaster proofs my blogs!
Over the last 30+ years, I’ve created 100s to 1,000s of word lists. I created some which were ordered by scrabble friends but mostly for my own amusement and self-study regimens. I’m a proponent of 6-7 STEMS and 6-8 STEMS as tools that offer a BIG BANG for your buck. I’ve created both ‘hard copy’ and ‘video’ flashcards, 100 sets each. I produced the STEMS on BOOKMARKS (all 100 sets). I’ve produced 200 top MNEMONICS. And then there are my 50+ BOOKS. (This is not hard work for me.)
On the Donald J. Trump Success Scale, I’d show up as a SUCKER and LOSER. The reason for that is that I’ve never earned any significant profit for all my HARD WORK. There have been many times over the last 30 years when I questioned my own motives and chastised myself, almost throwing in the towel. But, each time I thought better.
I have taken GREAT PLEASURE in my scrabble work. Through scrabble I have made hundreds of priceless friends, I’ve traveled thousands of miles to clubs and tournaments and ordinary visits. I’ve organized scrabble clubs at nearly two dozen locations in Michigan and California (like a Johnny-Appleseed, I am Gary Scrabbleseed). I’ve produced and directed more than 250 sanctioned scrabble tournaments from Saratoga Springs, New York to Kaanapali Beach on Maui, Hawaii. I directed some of the first Scrabble Cruises in the Caribbean on Carnival Cruise Lines and on a Mississippi River Steamboat. I’ve built and sold Scrabble Boards and Super-Scrabble Boards; I’ve sold tiles, tile bags, clocks, and the ‘Scrabble Rug’.
I’ve had my own Scrabble Web Site since the mid-1990s promoting sales of scrabble items and have written literally 1,000s of BLOGS. Currently, I have a string of about 400 consecutive days of blogs. Last year from August 24, 2019, thru October 18, 2019, I made a cross-country road trip to 23 scrabble clubs and tournaments and I called it ’77 SUNSET TRIP’.
Through the years and along the way I’ve learned a whole lot of words, many of which I could never use in my daily life. I began with an initial scrabble rating of about 1200 back in 1987, grew it to about 1780 at its highest peak and now it has receded to about 1460. To stay at the top one must study continually.
My proudest scrabble accomplishment was when I won the year-end club championship tournament at The Killer Club, run by Alan Stern in Los Angeles.
Some of the scrabble GIANTS I’ve beaten include

  1. Chuck Armstrong
  2. Rita Norr
  3. Mark Landsberg
  4. Ira Cohen
  5. David Poder
  6. Alan Stern
  7. Bruce D’Ambrosio
  8. Gerry Greenside, and
  9. Gwen Rea.

Scrabble people are some of the nicest and hospitable people you’ll ever meet. I’ll only mention the one at the top of the pile because there are too many others to mention them all. Maliha Mahmood was the Best of the Best.

Because of all the benefits I’ve received, I have to admit it was never HARD WORK at all. I hope to see you at a club after this Covid thing blows over.

Scrabble is a trademark

An Anagram is a word or phrase formed by rearranging the letters of a different word or phrase, typically using all the original letters exactly once. … Any word or phrase that exactly reproduces the letters in another order is an anagram.
Let’s look at some words and identify any of their anagrams.

  2. ART; RAT; TAR

Frequently when playing scrabble, the words on the board will determine which words you may play nest. Your play will have to connect to some location by hooking to words previously placed. By knowing anagrams you’ll have a greater number of potential letters to connect.
Find the anagrams for the following words. The number after each word will indicate the number of anagrams available.

  • EVIL (+4)
  • CARE (+2)
  • STEAM (+5)
  • BEARS (+5)
  • SEAL (+4)
  • LEAF (+3)
Scrabble is a trademark

No matter what you do PRIORITIZE when creating your PLAN with your focus on the pieces of the game that you need most.
Don’t make the mistake by eliminating any of the pieces because you think you’ve mastered any single skill. Think and Plan your regimen in percentages. Even a simple piece about drawing tiles and penalties for overdrawing deserves 3% of your study time.
Even when you’ve completed studying a piece of the scrabble puzzle you should never put that piece on a back shelf, never revisiting it. The one thing you should drill into your understanding is the term SPACED-REPETITION. This practice is about automatic review on some preplanned schedule. The best of the best concede that it requires precious TIME, But, when items are not reviewed, those items sometimes float away, out of our memory, and lost from our acquired knowledge.
Many of the pieces of the scrabble puzzle are very large and while studying a piece like HOOKS, some players become overwhelmed and mesmerized during the study process. A large number of those players who are plowing through the alphabet of HOOKS become numb after completing only ‘A,’ ‘B,’ and ‘C’. Stop! Don’t study when you are hypnotized and not fully alert. Study something else for a period and then return to the ‘D’ HOOKS.

Sounds simple, but human nature and our desire for completion drive us onward even when our memory is fatigued and far from alert. Revisit your determination, stay devoted to your regimen, and be honest with yourself about the quality of your study process.
Little things can become your biggest BLINDSPOT. Many people who newly discover scrabble and many who have been playing at the Novice level for many years, don’t see the WHOLE PICTURE.
Have you ever played games with an EXPERT while being a NEWBIE? How come the EXPERT always got all the good tiles? How come the EXPERT made all those high scoring plays and weird bingo words? The simple answer is that EXPERTS know the secrets that are unknown to you. It’s the same as sitting with a magician doing TRICKS right in front of you and not being able to see the sleight-of-hand moves being made right in plain sight.
My online class, ‘SCRABBLE 101,’ will slow things down so you can see the tricks of the EXPERTS.
The magician spent many years working at perfecting his/her techniques. EXPERT players spent a lot of time building their skills and knowledge too.

Call me and enroll yourself in my ’21’ Day class to get a leg up.
(949) 510-1673.

Scrabble is a trademark

Today Dak Prescott was injured while playing quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys. He suffered a break of a bone near his ankle that pierced through the skin. Very Bad!
With all the thousands and maybe even millions of scrabble games played over the years, no player is known to have ever suffered a broken bone. Some of the negative occurrences that have occurred at scrabble venues have been, but not limited to the following:

      • verbal sparring
      • throwing scrabble boards & tiles
      • table tipping
      • spilling hot beverages
      • name-calling
      • having people in your face
      • shoving
      • falling off a chair
      • raised blood pressure
      • tired eyes and at times a headache

I’d say that’s pretty reassuring that nothing too terrible will happen to you if you stick with scrabble as your sport. During the scrabble pandemic in which we’ve learned how to curb communicable diseases by wearing face masks and social distancing, all we have to do is to continue these practices.

Some fun things to do that are potentially more dangerous than scrabble:

  • downhill skiing
  • robbing a bank
  • biking
  • taking drugs
  • roller skating
  • grecko wrestling
  • hot dog eating contests
  • going off to war
  • mumbley peg (is an old outdoor game played using pocketknives. The term “mumblety-peg” came from the practice of putting a peg of about 2 or 3 inches into the ground. The loser of the game had to take it out with his teeth.)
  • mountain climbing
  • deep-sea diving
  • auto racing
  • driving a car
  • boxing with a kangaroo
  • sky diving
  • building a bomb
  • darts
  • ax throwing
  • being a nurse in a Covid hospital
  • living in a Trump world
Scrabble is a safe space.
Scrabble is a trademark

I’m taking my lead from POTUS this afternoon. I’ve invited several hundred people to my event Sunday, 10/11/2020 at Noon (PST) when I will step onto my balcony and speak to the multitudes (without a mask).

  • I will be speaking about how Trump literally tried to HOOK you and anyone else who’d listen to him with Lies, Exaggeration, and False Assertions.
  • I will limit myself to the 26 different letters in the tile bag to spell out the words that reflect his lack of RESPECT for others, his unworthiness to call himself a
    ‘Christian’, his UNCARING actions of separating immigrant children from their parents, his acceptance of WHITE SUPREMACISTS, and his definition of LAW & ORDER, his BIGOTRY, and his MANIA.

Meanwhile, I’ll sneak in some tips from EXPERT scrabble players to help you separate yourself from the minions:  How to identify and use 5-Letter-Words more effectively by placing them in strategic places onto the board. I’ll instruct you as to how you can use your imagination to build your self-confidence which in turn will launch your inner abilities into more wins in the game of scrabble and the game of life.


For more valuable tips scroll back through the blogs available on this website with the click on the LINKS provided on the left. Check out more than a years’ worth of Word-Of-The-Day entries. And listen to some of the informative and fun Podcasts that I’ve recorded on

Stay safe. If you attend the Sunday event you’ll need to wear a mask and social distance.


It doesn’t have to be difficult. It doesn’t have to be drudgery. I find learning words to be fun, exciting, and pleasureful. I always find some way to turn learning into a game. The more you know the more confident you’ll become.
Let’s start with something easy. How many of the 2-Letter-Words do you know?
There are 107 2-Letter-Words in the OSPD6. You should work at knowing all of them. 2-Letter-Words provide you the opportunity to hook the words from your rack onto the game board.


  1. Create a list from AA to ZZ (AA, AB, AC, . . .). Look up each word in the OSPD6 and verify each acceptable word. Make a list of the 107 acceptable 2-Letter-Words.
  2. Put the acceptable words on flashcards.


  1. Make a total of 26 cards.
  2. On the front, place one of the 26 letters of the alphabet, A thru Z.
  3. On the back of ‘A’ place all the acceptable 2-Letter-Words that BEGIN with ‘A’.
  4. On cards ‘C’ & ‘V’ where they have no 2-Letter-Words, write NONE.
  5. When finished, verify that you have 107 total words on the answer side of the cards.


  1. On a blank sheet of paper, on the left margin, write the alphabet down in 1 column (A thru Z).
  2. Set a time clock.
  3. Start the clock.
  4. After ‘A’ write all the 2-Letter-Words that begin with ‘A’, then B, then C, etc.
  5. After finishing ‘Z’ stop the clock and record the TIME.
  6. Count the number of CORRECT answers.
  7. Count the number of OMISSIONS.
  8. Count the number of WRONG answers.
  9. Test yourself 1 to 3 times every day until you achieve a minimum of 100 correct in 5 minutes or less.
  10. Afterward, review and test yourself 1 – 3 times every week.

NEXT: Learn and review the FRONT HOOKS and BACK HOOKS for the 107 2-Letter-Words.

Playing competitive scrabble is all about MEMORY.
MEMORY works best with spaced-repetition.


Isn’t one of the most sacred values that we have and cherish in the USA that of separation of Church & State?
I’ve become so annoyed by our leaders who, like Mike Pence, put their own beliefs above others, once they attain some seat of power and influence. During last night’s (Wednesday 10/7/20) debate Pence reminded us that he is a ‘PRO-LIFE’ supporter. You could almost see him greedily rubbing his hands together and gloating that his conservative circle will soon bring one more conservative judge to our supreme court who will be sympathetic to Pro-Life advocates.
It remains to be seen how the imbalance of the supreme court will act in upholding or reversing the current laws.
I don’t know that the Christian majority, in this country, ever truly understood what separation means.

  • In a multi-ethnic society where freedom is paramount, why should we say ‘UNDER GOD’ in our pledge of allegiance?
  • In a multi-ethnic society where freedom is paramount, why is GOD on our currency?
  • In a multi-ethnic society where freedom is paramount, why do NON-Christian children have to take part in Christmas pageants and sing Christmas carols in PUBLIC schools?
  • Why should tax dollars be spent year after year on manger scenes on the lawns of Public Institutions?

Too many of our leaders have hidden behind the shield of their faith, declaring themselves to be ‘GOOD’ Christian people while they misused tax money, on favored pork projects for cronies, partied with hookers (I’m not referring to scrabble hookers), and then pardon the crooks who performed nefarious acts for the interests of POTUS.
Too many of the ‘good Christians’ (a misnomer) only invoke their Christian-ness to illicit inclusion from others for their own ends, at their own convenience. They rarely-to-ever practice CHRISTIAN teachings.
Our leadership should be selected weighing the merit of their character, not by the size of their wallets. Whereas all religions have moral codes, some inter-racial-religious committee could come up with a moral standard and then hold the feet of our leaders to that fire.
During the past 4 years, we’ve watched a revolving door at the White House as POTUS has hired and fired countless people to do his bidding, in the highest positions in this country. It seems clear to me that the dismissals primarily occurred when POTUS no longer trusted their loyalty to him.
Many of these persons served the USA and left when POTUS’s practices caused their stomachs to churn and they could no longer work in good conscience for the scoundrel who held the power and the tiller.
I can’t understand the lack of reaction from the leadership in the Republican Congress which turned their backs on the American People and permitted POTUS to both act and remain silent on so many issues. It seems to me that corruption lives within them all.
I sometimes wonder if I had as much Money, Power, and Influence as the senators could I be tempted to fall into line with POTUS even when I knew his lead was racist, misogynistic, and ineffective?
Have any other presidents been as bad as DJT? Have all the presidents lied to us?
In the past, leaders who were found to be responsible for the demise of large numbers of people had been judged by courts for their crimes against humanity. Isn’t Trump equally guilty of crimes against humanity during this COVID pandemic? With all his power and the resources at his fingertips, isn’t it clear that he could have done so much more? He should be arrested and tried too.

Scrabble is a trademark




Whereas some are tall and others are short, some are
skinny while others are zoftig, some are right-handed and others
are lefties there are distinctions.
Whereas some learn by reading while others learn by
writing, some learn by listening and others learn by touching,
some learn by smelling and others learn by tasting we are not the
Whereas some take to Hooking and others prefer Anagramming,
some like front Extensions and others memorize Mnemonics,
each with their own system and style. All with an eye on Winning.
Therefore the scrabble moguls shall devise a universal system
to handicap scrabble play to even the playing field, making competition
more equitable so that even the most limited of competitors will be able to avoid humiliations heaped on by the most worthy of Mavins.

  • 80% of the difference in the game raw scores (GRS) shall be the starting score (SS) of the weaker player (WP).
  • If during the game the strongest player (SP) amasses a lead of more than 50 points, the WP shall receive an additional instant grant (AIG) of 70% of the spread at that time.
  • If the next play of the WP is greater than 40 points the WP will return 60% of the difference back to SS.
  • In the event of the need for any adjudication of the scores, the tallest player at the table on the right will serve as the score umpire (SU).
  • If there is no game on the right then defer to the game behind, the game in front, or the game on left in that sequence.
    Please Select Your Personal Choice

_____ YES

_____ NO

_____ Couldn’t give a damn

Scrabble is a trademark

In the early years of my life, I was highly impressed by people who looked to be successful. I naively measured the look of success by the size of their homes, the make of their cars, the length of their cigars, and the degree of leisure-time they seemed to have.
However, most of us have no real idea of how the gears are turning in the lives of others. Appearances don’t tell the entire story. The things that we see on the surface may or may not be the true facts. Many people wear masks to project the way they want others to see them. Their homes and automobiles are cloaks that send their messages yet conceal whatsis.
I knew a man named Cy who appeared to be living a charmed life. He owned his own business that appeared to be very successful and he projected himself to be a man who had more money than god. He probably had worked very hard to achieve his success, or not. Cy was in his early 50s when suddenly while sitting at the breakfast table in his comfortable home, he suffered pains in his chest. He recognized the sign. He had friends who had shared confidences of that same kind of pain that signaled HEART ATTACK. Cy was home alone. His wife was away and too far from home to come to his aid. Cy took a deep breath and reached for the telephone to call for help. He paused, not wanting to incur any charge from an ambulance company for a short 2-mile ride to the hospital. Instead, he called his sister-in-law who lived a half-mile away and asked her to come to fetch him. She was a gem. She dropped everything and came less than 10 minutes later. She helped Cy walk to the car and then sped toward the nearest hospital. The trip took under 8 minutes. Cy sat there slumped in the passenger seat, dead. He avoided charges for an EMT.
When I heard someone recount the story, I changed my opinion of this guy who I held in high esteem. Dumb Jerk.
While playing the scrabble clubs for more than 30 years I’ve known players of all ages and sizes and colors and levels of smarts. I’ve met people who come in for the first time and play as if they have played forever. I know players who have been coming to club for more than 20 years and have the same vocabulary today as they did back then. We all play for our own reason. Those who work at becoming better usually become better. And there is a whole set of people who come for the tea and cookies and socialization.
Some people lose game after game notice the higher level of their opponents’ play and decide to learn how to play better. These players know what that they don’t know and strive to know more.
Other people lose game after game and ask the director to pair them with the players with the lowest abilities and then go refill their teacup. These players know that they don’t know and they don’t care. They are just happy being part of the group.

It’s just a game but the EXPERTS would beg to differ.

Scrabble is a trademark

I think that most people sit back passively and pretty much accept the cards that they are dealt. Then there is a small percentage of folks who are not satisfied unless they are playing an active role, thinking about their future, day-to-day, season-to-season, and even hour-to-hour.
Are they happier? I don’t know.
There are times when we make choices that don’t pan out as we had envisioned. There are times when we make an investment $$ and then the bottom falls out of the market. There are times when we choose a relationship that requires a lot more attention and work than we could have imagined.
There are people who work hard at NOT making choices. Some folks don’t want the responsibility that comes with choosing. Some people get lemons then moan and groan; others get lemons and make lemonade. What makes the difference in the ways we react? Is the difference learned behavior and values? Who taught us? Explain to me why siblings with the same parents are sometimes very different individuals who as adults choose very different paths.

Have you ever been inclined to attend a personal growth seminar? Have you read or listened to the lessons of motivational speakers? If so, have you ever followed their lead and faced your fears, followed a strict health regimen, gone on a retreat where you faced your inner demons?

The point is . . . almost everything is possible. I’ve been one of 40 strangers in a two-hour-long Dale Carnegie Class in which we all learned each others’ first and last names in only 120 minutes. (Sometimes I can’t remember the name of a new neighbor who I just met yesterday.)
I took a Seminar of learning the techniques of WINNING AT BLACKJACK and went on to WIN $10,000 using the techniques taught in the class.

What will tomorrow bring to me and you?
It all depends on you and me.
I KNOW that you and I have the power to choose and we have the ability to just sit back. Neither is RIGHT or WRONG.
I began playing club-style scrabble with an initial rating of 1,000. Then there was a time that I defined myself by my rating number and as a result, I worked very hard and amassed a rating of nearly 1780. And then other things became my priority and my rating then dwindled to the mid 1400s. I’m okay with that. In my mind I know that I’m much better than my rating. Its just that I no longer want to pay the price that is required to keep a rating of 1780.
The price is not money. The price is made up of the regimen one has to maintain to be 1780; weigh a certain weight; drive a luxury car; live in a certain neighborhood; have a family that gathers together, and you know all that, right?

Have a GREAT day tomorrow and be okay with whatever you do
and whoever you choose to do it with or without.


It goes without saying that most people enjoy going to the zoo and watching TV shows like ‘Animal Planet’, Siegfried & Roy, and safaris. I love the books by Richard Scarry that offer page after page of pictured categories. The one that gets my undivided attention every time, especially the one filled with animals. One or all of the above inspired me to create a book of JUMBLE WORD PUZZLES with animal names. One example is A-B-E-R-Z which is ZEBRA. Can you figure out
this animal: C-E-H-I-N-O-O-R-R-S ?
If you like JUMBLE PUZZLES and you like animals you will enjoy my book. There are 50 pages filled with challenges. Each page includes 12 animal Jumbles. I promise that you’ll meet up with some critters that you’ve seen but never knew their names before.

50 x 12 = 600 That’s the number of words
that you’ll be able to add to your word arsenal.

$15 + $3shh will buy your of challenging fun with words.
Mail your check, payable to
JFTSOI, ℅ Gary Moss,
3367 Punta Alta #3B
Laguna Woods, CA. 92637

Pay with Paypal to the account of

Scrabble is a trademark

When I was six years old my mom provided me with my first lesson about saving and investing. It was just after my birthday when I had received several CA$H gifts. Mom taught me about savings and savings accounts at the bank. We walked the distance from our home to a bank on Northlawn & Grand River where I open my first savings account. I received a booklet from the teller that showed my balance. And then I enjoyed a plethora of dreams about all the things I might buy with that tiny fortune.
Years later I found club scrabble. I wanted so badly to be able to compete with all those seasoned players who had months-to-years more experience than me, playing competitive scrabble, It was about that time I recognized the similarities between building a savings account and a word bank.

It is very difficult for most NEWBIES to join an ongoing club and quickly come up to speed with seasoned players. The competitive game requires that the player looks at the entire game differently than a casual player. The competitive game requires the newbie to become a ‘ruthless’ competitor. Forget about playing HUG-OF-WAR; to WIN, you must play TUG-OF-WAR.
My best advice to all NEWBIES is to focus on building your scrabble word knowledge and don’t worry, at first, about winning. Keep a notebook and pencil with you at all times and write down every new word you discover. When your opponent plays words that are new to you . . . WRITE THEM DOWN. Every word should be seen as a new lesson, a new opportunity. Learn the new words. Write any new words onto a list; put them onto flashcards, review them, play them whenever possible.

  • Your INVESTMENT is TIME, study time,
  • Your INVESTMENT is about learning to use STUDY TOOLS and the materials necessary.
  • Your INVESTMENT is CREATING or PURCHASE the words on lists and/or flashcards.

The DIVIDENDS you receive are the new and lesser-known words that you’ll add to your word arsenal, to your knowledge, to your memory for instant recall later on during the competition.
If you don’t want to do these things, just continue to play as a casual player and enjoy your interaction with your current vocabulary. While the average person on the street knows about 5% of the words in the OWL (8,250 words), serious scrabble competitors know 20% or more of the OWL (30K+ words).

You CAN do it if you choose to do it.

Scrabble is a trademark

Have you ever wondered why pandemics involve things like viruses and the flu rather than something like scrabble?
Just imagine what a Scrabble Pandemic would look like. It would possibly begin in February in Thailand, after their annual tournament. The event would have been broadcast on ESPN on a day when there weren’t any other major sporting competitions and millions of viewers would have stumbled upon the scrabble event.

Some attractive, charismatic host, like Howard Cosel, would be providing the play-by-play energy at Table #1, capturing the spirit of and the hard preparation invested by the players. The talented cameraman will zoom in on the foreheads of the opponents to focus on the words on every bead of perspiration exuding from the thinking and consideration of words from the OWL.
People at home, munching Fritos and Salsa, pause to text their friends, urging others to turn on and tune in to the frenzy. Within minutes the audience grows from a few thousand into millions. The sponsors of the event, Hasbro, provides spots of information driving views to join local scrabble clubs around the world.

One woman in Denver, who happens to be a 5th Grade school teacher, recognizes the educational value in the game. Becoming excited with her idea she posts a link on Facebook, Twitter, and Flip-Flop. Teachers begin emailing one another, expanding upon their ideas of how to incorporate the game into daily lesson plans. (Betsy DeVoss hears the chatter online but dismisses it because she doesn’t approve of playing games on school time.)
The initial spread of the pandemic overwhelmed young adults then teachers and lastly students. It becomes apparent that youngsters, under 15, are easily infected by the need to read, the speed to heed, the greed to achieve. New versions of the game are developed.  Now STEMS on Gameboy, ANAGRAMS on IPhones, EXTENSION DIMENSIONS, are plagues from Malta to Michigan.

One day Manual Greenberg showed the game to his Baubee after going with her to Shabat services at the senior center.   Consuelo Greenberg talked about it with the activity director at the center and scrabble spread like the California wildfires throughout the 65+ population. In less than a month of days, the scrabble pandemic had infected more than 785,462,994 players globally.

AND NOT A SINGLE PERSON DIED. (Some of the losers were mildly depressed)

Scrabble is a trademark


It’s sitting right there; can you see it? Opportunity is there, in front of me and you, for the taking. I know that the truth is that some folks just can’t see it. They have blinders or diminished eyesight.
But even eyesight is not required to see opportunity. Many blind people can see it, find it, and use it,


  • Opportunity can be used by the young and old, the tall and short, the skinny and full-figured, the rich and the poor.
  • Opportunity can be employed by Blacks and Whites and Browns and Reds and Yellows and Greens.
  • Opportunity can be recognized by Muslims and Catholics, Jews and Buddhists, Protestants, and Atheists.
  • Opportunity can be claimed by Socialists and Republicans, Democrats and Communists, White Supremacists, and Freedom Fighters.

OPPORTUNITY is an equal-opportunity kind of tool but it frequently left untouched and unemployed by some of the people who could use it most to lift themselves up to the next level.

Illegitimate belief systems beat back people with notions that

  • YOU don’t deserve the opportunity.
  • YOU’RE not smart enough to use the opportunity.
  • YOU’RE a loser and a sucker and have always been one.

Messages have been planted within the minds of many that are self-defeating and hard-to-impossible to shake. Feelings of helplessness shame us and hinder us by camouflaging the opportunities that are all around us.

Opportunity is not for the WEAK or the SLACKER. Even if you once fit into one of those categories, YOU CAN CHOOSE to be something different right NOW or any time you desire. Opportunity may require some hard work, some help from others, creating a plan, becoming persistent and resilient. The road that opportunity will take you on may feel strange or scary, it may feel unnatural at first, it may fork to the left and the right, it may lead you to a dead-end and require you to double back.

Some people are too frightened to go with opportunity.

Scrabble is a trademark


The greatest gifts are the ones you GIVE.
Receiving gifts is a lot of fun. Birthdays, Anniversaries, Chanukah, Christmas, and Kwanza are very special. And then there’s finding the Afeekomin on Passover.
But nothing is greater than the ones you give and that warm feeling you’ll get within when the recipient unleashes that beaming smile, or not, that alerts you of their pleasure.

When I first moved to southern California from Michigan it was the month before Christmas, November 1995. In all the visits to LA, prior to moving here. I never gave any attention to the vast numbers of people living on the streets and panhandling. It made me sad and I felt more than a bit guilty. I was not wealthy by any means but I wanted to do a small part to help in the short term. Making a stop at the bank I withdrew a few hundred dollars in two-dollar-bills. The next weekend I drove down to Santa Monica near the famous pier. When I was approached by these folks seeking a handout I happily stopped and rewarded them with a small token. It felt very good. I wished I could have given more.

That same kind of feeling is available from the mitzvah (blessing) of sharing information and teaching the basic principles of scrabble. Once you know that you know ‘HOW TO,’ your gift of sharing and/or instructing others does several important things. 

  1. It helps a specific person.
  2. It grows the scrabble community.
  3. You sharpen your own understanding when you teach. 
  4. You receive a feel-good feeling.

Over the years I’ve gone out of my way to be a part of scrabble groups working with The Braille Institute bringing scrabble to the blind; I’ve been part of a group bringing scrabble to the inmates at Jackson Prison in Michigan; I provided talks and scrabble exhibitions in schools and book stores; I’ve run scrabble fundraising events for Jerry’s Kids (MDA), Ronald McDonald House, The Braille Institute, California Firefighters, and more.
While you don’t need a holiday in order to Pay It Back, the holidays will be upon us again in a matter of weeks. Make your plan now. It doesn’t have to be a huge project, anything can make a difference. Put it on your calendar and JUST DO IT.

Scrabble is a trademark

And it happens oh too often.
You draw your tiles from the bag and ‘VOILA’, you have a bingo staring back at you from your rack. ( A-A-E-G-R-S-T ) There it is, ‘TEARGAS’
Your opponent played first and opened playing ‘SCYPHI’, horizontally, at (H,8) for 40 points. As happens so often, you don’t know the word which your opponent played, but she is an EXPERT and may very well know that word. You call ‘HOLD’ to allow yourself some time to consider if you will risk challenging the play. Your clock is running.
Your word, TEARGAS can’t play now unless SCYPHI takes an ’S’ and that seems unlikely. What should you do?

Don’t waste too much time deliberating.
Does TEARGAS have an ANAGRAM in it that plays?
If you have studies the 8-Letter-Words, look to see if TEARGAS + any of the tiles on the board creates a word.  If you can’t find a bingo, play of ‘AG’ and hopefully draw an ‘I’ to create a ‘SATIRE’ stem for your next turn.

What may you have missed seeing? If you don’t know the word/s you can’t blame yourself too harshly.

TEARGAS has an anagram, ‘GASTERA’. You could have played ‘GASTERA’, horizontally, putting the last ‘A’ over the ’S’ in SCYPHI.
There are two 8’s available:
A) From the ‘C’ there is CARTAGES.
B) Through the ‘S’ there is GASTREAS.

We don’t know, what we don’t know. There is so very much that can be learned. This is just a brief demonstration that there are many pieces to the puzzle on the game of scrabble. If you learn more of the pieces you’ll be able to drive your opponents crazy when you play SCYPHI and leave them behind you flailing in the wind.

It Hurts So Good.


Scrabble is a trademark


A ‘comeback’ reflects a situation in which one opponent is lagging behind in the score and then the circumstances change and the player or team that is trailing comes from behind to take the lead and ultimately WINS.
EXPERTS know and believe that comebacks are possible. EXPERTS don’t give up and throw in the towel. EXPERTS have witnessed how the flow of the game can change in the blink of an eye and they proceed with the ATTITUDE and EXPECTATION that they will ultimately WIN in the end. (Does it always happen? NO! Do your expectations and the way you play make winning possible? YES!)

How far behind can you be and still be able to ‘COMEBACK’?
I was still a NOVICE player in 1992. I played every Tuesday evening at the club in Livonia, Michigan. On most Tuesdays, Chuck Armstrong, a national expert was in the mix. I had played against Chuck dozens of times and always had been blown out of the water and never won. On this evening everything was going my way; I had the perfect combination of tiles all game long. With just a few tiles remaining in the bag I played ‘PACIFIED’, vertically, through an ‘I’ at (A,5) for 107 points, building my lead to 131 points. I drew the remaining tiles from the bag and sat back waiting for my ‘sweet victory’.
I had tracked the tiles and if I was correct I knew that Chuck had the following rack: A – B – E – I – O – T – V. Chuck paused, and then played all seven of his tiles. He played ‘OBVIATE’ at (A,1), horizontally, placing the ‘O’ atop ‘PACIFIED’. Chuck counted his score, announced 137 points and out. My rack had 4 points so he received another 8 points.

I CHALLENGED. I didn’t know ‘OPACIFIED’. It turned out to be acceptable.
And I lost a heartbreaking defeat.
But that’s what EXPERTS can do to you.


Scrabble is a trademark


Forensic Science is known for the development of systems to take the smallest bits of evidence and use these small clues to tell a bigger story, to find answers.
The people who become the best forensic scientists are the people who are passionate about their jobs, ask probing questions, see the bigger picture hiding in plain sight, and build their knowledge about the tools at their disposal.

Sound familiar? Sounds like a scrabble mavin to me.

A few years ago I decided to become more proficient in regard to using many of the features and programs available on my MacBook. I cleared a morning on my calendar and drove over to the Apple Store at the mall. Prior to going, I had made a list of questions that I had about one specific program, ‘PAGES’. The staff at the Apple Store are very helpful and I quickly learned that they offered free classes related to various programs. In fact, one such session was just beginning and there was a chair available for one more participant. I found the session to be fascinating but some of the items on my list were not addressed. At the end of the session we were invited to ask questions and I was not shy. I took notes so I might remember everything when I got home. After completing my list I did one more IMPORTANT THING. I asked the teacher, “Is there anything else I overlooked to ask”. (I admitted that I might NOT KNOW some things I DIDN’T KNOW.)

The BEST forensic scientists are always probing deeper. Don’t be shy. ASK.

ALWAYS ASK AN EXPERT. Don’t settle for the answer from a nice person who wants to be helpful, but may not know the full skinny. You wouldn’t ask your banker to repair your car engine . . . or would you?

After asking my question, the teacher gave up two more suggestions that were very important and helped me immeasurably with my project.

When I created my online class, ‘SCRABBLE 101’ I began by making a list of all the pieces of the game of scrabble that I needed to know about in order to become the BEST player I could ever be. Then I set out to create a logical outline to include all the answers for future students through practical hands-on, brains-on exercises.

I begin on day one telling my students to ASK QUESTION. At times the questions I get on DAY #1 are about things that won’t come up until DAY #8, but that is okay. Some of the time a student just needs clarification. That’s important too. Sometimes I have to say things differently because we all hear things and understand things differently. And after the entire class is over there are still questions that we will have. The important thing is finding the answers, DON’T SETTLE FOR LESS.

Many tools that will assist you are already invented. Don’t spend your time reinventing the wheel. Allow me to be your guide:

Scrabble is a trademark

Have you ever been STUCK? I can rattle off a long list of reasons for why I am stuck in my easy chair. But the honest truth is . . . I’m not stuck at all. It is a choice that I’ve made over and over again throughout my lifetime. I’ve paid a handsome price for being a chair-potato. Let me count the ways.

But first I’ll press myself to look back and uncover some of the excuses I use to forgive myself and permit myself for remaining seated. I encourage you to do the same if this applies to you.
Growing up I never had a chance to VEG. Up until I was 15 my family of 5 lived in an upstairs flat with only about 600 square feet of space. I shared one small bedroom with both my brother and sister. We all shared 1 bathroom. We had very little privacy and we all vied for space on the couch. TV didn’t enter my life until I was 8 and then viewing was limited to an hour or so per day. (They said too much TV would cause premature blindness, just like masturbation.)
I was always too busy to VEG. I began working jobs by the time I was 8: mowing lawns, raking leaves, shoveling snow, and then paper routes. By the time we moved into a bigger house and I coulda vegged I was active in the Youth Group, was making friends, and holding down a number of other jobs.
My first opportunity to VEG was after I got married and lived in our apartment with double or triple the room which my family had shared. I vegged on weekends in front of the TV watching sports. I played a lot of racquetball with friends, right up to the age of 40 when I ran into a wall (playing racquetball) and injured my right elbow and shoulder. After the operation to remove boned chips from my elbow I slowed down dramatically.
I have to admit that my love of scrabble has been a culprit allowing me to ease my guilt about staying in my chair. (It’s not like I just sit in the chair and stare at the TV all day and night.)

      • While sitting I write blogs
      • I create word lists
      • I develop word study tools
      • I teach my online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’
      • BUT I’m still sitting way too much.

While writing this I know I MUST change my regimen. I pledge to take a walk this evening before I go to bed and once a day thereafter. Feel free to ask me or nag me about that going forward. All the sitting around since the pandemic was acknowledged mid-March has multiplied my CHAIR-TIME.


  • Not going to work
  • Being furloughed due to Covid-19 has contributed to my bad habit.
  • Now is the time for me to take ACTION.
  • Whether we’re dealing with scrabble, sitting in a chair, or building a ‘NAIL SCULPTURE,’ taking ACTION leads to success.
Scrabble is a trademark

There is a theory that there have been Extraterrestrial Interventions into the game of scrabble. How else can we explain the sudden creation of this game out of a spark of inspiration, channeled through a laid-off architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, of Poughkeepsie, New York? Which GENE was modified in the ‘EXPERT’ players that enable them to recall so many of the 179,000 words? The ancient aliens first tried to introduce scrabble to the Sumerians but it was near to impossible placing cuneiform writing on tiles.
Ancient Alien Theorists believe that the game itself creates energy for stimulating interaction between diversified groups of humans to advance communication and coming together, designed to break down barriers while promoting brotherhood. The element of offensive words was consciously included for use in the game to desensitize and quash the volatility of these name-calling slurs.
Could it be that the gods, with the intention of fostering inclusiveness and cooperation, intervened and guided Butts in the creation of this game which created a quantum leap in thinking? Scrabble is the catalyst that ignited countless humans to spread knowledge, both then and still, like the COVID-19 virus, first here and then around the world.
And just like a virus will mutate, scrabble has mutated in our lifetimes into all languages and other forms like ‘WORDS WITH FRIENDS’. Left to their own devices, inspired players expanded their word quest via systems like STEMS, HOOKS, and ANAGRAMS.
Scrabble opens minds to possibilities. The universe is teeming with life and a simple game has awakened some of us to challenge the way we led our lives before scrabble.

**Not all humans have been enlightened. A simplistic way to recognize those others is by listening to what they say and ask. “That’s not a real word” is one common utterance; ‘I Can’t’ is another.
Keep digging, keep exploring, keep studying. NANU-NANU.

Scrabble is a trademark

WIN A PRIZE WORTH $35. (a framed Name Word Plaque. see below)
This blog is all about the Official RULES of the GAME. There are 3 questions below. If you choose to play, write the answers to the 3 questions and send them to me in an email to All correct entries will be put into a pool and a winner will be drawn from that group on Monday, 9/28.

The deadline for entries is Midnight (PDT), Sunday, September 27, 2020.

You can get a free copy of the Official Rules from NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association):

In the beginning, there were only a few rules printed on the inside of the box that held the scrabble game. Then over the years the list of rules grew and grew as a result of competition within clubs and tournaments. Every time when there was a dispute between players, the rule committee made a decision and wrote a rule pertaining to the incident. The more players competed, the more circumstances occurred that demanded rules. Now the Official Rules are numerous.

Here are the 3 Questions. Good luck.
Serious players must KNOW THE RULES.

  1. In the EXPERT DIVISION at a National Scrabble Tournament, a game ended with both players having negative scores. How could that have happened? In part, it was because the losing player didn’t know one of the rules.
  2. What is the correct way to complete your turn? List the steps.
  3. Is there a penalty for overdrawing tiles? If yes, what is it?

Scrabble is a trademark

Today I was thinking about EXTENSIONS. I am not exactly sure why, but maybe it was because I was thinking about needing an extension cord.
EXTENSIONS are very useful when you’re playing scrabble. They work on the front or back of so many words. Some extensions work on both the front and the back of the same word.

An EXTENSION is a set of 2 or more letters that conveniently fit in front and/or in the back of certain base words to form a different ‘legal’ word. BEWARE! ’RE’ can be added to the front of many words (BUT NOT ALL). ‘INGS’ is another tricky extension that works at the end of many words (BUT NOT ALL).
Let me open your eyes to several others. Here are some of the common FRONT EXTENSIONS that players will frequently use ( words of 4-9 letters long):

  • ‘ANTI’ (201)
  • ‘AUTO’ (89)
  • ‘DIS’ (518)
  • ‘MIS’ (618)
  • ‘MONO’ (618)
  • ‘SUB’ (463)

There are many, many more. The ( ) indicates the number in this set.

Here are some of the common BACK EXTENSIONS that players will frequently use ( words of 4-9 letters long):

  • ‘INGS’ (967)
  • ‘ING’ (1,024)
  • ‘OUT’ (133)
  • ‘WORK’ (101)
  • ‘WORT’ (43)
    bloodwort, clockwork, brownout, becomings, crossings, tryout, tinwork.

There are many, many more.
RAINOUT is acceptable; OUTRAIN is not.
PITCHOUT is acceptable; OUTPITCH is good too.
I don’t think there is a grammatical rule. I know it’s maddening.

Most players know that if you are playing first, the best scoring play other than a bingo is a 5 or 6 letter word that can reach to the DLS at (D,8). One of the best comeback plays would be adding a 3-letter Front-Extension to the TWS.


Extensions are great to find whenever you can make a word already on the board stretch to any DWS or TWS. At times when you have an extension but it doesn’t create a BIG SCORE, it is best not to play it.

Make a list of possible front and back extensions.
Increase your awareness.

Scrabble is a trademark

Oh, where, Oh Where can Letterman BE?




Sending Get Well Wishes to GARY MOSS
Here are Various Ways You Can Say GET WELL

  • Wishing you a speedy recovery.
  • May you feel your usual self again in no time.
  • I pray you return to full health soon.
  • Wish you a fast recovery. can’t wait to see you back to your old self again.
  • Sending good, healthy vibes your way.
  • Just sending a little getwell sunshine your way because you are always a bright spot in my days.
  • Sending extra prayers for your recovery.

I spent a part of Sunday watching NFL Football. Football is oh so different from playing scrabble and yet there are several factors in these two vastly different games which are very much the same.
Each game has two very distinct pieces: Offense and Defense. Some teams I watched were well known for one or the other. But a select few were multidimensional. Those teams truly dominated the game and were the undisputed winners.

Many scrabble players make the mistake by thinking that the game is solely about finding words on their rack and playing them. Observers may be lulled into thinking the same thing.
Have you ever watched the movie ‘MIRACLE’ (about the US Hockey team that won GOLD in the 1980 Olympics)? Preparation, Preparation, Preparation. Offense/Defense

While you are becoming a better player and your work power is growing by leaps and bounds you will come up against opponents who are masters of defense. They’ll keep the board so shut down that it will be close to impossible to find a place to play all the great words from your rack. It will feel like all your hard studying has been for naught. Don’t give up. Learn more HOOKS and Lesser-Known Words.
Players who develop great Offensive skills, but pay little attention to defense will often unwittingly provide generous openings for opponents to find comeback plays and respond with high scoring plays of their own.

To be a frequent winner you have to know how to score while limiting the competition. Knowing words that begin and/or end with ‘C,’ ‘Q,’ and ‘V’ will be helpful. Knowing words which do not take an ’S’ at the end. Learning alternate front and end HOOKS will pay off.

’S’ + hero = SHERO; ‘A’ + cold = ACOLD;
xyst + ‘I’ = XYSTI; smaragd + ‘E’=Smaragde

Some people I meet tell me from the very beginning, “I can’t remember all that”. They are right, they CAN’T with that kind of ATTITUDE. (But they’re WRONG.) Some people I meet tell me that they’ll TRY their best. (But they are not convincing and often lack conviction.)
Then there are others who take the bull by the horns and just DO IT. They don’t necessarily learn it all, BUT they give their all and make amazing advances in their abilities.


  1. Find a good play.
  2. PAUSE!
  3. Look for and find a BETTER PLAY.

Play to WIN. Know you CAN.

Scrabble is a trademark

You walk into your home and flip a switch that turns on the lights -or- you might just say “Lights ON” and the lights magically illuminate your home.
Your place of work is 15 miles away from home. You get into your car and push a bottom or turn a key, the motor starts and you drive to work in less than 25 minutes.
A lot of different people did a lot of work years ago to enable you to get through your day with ease. On your way home you might even drive-thru a lane, by a window where you pick up dinner for you and the family. After dinner, you’ll turn on one of several devices in your home to provide you with entertainment for as long as you choose.

What a wonderful life.

And that’s not all. You can choose to lead your life as leisurely as you desire or you can build your skills in a hundred different ways increasing your knowledge and skills.

What a wonderful life.

Now if you like learning words and building your word power you should consider Scrabble as a fun way to expand your horizon. First, you’ll want to learn the game so you are clear on how the game works and what you might have to learn to become an even better player. Once you’ve accomplished that there will be a huge group of people both online and in your community who will be eager to meet you and play as your opponents.
You can prepare yourself on your own -or- you can invite me to be your mentor. There are others as well whom you can turn to.

You’ll want to secure a scrabble game, a current Official Word List, a current Dictionary, and a digital chess clock. In my opinion, the best way to get a running start is by taking the online class ‘Scrabble 101’. Call (949) 510-1673.
This website has a lot of good information that you can have for free. Check out the MENU on the left side of the screen and explore it. There are WORDS-Of-THE-DAY, and so much more. You are all welcome to call me at the number above.

YOU have the smarts, you just have to put them in gear. Most people find scrabble to be a lot of fun and you’ll quickly learn that the more you know, the more you’ll enjoy the game.

Scrabble is a trademark

Among the 100 individual tiles in a Scrabble tile bag, there are more than 170,000 combinations that make up legal words, hiding in plain sight. The average person you meet on the street knows about 8,500 words which they use in their daily lives. Competitive scrabble players work hard to learn huge portions of the 170,000 words and then use those words during play. The best players will play words that will cause you to look twice and call “HOLD” while you decide if you want to CHALLENGE that strange-looking word.

Q. Is that a word? ‘STRONGYL’ Is that a real word or did your opponent mess up and put the letters down in the wrong order?
It’s a parasitic worm.

Q. Your opponent just played ‘QWERTYS’ as their opening play with the ‘Q’ on the DLS spot, for a whopping 114 points. If you challenge and are wrong, you’ll lose a turn and probably have no chance at all in this game. Do you challenge?
That is the keyboard of a standard American typewriter and is acceptable.

The top players study efficiently. One word at a time is not their preferred way to study. So, they use proven systems that serve up sets of words with common features. Some letters are more common than others within words. The value of the letter will tell you if they appear more often. All the 1 point tiles are in more words than the others. The 2 tiles with the greatest value, but have the lowest frequency are ‘Q’and ‘Z’.

The top players study STEMS, MNEMONICS, and HOOKS. The top players use FLASHCARDS, VIDEO FLASHCARDS, and LISTS.

Becoming an EXPERT scrabble player is no different than becoming a concert pianist or an Olympic sprinter. PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE!
Most people reading this blog are not going to become the sharpest knife in the drawer but can become a formidable opponent with a little help and guidance.

Consider my online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’.
Get a fast head start.
CALL ME NOW. (949) 510-1673


Some people enjoy the competition factor in sports and games. Other people would rather play HUG-Of-WAR than TUG-Of-WAR.

I like the competition. My ex did not. Can you imagine the conflict and the impossibility of sharing various activities? Take Ping-Pong or Tennis. While I enjoy playing to WIN, she would prefer to simply volley, endlessly,
There are many people who enjoy playing Scrabble passively. They find great pleasure finding words on their racks and putting them down on the board. Competitive players like to find lesser known words to play which invite challenges from their opponents. Competitive players like to utilize the HOT SPOTS on the board to earn the highest possible scores and ultimately WINNING the game with the highest total score.
Passive players who play against Competitive players frequently become frustrated by losing game after game.
Passive players who play against Competitive players frequently become frustrated in that they have no idea if the words being played against them are real words, or not.

What would you do if your opponent played ‘ARDEB’, ‘IHRAM’, and ‘NGWEE’?
Those words are all good.
Competitive types love it when they are challenged. They will make a note on the corner of their score sheet and remember those words to play in future games when the opportunity arises.
Competitive players will also play defensively. They think ahead to the next play. They do not provide ‘JUICY SPOTS’ for their opponents to make high scores.

WARNING! If you become a great scrabble player, the casual players among your family and friends may not want to play with you any longer.



I’m a believer in PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE. I’m a believer in INSURANCE. I’m a believer in TAKING ACTION. I am a believer in YOU.
I continually write word study exercises and create a wide variety of tools to assist players to improve their knowledge and build expansive word power and memory.
I believe in SPACED REPETITION, the action of reviewing lists and flashcards, and reading the OWL. I believe that players need to have GOALS and continuously raise the bar to ensure that they keep on growing. There’s NO REST for the KING-OF-THE-HILL. There’s always someone a step behind you, waiting for you to falter.

You should have a tune-up before your engine light goes on. That action will ensure that you will most likely never break down on a lonely back road on some frigid, rainy night.
I knew a family who NEVER cleaned their gutters until after the precipitation streamed down the sides of their house causing discolored bricks and worse, the water worked its way into the ground and flooded the basement in the home.
Some people are so optimistic that they think NOTHING BAD will ever happen, therefore why bother with the expense of insurance. After the TORNADO blew through the neighborhood after the LEVY BROKE and the storm surge sent 6 feet of water down the street, after the FOREST FIRE in the next county was blown by the Santa Ana winds to their own backyard it was too late to get insurance.

Scrabble is no different. There you are sitting with a BINGO. You remember reading my blog when I pointed out the STEMS and the steps for you to lean them. You have the combination of letters I wrote about so often (A-E-E-I-N-S-T) and you can’t remember the word. You’ve always planned to learn the top 10 STEMS but you never took action. It cost you this game.
BUT in all these cases, unless you die today . . . these events will repeat themselves at some future time.


Scrabble is a trademark




It all begins with HOPE
Don’t just sit around and MOPE
When your luck is battin zero
Get your chin up off the floor
I know you can be a hero
You can open any door
It’s not easy but YOU CAN do it
Make a plan, set your mind to it.

Mother Nature and Father Trump are attacking us from all sides.

Mother Nature is giving us her severe response to Climate Change. Fires across the western states on the heels of several weeks of record high temperatures. Hurricanes across the southeastern regions in severity and numbers greater than years before. Tornados and floods to boot.

Father Trump continues lying to the American people and not fulfilling his responsibility to take actions to keep us safe by creating national solutions.


Keep yourself safe by being as prepared as you can be for what the elements throw at you.
Vote early and rally others.
And when it comes to your scrabble game . . . Don’t just sit around and MOPE.
Learn a word today and tomorrow.

Scrabble is a trademark


Solve the PUNS with legal scrabble words. See the answers below.


  1. I knew a woman who owned a taser. Man, was she _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  2.  I meant to look for my missing watch, but I could never find the _ _ _ _.
  3. Did you hear about that great new shovel? It’s _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  4. Two antennas got married last Saturday. The reception was _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  5. Writing with a dull pencil is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  6. No matter how much you push the envelope, it’ll still be _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  7. How do you kill a circus? Go for the _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  8. What do you call an alligator in a vest? An _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  9. My fear of moving stairs is _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _.
  10. The dead batteries were given out free of _ _ _ _ _ _.


To learn more words or tune me out? . . . that is the question.
For more than 30 years I’ve been making, updating, and selling WHIZ CARDS. Whiz Cards are simply flashcards with a unique characteristic, they are only related to legal words, acceptable on the OWL (Official Word List). WHIZ CARDS uses all sorts to lists creating SETS. The sets with the biggest BANG for your buck are the STEM SETS.
There are two different categories of STEM SETS (6s-7s & 6s-8s). The most popular of the two is the 6s-7s. There are 100 STEMS which are ranked from #1 to #100 in order of high probability. Each set of 6s-7s contains 26 cards (A – Z).
The front side of the STEM WHIZ CARD you’ll find the STEM + a letter. On the backside of that card you’ll find the word or words created from the letters on the front. The #1 STEM, SATINE, with a variable 7th letter creates 73 BINGOS.

You can create your own cards or you can order them from JUST FOR THE SPELL OF IT at to the account of
Paypal takes Visa and other Charge Cards.

1 Set $15 All orders include shipping
3 Sets $30 Printed on card stock
5 Sets $40 We’ll send you the highest probability SETS
10 Sets $75 or you can ask for specific STEMS.

6s – 8s STEMS on WHIZ CARDS are also available. These sets contain many more cards per set (AA – ZZ), 351 cards per set.

1 Set $50 All orders include shipping
3 Sets $135 Printed on card stock
5 Sets $200 We’ll send you the highest probability SETS
10 Sets $350 or you can ask for specific STEMS.

Scrabble is a trademark


  • Pay Yourself First is a personal finance strategy of increased and consistent savings and investment while also promoting frugality. The goal is to make sure that enough income is first saved or invested before monthly expenses or discretionary purchases are made.
  • Pay Yourself First is a personal finance strategy of increased and consistent savings and investment while also promoting frugality. The goal is to make sure that enough income is first saved or invested before monthly expenses or discretionary purchases are made.
  • Pay Yourself First is not necessarily only a financial strategy, its a great scrabble strategy too.

Every day, when you begin your day, pay yourself by setting aside some specific amount of TIME during which you focus solely on learning a few words which you can use playing scrabble. It could be as little as 15 minutes per day.
It works best if the time is the same every day and written on your calendar and your daily TO DO LIST. If you’re a multi-tasker you may want to do it while taking your morning shower or preparing your breakfast. DON’T DO IT WHILE DRIVING !!
Have all the necessary materials already in place. If you are reviewing flashcards while showering, make certain that the cards are laminated, There’s nothing worse than soggy flashcards.

Once each week, rethink your study routine and, if necessary, adjust the TIME, PLACE, or any other part of your regimen to improve the quality of the practice.
Develop and keep a chart of your progress. Take full credit for your accomplishments. Keep a notebook with entries of ‘WORDS I’VE LEARNED’. and ‘NEW WORDS I’VE PLAYED AGAINST OPPONENTS’.
If you don’t know what pieces of the scrabble genre to study, ask me via email. I’ll be happy to put you on the right track.

Watch your arsenal grow.

Scrabble is a treademark

Most people have a BLIND SPOT. Let me put it this way until very recently most vehicles had one or more blind spots which made/makes driving fairly dangerous. I live in a senior community of more than 20,000 codgers. More than half of these residents still own vehicles and drive many times each week. Many of these senior drivers have a variety of arthritic conditions that slow or limit their range of motion, necessary for safe driving. Too many of these diminished seniors have difficulty turning their heads or bodies to see the areas that are poorly seen with only the side and rearview mirrors.
Thank heavens for the new technologies that warn drivers with winking lights on side-view mirrors alerting drivers of other cars lingering in the blind spots. Thank goodness for the new technologies that apply the breaks to assist with the avoidance of collisions with other cars and trucks. Seniors also generally have slower reaction times due to the way their bodies atrophy.
One HUGE PROBLEM is that too many of my neighbors have taken great care of their older cars and generally drive less than 3,000 miles in an entire year. The problem is the older cars. These cars still look great but they do not have the new safety features that help eliminate the BLIND SPOTS.
And then there are scrabble players who have yet different kinds of BLIND SPOTS that are equally dangerous, leaving players vulnerable to LOSING and suffering BRUISED EGOS. It’s not as deadly as driving accidents but it affects players YOUNG and OLDER.
The GOOD NEWS IS that there are remedies available that are similarly effective, just like the new auto technologies. The cost for scrabble players is a whole lot less than the cost of a new car. For scrabble players, the cost is TIME, applied to learning words and systems of word structure.
You can chip away at the process on your own . . . -or- you can take my online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’ and I will help you clear up your BLIND SPOTS. In the course of just 21 days, I’ll walk you through the scrabble world, and even if you’ve been playing your whole life long, I’ll enlighten you to little tricks that will help raise your rating in the ranks. Contact me by email at or call me between 10 AM and 11 PM (PDST): 949-510-1673.


Scrabble is a trademark

There have been 22,780 bankruptcies so far in 2020. My guess is that a major portion of those has been due to the effects of the Covid-19 Virus.
I’m pretty certain that the principals of those companies have gone through their personal turmoils and sadness. But the greater majority should not take it personally. I imagine that after they have their cry and regain their composure, many of those folks will find the strength to reinvent themselves and come back stronger than before.
Life is just a circle and we’re all somewhere on the arc. At times we find ourselves upside down, hanging on by our toenails; other times we are on top of the world and can see ahead forever. Some of us have better instincts and better luck than our neighbors, riding the crest longer and avoiding the valleys in business and in life.
But one thing is as certain as the SUN will rise again tomorrow . . . and that’s YOUR BEST IS YET TO COME (if you allow it and not self-sabotage).
I learned this ATTITUDE by playing scrabble. Most people who play the game will get this rack ( A – E – E – I – N – S – T ) and play ‘SEAT’ or ‘STAIN’ or ‘SENATE’.
That’s exactly the kinda thing that I did until I decided that I wanted to WIN. That’s when I began asking more questions and one lady in the room pointed out that knowing about STEMS would lead me to higher scores by playing bingos. That’s when I learned that ‘SATINE’ + ‘E’ = ‘ETESIAN’. Duh! I didn’t even have to know that ETESIAN is an annually recurring wind; all I had to do was to memorize the ‘SATINE’ stem and I would learn 73 bingos. I put the STEMS on flashcards and learned them in the matter of a month of days.
Whether your goal is scrabble knowledge, finding an interim job, learning how to prepare healthy meals, or how to fold a flag . . .  you can do it, let go, and move forward.

Scrabble is a trademark

Happy Birthday to Martin Moss
A certain POTUS, today disparaged everyone and everything as a de-flection of his own lies, shortcomings, and avoidance of damaging truths. He has been advised by his campaign gurus that even untruths have ‘sticking’ power if they are repeated often enough. Human nature reflecting the HERD is not discerning but rather lazy when it comes to fact-checking, making large numbers of people vulnerable, keeping them misinformed, molding them to be puppets of the greedy and powerful.
Can you recount these same techniques being used by other leaders, teachers, or captains of industry? (In advertising)

I wonder if POTUS or his family and friends hold major stock positions in the companies that manufacture and sell Hydroxychloroquine?

  • What if POTUS, knowing that COVID-19 kills off a disproportionate number of minorities (who most likely vote Democratic), is willing to allow COVID deaths to soar, merely for political advantage when voting day happens?
  • What if POTUS selects the member of his inner-circle (Who run and protect and represent the US), not by their expertise and character but by their loyalty to only him, POTUS (To hell with the people).

Living in today’s AMERICA under the leadership of Donald Trump provides me a sickening taste of what it must have felt like to have been living in Adolf Hitler’s Germany or Idi Amin’s Uganda (Hopeless and Scary).
Do you share my fear that POTUS will use his money and influence to steal the November presidential election?

Just the thought of that possibility stirs the same sickening feeling in my gut that I felt upon the assassinations of JFK and MLK.
My biggest fear is that if he, POTUS, is reelected he’ll extend his legal reach to the extent where he will change some of the Official Scrabble Rules and sponsor a new abbreviated 7th Edition of the OWL. If that were to happen I’d put on my Sketchers and MARCH toward the northern border.
We are all witnesses that our constitution did not protect us from having this kind of CHA•LEER•YA (Yiddish for an imbecile,) rising to the highest office in our land. THAT’s UNACCEPTABLE. What’s equally sad is that his party has stood by his side as loyal conspirators, allowing his deadly, UNAMERICAN MISLEADERSHIP. They should all be tried as traitors, convicted, and hung in the rose garden.

Scrabble is a trademark

A lot of people say they’ll TRY. But . . . ‘Trying’ is a variable with a range from way over here to somewhere over there. It is noncommittal and non-quantitative. Try has little-to-no value and is simply a stop-gap measure and a time filler.
If an action has value . . . DON’T TRY; JUST DO IT!
When I first meet wannabes in the scrabble community I am guilty of pouncing on them. I think I do it in a friendly non-threatening manner. My goal is to learn what they already know about playing scrabble and offering a few unsolicited tips which will identify if this prospective player will listen critically and commit to becoming a formidable opponent.
For some, this is too forward and a turnoff. So be it. But if you and I are going to spend significant time playing the game I want you to be an opponent, not a pushover.
I ask you if you know the 2 Letter Words. I’m looking for an honest answer from you. Do you know all 107 of them? If you admit to not knowing all of them I’ll supply you with a 2 Letter Word List and some tips about HOW TO go about learning them and I’ll offer my help bringing you up to speed. I am hoping for some sign from you that you are excited about learning this information as opposed to an overwhelmed sigh of grief (WHAT AM I GETTING INTO?).
I’d rather know upfront. I am behaving like a salesman but I’m not out to earn a large commission. I see myself as a ‘Gary Scrabbleseed,’ sharing the gospel of Alfred Mosher Butts. My Goal: Bring the devoted into the circle; identify the faithful and grow the congregation.

I share and preach The FIVE COMMANDMENTS

Scrabble is a trademark

I wonder if you share any of the same memories with me of the days every fall when we were young students in grade school? For me, those memories include the annual fresh start when the school year began, a few days after Labor Day.
Part of the ritual was receiving a school supply list from my teachers and then making a pilgrimage to the local Five & Dime Store to buy the necessities that I’d need to do my work in my classes. New pencils, clean notebooks with dividers; unused erasers; an ink pen with ‘Miami Blue’ cartridges; 100 3 x 5 cards; some rubber bands; a 12-inch ruler; and a 3 ring binder with 100 sheets of lined paper.
Once home, I packed it all into the carrying bag which I had at home in my bedroom closet. I used that same bag year after year throughout my entire 8 years at Noble School. It was royal blue with the insignia of The Detroit Tigers on each side with both a handle grip and a shoulder strap.
I always liked the beginning of every school year. I’d even go overboard to keep all my work neatly organized and legible for days or weeks until I got sloppy and becoming tired and careless.

After that, I slacked off, but I was a good student and mostly earned As and Bs. I especially liked Arithmetic and Spelling. I used to earn high marks, rarely anything under 95%. I loved to play outdoor sports too. I was one of the fastest runners in my grade and when playing baseball, If I got a good pitch in my sweet spot, I could smack the ball over the fence in center field. I really wanted to play in Little League after school but my mom kept my schedule so busy that I never had the chance to do that. I also played the clarinet in the school band, took part in school plays, and was school champion in the annual Geography Bee.
I guess I was always competitive. The annual Spelling Bee was fun. Twice I made the first cut and then participated in the City-Wide runoff on the stage at the Music Hall. I can still remember how nervous I felt when it was my turn to spell. At the start of the event, there were 30 kids in the competition; I made it to the final 10 when I messed up and misspelled ‘jam·beaux’: A piece of armor for the leg below the knee. Middle English, probably from Old North French *jambeau, from Old French jambe.
I still love competition when I feel I have any chance to win. In the world of scrabble, there exists a top tier of players who really, really, really, really GOOD. Their brains are bigger or work better than the brains of the rest of us. Generally, I do not like playing those GIANTS. If you play frequently you’ll know who they are. While its fun to play them once in a while, it gets old to lose to them again and again and again. I just prefer to avoid humiliation.

I consider myself to be ranked at the bottom of the expert pile. I get it that there are players ranked below me that view me in the same way I experience the GIANTS whom I try to avoid.
Scrabble is a game of EAT or be EATEN. As players, we are all treading dangerous waters, waiting to pounce when the time and the tides are favorable. While treading water we are always busy learning new words, new skills, and new strategies. When the timing is ripe we call upon all of our prowess, instincts, and memory from way back in grade school up until yesterday, using it to slay the GIANT across the board.

Scrabble is a trademark

“The sky is falling; the sky is falling”.
It had started out like any other Monday. A rooster crowed at break of dawn, stirring the residents in the barnyard from their sleep and announcing the beginning of a new day and a new week. The sound of the yard transformed dramatically from the sound of silence to a raucous of chatter, clucking, and an occasional moo. The newly hatched ducklings snugged out from under their mother’s protective feathers as she stood proud and as tall as a fifteen-inch height can stretch and waddled out the barn door with nine offspring chasing after her on their morning walk. The farmer’s kids appeared to milk the cow and two goats then collected the freshly laid eggs from the chicken coop and took them to their mom in the kitchen of the house. A couple of farmhands were now restocking feed for all the animals and daily routines were in full swing.
But as normal as this Monday seemed, everyone was well aware that this day was to be a very special Monday, different from every other Monday that had come before. Today was to become known henceforth as Scrabble Monday.

It all began more than 3 months ago when the Farmer was sitting with the children on the front porch after dinner. They sat ‘round an old card table that he carried up from the basement and set there under a hanging light fixture. He asked Jake and Laura to each bring out a kitchen chair and he carrier one for himself. Next, he brought out a round, padded bag which he hadn’t handled in over ten years, before he came to this life that he lived on the farm. Jake and Laura peered curiously at the bag as their dad unzipped it and emptied its contents onto the tabletop. They recognized it to be a game of some kind but it was foreign to them.

Meanwhile, two free-range biddies had scampered onto the porch and were perched on the railing alongside the table where the family was sitting. The hens were chirping feverishly to one another yet the family paid them little-to-no attention at first.
Farmer John had been a renowned scrabble champion in his youth, walking away and turning his back on his board and tiles when his focus shifted to love of family and earning a living. Deep in his heart, he missed the game, the world of words, and the many friends that scrabble drew into his circle. Tonight, however, here on his front porch, he planned to rekindle that world by sharing the game with his family, no holds barred.

John was more than a little rusty, having been out of the scrabble loop for such a long time. You could tell right away if you had noticed that the Official Word List pulled from his bag was the Fourth Edition. These days players used the Sixth Edition. But John went on without a second thought. He showed the kids the board and the tiles, the tile racks, the clock, and then dove into explaining the basics of the game.
About this time John placed 5 tiles from a tile rack onto the board and positioned them at (E8-I8). That’s the point when something very strange and incredible occurred.
One of the birdies resting on the railing leaped onto the scrabble board and repositioned the tiles, moving them to (D8-H8). John raised his hand, shooing the hen away and putting the tiles back where he originally had placed them. Now the other birdie hopped onto the board and repositioned the tiles where the first hen had moved the tiles and let out an assertive peep. John looked down at the board and couldn’t believe what he had just witnessed.  “HOLY UNDERWEAR”, John yelled.  The birdies had placed the tiles back in the position that earned the highest possible score for that play.  John experimented again by placing a different set of tiles on the board and the hens obliged him once more by repositioning the tiles for the optimum score. John’s jaw dropped. He had no way of accounting for what was happening.
John together with the birdies went on to teach the scrabble basics, that very evening to Jake and Laura. From that evening forward, the game on the porch became a daily ritual. After a few months of evenings on the porch, Jake and Laura were becoming pretty good at playing scrabble, and yet the birdies were even better. The farmer’s wife, Jean, happened to be an amateur photographer. She recorded much of the scrabble progress on both still photos and videos. Upon being prompted by neighbors, Jean sent her videos to News networks and to the folks at HASBRO. Of course, no one initially believed them and their claims about the birdies. And yet, seeing was believing. John’s farm became a tourist attraction where thousands of tourists began stopping every evening just to witness the two birdies move scrabble tiles.
Other farmers put scrabble boards into their henhouses across the country in the hopes of finding other scrabble-playing birdies. None of the others had any luck. Scientists at the leading Agricultural Universities tried but could not explain the phenomenon.

At the end of the following school year, John’s entire family and the two birdies went on tour from coast to coast appearing at both State Fairs and Scrabble Tournaments. The touring was very tiring and as a result, the hens laid fewer eggs. Each scrabble exhibition produced higher and higher scrabble scores and the tours produced admission, photos, videos, scrabble sales, and more, making Farmer John and his family very wealthy. Studies were initiated related to the link between chickens and scrabble. None could be found and the two birdies were labeled as ‘freaks of nature’.
It was a few weeks later that the unimaginable happened. On a cold, dark, rainy November night a FOX got into the henhouse. The world was shocked and saddened. Flags were lowered to half-staff. The birdies lay in State at the Department of Agriculture before a 21 gun salute and a burial at Walden Pond. A local trapper was commissioned to hunt down the vicious murderer. Authorities knew they had the right fox because when hunted down he had the letter ‘Q’ still stuck in his bloody teeth.

(The unbearable heat has strange effects on me.
Somewhere north of 106 as I wrote this piece.)

Scrabble is a trademark

Believe it or not . . . some of the kindest, most caring, and empathetic people I know are scrabble players (when they are not being your opponent in a scrabble game).
You wouldn’t want it any other way, would you?
When I WIN, I want to know it was due to my SKILL, STRATEGY, and LUCK, not to having my opponent just roll over, allowing me to win.
I’ve even known many scrabble players to being helpful and instructive to one another over lunch or after a hard-fought game at the 19th Hole.
Personally, I’m frequently supplying players with learning tools and providing suggestions that will promote learning to raise players in the ranks and create a higher, more challenging, level to the game, infusing lesser-known words.
Kindness, caring and empathy come in many forms. It’s not always about the game itself. Competitors will frequently become dear friends and often feel closer than family. We spend endless hours hunched over our scrabble boards across from our scrabble friends and opponents, often many more hours than we spend with our own family members. At times one scrabble friend can simply say some arcane word like ‘ABOITEAU’ which jolts a memory from some game last year and the two of us break into hilarious laughter. I’ve never laughed like that with my wife or my cousins.
Want a good laugh? Close your eyes and imagine yourself sitting down to a game with Trump. (I’m assuming that he can spell.) I wonder if he follows the rules when playing a game? Does he make up his own rules? If I were to play a word that is unknown to him would he break out in a chorus of “FAKE WORDS, FAKE WORDS”? And then if he was losing, would he ‘FIRE ME’ or call in ‘THE NATIONAL GUARD’? What if he were playing against Oprah? Would he say something outrageous like “BLACK WORDS DON’T MATTER”?
The idea of Trump playing anyone is ludicrous. Cancel that. Unless he was playing against Barr who would surrender unconditionally, declaring it justice.

Scrabble is a trademark


When a NEW DRUG is tested it is used first on animals. Then if the animal data looks okay, it’s tried on human volunteers. All of that usually takes several years. But at the end of human trials, when everything about the drug may appear to be fine, it has still been used by only a few hundred to a few thousand people. And none of those people may have suffered any ill effects. When the drug is on the market millions of people take the drug and sometimes unforeseen reactions are found evident.
The current coronavirus has already killed 180,000+ people in the US due in large part by the mismanagement of POTUS and his cronies. Now they are about to add insult to injury by rushing some ‘potential life-saving drugs’ into use, just before the election. Science doesn’t work this way.
Meanwhile, the way advertising works causes a large number of people to believe messages which are repeated and heard over and over again, in spite of them being true and valid. We are all at risk because of this lying, foolish, and deceitful man in power.
*As a result of his touting of hydroxychloroquine, it was reported today that there has been a major increase in prescriptions and use of that drug in the last several months.” (A Jim Jones mentality is, unfortunately, alive and well.)

I still remember that first time I walked into a room filled with serious, cutthroat, scrabble maven. I can vividly recall looking down at their boards and wondering which language they were using. I remember asking another onlooker about the language that was being used. I recall her telling me that they were playing in English. I FELT Soooooo STUPID. I was an educator with a BS and an MA in Education and I knew hardly any of the scrabble jargon on the board.

  • I felt overwhelmed but enticed.
  • I felt mystified but curious.
  • I felt dumbfounded but challenged.

I decided right there that I wasn’t going to simply turn my back and walk away. Rather, I would step off the proverbial cliff and dive deeply into the abyss of scrabble; I would learn the ‘secrets of scrabble mavins’. I would use my talents and academic knowledge to achieve the same skills that I imparted to the little boys and girls I had taught over the last 3 decades.


Scrabble is a trademark

EGOs can be fragile and delicate. To discover any discipline that is completely foreign and choose to pursue it is like the first archeologist seeing the hieroglyphics on the pyramids without the benefit of the ‘ROSETTA STONE’. It is baffling, to say the least.
The question most frequently stuttered by newies who wander into a scrabble club is “IS THAT A REAL WORD?” That’s because as scrabble players we want to stump our opponents by playing lesser-known words. We want to draw a challenge from our opponents by displaying our word power and superiority, We love earning the 50 point bonus from playing bingos. We love it when an opponent wrongfully challenges an acceptable scrabble word, then loses a turn.

  1. Bruised EGO?
  2. Hell, CRUSHED Ego;
  3. SWAMPED Ego;
  4. TRAMPLED Ego;
  5. MANGLED Ego;
  6. RAPED Ego.
  7. Need I go on?

If you play this game, created by the mild-mannered, unemployed engineer, Alfred Butts, in the 1930s, you’ll want to put some starch in your backbone, some grit in your teeth, some ammo in your six-shooter and enter the playing room like a T-REX and take no prisoners.

  • Prepare yourself;
  • breathe fire;
  • don’t back down,
  • show your teeth.
  • Show no sympathy.
    This is an arena where you EAT or BE EATEN. The only compensation for bruised egos around here is the lessons learned which you in turn can inflict upon others.

Scrabble is a trademark

Before computers and GPS, if I was planning a road trip, I’d head over to the AAA office and get myself a TRIPTIK travel planner. The agent behind the counter usually began by pulling out a regional map beginning with my starting point and with a yellow or orange marker draw a line on the map of the route I was being told to follow. If it was a long trip from Detroit, Michigan to Miami, Florida, the agent might require 2 or 3 regional maps to get me from here to there. Then came the TRIPTIK. It was a booklet made up of smaller maps with greater detail of shorter distances of about 100 miles each. A typical TRIPTIK from Detroit to Miami might include as many as 20+ pages. And then in addition to all of that, there were other booklets available that focused on tourist attractions and amenities along the way.
In today’s world, you simply enter starting and ending addresses into your GPS and you are home free. The GPS will tell you where to find your favorite meals and provide you the choice of where to stay and what to see along the way. Some systems will even warn you about delays due to road construction or accidents.
We knew how to find specific spots on the map by using a system of coordinates. That same system is used by scrabble players when they communicate with others and refer to a location of a word on the scrabble board. The 15 columns from left to right are designated as ‘A’ thru ‘O’. The 15 rows from top to bottom are designated as ‘1’ thru ’15’. Therefore, the center STAR is located at (H,8) and the TWS on the top/left is (A,1).

Understanding the system of coordinates is very valuable for communicating the positions on the scrabble board.

Another basic skill that seems to be falling away from some players is simple arithmetic. I note more and more players who rightfully use hand-held devices to compute their scores. I guess it’s better to use a device than declare the wrong score. But really? Some grown people who play scrabble don’t have the ability to add and multiply?
Coming soon to a clinic in your neighborhood: Chip implants with calculators and the lexicon of your choosing. When this occurs will it take the fun out of scrabble -or- will it just require a totally different skill set?

Scrabble is a trademark

If you’ve ever experienced what is frequently referred to as ‘WRITERS’ BLOCK’ you know the dread and isolation which accompanies this painful condition.
There you sit with your pen, limply in-hand; there you sit idle in front of your Smith-Corona or laptop computer with arthritic-like fingers, ready at the mark and set to go without a single motivating thought or idea to excite your engine.
The longer you just sit there the more difficult it becomes to begin. It’s like the dead of winter in northern Michigan or Minnesota trying to start your frozen car engine. You turn your key and the starter groans, the motor sputs, and coughs. The more you try, the more you rundown and weaken your battery.
You pause a few seconds and try again, hoping your engine will purr.

You pause a few seconds at your desk. You stand up and walk around the room. You refill your coffee cup and take another piece of coffee cake. You close your eyes, hoping for inspiration from that place deep within your subconscious, your soul, The light hides in the darkness. You search the nooks and crannies.
When I face constipation, one sure way to get things flowing again is by returning to the basics. In the past, I have used many, many tools to advance my learning. Whiz Cards with the 2s, Hooks for every letter in the alphabet, all 100 Stems with 7s and 8s. It really doesn’t matter where I begin again. There isn’t anyone specific place that is THE RIGHT PLACE.
JUST WRITE SOMETHING, SIMPLY MOVE, TAKE AN ACTION. It’s as simple as that. Unclog the drain. Most times, the doing will stimulate an idea, be it an old idea or a new aha. The action will promote openings for movement which in turn will allow the logjam to break up. Write about something that you know very well. Expand on these ideas and your genius will surprise yourself with deeper insights appearing at first, and then taking on new directions.
Clogged gutters unattended will cause widespread damage and cost you dearly in the bigger picture.
Stay tuned in to your surrounding; be diligent.


Scrabble is a trademark

Today is not the beginning of a new calendar year; today is not the first day of a new fiscal year. But for me, September 1, 2019, was when I began in earnest building a collection of BLOGS that have accumulated to 365 as of yesterday. So join me and raise a symbolic toast with me today, to this milestone.
We find ourselves living in a very unique period of history where so much of our lives are suspended by the uncertainty of our tomorrow. And yet we each have the capacity to reinvent the way we view and live these days so that we can enrich our lives and build our skills in anticipation of our futures.
Don’t get stuck, looking at the things you cannot do. Re-imagine your life and routines, adding activities and experiences that will empower you. Take a class online, read a book, write that business plan that is in the back of your consciousness, sketch that invention from your dreams.
I’ve spent the greater part of the last 365 days creating different ways to convey knowledge related to building scrabble skills and word power. I hope to do the same in the coming year. We all learn differently and hear things differently but in scrabble, the goals we desire are the same: build our memory, word power, vision, and strategies that lead to VICTORY.

  • I invite you to travel with me in the coming days and months, building upon your abilities and becoming even BETTER.
  • I invite you to bring a friend to the party. We all learn things at a deeper level when we share and teach others.

Avail yourself of the many learning tools, word lists, video flashcards, study guides, puzzle books, my Backward dictionary, and more to challenge yourself to be the best you can be. Remember, there is no end to learning; there’s always another level, another dimension.

There is no dishonor in Not Knowing; simply ASK and EXPLORE.

Scrabble is a trademark