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IF YOU”RE NOT MOVING UP, YOU’RE FALLING BEHIND
You know, in today’s world it’s a fact in all things in life, there’s no way to coast and remain at par with the competition. As a result we must continue to run all the way to the finish line. If you don’t, there will be a steady stream of others who keep passing you bye.
Now there’s nothing wrong with kicking back and enjoying an easier life style; just don’t fool yourself that the status you’ve achieved to this point in time will keep you perched as the king or queen of the hill well into the future. That was never the way that any of us thought of retirement.
If today we were with 1965 prices on things I would be a wealthy man. But as you are well aware, my 2020 new automobile costs twice as much as my 1965 new 3 bedroom home.
If you knew every single word in the first OWL in the 1970s there would still be thousands of words that you’d have to learn to be a master.
Scenario: An interested party calls me and wants to come to scrabble club. I am always thrilled when that happens. We may talk a bit on the phone or communicate via email and I’ll tell them some of what to expect. They usually tell me that they’re the best player in their family or the best among their friends. That’s Great! But the sad thing is that they are setting themselves up for a huge blow to their ego if they think they’ll stroll into club and beat all of us.
Even the newest club player with a basic knowledge about club play will knockout the newbie who would be champion.
A lady called me and inquired about Club #350. She told me that she has a PhD in English. Obviously she was trying to impress me. She came to club and promptly lost all four of her games on the first evening. She never returned. She most likely had a bigger vocabulary than everyone at Club #350 but she couldn’t get her words down onto the board.
It takes TIME. It takes PERSISTENCE. You MUST KNOW the 2s, the hooks, the stems, the strategy, and the probability of drawing specific tiles.
She most likely could have become a national champion but she had a personal need to become an immediate success. It almost never happens.
Through the years I have lost games to 7 year old children, to old ladies pushing 100, to players who were legally blind, to a paraplegic man who played lying face down on a bed with a pencil in his teeth to point to the tiles he wanted to play. Playing scrabble and losing can be very humbling. I’ve watched a bling young woman win a tournament against all sighted players.
If you choose to COAST with only the knowledge you possess, know that others who may show up as your opponents may be honing their skills today and learning a few new words with the hope of stumping you and drawing your challenge. If you don’t know all the rules of the game and your opponent does know the rules you may lose a game on a technicality. If you are out of practice and don’t manage your time effectively you could score enough points to win but lose points for an overtime penalty and ultimately lose the game.
If all this sound like too much like work and not much fun, club scrabble may not be the paradise you imagine it to be.
Not every club player is a SHARK. When you drop in at club you’ll be able to identify The Sharks from the Sturgeons from the Minnows. You will be welcome even if you are coasting but don’t say I didn’t warn you.
MORE ABOUT PHONY WORDS.
What would you say if I told you that many phonies are real words? “How can that be true,” you’re asking yourself.
Well, the definition of ‘a phony’ in scrabble™ means that the word IS NOT on the OWL (Official Word List).
There are most likely millions of words used in languages around the world, yet the OWL has less-than 300,000. A word committee within the ranks of NASPA governs the list of acceptable words. The official file is modified every few years to add new jargon and sometimes eliminate items.
Thus, scrabble™ now becomes more like a MEMORY GAME. The winner is the player who can score the most points using only the acceptable words plus any phonies that go unchallenged.
A PHONY is any word played that is not on the OWL. Phonies are played at times because a player simply misspells a word. Sometimes when placing a word onto the board, a player will inadvertently place the tile down incorrectly. Other times, a player may choose to BLUFF and play a phony knowingly (for the points and hoping that the play will go unchallenged). Yes, bluffing is allowed but is costly when the opponent catches you and challenges.
One EXPERT player I know plays phonies when he is behind in the score. His choice of phonies are so believable that he gets away with it time after time.
Many years ago, the word ‘DA’ was legal. Then the word committee took it off the list for more than a dozen years, and NOW it’s back and is acceptable. The common word ‘REDIAL,’ which has been on telephones for ages, was not acceptable until the early 2000s.
There are many legal words on the OWL that are from foreign languages like DHUTI, NGULTRUM, and ERUV. The grace of the WORD COMMITTEE has included these.
What do you do if your opponent plays a PHONY?
- Say “HOLD” quickly (before your opponent replenishes their rack). When you say HOLD, it is like saying ‘FREEZE, HALT.’ Your opponent is on notice not to take tiles, and you have just bought some time to consider your options.
- Once your opponent has completed their turn by replenishing their tiles, it is too late to CHALLENGE. It is your responsibility to BE AWARE for everything that is going on in the game. You receive NO SYMPATHY if you complain, “I didn’t have enough time to CHALLENGE. HOLD is the stopper.
- Now that you said HOLD and your opponent is stopped, your clock is still running, and you have the opportunity to say CHALLENGE if you wish. Don’t waste your time. Look at the play; do you think it is phony?
- Sometimes there may be a reason to allow the phony played to remain on the board. Sometimes one of the letters in the phony will create an opportunity for you to play a word that earns you a big score.
Scenario: My rack is A-E-I-R-S-T-W, and my opponent has played a phony that places an ’N’ at (J1), on the top line between two TWS. I have recently been studying my ‘NASTIER’ mnemonic word list, and I realize my rack plus the ’N’ on the board would give me a triple/triple. So I DO NOT challenge.
I say, ‘I accept your play,’ smile my biggest Cheshire Cat smile and put down the word ‘TINWARES’ through the ’N’ for 158 points. SWEET!
PLAYING PHONIES IS NOT CHEATING
Last year in March, I was playing at the Escondido Scrabblethon. It is an annual charity event that benefits the LITERACY PROGRAM, hosted through the Escondido Public Library. It is great fun and draws players with a wide range of scrabble abilities from Novice through Expert. (This year’s event will be held on March 7 if you wish to participate.) At last year’s event, I met several players for the first time and encouraged them to join the Escondido Scrabble™ Club, which plays on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. It is a group of about dozen players under the directorship of Jamie Covell.
One of the players whom I met and joined the club is a flourishing flower of a player. She and I have had many games throughout the past year. She becomes very annoyed-to-hostile if and when I play a phony word.
Now let me say this about that. I can’t remember a time when I have played a phony, knowingly, against an opponent. That doesn’t mean that I don’t play phonies. As a matter of fact, I have a reputation in scrabble circles for being a player who frequently plays phony words.
Why is that? I think it happens because I am always studying word lists. Here’s an example: This morning at the Escondido Club, I had an opening rack of G-L-N-O-P-S-T, and I was playing second. My opponent’s opening play contained the letter ‘A.’ I know that there are many words on the OWL that begin with the word ‘LONG,’ so I played ‘LONGPAST.’ It was challenged off the board, and I said GOOD CHALLENGE to my opponent. She was annoyed that I played a phony against her. A few plays later, I played ‘OBJET,’ knowing that it was good; she challenged again. This time I won that challenge.
During a game, both players are playing both offense and defense. Both players have the right and option to challenge their opponents’ plays, knowing that losing a challenge means losing a turn. If you choose to play a phony to bluff your opponent, you take the risk of being challenged. Players who are new to club scrabble™ and are less familiar with ‘scrabble jargon’ are definitely at a disadvantage. There are so many words that we all don’t know. Of the 170,000 + words on the OWL, the average person knows only about 5%. That amounts to only about 8,500 words. Losing challenges often spurs players to improve their word power and skills. We all usually remember the challenges we lose and try to play those same words on our future opponents.
I experience inner joy when someone challenges my play, and my word is judged to be acceptable. I work hard to learn lesser-known words like OBJET, CRWTH, NGWEE, EKPWELE, and ZENANA.
My recommendation to you is to thumb your way through the Official Scrabble™ Dictionary and slyly pick out some words that you will remember then play and stump your opponents.
LET’S MAKE A DEAL
I am standing at the ready to help you and others develop your skills to become the very BEST scrabble player you can be.
- You’ll learn new and exotic words.
- You’ll build a sharper and expanded memory.
- You’ll WOW your friends with your new knowledge.
- You’ll surprise yourself with your abilities.
- You’ll fine-tune your fundamental math skills.
- You’ll learn the basics of Probability.
- You’ll develop a winner’s Killer Instinct.
- You’ll unscramble racks like A-E-E-N-O-P-U.
I hope to have a one-on-one relationship with you as a teacher and student through my online class, SCRABBLE 101. It is a collection of 30 lessons that focus on all the basics of the game with exercises that will guide you to discover ways to expand your memory, expose the winning secrets of scrabble champions, and inspire you to become the BEST YOU; you can be.
The enrollment fee is $198. 30 Sessions in all. We will begin as soon as you enroll. The schedule will be tailored to your busy life. This is not a class for anyone who may be tentative about going forward. You will be expected to devote an average of 30 minutes or more each day while the course is in progress. My students have all moved up in the ranks. Several have even become EXPERTS at the highest levels, surpassing me. I promise you success if you work sincerely and passionately.
You will learn which skills are most relevant and how to prioritize the pieces of the game that will enhance your abilities and scores. You will identify the things you may have been doing wrong, and I’ll show you how to correct any weaknesses.
To enroll or find out more about SCRABBLE 101, call me (949) 510-1673.
Please send me an email: JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com
See you in the Winner’s Circle.
It’s near the end of a game, and I’m way behind in the score. I haven’t had a good combination of tiles throughout this entire game, and now I just drew tiles and emptied the bag, and of all things, I drew the Q, and I don’t have a ‘U.’
My opponent is considering where to make his play. He is placing tiles onto the board, looking at the board, picking his tile up, and putting them someplace else, picking them up again. (The official rules allow you to place tiles and pick them up again as long as it is your turn . . . BUT the rules also say that using the board to try out your plays is not permitted. That should be done in your head.) I didn’t object and make a scene.
One of the plays he was considering, ‘AIRT,’ horizontally with the ‘A’ at (C9). When I saw that my eyes darted down at my rack and I couldn’t believe what I saw, my rack was ‘A’ ‘C’ ‘H’ ‘I’ ’N’ ‘Q’ ‘R.’ Can you figure out the potential play that I saw?
When I see something like that, it is hard to sit and wait for my opponent to hit the clock and end their turn. Ninety-eight points for me if he makes that play.
After placing it on the board, he picks it up again. He took another 3 minutes, and then he finally put ‘AIRT’ back on the board, announced the score, and hit his clock to end his turn.
I played ‘CINQ’ beginning at A8. The ‘Q’ was on the DLS and played in two directions. Everyone in the room heard him moan. Lucky for him, he went out on his next play. I lost, but it felt like a victory for me. Instead of losing by 100+, I lost by less than 25.
I’ve learned over time that when playing scrabble™, you don’t count your chickens before they hatch. More often than not, your opponent will block the spot for the play that earns you the most points. Your best offense is a good defense. Don’t provide significant opportunities to your opponent. Be stingy.
Also, when you are going first. You have the word ‘BAKE’ on your rack. Where will you place it? Will you put the ‘B’ on (E8) (F8) (G8) or (H8)?
In my opinion, the two best places to put the ‘B’ are either (E8) or (G8). On an opening play, I always try to avoid placing any vowel between the DLS, hot spots. Think ahead to what your opponent might do on their comeback play.
Rules According to Gary
Gary’s Rule #1.00
Play each game seriously or not at all. Play every game by the rules and hold your opponents accountable to the same standards.
Gary’s Rule #1.37
There are several steps to completing your turn according to the rules:
1) place your play onto the board;
2) count the score for your play aloud and clearly announce your total score to your opponent;
3) Hit the clock which officially ends your turn;
4) Record your cumulative score (you may write the word you just played);
5) Draw tiles from the bag replenishing your rack to 7 tiles;
6) Track tiles if you so choose.
Gary’s Rule #1.41
When taking your turn, first identify a good play, then pause, now find a better move. Do all of the above in no more than 90 seconds.
Gary’s Rule #1.54
NEVER play an S for less than 25 points. NEVER play a BLANK for less than 50 points.
Gary’s Rule #1.62
Attempt to keep your rack balanced with vowels and consonants. Avoid leaving doubles remaining on your rack after a play. Try to leave yourself with tiles reflecting one of the stems you have learned.
Gary’s Rule #1.68
When you draw tiles, take them out of the bag one at a time and place them face down on the table. Never OVERDRAW tiles. You don’t want to be penalized.
Gary’s Rule #1.74
Become more aware of TIME. The average turn is about 90 seconds. Learn to play faster than the average guy without becoming sloppy. Never go overtime at the end of the game. Do your thinking and planning for your next move on your opponents’ turn.
Gary’s Rule #1.82
Know All The Rules. It will take time to learn all the rules, but you’ll never be sorry that you spent the time. Take the director’s test for a small investment. Understand thoroughly how to play the game.
Gary’s Rule #1.95
Play scrabble solitaire. Play daily. Developing scrabble muscle is no different than building any other muscle. When you’re not building muscle, it is eroding. Be curious about words. Read the dictionary and word lists. Create word lists for yourself and others.
Gary’s Rule #2.09
Teach someone. Find someone who has some interest in the game. Become their mentor and teacher. We often gain a greater understanding of things when we are teaching and clarifying things for others. Be a kind and empathetic teacher, and you’ll be the biggest winner.
Words with the high point values: J, Q, X, Z are most valuable when playing the game. Earlier today I played the word ‘CINQ’ A8 to D8, hooking the Q over an ‘I’ and scoring 98 points. Knowing these words will payoff. Put them on flashcards.
Short J Words
JO JOT JABS AJI JOW JACK HAJ JOY JADE JAB JUG JAGG JAG JUN JAGS JAM JUS JAIL JAR JUT JAKE JAW RAJ JAMB JAY TAJ JAMS JEE AJAR JANE JET AJEE JAPE JEU AJIS JARL JEW DJIN JARS JIB DOJO JATO JIG FUJI JAUK JIN GOJI JAUP JOB HADJ JAVA JOE HAJI JAWS JOG HAJJ JAYS JAZZ JIBE JOGS JUDY JEAN JIBS JOHN JUGA JEED JIFF JOIN JUGS JEEP JIGS JOKE JUJU JEER JILL JOKY JUKE JEES JILT JOLE JUKU JEEZ JIMP JOLT JUMP JEFE JINK JOOK JUNK EHU JINN JELL JINS JEON JINX JERK JIRD JESS JISM JEST JIVE JETE JIVY JETS JIZZ JEUX JOBS JEWS JOCK JIAO JOES JIBB JOEY JOSH JUPE JOSS JURA JOTA JURY JOTS JUST JOUK JUTE JOWL JUTS JOWS KOJI JOYS MOJO JUBA PUJA JUBE RAJA JUCO SOJA JUDO SOJA
Short Q Words
QI QUA CINQ QAT SUQ QADI QIS AQUA QAID QATS QUAG QOPH QUAI QUAD QUAY QUEY QUIT QUID QUIZ QUIN QUOD QUIP SUQS
Short X Words
AX LEX SEX EX LOX SIX OX LUX SOX XI MAX TAX XU MIX TIX AXE MUX TUX BOX NIX VEX COX OXO VOX DEX OXY WAX FAX PAX XED FIX PIX XIS FOX POX ZAX GOX PYX APEX HEX RAX AXAL KEX REX AXED LAX SAX AXEL OXES IXIA OXIC JEUX OXID JINX OXIM LUXE PIXY LYNX PLEX MAXI POXY MINX PREX MIXT ROUX MOXA SEXT NEXT SEXY NIXE TAXA NIXY TAXI ONYX TEXT ORYX VEXT OXEN WAXY EXAM ILEX OXER XYST AXES EXEC AXIL EXED AXIS EXES AXLE EXIT AXON EXON BOXY EXPO BRUX FALX CALX FAUX COAX FIXT COXA FLAX CRUX FLEX DEXY FLUX DOUX FOXY DOXY HOAX EAUX IBEX
Short Z Words
ZINC GEEZ ORZO ZAGS ZINE ADZ ZED BUZZ GRIZ OUZO ZANY ZING AZO ZEE CAZH HAZE OYEZ ZAPS ZINS BIZ ZEK CHEZ HAZY PHIZ ZARF ZIPS COZ ZEP COZY IZAR PREZ ZEAL ZITI CUZ ZIG CZAR JAZZ PUTZ ZEBU ZITS FEZ ZIN DAZE JEEZ QUIZ ZEDA ZIZZ FIZ ZIP DITZ JIZZ RAZE ZEDS ZOEA LEZ ZIT DOZE LAZE RAZZ ZEES ZOIC REZ ZOA DOZY LAZY RITZ ZEIN ZONA SEZ ZOO FAZE LUTZ SIZE ZEKS ZONE TIZ ZUZ FIZZ MAZE SIZY ZEPS ZONK WIZ ZZZ FOZY MAZY SPAZ ZERK ZOOM WUZ ADZE FRIZ MEZE TIZZ ZERO ZOON YEZ AZAN FUTZ MOZO TZAR ZEST ZOOS ZAG AZON FUZE NAZI WHIZ ZETA ZORI ZAP BAZZ FUZZ OOZE YUTZ ZIGS ZOUK ZAS BIZE GAZE OOZY YUZU ZILL ZYME
We Shall Rebuild
Have you seen the pictures of the devastation in Australia? Have you seen photos of the floodwaters in Jackson, MS? Do you remember the Wild Fires that burned up much of the West a few short months ago? It seems as if there is no escaping the awful results of Mother Nature’s fury.
And what is it that you hear so many of the people say after their homes are washed away or burned down? “I’m going to rebuild!” “I’m not going anywhere!”
I understand their angry responses. Nobody wants to be shoved around by Mother Nature. But how do they get the strength to rebuild right there in harm’s way?
Sometimes my computer is very much like Mother Nature.
Last evening I was working away on a word-lesson project. Out of nowhere, I received a pop-up message from Google telling me that I have to reconfirm a password. I tried to delete the message. The message popped up again. After the third or fourth time, I gave in and followed the instructions. Then it prompted me to ALLOW specific permissions. I was skeptical, but I followed the directions. When I tried to resume my project, nothing worked. I felt sure that I had been scammed. I consider myself to be good at doing some things on my computer, but dealing with this kind of problem is not in my bag of skills.
I didn’t sleep well last night. I planned to head straight to the APPLE STORE in the morning, but I pictured some scammer out there picking through my electronic bank account.
I was at APPLE at 9:15 AM, even though it doesn’t open until 10 AM. I was sure that I’d be able to set up an appointment with someone at their GENIUS BAR and that I’d have to come back later today or maybe tomorrow. When the door opened, I was first, and I told my sad story to a greeter. My Genius had a student with him and used me and my issue to teach his student how to interact with me, the customer. Within 10 minutes, he resurrected my computer and even fielded a question or two about the project I have been working on. He said that I hadn’t been scammed and showed me the icon to identify Google.
One of my concerns was that I had corrupted my computer beyond repair. To make things much worse . . . I hadn’t updated and saved my work in 2 months.
If I had lost all that, it would have been like a Fire, a Flood, and a Tornado all in one.
IF THAT HAD HAPPENED, I might have just thrown in the towel, given up creating scrabble materials, and taken up ‘PAINT BY NUMBERS.’
In the past, I have lost significant quantities due to my bad practice of not backing-up files and not saving essential projects. In most of those cases, I have rebuilt projects at a great expense of time and energy. I don’t know what I would have done this time.
There may, however, be a method to my madness. When I recreate lost word lists and exercises, I relearn many words.
Have you ever seen a president? I don’t mean on TV or in a newspaper or magazine; I mean in the flesh.
I have a memory from when I was 10 or 11 years old. It was in February; I was bundled in my winter coat, wearing leggings and a hat and gloves. I had a small American flag on a stick implanted in the thick glove on my right hand. I was standing on a curb along Davison near Livernois in Detroit, Michigan, along with members of my family and hundreds of neighbors whom I didn’t know. We were all waiting patiently for the motorcade that was supposed to drive by with President Dwight David Eisenhower.
My mom had gotten us there early so that we could stand right up on the curb to get a better view. Others who came later stood behind us, three or four tiers deep. We had been waiting close to an hour when we began to hear a din of cheering from a distance on our left. The roar got louder and louder and signaled to us that IKE was coming up the road. People were chanting ‘We Like Ike.’ And then, in the blink of an eye, his car came into view. We all waved our flags frantically and joined in the cheer. And in mere seconds, his car zipped past us and drove up the street on our right. I think I saw his face in the back window of the limo, which carried him. I’m sure that he looked right at me, smiled at me, and waved to me.
I wasn’t even a Republican, except on that day. I was so proud to have been there and to have been part of that crowd, demonstrating our love and respect for the man and the office which he held.
I’ve always enjoyed those same feelings over the years, which encompassed a sense of pride and inclusion. Even when I’ve found myself at odds with the policies of our leaders, I always felt respect for our elected officials. Presidents were always greater than life figures, and for me, they always represented TRUTH and HONOR, until now.
I feel so sad and resentful that one man has grabbed power and tarnished the office with lies and deceit. I feel sick when I witness elected senators band together to protect evil for their personal gain and hope for their own reelection. The oaths taken by our public officials are supposed to make them all the better than that. Deep down, I hope and pray that truth and decency will reemerge.
Can you imagine playing scrabble™ at a club where the director makes rulings differently from the rule book and justifies his/her judgments as Directors’ Privilege?
Can you imagine a director interfering with your game by not permitting a second opinion and input from people who understand the real rules when it is evident that the adjudicator has made an error?
The authors of our constitution created 3 EQUAL branches of government with checks and balances therein to guarantee that shenanigans like the ones we have been witness to wouldn’t occur — shame on us for allowing such things to happen.
The reason for a volume of rules for playing scrabble™ is to resolve matters of contention with cool heads and fairness so that uneven handedness does not occur in the heat of a game.
If we lived lives with a set of rules more like scrabble™ rules and adjudicated them with moral conviction, we would never end up with jokers and wild cards taking control of the game. Truth and Dignity are far too valuable to turn our backs on and allow goons to hijack.
I want to be able to cheer again.
So You Say YOU KNOW THE 3s.
Did you know that there are 1,189 legal (acceptable) 3-Letter-Words?
That’s a pretty big elephant. How does one even begin eating such a humungous meal? Where should you take the first bite?
Yep! Think of this project as if you were eating a meal where everyone was cognizant of wanting ‘ZERO’ waste. We want to get to the end of the project knowing all 1,189 words.
First, we need a doable plan.
How much time should we devote to this project? A day? A week? A month?
Be realistic. Make the plan doable. Five different people will have five varied schedules.
If we opt for one month, that would mean about 300 words each week. Are you really up to that?
Let’s back step. How many of the 1,189 words do you already know? How many will you still have to learn? Maybe there is a step we need to take before we decide on the amount of time. Obtain a list of all the 3-Letter-Words and, with a highlighter, highlight the words that you know. When finished, count up the unmarked words. WOW! You knew quite a few of the words on the list.
Now you have less than 420 to learn. That means if you break those words into one month, you have to eat 105 words a week or about 17 words a day.
Is that doable for you? If not, stretch it out to two or three months. Don’t hurry the project. The goal is to KNOW all the 1,189 words at the end of the period.
IF YOU NEED A 3-LETTER-WORD LIST, REQUEST ONE FROM ME VIA EMAIL.
IT’S FREE. JFTSOI.MOSS@GMAIL.COM
May I suggest flashcards as one tool? Go out and purchase 3 x 5 cards and markers. Begin making flashcards for the words you do not yet know. Place the letters alphabetically on side #1; on the reverse side, write the answer.
Example: Side #1 = D- U-W Side #2 = WUD
Side #1 = A-B-O Side #2 = ABO & BOA & OBA
Side #1 = A-E-T Side #2 = ATE & EAT & ETA & TAE & TEA
If we have 17 words a day, you’ll make 17 flashcards for each day. Keep each set of 17 banded together.
2 or 3 times a day test yourself on the group of 17.
Look at the alphabetized side and guess the answer/s. Put the cards in two piles. (Correct & Missed) In a notebook record: Today’s Date & Number Correct.
Next: Write each word, Say each word aloud, Close your eyes and visualize the word.
- DO THESE STEPS EACH TIME?
- TOMORROW DO THE NEXT SET & REVIEW SET #1.
- AT THE END OF WEEK #1 REVIEW ALL 105 WORDS. ETC., ETC., ETC.
- WORDBANE n pl -S a perennial word as in the song ‘Happy Birthday.
- WOODCHUCK situational question as in ‘Would Chuck ever play a phoney?’
- ANOSEFORIT n pl -S a narc dog.
- SHOEFLY n pl -lies an airplane that looks like a shoe.
- BUTTERBALL n pl -S a team sport like rugby using a slippery buttered ball, two nets, and a spoon.
- LUTFISK n the younger estranged brother of Carlton.
- GLOWWORM n pl -S fish bate harvested from Chernobyl.
- THISLITTLEPIGGY a one-word phrase used by Weight-Watchers to shame overeaters.
- PURPLERAIN n pl -S a frequent occurrence when ink pens were in fashion.
- POPGOESTHEWEASEL v. what happens to weasels at a smorgasbord.
- DIEMAKER n pl -S an assassin
- COMMONCENTS it all depends on what country you’re in.
- MOJO n pl -OES a refill or a warm-up.
- HAPPYHOLIDAYS I don’t know your ethnicity.
- MATZOBALL n pl -S a dance at a sedar.
- FOXGLOVE n pl -S something every fox wants in cold environs.
- RUNNINGSPRINGS devices that attach to your shoes, pogo stick-like.
- SUSPENDERS procrastinators that hold things up.
- TRIPLE SEC a kinky sex experience.
- DOGDAYS a hot sale at PET SMART.
- DISASTER a beheading gone astray.
HOW SWEET IT IS. (Today is Valentine’s Day)
SWEET, SWEETIE, SWEETEN, SWEETING, SWEETISH, SWEETLIP, SWEETLY, SWEETSOP, SUGAR, SUGARY, SUGARER, SUGARED, SUGARING, MOLASSES, AGAVE, PIE, BERRIES, SWEETHEART, HEARTS, CUPID, LOVERS, PUPPYLOVE, LUV, CHOCOLATE, ICECREAM, NECTAR.
On any given day, you can come up with a category and dive in and come up with a list of words. Nothing is out of bounds. Be creative.
I asked google for a list of Valentine’s Words and here’s what I got:
admirer, adoration, adore, affection, affectionate, amorous, angel
balloons, be mine, beau, beloved, betrothed, bouquet, bow and arrow, box of chocolates, boyfriend
candy, card, carnation, charmed, cherish, cherub, chocolate, courting, courtship, crazy, crush, Cupid
darling, date, dear, decorate, desire, devotion, doves
embrace, enamored, endearment, envelope, Eros
fall in love, February, fiancée, flame, flirt, flowers, fondness, forget-me-nots, fourteenth, friend, friendship
gift, girlfriend, greeting, greeting card
heart, heartthrob, holiday, honey hug
like, love, lovebirds, lovesick
party, passion, pink, poem, presents
red, romance, romantic, rose
Saint Valentine, secret admirer, sentimental, smitten
St. Valentine, suitor, sweetheart, sweets
tenderness, true love, tulips
Valentine, Valentine’s Day
wild about, woo, wooer
Wishing you all the love you can stand.
THE REST OF THE STORY
You are going first, and your rack is E-E-H-I-N-T-W. Take 20 seconds and decide upon the word you would play
Most players might choose ‘WHITE,’ placing the ‘W’ on the DLS and earning 30 points.
How about this. When you play this turn, pause and think about the possibilities for your next turn — just saying.
How might you extend ‘WHITE’ to the TWS if you started by playing your first play with the ‘W’ on the center square?
After playing ‘WHITE’ on the first turn, I was left with ‘E’ &’ N.’ If I draw an ‘R’ or ‘D’ when I replenish my rack, I have an extension worth 36 or 39 points.
If I played the more traditional play with ‘W’ on the DLS, there are two front extensions. Do you know what they are? How about ‘BOB’ or ‘NON’? Yes, both are acceptable.
Most players don’t think this way. If you can train yourself to think differently, you’ll develop a skill that will move you up in the ranks. All it takes is practice and self-control.
I have a booklet of exercises that deal with EXTENSIONS. If this appeals to you, order the booklet from me for $12, including shh. Pay with PayPal and order from my account: JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com
CHEERLEADER AD LITEM
TUESDAY is an orgasmic day for scrabble players in and around Huntington Beach, California. David Poder directs a scrabble club every Tuesday at the IHOP on Beach Blvd. There are a total of 8 games in all during the two 4-game sessions. The afternoon session begins at 1 PM. On 2/11, there were 30 players present for the afternoon session. After game number 4, there is an hour break. Those players who plan on playing the evening session have dinner. Most of the others go their separate ways. The evening 4-game session begins at 6 PM. Players are not obligated to stay all day. Others come in for the evening session. Usually, there are about a dozen players for session #2.
The Cheerleader I refer to in the title of today’s offering is my good friend, Gretchen Cowan. Gretchen is a very good and highly competitive scrabble maven. Gretchen spent her professional life as a classroom teacher and has a great appreciation for learning tools. She not only uses many of my workbooks, but she demonstrates their value to other players.
I know the excellent value of my materials, but I am a passive salesman. I wouldn’t say I like getting into the faces of my potential customers.
Gretchen doesn’t hold back. As a result, I sold a pile of booklets at the Huntington Beach club.
I wish you had been there to hear Gretchen’s spiel. She demonstrated how she gets real-time value when using the exercises. She further shared how she writes her answers on a separate notebook to reuse the booklets over and over again.
There are several booklets available. Most cost $12 (including shipping). If you catch me in person, the cost is only $10. There are a few huge books, like my BACKWARDS DICTIONARY ($30 + $5 shh).
Send me an email: JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com, and I’ll send you a list of available booklets.
I also teach the online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’ ($199).
MY HAPPY PLACE
It’s not a single physical location. It’s at Clubhouse #5 on Monday afternoons; in Escondido, California, on the 2nd and 4th Saturday mornings of each month; Phoenix, Arizona on President’s Weekend; at Clubhouse #2 on Wednesday evenings and in Santa Ana, CA. on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
My Happy Place is everywhere Scrabble™ is played. (Not limited to the locations mentioned above.)
- My Happy Place is also on Facebook, where I play both Scrabble™ and Words With Friends. I can’t count the number of enjoyable hours I’ve spent on my computer connecting with scrabble friends.
- My Happy Place is lost in the OWL and OSPD6 while sitting in my recliner, imagining ways to make learning words fun, and creating word puzzles and exercises.
- My Happy Place is standing in front of a group of people and talking about scrabble™ and how it has affected my life.
- My Happy Place is sitting in front of a Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake with a F-O-R-K and a Starbucks™ Vanilla L-A-T-T-E.
- My Happy Place is at a BLANKHEADS gathering, with the whole day still in front of me.
- My Happy Place is playing scrabble™ on the beach at Huntington Beach, CA.. in Washington Square Park in New York, on Hana, Maui, Hawaii, in Las Vegas, NV, or on The Mississippi Steamboat.
Where’s your Happy Place?
There Are RULES for Everything
Have you ever see the original scrabble™ game? It was indeed a ‘board game.’ It came packaged in a box along with 4 wooden racks (about 8 inches long) and 100 wooden tiles, lettered by some wood-burning process including the tile value in the lower right corner. Printed on the inside of the top of the box were the RULES. There were less than a dozen rules.
Shortly after the game got into the hands of players, the popularity of the game of scrabble™ exploded. The success had to do with the marketing prowess of James Brunot and the addictive enjoyment provided by the game itself.
And yet, the game was still far from perfect. As the masses bought the games and took them home to play with their families and friends, questions regarding situations that occurred while playing the game weren’t always addressed within the RULES printed inside the top of the box. This gave rise to ‘HOUSE RULES.’ There was no uniformity in ‘house rules’; they differed from my house to your house. And the words that were legal in the game differed too. The house dictionary became the official word list. Did you know that there is a rather broad disparity from Webster to Funk & Wagnalls to American Heritage?
The Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary was the first official word source (1978). Selchow and Righter asked Merriam-Webster Inc. to produce the dictionary using only words that appeared in five collegiate dictionaries.
Today the word source is the OWL (Official Word List) provided and overseen by the Dictionary Committee of NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association.) Merriam-Webster Inc. produces the OSPD6 (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary 6th Edition), which only includes words from the OWL, that are up to 8 letters long and does not include 150+ naughty words deemed to be unsuitable for young players. The naughty words are acceptable for play in sanctioned clubs and tournaments.
Did you know that there is a set of rules as to HOW TO COMPLETE YOUR TURN?
Did you know that there is a rule that determines whose equipment has a preference to be used when playing at a club or tournament game?
Once clubs and tournaments were established, every question that arose about procedures during the game was addressed. Each procedure, one by one, and rules were written for every circumstance. Today’s RULES make up a volume. The link below will take you to those current rules.
Beyond the rules, there are guidelines for behavior to protect the enjoyment of the players and the public.
Preparing For A Tournament
Just in case you haven’t been paying close attention . . . there are two local tournaments on the horizon in the next 60 days right here in southern CA. As of right now, I plan on taking part in and winning both of them.
A month from today, on Saturday, March 7, there is a Fundraiser for the Literacy Project at The Escondido Library. This will be the 16th annual Scrabble™-Thon, and I believe I’ve taken part in at least 10 of them. Here’s the link: https://library.escondido.org/scrabblethon.aspx
Anyone and everyone are invited to compete as an individual or as a part of a 4-person team. It is great fun, and there are endless prizes provided by local merchants.
The Next Long Beach Tournament is coming up!
This one-day local tournament is on Sunday, March 29, at the Long Beach Bridge Club. The flyer is linked below. We know it is still a while away, but if you are interested in coming, a link is below, and they will add you to the tentative list.
Looking forward to seeing you there!
Okay, so how does one prepare to play at a tournament?
Review, review, review. The 2s; The 3s; The Stems; The RULES; and thumbing through the dictionary at random.
Picking out your tournament wardrobe (comfortable underwear and shoes). Making sure you have the proper scoresheets and plenty of working pens that won’t leak ink or smear. Having a soft pillow to sit upon and a stash of munchies in case you don’t like what the hosts offer.
Make sure you have a working alarm clock for the day of the event. You don’t want to be late to the dance.
- Plan out your breakfast. Not too much but enough, so you don’t have a growling stomach.
- Show up with a positive attitude and a simple mantra that you can think to yourself to steady your nerves.
- Begin today by visualizing yourself being presented with the 1st Place Winnings for your division.
Now JUST DO IT!
LOOKING FOR A SCRABBLE CLUB?
I get questions!
Q. I live in Death Valley, California, and I am looking for a local scrabble club. Where is the closest club I can attend?
A. As of right now, there is not a local club in Death Valley, CA. If you want to play face-to-face, you can drive north to Las Vegas or south to Orange County, or Escondido in California. You can play online in several formats.
Q. I live in Milan, Michigan, and my job takes me on the road to many locations across the US and Canada. Can you point out places where I can find scrabble clubs during my journeys?
A. You may have many choices for places playing scrabble. I recently took a seven-week Scrabbaticle cross-country from southern California to Saratoga Springs, New York, and back. Along the way, I played at 23 clubs and 2 tournaments. It was an incredible adventure.
One of the easiest ways to find clubs is to check the two web sites with links provided below. Both NASPA (https://www.naspa.org/)and WGPO (see below) have online directories that list the clubs in their networks.
ADVICE: When making your plan to attend a club, always call first. Some club information provided in the directories may not be up to date. Along my trip, I sadly learned that two directors of clubs I hoped to visit had died, and their clubs no longer existed. When I did connect, the experience was terrific.
If you are in southern California, Club #350, we will welcome you warmly.
HEAVY WITH VOWELS
One of the recurring nightmares experienced by most scrabble™ players is the Old McDonald Rack: E-I-E-I-O-O-U. Don’t you just HATE that!
What does a player do to remedy that situation?
- Exchange tiles! Which ones? How many?
- Playoff at least 3 or 4 on a single turn. What word can you make?
- Quit and walk away. Never an option.
If you are versed in the list of words that are Heavy With Vowels, you may have some luck in finding a play using several of your tiles. (If you can’t play off three or more then you should exchange, if possible.)
Below are many of the words you should learn. If there is an ‘R’ on the board, you might be able to play oorie or ourie.
EERIE, LOOIE, LOUIE, MIAOU, OIDIA, OORIE, OURIE, QUEUE, URAEI, ZOEAE
AA AIDE ASEA EPEE MEOU OUTA AALII AE AJEE AURA ETUI MOUE OUZO ADIEU AI AKEE AUTO EURO NAOI PAUA AECIA OE ALAE AWEE IDEA OBIA QUAI AERIE OI ALEE BEAU ILEA OBOE RAIA AIOLI EAU ALOE CIAO ILIA ODEA ROUE AIYEE ACAI AMIA EASE INIA OGEE TOEA AQUAE AEON AMIE EAUX IOTA OHIA UNAI AREAE AERO ANOA EAVE IXIA OLEA UNAU AUDIO AGEE AQUA EEEW JIAO OLEO UREA AURAE AGIO AREA EIDE LIEU OLIO UVEA AUREI AGUE ARIA EMEU LUAU OOZE ZOEA COOEE
BIDI IMPI IWIS MINI HILI INIA IXIA MIRI IBIS INTI KIWI NIDI ILIA IRID LIRI NISI IMID IRIS MIDI PIKI BIKINI IMIDIC IRITIC BIMINI IRIDIC IRITIS, PILI, TIKI, TIPI, TITI, WIKI, ZITI
ULUS ULU JUJU LUAU PUPU UNAU BUBU JUKU LULU SULU URUS FUGU KUDU MUMU TUTU YUZU GURU KURU PUDU MUUMUU
Create or obtain a set of WHIZ CARDS (flashcards) for the words above. Review them often and play these words whenever you’re playing scrabble. After playing them and balancing your rack, you’ll be happy that you know them. https://just4thespellofit.com/to-make-a-purchase/
There is no magic pill or silver bullet.
Ask yourself what the MAMBA would do. Now get yourself some 3 x 5 cards and begin the chore of making some flashcards.
You Can Do It!
Whenever a new player shows up at the club to play scrabble™, there is initially an excitement and enthusiasm about them. They may be holding onto memories of past times when they played the game with their family and friends. And while those memories may have brought them to our club . . . we do not play the same kind of scrabble game where we become excited to find just the everyday words from the 6th Grade vocabulary used by journalists to write newspaper columns.
I am always conscientious about watching for signs that the new players do not become overwhelmed by the task at hand. There’s always volumes to be learned when we take on any new activity. When the player has a love of learning related to words and language, the work ahead can all be met as a game.
While Scrabble™ is a game that uses words, Scrabble™ is primarily a MEMORY GAME. He/She who remembers the most words have a better chance of winning.
While Scrabble™ is a game that uses words, Scrabble™ is a game of STRATEGY. He/She who understands how to connect words to one another and place words on the HOT SPOTS to earn premium scores will most likely win.
To HOOK a word to another word, one must begin by mastering the knowing of 107 legal 2-Letter-Words. Each of these words is included in the Official Word Lists (the OWL and the OSPD6). The good news is that most English speakers most likely know more than half of the 2s.
To learn the rest of the 2s and any other words, I recommend that players make or purchase WHIZ CARDS (flashcards). https://just4thespellofit.com/to-make-a-purchase/
One side of the card has the letters of the word in alphabetical order. The reverse side of the card has the answer.
Some new players resist the order of things. They just want to start playing the game immediately. I understand that. Play is much more FUN than work. BUT even when a newbie has vast word knowledge, they may repeatedly lose to Novice players who understand how to play the game. Most people who do not find the ability to WIN from the get-go will give up without giving the game a chance.
Many athletes who do not do their stretches and warm-ups first confront muscle strains and pulls which sideline them during the competition.
To have the best chance at winning, we must all prepare ourselves first. Learn the BASICS, and you will be better able to hook your words onto the board. Learn all of these 2s.
AA, AB, AD, AE, AG, AH, AI, AL, AM, AN, AR, AS, AT, AW, AX, AY, BA, BE, BI, BO, BY, DA, DE, DO, ED, EF, EH, EL, EM, EN, ER, ES, ET, EW, EX, FA, FE, GI, GO, HA, HE, HI, HM, HO, ID, IF, IN, IS, IT, JO, KA, KI, LA, LI, LO, MA, ME, MI, MM, MO, MU, MY, NA, NE, NO, NU, OD, OE, OF, OH, OI, OK, OM, ON, OP, OR, OS, OW, OX, OY, PA, PE, PI, PO, QI, RE, SH, SI, SO, TA, TE, TI, TO, UH, UM, UN, UP, US, UT, WE, WO, XI, XU, YA, YE, YO, ZA
DON’T BE OVERWHELMED! JUST DO IT.
It’s About Time!
I remember playing Scrabble™ with family at holidays and birthday parties, and one of the things I remember most was that one game usually took the entire day. We obviously had NO time restraints. I was the impatient one. I would generally take less than a minute to take my turn, and then the next guy would think and think for more than 30 minutes before making their play. For me, the waiting was painful. I loved playing the game and having my turn. But the waiting game was miserable.
When I first discovered Scrabble™ clubs, the players used ‘sand timers.’ The timers usually took 2 or 3 minutes for the sand to run from one side to the other. Players were required to make their move before the sand ran out. It added one more step to completing your turn, and it was often awkward manipulating the timers.
In the early 1990s, most clubs had moved away from sand timers in favor of Chess Clocks. Each player began the game with 25 minutes on their clock. While a player was taking a turn, their clock was ticking down toward ZERO. A player has full control of his/her own time. A Player could use from a few seconds to a few minutes on any given turn. But if the clock wound down to ZERO, that play would lose 10 points for every minute or fraction of a minute past zero. (1 second past zero = -10 points; 1:01 past zero = -20 points).
The current digital clocks provide precise measurements of time and have replaced the older analog clocks.
The time factor in the game has eliminated those very slow players. It keeps the game moving along. To be competitive, you have to be a fast player.
At today’s clubs, games are played with two players at a board. The majority of games do not go overtime. In the average game, each player has 17 turns (that’s an average of 1.5 minutes per turn).
There is no advantage to playing so fast that you have time remaining on your clock. You don’t earn extra points for time remaining.
But when you play slowly, your opponent is doing more thinking and planning strategies on your time.
Most clubs play four games per session. That would not be practical without time restrictions. At club and tournaments, if a player goes 10 minutes overtime, the game is officially over, and that player loses even if they are ahead on points.The time is also crucial concerning two RULES: challenges and when a turn is officially ended.
CHALLENGING: When an opponent makes a play that you think is not a fair play, you have the opportunity to challenge. HOWEVER, you MUST say CHALLENGE or HOLD within 15 seconds and before the opponent draws any replacement tiles from the tile bag. (If your opponent is playing fast, say HOLD immediately.) Saying “HOLD” allows you time to think about your option to challenge or not. Your clock continues to run after you say HOLD. If you choose to CHALLENGE, simply say CHALLENGE and neutralize the clock. Once you say “CHALLANGE, “the clock is neutralized, and the word is adjudicated.
END YOUR TURN: You may put letters on the board, change your mind and reset the tiles differently Until YOU HIT THE CLOCK, WHICH ENDS YOUR TURN.
In a game where clocks are not used, there are frequent discrepancies in the matters described above.
It’s about TIME that you added a timer to your game. There are some free APPs that you can install on your telephones and digital clocks for as little as $50.
BE A MAMBA
Many of us have been saddened since the day, more than a week ago, when Kobe and eight others perished in the crash of the helicopter in which they were flying. It has reawakened us to the fragile nature of life and the choices each of us has about the way we live our lives.
Kobe Bryant has been held up as a model for a life well lived to the fullest. His work ethic and a never-ending pursuit of excellence demonstrate to each of us how one man lived and won the admiration of millions.
We each have the opportunity to design our own lives in ways that serve both ourselves and the greater good no matter what our path.
Personally, I will endeavor to be my best self and strive to grow by learning, teaching, creating, and proselytizing scrabble to the multitudes.
HOW TO BE A SCRABBLE MAMBA:
- Learn another word every day.
- Explore another hook.
- Recognize the hot spots.
- Build your skill at tracking tiles.
- Amass an arsenal of less common words.
- Mentor a newer player.
- Become a faster player without getting sloppy.
- Learn the RULES and adhere to them.
- Hold others accountable while being kind.
- Read parts of the OSPD6 dictionary daily.
- Compute your scores accurately and verify opponents.
- Learn 3-Letter extensions for 5-Letter words.
- Always look for the anagrams within words.
- Become a master of balancing your rack.
- Keep a diary of the words you learn.
And when you do all that, you’ll be a shining star, and other players will step aside when they see you coming.
THE NEW RULES
Can I assume that from now going forward, the game has changed? Whoever has the most power and control can make up and change whichever rule/s he/she believes to be in their own best interest.
The adjudicator from now going forward may accept any spelling for any word when it is in the best interest of the ALL POWERFUL ONE (APO). All persons wishing to challenge words or rules, just because they are right, will have to ‘GET OVER IT.’
Living in the new order of things will be much simpler and will relieve players from their stress. Players will no longer have to learn the old way, committing all those words to memory. As the ALL POWERFUL ONE (APO) goes, so goes the adjudications. If APO says UP means DOWN and DOWN means BACON . . . so be it. Any and all actions taken by APO will be deemed ‘perfect’ and ‘beautiful’. Any person/s opposing APO will be considered to be ‘witch hunters’ and wrong.
APO gets to alter any-to-every rule at any time, anywhere. APO gets to change the definition of any word, any time, for any purpose. BLACK can mean WHITE, DAY can mean NIGHT, ‘DOING WELL’ can mean ‘PLIGHT.’ It all depends on what IS, is. TRUTH is as APO says and does.
APO’s inner-circle receives special privileges. As long as the loyal remain in goose-step with APO, they shall find favor and acceptance. The LOYAL must appear to be passionate believers at all times and be willing to lay their lives down, out of loyalty to APO. APO will call his loyalists ‘GOOD’ and ‘GREAT’ until he no longer needs them, after which he will most likely claim that he ‘NEVER MET OR KNEW THEM AT ALL.’ AND that shall be THE TRUTH.
So today, instead of studying the 2s and the STEMs, you can simply go to the beach and bury your head in the sand. No need to worry. APO has it covered. Play any word and spell it any way you want. APO will let you know if it is acceptable or not. We live in a world, according to APO.
Challenging is, at this moment, deemed to be obsolete.
Can You Spell SUPER-BOWL?
Where were you on January 15, 1967? I was in the family room of my home on Hardwoods Drive in West Bloomfield, Michigan. I was watching the very first Super Bowl. It was between the Green Bay Packards and the Kansas City Chiefs and was being played at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
Where were you on March 18, 1973? The first officially sanctioned Scrabble tournaments in the US were spearheaded, organized, and run by Joel Skolnick in the mid-1970s. Skolnick was a recreation director for the New York City Parks and Recreation Department. He approached Selchow and Righter in late 1972, and the first tournament was open to Brooklyn residents only, commenced on March 18, 1973. The Funk and Wagnalls Collegiate Dictionary was used to rule on challenges, and the official word judge was Skolnick’s then-wife Carol. Carol’s sister, Shazzi Felstein, who would later finish in ninth place at the first North American Invitational tournament, won the first preliminary round with 1,321 points over three games. The final round took place on April 15, and Jonathan Hatch was the winner of the first official Scrabble tournament.
For more info see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_Scrabble_Championship
Do you want information about individual players who have competed in sanctioned competitions? You can view all my recorded stats there too. While at the site below, you can also access some of the highest-scoring games of all time and see how they were played. DON’T ALLOW THIS TO DISCOURAGE YOU. Go to cross-tables.com at: https://www.cross-tables.com
Today we celebrate the best of the best and permit that spirit to encourage us to become the best that we can be in our endeavors.
ENDINGS & NEW BEGINNINGS
An opportunity presents itself over and over again. All we have to do is see it coming and latch on. Get excited.
Today is the beginning of a new month. Thirty-one days ago at the beginning of this new decade, some people partied so hard and long on New Year’s Eve that they didn’t wake up until January 2. They also excused themselves from making resolutions because they missed the very first day of the year.
Well, if that was something that you did, here is another opportunity for a fresh starting point. Today is February 1.
Here’s HOW TO DO IT. Begin by making a Plan. Start with a declaration that you repeat out loud to yourself, as you would a MONTRA. ‘I WILL BECOME A BETTER AND BETTER SCRABBLE PLAYER EVERY DAY BY LEARNING WORDS AND USING THEM DURING PLAY AND IN MY VOCABULARY.’
- Make your plan SIMPLE and DOABLE.
- Set GOALS for yourself. Measure your progress.
- Report your progress to someone. Be accountable.
- Don’t plan on doing so much that you’ll burn out or opt-out.
- Learn 1 or 2 words a day, not 5 or 10, if that is too difficult.
- List the skills you want to improve: Anagrams, Hooks, The 2s, Stems, etc.
- Update your plan at least every month.
- Get an Official Dictionary 6th Edition. Don’t settle for something outdated.
- Attend one or more scrabble clubs every week.
- Always have a notebook and pen to record the words you learn.
- Do WORD PUZZLES frequently.
- Play solitaire scrabble often.
- Consider taking the online class ‘Scrabble 101‘.
- Mentor someone.
If you live in southern California and you have Saturday, March 7 free on your schedule, plan on playing scrabble at the annual Literacy Scrabble-Thon in Escondido. You don’t have to be a great player to participate. It will be great fun. Here’s the link: https://library.escondido.org/scrabblethon.aspx
What is America’s favorite board game? I just did a google search, and our favorite game (Scrabble™) appeared as #1, followed by Monopoly, Catan, Qwirkle, and Risk. About 20 years ago Milton Bradley claimed that you’d find a scrabble™ game in one of every ten households in the US
Here are 10 of the most bizarre words played at a National Scrabble Tournament:
- “atemoya” is a hybrid fruit initially grown in Central and South America.
- “wahine,” borrowed from the Maori language of New Zealand, refers to a Polynesian woman.
- “sthenia” is defined as a condition of abnormal strength or vitality.
- “zorilla” is Africa’s answer to the skunk, even though it’s technically a member of the weasel family.
- “jaconet” is a lightweight cotton cloth used in clothing and bandages.
- “yuga” in Hinduism is one of four epochs in the history of the universe.
- “kex” is an archaic, dialectal British term for the dry stalk of a hollow-stemmed plant, such as the cow parsnip.
- “antiweed,” “antipot,” and “antimarijuana” are all acceptable in Scrabble™ as are hundreds of other “anti” words.
- “menudo” is a spicy Mexican stew made from beef tripe.
- “quipu” is a recording device that uses knots and colored strings to represent numbers, dates, and statistics.
I highly recommend you create your personal word diary/collection of the words you learn and love to play in the game.
I’ve accumulated a long list of words over the last 30 years. Most of these words have a story that goes with it, and I usually remember who taught it to me.
It was at a tournament in Reno, Nevada that I learned the word ‘strigil.’ It was played against me by Stu Goldman. I challenged it and lost the challenge. It is a scraping instrument used by a dentist
It was nearing the end of a game when I thought I was going to beat Chuck Armstrong for the very first time. I played ‘PACIFIED,’ vertically through the ‘C,’ beginning at (A2). I drew the last 4 tiles from the bag and was ahead by 126 pts. ,’Chuck paused, thought for a moment, and played ‘OBVIATE’ horizontally, hooking the ‘O’ on top of ‘PACIFIED’ creating ‘OPACIFIED.’ That was new to me and it was his OUT play. I challenged. Whoever heard of ‘OPACIFIED’? It was acceptable; it means ‘OPAQUE.’ His play scored 134 pts, and he got 10 points from my rack.
That day I learned not to count my chickens before they hatch and the word ‘opacified.’
Last night I watched some of our newer players at club deal with a variety of racks and different situations that will occur at any time you sit down to play.
It is silly to think that you are going to have the perfect rack every time.
It is silly to think that you are going to have the rack from hell every time.
The truth is . . . you will have a wide variety of racks in every game. You have to develop some strategies as to what you will/should do in each situation. When you have a plan, you’ll remove some of the angst from the situation that has the power to beat you down.
Last night I watched and listened to newbies moan when they were plagued with too many vowels. The only thing you can do is reach into your arsenal of words that you’ve learned just for this kind of a situation, such as the 3-VOWEL-4s inia, ilia, ixia, amie, euro, eide, aeon, and more.
How about the 4-VOWEL-6s zoecia, zoaria, zouave, yautia, utopia, uremia, souari, roadie, iguana, and more.
How do you find a word list that is heavy with vowels? Call me.
How do you find a word list that is heavy with consonants? Call me.
Or search in the OSPD6.
One of the moaners has been a club player for more than a year. I wanted to ask her if she has spent any time or energy learning words like those above. I clearly remember giving her and others ‘The Cheat Sheet, ’ which has a section with words heavy with vowels.
Having a word list is not the same as knowing the words on the list. There is no ‘magic pill’ or ‘silver bullet’ to help you. You have to spend some time and energy.
Once you learn some of those words and play them in a game, you’ll understand the joy.
YOU CAN DO IT.
I’m Not Sure I Should Be Telling You This.
Here’s the thing. The ones you have to be concerned about are the two-percenters. It seems that in every group, there is only about 2% of the population who will become a MAMBA. If you’ve been listening to the tributes to Kobe Bryant this week, you have a sense of what persistence, training, devotion, and perfection look like.
While I strive to be a part of the 2% in the scrabble community, there have been many others who have joined after me and just glided past me in the ranks.
As a teacher and mentor to some of these giants, it is gratifying. But every time someone moves up in front of me, I get farther from the top of the pile.
By telling you the secrets of Scrabble Champions, I risk that you are a two %er and will go on to work your way past me too.
The MAMBA mentality for scrabble or hoops or janitorial service is the road to success, satisfaction, and recognition.
- BE THE BEST YOU CAN BE.
- NEVER EVER QUIT.
- ALWAYS BUILD YOUR SKILLS and ADVANCE YOUR ABILITIES.
If scrabble is your game, continuously build these skills:
- Memorize the 2s.
- Learn a word every day.
- Review the words you have learned.
- Memorize the position of the HOT SPOTS on the board.
- Imagine playing words on the board and count the points they score.
- Know the RULES of the game.
- Choose a Mentor and be accountable to him or her.
- Record your progress on graphs, charts, or lists.
- Learn all you can about Hooks, STEMS, Mnemonics, & Consograms.
- Consider taking my class, SCRABBLE 101, and see how far you can go.
- Call me: (949) 510-1673 email: JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com
An Official Rule YOU Should Know
Would you believe me if I told you that one particular game at a National Scrabble Tournament, in the EXPERT DIVISION ended with the score of -14 to -6? It truly is recorded in history.
Here is how that happened. Player A drew a rack of 7 vowels on his first turn and chose to trade tiles rather than playing some dinky word. Player B had all consonants and wasn’t able to play at all, so he traded four tiles. Player A now had the BINGO STEM, S_A_T_I_R_E + J, and played ‘JARSITE.’ Player B called HOLD thought about it for a minute, then called “CHALLENGE.” The word judge approached their table, looked up ‘JARSITE,’ and said, “UNACCEPTABLE.”
Player A took his play back up from the board. Player B now has the rack D-I-I-N-O-R-T. Knowing that Player A doesn’t have a bingo, Player B is willing to try to improve his rack by trading away the ‘I’ and ‘D.’ He picked up another ‘I’ and a Blank. Player A is positive that there is a bingo on his rack and plays ‘AIRJETS’. Player B knows that the SATIRE STEM doesn’t have a bingo with ‘J.’ He confidently challenges again and announces, “I PASS, and I WIN’. Player A calls the director. It seems that Player A also didn’t know the rule that says if there are six consecutive turns of ‘0 points’, the game is over. Each player deducts the number of points on his rack from his current score.
Player A = -14; Player B = -6
Player B WINS.
What is your lowest WINNING SCORE? Do you know the RULES?
WHICH IS CORRECT?
SOCK, SOCK, SHOE, SHOE OR SOCK SHOE, SOCK SHOE
Did you know that most people alway, ALWAYS put their Socks and Shoes on the same way, every day?
Have you ever noticed that most people say, “Shoes & socks” not “Socks and shoes”? But almost all people put their socks on first, before their shoes.
Right-handed people do it differently than Left-handed people, as sure as the water when flushed swirls the opposite way down the toilet when you’re south of the equator.
Why is that? Does it matter?
When people learned that the Earth was not flat, were people going nuts? How did the multitudes handle the fact when they discovered the Earth circles the Sun . . . not that the Sun circles the Earth?
There are all these cosmic mysteries and shared discoveries that still occur and change the ways we think and see ourselves in the cosmos.
What if I were to tell you that up until now you have only been using 6.213% of your brain capacity and that you could unlock the rest? What if I told you that most of what you believe to be true is just that . . . BELIEF and not FACT. Most of us got to be this way by adhering to our habits and traditions. We believed our parents and teachers blindly and rarely challenged them or asked why. A very tiny percent (maybe 2%) of us went off on their own to discover Truth. It was and still is safer to remain a part of the group and share common beliefs. It is very lonely to be the only one that is RIGHT.
One of the things I like about scrabble™ players is that they are willing to CHALLENGE you. I like the fact that it is a diversified community. I’ve become friends with people I would have never met at B’nai Moshe Synagogue. I have Muslim friends and Christian friends and a whole lot of friends who I have no idea what they believe because it doesn’t matter one iota when we’re playing scrabble™. The current political thing that is gripping our country has caused uncomfortable ripples in the air at clubs. At my club, we’ve asked that people refrain from talking politics. Tempers on both sides are too opinionated and out of control.
We all know who’s right anyway.
And even though David thinks that he knows best how to teach you to play the game of scrabble™, I’m sure you are too wise to fall for that. If you want a boost in the ranks, you’ll call and ask me for advice and direction.
And if you’re wondering, I’m a Sock-Shoe kind of guy.
Be A Mentor
If there is just ONE single thing you could do to become a better scrabble™ player, I would advise you to find someone to teach.
If you’re a raw novice, that may sound strange to you because you have so much to learn for yourself. But you will find that while teaching your student you will have to prepare lessons and you will discover things that you need to explain. As you prepare yourself to teach, you will gain a deeper understanding of the skills and techniques required.
As I teach you and others, I become a better player myself.
As I teach you and others, I discover the areas I still have to improve and master for myself. Some of that happens for me as I piece a regimen together for you.
It’s rather magical.
As a teacher/mentor, I feel an obligation to model the behaviors which I want my students to exemplify. As a result, I develop better study habits and stay true to the study plan, which I follow.
As I teach my student about the study tools available, I rediscover tools which I used to rely upon daily that I have laid aside. I am more likely to restart using WHIZ CARD, Mnemonic Cards, Anagram Lists, and other tools as a result of showing them to my students.
If and when I want to teach a skill that isn’t my strongest suit, I reach back to my mentor or some scrabble mavin to learn from others who are in the know.
Capture the interest of others with an odd or lesser-known word like ngwee or crwth or bashlyk. Remind them of the benefits of using the brain and memory.
Pay it forward.
One of the greatest gifts that I’ve received from the scrabble world has nothing at all to do with words. The friendships I have acquired are a result of the people I’ve met and played scrabble with.
For me, it all began because of a misplaced announcement in The Southfield Eccentric newspaper (Southfield, MI.) in February 1986. I found myself single again, and I hated trying to meet women at bars and singles’ dances. The Editor of The Southfield Eccentric put an ad for a scrabble event in the ‘Activities For Singles’ column. The event was a playoff competition for scrabble ™ players who hoped to represent Michigan at the National Scrabble Tournament in the summer of 1986.
After scraping the snow and ice off of my car and driving 20 miles through a blizzard, I arrived at the event in Allen Park, MI. After stomping the snow off my boots, I wandered into a meeting room where more than a few dozen people were already busy playing scrabble™ in twos.
It seemed really weird as the people were deeply engrossed in their games. There wasn’t much or any table talk. It didn’t feel like a singles activity. I walked around and looked at the boards (most were custom boards, and every table had a time clock). I looked at the words on the boards, and I ask one of the players what language she was playing. She laughed. Another woman who overheard my question pulled me aside and gave me the lowdown on what I had walked into.
I as hooked from the very beginning. I, too, liked scrabble™. And I was a school teacher and the former headmaster of an Elementary School.
The people were all very friendly. I didn’t understand what she meant when that woman introduced me to another player as ‘fresh meat’. I wouldn’t get the joke until the following week when I showed up to play at their local club in Livonia, MI.
That first day I met three dozen players and made three dozen friends. Then I met the players at the club. A few weeks later, I found myself traveling with small groups to local tournaments in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario, Canada. It seemed to me that there were word freaks everywhere. It didn’t take long for me to shift from being just a player to organizing and directing clubs and tournaments. Then I met hundreds of players. More people knew me than I remembered them. To date, I’ve led over 250 sanctioned tournaments
I feel fortunate to have discovered the scrabble community. Most of them are really great people and special friends.
OUT OF CONTEXT
I frequently hear things that cause my ears to perk up and pay attention. Yesterday, sitting in my recliner in front of the TV listening to a news broadcast with my laptop in front of me (working on the creation of another workbook, ) I heard, “The difference between words and actions matter.”
The context had something to do with the impeachment trial. A point was made by one of the speakers inferring that the other guys’ actions are true to their words.
But my mind went in a whole other direction. My thoughts created the picture of players I know and have known who may have excellent vocabularies but still have one heck of a time getting their words down on the boards and not always for the best score.
When learning to play scrabble™, there is an order of things. Beginners should first get comfortable simply finding words on their rack by unscrambling the words hiding in plain sight on their racks.
EX: On the rack is ‘A’ ‘E’ ‘E’ ‘I’ ’N’ ’S’ ’T.’
How many 2s? 17
How many 3s? 37
How many 4’s? 44
How many 5s? 30
How many 6s? 9
How many 7s? 1
To get any of the words onto the board, they must hook to one of the words already on the board; or play through a letter on the board. The seven letters above with any one of these letters can create one or more bingos. (B, C, D, M, R, S, T, V) You most likely know some of these words and not all.
Next, find a place to play using the HOT SPOTS to generate a good score. Always look for bingo possibilities first. **Most novice and intermediate players look for any word and become fixated on it, not looking further. My rule is:
- Find a play;
- Find a better play;
- Find an even better placement.
While you are learning and progressing, it is essential to develop a sense of TIME. During club and tournament games, each player received 25 minutes for their entire portion of the game. After 25 minutes, you lose 10 points for every minute you are overtime, beginning with -10 at 1 second overtime — work of thinking fast. In the average game, each player takes 17 turns. That is about 1.5 minutes per turn. Don’t allow yourself to lose because you went overtime.
How many of the 138 words can you find in the set A-E-E-I-N-S-T?
Repeat this exercise with other sets of letters. A-E-I-N-R-S-T (277);
If you’re a sports fan and watch any sport with a discerning eye, you’ve witnessed ‘MOMENTUM.’ It’s the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events. When you or your team has momentum, you are the force to be dealt with. It can last a few minutes or through an entire game. It is an intangible item. You most likely can’t tell how you came to have it, and at any second, it may vanish and leave you looking like a mere mortal.
In some games, momentum shifts from one player or team to the other. It does so magically as if some hovering spirit has a magic wand tapping this team then that team.
Players and broadcasters have described individuals or teams that are enjoying momentum as ‘being in the zone.’ When one is ‘in the zone, ‘ everything happens perfectly with grace and ease.
I have been lucky enough to have experienced the zone on two or three occasions while playing scrabble™ tournaments. The one I’ve recounted many times was at the Killer Club in Los Angeles during their year-end championship tournament (1997). I was far from the best player in the club, but my momentum was unstoppable, and I beat players who I rarely or never have defeated before or after the event.
It felt sooooooo good. I still feel good all over just remembering the experience.
Even though we may not have the button to push to initiate momentum, we have to be prepared to exploit it when it appears. As a scrabble™ player, we prepare ourselves by learning and growing and mastering the pieces that make up the game. Momentum won’t carry you too far if you haven’t memorized the 2s or if you don’t know a thing about Stem or Anagrams.
The More you Know, the Luckier you become.
Did you know that the only word in the OSPD6 that ends with the last two letters being ‘YK’ is ‘BASHLYK’ (it’s a cloth hood)?
We all know that Proper Nouns, names of people, places, and things are unacceptable to play in the game of scrabble™.
Many of those words that are the same as proper nouns, they have a second meaning. Those words are acceptable.
abigail, bob, carol, dee, earl, frank, grant, henry, ilka, jerry, kay, lee, mae, nancy, olive, pat, ray, sue, tom, van, wally, and more.
Here’s my challenge to you. Create a complete list of all the words in the OSPD6 or the OWL that are also common
The most extensive, accurate list that I receive before February 1, via email, with the earliest time-stamp will receive my newest released booklet ‘ANIMALS.’
Send your entry in an email to JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com
People who play scrabble at clubs and tournaments know the value of Tracking. On most score sheets provided at clubs, there is a section that shows all the tiles that are in the tile bag at the start of the game: 9-As, 2-Bs, 2-Cs, 4-Ds, etc. This is provided to players who wish to ‘track’ may conveniently do so. Tracking is the act of crossing off the letters on the tracking section that are played onto the scrabble board. Any person who does so accurately will know which letters are still unseen (either in the bag or on their opponent’s rack).
One newcomer watched me tracking at club and told me, “That’s Cheating!” Actually, it is not cheating. It is a valuable tool that helps a player determine if it is safe to play a word and the possible come-back play of their opponent.
EX: If the ‘X’ were unseen, you would not want to play a word that places an ‘A,’ ‘E,’ or ‘O’ on the right side of a TLS (triple-letter-score). Why? Because it can potentially allow your opponent to earn 50+ points if they play the ‘X’ there.
When some people learn about Tracking and the advantage that it provides, they often rush to use that system. BUT, Tracking does not work if you haven’t tracked accurately -or- if you don’t know what to do with the information you produced.
My rule is: ‘DO NOT TRACK UNLESS YOU CAN DO SO WITH 100% ACCURACY’ Tracking looks easy, but doing so accurately while doing all the other things you need to do during the game can be very challenging.
How does one acquire the skill of Tracking? Practice! Practice! Practice! Here’s how. Place about 80 tiles randomly onto your board. Set a timer. Have a tracking sheet? (If you don’t have one, request one from me.) Start the timer and track the tiles on the board by crossing them off on the sheet one at a time. When finished, stop the timer and record the time. Circle the letters on the sheet that are not crossed off. Take the remaining tiles from the tile bag and see if they match up with the circled letters on your tracking sheet. What was your percentage of accuracy? If you have 100% accuracy and your time is no more than 2 1/2 minutes, you are ready to use Tracking. If not, DON’T. Repeat this exercise over and over again and record how you improve.
If you’re involved in a closely contested game, and it’s near the end . . . tracking can help make the difference since you should be able to figure out exactly what your opponent has on their rack. You can determine what they might play and where. You may have the ability to be a spoiler and block their best play.
This kind of information is a put-off to many casual scrabble players; they just want to play words and have fun. Nothing’s wrong with that. But if you are competitive, you’ll want to build every skill that you can.
Martin Luther King Day
Celebrate your freedom to LEARN, to READ, to SPELL, to FLOURISH.
At one time Slaves Were Prohibited to Read and Write by Law.
At other times and in other cultures Women Were & Still Are not permitter to read, go to school, drive, vote, etc., etc.,, etc.
Slavemasters understood that their social control of the slaves could not be based solely on physical coercion. Knowledge was power, and virtually all slave codes established in the United States set restrictions making it illegal to teach slaves to read or write. The statute below, passed by the state of North Carolina in 1830—1831, was fairly typical.
AN ACT TO PREVENT ALL PERSONS FROM TEACHING SLAVES TO READ OR WRITE, THE USE OF FIGURES EXCEPTED.
Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State:
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes.
Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.
Can You Imagine?
It’s sorta like separating immigrant children from their parents and putting them in cages.
This something you may want to know more about, OR NOT! EXPERTS use MNEMONICS.
There is a SYSTEM for learning words that are called MNEMONICS. It involves beginning with a set of letters that have a high probability of showing up on your rack at the same time. The word with the highest possibility of being there among 7’s is NASTIER.
Using only the letters within the word NASTIER, there are nine different 7-Letter-Words. If you’re lucky enough to have the word ‘nastier,’ there will most likely be several words already on the board, which may have one or more letters open so you can play through them to make an 8-Letter-Word.
A mnemonic will help you identify the letters which can transform the seven into an 8.
Each (base word) like NASTIER is paired with a nonsense sentence. Each letter in the nonsense sentence, when added to the base word, will create an 8-letter-word.
The nonsense sentence that pairs with NASTIER are: ‘Horrible Wicked Fang Stump.’
- NASTIER + H = THERIANS; INEARTHS; HAIRNET
- NASTIER + O = SENORITA; NOTARISE; NOTARIES
- NASTIER + R = TRAINERS; TERRAINS; STRAINER; RETRAINS; RESTRAIN
- NASTIER + I = SATINIER; RAINIEST; INERTIAS
- NASTIER + B = BARNIEST; BANISTER
- NASTIER + L = TRENAILS; SLANTIER; RETINALS; RATLINES;
- LATRINES; ENTRAILS
- NASTIER + E = TRAINEES; RESINATE; ARSENITE; ARENITES
- NASTIER + W = TINWARES
- NASTIER + C = TACRINES; SCANTIER; CREATINS; CISTERNA; CANISTER
- NASTIER + K = NARKIEST; KERATINS
- NASTIER + D = STRAINED; RANDIEST; DETRAINS
- NASTIER + F = FAINTERS
- NASTIER + A = REATRAIN; SANTERIA; RATANIES; ARTESIAN; ANTISERA
- NASTIER + N = TRANNIES; ENTRAINS
- NASTIER + G = RANGIEST; INGRATES;GRANITES; GANTRIES; GANISTER; ASTRINGE; ANGSTIER; ANGRIEST
- NASTIER + S = STEARINS; RETSINAS; ARTINESS
- NASTIER + T = STRAITEN; NITRATES; INTREATS
- NASTIER + U = URINATES; URANITES; TAURINES; RUINATES
- NASTIER + M = RAIMENTS; MINARETS
- NASTIER + P = REPAINTS; PRISTANE; PINASTER; PERTAINS; PANTRIES; PAINTERS
And that’s all there is to it. There are seventy-four bingos from one mnemonic. That’s efficiency at it’s best.
If you think you’re up to this, contact me for more of the 200 7-to-8’s mnemonics.
If you’re creative, you can forge your own mnemonics list to help you learn any set of words.
If you do, please share.
SMORGASBORD ala Scrabble
Relating to food, a smorgasbord is a buffet with countless food choices. It is like being in heaven for a typical foodie and glutton.
I compare the smorgasbord to scrabble™ because playing to WIN requires a person to apply a little bit of this skill and be prepared with some knowledge of every aspect of the game.
When one comes to a buffet, you’ll find a large variety of foods that can provide you with a well-balanced meal. And still, there are those individuals who love one or two foods soooooooooo much that they only choose their favorites and ignore the rest. One man I know went for years only eating his favorite foods, only to end up in the hospital when his legs were paralyzed from the lack of Potassium in his body due to his poor diet. “Who Knew?” he cried.
Another person I know has a Ph.D. in English Literature and thought she’d be a natural fit with scrabble™. After several weeks of attending a local scrabble™ club and losing game after game after game, she was ready to throw in the towel and give up. I watched her play a few games and asked if I could make a suggestion. I explained that her exceptional word power and knowledge alone would not bring her victories until she learned the other skills that would permit her to get her words onto the board. She and other players with high potential never ask for guidance about playing the game. The assumption that you’ll be great at scrabble™ just because you have excelled in some other field is ludicrous.
I remember a brilliant pharmacist from Chicago who came to West Bloomfield, Michigan, to play in one of my NSA sanctioned tournaments. He attended with the expectation to win recognition in the competition. He won only 2 of the eight games he played. The loss that crushed him was to an eleven-year-old boy who was a 6th Grade elementary student. The pharmacist knew all these long technical words that don’t necessarily work on a scrabble board. The 6th grader understood how to use the Hot Spots to amass high scores. No Contest.
Thinking you know it all is a significant handicap. Assume you know nothing and ask advice from people in the know, who are good teachers.
Being a scrabble™ director does not always mean that you are a good teacher.
Being a top-rated player does not always mean you know how to teach others.
One top player I know believes that he can teach others and persuades players to permit him to be their scrabble™ mentor. He instructs his students to do things ‘his way,’ and when they stumble, he belittles them. I’ve even overheard him ask one player why he is wasting his time trying to learn this game. Don’t choose that kind of teacher.
Consider my online class, SCRABBLE 101, to boost your game skills. There is no magic pill. You’ll have to do the work. I’ll steer you in the right direction. Regularly $199, a special offer of $149 through February 14th is available Call: 949.510-1673
Do You Ever Think About How You Learn?
This morning I had an epiphany while doing a sudoku puzzle. If you’ve had a book of sudoku puzzles, you will remember that they are usually rated as Easy, Medium, Hard, Difficult, and all the way to “Will Drive You Crazy.” I recall the time I first tried solving a sudoku. It took me a while to figure out how the system worked, and at first, I wasn’t good (even on the Easy category). But I didn’t give up. I was persistent. After a few days or weeks, I had mastered the Easy level and felt very pleased with myself.
Next, I graduated to the Medium level. It was almost like starting all over again. Even though the basic concept was the same, the puzzles were more difficult because of the arrangement and inclusion and exclusion of numbers. I felt frustrated because I expected to do great from the start. I had to reach down and find patience and focus. I was reminded that becoming a Master includes doing the work. Once again I became persistent and worked at the Medium level for weeks . . . until I was able to do puzzle after puzzle quickly.
Level 3 and upward have different names in different series. But that’s what I did next.
On days that I sat down to do a puzzle when I was tired, I noticed that I made more errors. On days when I was less patient, I made more errors. On mornings when I was alert and bushy-tailed, I could work the more challenging puzzles with ease.
Some mornings I would do puzzles to access myself before jumping into my day’s activities. Sudoku was a good barometer and predictor for me.
Scrabble study and performance are the same, and yet, at the same time, is different. There aren’t Levels as such. There are numerous skills. Persons who do not devote time to memorizing the 2-Letter-Words will have more difficulty placing and hooking words onto the words on the board. That is true of Hooks in general. EX: The word ‘VOLT’ is on the board vertically, and there is room for someone to play a word horizontally, hooking onto the end of ‘volt.’ You have several words on your rack, but you do not have an’ S’ which is the apparent hook in this instance. What other, if any, hooks does ‘volt’ take?
VOLTA, VOLTE, and VOLTI are all acceptable.
See the value of Hooks?
That would be a Level 2 or 3 skill.
This concept applies to any and every part of your life. We don’t usually give it much or any amount of thought. Most of us live our lives on an ‘automatic pilot.’ What we GET is whatever is served up to us. There is always so much more that we can GET, DO, ACHIEVE, EARN, MASTER.
I love experiencing epiphanies.
A WELL-BALANCED DIET!
What exactly is a well-balanced diet? Is there such a thing? Just read the writings of nutritionists, and it can make you crazy. High Carb, Low Carb, Adkins, Weight Watchers, the Grapefruit Diet. If you read the tabloids, there are most likely several diets posted in every edition. It all depends on what IS, is.
But I’m not thinking about FOOD. I’m thinking about SCRABBLE™. Is there such a thing as a well-balanced scrabble™ diet? Of course, there is. And if you talk with players with different ability levels from various parts of the country, you are bound to get diverse answers too.
When I pieced together the components of my online class, SCRABBLE™ 101, I devoted days and weeks to the process. I asked players how they learned to play the game and which skill helped them advance in the ranks. I wrote everything on 3 x 5 cards and sorted them by priorities and preferences. And slowly, a pattern emerged, which I solidified into order with an agenda and the syllabus for my class.
Learning ‘HOW TO PLAY SCRABBLE™ WELL’ is very much like building a house. It all begins with a SOLID FOUNDATION. The foundation is made up of desire, dreams, passion, commitment, attitude, and perseverance. That is why I do not teach every player who wishes to enroll in my class. I have an introductory conversation with applicants and make clear that I require a minimum of 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days. Without that agreement: No Class!
There is no way for any person can become a star scrabble™ player in 30 Days. But I can teach a motivated learner about the path to maven-hood. I provide exercises for the necessary skills that exceptional scrabble players and my students use. Those exercises, when practiced again and again over time, will fashion their pathway long after the 30 class days have ended. My students can modify the activities easily for continued growth,
In my opinion, one very important, but the most challenging task for people who have been playing scrabble™ for many years is to LEAVE OLD HABITS BEHIND. It is challenging to UNLEARN BAD HABITS than it is to learn new ways of doing things.
This class is usually $199. YOU can enroll for the low price of $149 between today and Valentine’s Day, February 14.
(If you agree to a minimum of 30 minutes of devotion for 30 days.) Call me NOW!
Have an initial conversation with me about your scrabble™ goals.
I HAD A DREAM TODAY
Was that because it is MLK’s birthday?
Now is the time to expand your word knowledge and broaden your vocabulary. Now is the time to join a local scrabble™ club (like Scrabble™ Club #350) and enjoy a word community that challenges one another to become the best that they can be. Now is the time to shed any fears of not being a ‘good enough’ speller and take a courageous leap of faith by jumping right into a storm of words. Now is the time to breathe in the letters and exhale the words; this knowledge has been hiding away in the recesses of your memory.
Imagine yourself spinning stories with verbs of action, with unlimited adjective descriptors, and connecting entertaining thoughts and ideas with conjunctions. People will sit up and listen. You’ll even enjoy listening to yourself. Maybe you’ll initiate a podcast. You know you can.
I have a dream in which my scrabble™ club #350 doesn’t have enough chairs for the players who want to come through our door, and we have to move on to a larger room. I have a dream that every player at Club #350 earns one or more bingos every session throughout 2020.
Today is January 15, and it marks the release of another of my word study tools in booklet form, called ‘What A Difference An ‘A’ Makes.’ Seventy-Four pages with ten challenges on each page. I give you a word, direct you to add a specific letter to the letters in the base word and tell you how many ‘new’ words you can possibly create.
Ex: NASTIER + W (1)
The answers are provided on the final pages. This is one skill that every scrabble player wants and needs to be on top of their game. Make learning fun with help from me, Gary Moss and Just4TheSpellOfIt. $12 includes shipping. Order via paypal.com pay to the account of JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com Pay with any credit card.
If there is one positive quality that scrabble player should possess is that they are COGNIZANT (aware, conscious).
To some, maybe most, the game of scrabble™ is a simple word game in which players find words that they make up from the letters on their rack and then place them onto the scrabble™ board, hooking them in a place where they make additional words (like a crossword puzzle).
Well, that is correct in the purest form. When competitive types take to the game, they want to demonstrate their word prowess and their strategies to amass huge scores by maximizing the points generated by employing the HOT SPOTS and BINGOS.
Casual players may turn their noses down on the term BINGO being used in a scrabble™ game. Scrabble™ MAVINS know that in scrabble™, a BINGO occurs when a player uses all 7 of the tiles from their rack on a single play (earning a 50 pt. bonus score). Highly competitive types will play 1 to 3 bingos in a game. Not too shabby. Most casual players will most likely have a bingo on their rack during a match but won’t recognize the word or understand how to play it. Those players are not COGNIZANT.
Whatever people choose to do in life, you’ll find all degrees of abilities among different individuals doing the same activities. There are OK doctors, GOOD doctors, and GREAT doctors. The same is true for accountants, teachers, bank tellers, football players, and scrabble™ players. Some of the differences can be traced to innate talent and smarts. Some of the differences can be traced to passion and preparation. Some of the differences just are!
The COGNIZANT person understands the components of the activity and can see the thing necessary to be done and achieved to become a MASTER in the field. It does not mean that he/she will attempt every possible task. But if he/she chooses to do some activity, they will jump in with their eyes wide open and have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished to MASTER it.
One of the most challenging times we have is just before we make a decision. Our minds bring up a lot of possibilities and ‘what ifs.’ Some of these possibilities are linked to fear-triggering repercussions, which can sometimes paralyze our actions.
- Easy to say,
- Be Strong.
- Don’t give in to the fear.
- Shrug it off.
- Be deliberate!
- Whistle a happy tune.
- Don’t be afraid.
If you are prepared, your fear will be diminished to less or nothing at all. Remember Fridays, when you were still a student. Friday was bittersweet. It was the last school day before the weekend, full of anticipation of the good times ahead on Saturday and Sunday. But Friday was also Test Day in most classrooms when teachers would assess our knowledge of all the things we were supposed to have learned that week. At the end of a week, when I had done all my homework assignments and had a clear understanding of the concepts taught, Friday was a breeze. Other times I was in a state of panic the whole day through.
When it comes to preparing myself to be a better scrabble player, there are various UPs and DOWNs too. If I attempt to take a bite too big, I have discovered that I can choke on my new crop of words. The words simply become jumbled in my minds-eye, in my memory, and when I try to draw upon them at a critical moment during a game, they sometimes fade away.
Personally, my memory holds words more securely when I learn them in small groups of 10 or 20, if they share a similar structure (all end with ‘EAU’ or ‘TION’ or ‘OLOGY’). During study periods, I’ll create the new words with tiles on my board (place them, feel them, see them). I’ll review the new set of words every day for a week or more. The reliable process that we had drilled into us as students still work.
- See the word;
- Say the word;
- Spell the word aloud;
- Write the word ten times;
- Use the word in a sentence.
Spaced-Repetition. Review often. Chart your results. Expect improvement over time. Celebrate your accomplishments. Become the master of your fate.
What would you do with an amautik? With a boubou? With a chlamys?
You’d be surprised, or not, about how many words there are that you and I do not know at all.
If you enjoy learning vocabulary, you may find what I’ve been busily doing to be interesting. As the Club Director of Scrabble Club #350 in Laguna Woods, California, I have a scrabble ministry. I’ve taken it upon myself to encourage word knowledge and literacy in general. Being 77 years young, I witness my contemporaries withering away, and as an educator, I know that using your brain will keep it alive and active.
Over the years, I have developed and produced countless study aides for scrabble newbies and scrabble mavins.
Learning words and their correct spellings take different pathways for different people with varying styles of learning. Some people I talk with tell me that they CAN’T learn a word unless they know what it means.
That may be the way you’ve always learned words in the past, but if you think you CAN’T, that answer is not valid.
YOU ARE CAPABLE of doing whatever you decide you can and will do. Forget about CAN’T.
Some people focus on the patterns that create words and learn hundreds of words, not knowing what they mean at all. I’m not suggesting that there is no value in learning the meaning of words. I, too, like to know what words mean. BUT when I’m learning the entire list of words that end with the letters ‘E’ ‘A’ ‘U’ and I’m learning chateau, gateau, aboideau, aboiteau, I don’t need to clutter my brain with their meanings.
Other times when I’m creating a list of words that are things that people wear, I need to know the meanings and how the items are worn and sometimes by who.
AMAUTIK = an Inuit women’s parka
BOUBOU = a long flowing garment
CALTHROP = a garment worn in ancient Greece
Then I put them into a booklet of scrambled word puzzles and make them available to scrabble players and the public. They look like the following:
AABDENU = ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
AACEHPU = ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
DHITU = ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
The answers appear at the end of the booklet:
The following booklets are scheduled for release on the following dates:
January 15 All Animals (Jumbles) $12 incl shipping
January 22 What A Difference An ‘A’ Makes (Add A Letter) $12 incl shipping
January 29 Things People Wear (Jumbles) $12 incl shipping
February 5 Plant, Trees, Shrubs (Jumbles) $12 incl shipping
Learn a few unfamiliar words and stump your opponents at the scrabble table.
SOMEONE ELSE HAS MORE; SOMEONE ELSE KNOWS MORE
- I can almost certainly guarantee you that no matter how much you have of anything, somebody else has more.
- I can almost certainly guarantee you that no matter how much you know, somebody else knows more.
So what’s a person to do? Don’t spend all of your time comparing yourself to others. Instead, invest your energies becoming the best you can be. Look to improve yourself, your word knowledge, your game strategy, your game skills a little bit by bit.
I’ve shared that I have played the game of competitive scrabble for more than 30 years. Some might think that I should know it all by now. But I humbly share with you that I still learn a thing or two during almost every game I play. The idea that seems the oddest to me is when my opponent plays a 3 or 4 letter word that stumps me. In 30 years, I should have learned all the 3s and 4s. But I have the same problem as you may have from time to time. Some of our word power evaporates. We must continuously review, or the things we learned long ago will mysteriously seep out through ears or some other avenue.
The good news is that there are some people in the clubs that see us as the King/Queen-Of-The-Hill. While you may see others, who know more than you, there are many others who see you as the smarty pants.
I usually warn newbies that when you become a club regular, the folks at home and your friends will see you as an expert and won’t want to play with you anymore. When you master the 2 and 3 letter words and some of the scrabble jargon, they’ll see you as a wizard.
It’s all relative. How much is a lot?
When you are trying to better yourself, it is essential to apply some measuring device so that you can tell how far you’ve come from one week or month to the next. You will genuinely amaze yourself. I promise. Create a chart or list; whichever is most appropriate.
Example: If I am trying to memorize the SATINE STEM words, I begin by creating or obtaining a set of flashcards. (Available from JFTSOI). Next, I’ll make a chart with 26 lines, A – Z. Third, I guess at the answers SATINE + A = SATINE + B =, and I’ll record the number of correct answers. Fourth, study the flashcards for three days. Fifth, test yourself again. Record your score. See if you improved. Repeat the study and testing process until you know 90+ %. Review frequently even after you’ve mastered the list. Then set a time clock and see if you can recall the 70+ words in the SATINE STEM in under 5 minutes.
Always strive to do a little better.
As soon as you complete one goal, choose something else to work on.
Gone but Not Forgotten
At the end of each year, many TV programs devote a segment of their shows to REMEMBRANCES. We conger up fond memories of performers and celebrities we’ve enjoyed, watching, or listening to over past years.
Those memorials set my mind to work, and I reflect on scrabble players who have passed. Each person so unique, each with special talents; each personality has a different slant on life and, therefore, they have a vocabulary of their own.
No matter if they were a novice or an expert, everyone was influential in the scrabble™ community. We compete and grow only by having opponents to stand up and challenge us. We make each other better players and better people. There is no scrabble™ club or tournament if we are by ourselves alone.
We learn from each other. I began playing competitive scrabble in the late 1980s when I lived in Detroit, MI. If you are not aware, Detroit is a stone’s throw away from Windsor, Ontario, Canada (just across the Detroit River). I played at many clubs and competitions in Ontario from Windsor to London to Brantford to Mississauga to Hamilton to Toronto to Oshawa. Even though they speak English in Canada, there are a whole set of words that are uniquely Canadian. When those words are played against you, you need to stop and think before you accept or challenge. Most important, when you meet up with a word that is new to you . . . if you’re any good at all, you’ll remember it.
I have been a part of the scrabble™ community for more than 30 years. I have made hundreds of friendships and known thousands of players. Here are a few of those that I remember dearly, who are no longer with us. If there is a heaven, there’s a hell of a game going on up there.
I am remembering: Maliha Mahmood, Marta (Pat) Reed, Al DeMers, Scott Sellman, Jimmy Mattosian, Cheryl Cadieux, Helen Tieger, Penny Baker, Ossie Mair, David Gibson, Florence Laatz, Gina DuMez, Christine Larkin, Emilie Pandolfi, Ann Silver, Rita Norr, Lester Schoenbrum, John Cornelius, ANnette Tedesco, Theresa Maynard, Eunice Smith, Dorothy Brown, Rosetta Brooks, Gertrude Adcox, Robert Peters, Joyce Palmer, Alfred Butts, Geraldine Wenk, Cecile Betts, Gwen Bishop, Mary Lou Thurman, Chester Collins, Edna Miller, Stu Goldman, Frank Lee, Ralph Crosby, Louisa Arnold, Herb Falk and Hank Kanashiki, to name a few.
IT TAKES TWO TO TANGO
The Tango is a dance designed for two people. Tango is a partner and social dance that originated in the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It was born in the impoverished port areas of these countries, where natives mixed with slaves and European immigrant populations.
When Scrabble™ originated in the 1930s, it’s inventor Alfred Mosher Butts envisioned it as a game to be played by 2 to 4 players and hence provided four racks with each packaged game set. Butts did not have any official word list in mind, and therefore players relied upon their preferred home dictionary to serve as their word source.
In 1952 James Brunot licensed Selchow & Righter, a game maker, to produce the Scrabble™ Brand Word Game. Through the years, the game had a succession of owners, including Coleco, Milton Bradley, Mattel, and Hasbro. It wasn’t until 1978 that Selchow & Righter formed the NSA (National Scrabble™ Association), which promoted local clubs and competitions throughout North America, then eventually an annual Nation Scrabble™ Tournament.
When playing under NSA rules, an official game is between two players. Each player has the opportunity to make offensive and defensive plays to determine their own fate. With that said, in the quiet of my own home, I’ve played solitaire scrabble as a pastime and a study experience, learning words and calculating strategies for future 1:1 competitions.
*When more than two players are participating on one board, the order of play is clockwise, whichever player’s turn comes after the weakest player, that player usually goes on to WIN.
In today’s Scrabble™ world, the owner of the brand is HASBRO™, and the organization that holds a license to use the name SCRABBLE™ is NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association) owned by Chris Cree of Dallas, TX.
Sitting in a waiting room in a hospital in Las Vegas, NV. About 6 hours away from my home and place of work. It’s my second time here in the last six weeks. I’m here to support my son Martin who has been trying to resolve his blocked arteries with a stint procedure but running into a series of obstacles that make his life frustrating. When people have problems and see a path to address and repair things, we want it all handled yesterday; if not yesterday, we certainly want things dealt with today so that we can get back to living life. But the nature of somethings requires scheduling appointments, being prepped, having your body cooperate by having your clotting factor at proper levels before they’ll proceed. It all makes sense, but it is still frustrating when some technicality halts the process, and you are dismissed until some future time when they’ll try all over again.
The waiting is a crazy time. The mind and emotional toll keep churning and building; the patient is trapped in purgatory.
The patient’s Potassium was too low, and surgery would be too risky to do under this condition. So, postponed again until sometime next week.
Sitting at a table at a scrabble™ club in anywhere, USA. I’ve just played a turn and replenished my tiles. I’m already looking at my tiles and the board anticipating my next turn. My opponent’s clock is running, and he’s computing his next move. I can see his eyes darting left and right, up and down the board in search of a perfect play. He’s looking for a place to score as many points as possible; he’s looking carefully so that he doesn’t create a ‘sweet spot’ for me as a result of his play. If he has a bingo, he’s searching for a place where it can connect with a hook.
I’m playing a waiting game while he thinks. That’s OK because his clock is running. I imagine where he might play since that will determine the place for my next move. I review all the possibilities right now and will consider other plays once he makes his move and hits the clock.
Patience is a part of everything and, therefore, an essential skill for all of us to master. Patience will serve you well when controlled, and your opponent doesn’t have that skill. You could work it to your advantage by frustrating others, getting into their heads, which in turn will cost them their concentration, which may translate into lower scores.
Did you know that sitting taller and higher in your chair can intimidate your opponent? Some players talk with you before the game begins and tell you all about their recent WIN, so you might imagine that they’re better than you. Yes, some scrabblers™ do play mind games, hoping it will sway the actual game.
Don’t fall for that. Be prepared.
The Perfect Storm
Scrabble™ is a lot like the weather, both unpredictable and, at the same time, logical and compliant to the ways of nature. Even before many of the new technologies became available to current day weather meteorologists, The Farmers’ Almanac has been providing weather forecasts since 1818. It relied heavily on averages and cycles that had been observed and recorded.
The meteorologists on TV seem to be very passionate about their field. Most are very excited and animated as they move about and display pictures, maps, and graphs to us while they explain the Highs and Lows and the jet stream. Frequently they give me too much information. All I want to know is if I’ll have nice enough weather to enjoy a day at the beach or if I should take my umbrella with me to the market.
When I have a basic idea about the weather to expect today, I can navigate through my day quite nicely, be it sun or rain or snow. I’ll get by.
Weather is a lot like scrabble™, both unpredictable due to the luck factor, but at the same time logical and compliant regarding the Rules and Official Word List. Since its origin in the 1930s, many serious competitive players have dissected the game, analyzed its components, and devised strategies to assist wannabe mavins in gaining expertise if they applied time and energy to enhance their performance. Understanding probability, using Tracking, understanding the commonality of words, using Stems, understanding scoring, using Hot Spots, and more provides hints and guidelines to the average player, providing a pathway to becoming a truly exceptional player.
The game has been played by and enjoyed by millions of families across America and around the world. It has been enjoyed by former President Dwight David Eisenhower and by Escondido, CA. Player Soranun Booppanon.
Jump in, if you will.
I Had A DREAM Last Night
I have been having a wealth of dreams lately. It could be related to the sleeping aid I’ve been taking and/or the scrabble activities I’ve been pursuing. I find that I sleep really great when I fall asleep in my recliner in front of the TV. But that takes the edge off of my exhaustion and when it becomes bedtime I lay down for 20 minutes and then I become wide awake at midnight. That isn’t very good on the days when I have to get up at 6:15 AM to get ready to be at work by 7 AM. Oh well, that should be the worst of my problems.
Now the dream. There’s a subway train filled with people crammed in there shoulder-to-shoulder. They’re not people; each person is actually a word. The train is moving very quickly and the passengers (words) are standing and swaying, trying very hard to keep their balance and from bumping into each other. All of a sudden, the train begins to slow down, approaching another station. One of the words is heard muttering to another standing next to her and leaning on her, “Oh no. Gary must be making another list and all those new words are coming onboard. We’re going to have to squish ourselves together even tighter.” (Luckily I had forgotten some of the words in my memory and those words got off the train.)
That reminds me of a nightmare shared by Bruce D’Ambrosio. He shared it with me several years ago. He was dreaming about a close, competitive game in a significant tournament. It was near the end of the game and only a few tiles remained in the bag. Whatever he picked from the bag would surely determine whether he would win or lose the game, including 1st Place in that tournament. He needed to draw 4 tiles. The three tiles on his rack were ‘R” S’ and’ T.’ He reached into the bag and pulled his four tiles one at a time and placed them onto his rack. The first was an ‘A,’ than an ‘I,’ next an ‘E.’ He paused and took a deep breath. He realized he had ‘SATIRE’ and any letter, but ‘Q’ ‘O’ ‘U’ ‘X’ ‘Y’ & ‘Z’ would create a bingo combination and win the game. He took another deep breath, reached his hand into the bag, and came out with an exclamation mark.
He awoke, screaming.
We scrabble players are pretty weird at times. The same things that we are obsessed with and give us joy during our waking hours often plague us through the night. There have been countless times I’ve dragged myself out of a comfortable, warm bed and headed for my dictionary or computer to check the spelling of some words I’ve dreamt. Many of the ideas for my blogs come to me during sleep. If I don’t get up and write down the idea, it will often vanish with the morning light.
At times when I’m doing the most, deep into some projects like writing a booklet, I look forward to falling asleep, anticipating new ideas to come to me.
According to my dictionary, retirement is: ‘the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.’ In my humble opinion, ceasing, work-like activities is dangerous for ones’ well-being and health. Many people have shared that they admire my way of life because I’ve sort of been bumming around since I was in my mid-to-late forties. While that is a fact, it didn’t always seem so great at various times. Circumstances dictated my decisions, and if you look closely at my life and the things I’ve done through the last 30 years, I’ve never really stopped working at all.
I may have been retired once for an entire week or two until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I hated being unproductive. There was way too much leisure time to fill with fun and meaningful activities. I can hear one of my followers shouting, “But you play endless games of scrabble every day.” Yes, but I don’t consider all of that goofing-off. I treat it like a professional athlete who continues training during the offseason. My head is always swimming with ideas all day, every day of lists to be made and booklets to be written. And oh, don’t forget the amount of time I spend reading the dictionary and writing blogs and recording podcasts.
But you’re correct. I have turned work into play and play into work. Along the way, I have and still do other ‘WORK’ to bring in a few ‘shekels’ so that I can afford and enjoy a few nice dinners, travel to a few scrabble tournaments, and live in a comfortable community. These days I work about 15 hours a week for the HOA and about 10 hours a week for a local Bridge Club. In the past, after being the headmaster of my own private school for 20 years, I’ve been a landlord, an investor, a salesman, a census taker, a substitute teacher, a promoter, a personal growth facilitator, a writer, a publisher, a T-Shirt designer, a webmaster, and a personal adviser if I recollect clearly.
Imagine, all that while being officially retired.
Published, Little Old Me
Many of the things I write and speak about relate to being the best we can be. Many times our visions of our possibilities go well beyond the things we have achieved so far. There have been times for me when I’ve found the courage to push the envelope, and I became something more than I had been to that point.
It was 2001 when I was massaging my writing techniques. The substance of my work was a book of poetry in which I was trying to capture and share the neighborhood and times when I was growing up on Northlawn in Detroit, Michigan, in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
I had already written a dozen or more pieces. Two of my good friends at a local scrabble club were Bob Peters and Paul Trachtenberg of Fountain Valley, CA. They were both poets. Bob was a retired professor from UCI, Irvine, and had also proffered at Wayne State University in Detroit, where I had grown up. During a shared lunch, I sheepishly told my friends about my poems. Bob invited me to share my work. After I read two or three of my poems, Bob told me he liked my poems and asked if I would like him to polish them up. I was flattered and didn’t hesitate to take him up on his offer.
A week later, Bob called me to tell me he was finished. When I came to pick them up at his home, he asked if I would like to publish my work. I was overwhelmed. “Of course,” I responded, “but I do not know how to do that.” Then with Bob’s guidance, I submitted several poems for consideration to PEARL, a local monthly publication.
A few months later, I received a letter from PEARL announcing that two of my poems would be published in their Summer 2002 issue. They also invited me to read my poetry at a public reading at a theater in Long Beach, CA. WOW!
My dad loved writing. He was always writing poems and song lyrics and plays. My grandpa was also a writer who, at one point, wrote items published in the Toledo Blade newspaper. I felt proud and validated to be a part of that legacy.
You, too, can push your envelope and pursue your interests and passions.
Below is one of the poems that was published in PEARL 2002. It is my reflection of a time when I was about 11 years old, living under my dad’s roof on Northlawn (1953). My dad was a ‘milkman’ at the time.
EGGS AND POTATOES
Summer. My eleventh year.
My dad’s eleventh job, this
time as a milkman. I was his
“hopper.” At dawn, washing
my face, brushing my teeth,
pulling on a T-shirt in a fog-
like dream, tiptoeing down
the creaky stairs so as not
to disturb sleeping neighbors.
Stepping into the cold dew
of morning, feeling a shiver
in my bones, standing by Dad,
holding on to a sidebar as we
drove empty roads to the dairy,
Dad chanting his daily prayers
by rote, with the mournful tunes
of rabbis. A small band of
milkmen sign for their consignment,
load their trucks with milk, and
large blocks of ice which they
stab with sharp picks into chunks
which they spread over the
bottled milk, preserving it for
waiting customers. Planning
the route, scheduling prompt
deliveries, allowing time for
a breakfast break, I tasted two
delicious eggs over easy and
home fried potatoes.
Driving into other neighborhoods
with their distinct smells, sure that
we delivered the proper order to the
proper home: bottles of white, chocolate,
and butter milk, orange juice, cottage
cheese, sour cream, eggs, and butter.
Collecting money from some, while
others kept up running accounts.
When day crept in, my hunger pangs
signaled break time. After icing down
the remaining milk in the now steamy
milk truck we headed for the crowded
Lyndon and Greenlawn diner, with
its familiar aroma that set the saliva
running. And the world was good.
GET RID OF YOUR EXCUSES
It was about five months ago, August 1st or 2nd, and I was feeling pretty tired, and my 77th birthday (August 20) was closing in on me at record speed. I had an awareness that my degree of personal energy had been diminishing in small increments. At work, I’ve developed a compatible friendship with a co-worker, Derek. At slow times we shared non-work related stories. One day I told Derek about an idea I’d been considering taking an extended road trip and that I didn’t know if I would make that trip even a year or two from now. Derek was a great listener and reflected the things that he heard me saying.
You know how it is when you get an idea that is a bit over-the-edge. We look for agreement from people we admire and trust. And not only was Derek encouraging me, but he also gave my adventure a name: 77 Sunset Trip.
Perfect, I thought. I didn’t waste a minute; I informed my wife; I told my boss I’d be away for seven weeks; I planned to leave on Saturday, August 24; I found a substitute to work my dealing job with the bridge club, and I packed my car and my suitcase. I moved some money around to finance my journey and made a few calls to create my agenda for the first several days.
I left on August 24. My first destination was to play in Escondido, CA. Did I share that during my trip, I planned to visit a string of scrabble clubs, scrabble tournaments, and family? I was driving alone in my 2008 Toyota Yaris, going east on a northern route and returning on a southern route back to the West. After Escondido, the next stops were several clubs in Las Vegas, NV, then north to Salt Lake City, UT. Both visits were great; I was welcomed warmly. But after Salt Lake, my planning was incomplete and too sketchy. My original plan was to attend a club near Denver next, but my timing to stop near Denver didn’t work for me, and I became anxious, then sad, then negative. I spent the better part of a day imagining excuses and projecting that the rest of the trip was going to be a bust. I was really doing a negative number on myself.
Then I started doing that self-talk thing with the Devil on one shoulder, whispering into my right ear and some Angel whispering the opposite into the other ear. Meanwhile, I was driving through the Rockies on secondary roads and loving it.
It took some doing for me to let go of all of those excuses and allow myself to discover the joy all around me. The DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT was the spot where I recommitted myself to continue east. And am I glad I did!
Once I got out of my own way, I visited 23 scrabble clubs. I played in two scrabble tournaments, visited more than two dozen old friends, stayed with my daughters in Ypsilanti, MI, and Pontiac, MI. In Cleveland, I stayed with my sister and my brother in Saratoga Springs, NY. I spent three Days in Niagra Falls, two days in Nashville, and a night in Muel Shoe, TX. I drove a total of 7,000 miles there and back with stops in Stratford, ON., Canada. Memphis, TN, and The Grande Canyon. I walked the River Walk at Niagra and played Black Jack in Laughlin and Las Vegas, NV. All the while, I played more than 150 games of scrabble. I spent two days meeting and playing with the public at Uncommon Grounds Coffee House in Saratoga Springs, NY.
How do your EXCUSES get in your way? Do they side-track you from having adventures?
Please get rid of them and claim the fun and adventure you deserve. And play more scrabble.
Do YOU Hear Opportunity Knocking?
Generally, people can solve problems. We learn techniques in problem-solving from the time we begin to attend school, even preschool. Some of our problem solving occurs during using trial and error while building with blocks, driving a car down the road, or getting a date with a partner. Other learning comes about by reading, participating in exercises, and listening to lectures.
One vital skill that we never are taught in traditional schools or even from loving family members is how to recognize an opportunity. Most of us learn to be protective, cautious and avoid risky behaviors.
It was September 1968; I was a 28-year-old 5th Grade teacher earning $5,000/yr, and my wife and I had our first child. It was pretty clear that we would never get rich doing what we were doing. We followed a life plan, similar to most of our friends.
In December 1968, our three-month-old daughter unexpectedly died of SIDS. Our life changed in a matter of an evening. The pain of the loss was excruciating. The vacuum in our lives set us reeling. The value of everything lost its meaning.
We felt like there was nothing left to lose.
It’s in that kind of emotional tumult that there was a possibility of opportunity. During the mourning period we were bombarded by people talking to us, at us, and with us. We were both trained and certified teachers with a strong desire to work with children. I spoke a thought out loud about the possibility of us creating a private school. The talk expanded in my imagination and then in the next moment I was writing business plans and creating outlines out of my imagination. The conversation filled a part of the void each day. At first, there wasn’t any reality to the talk, but when one repeats an idea often enough, it can develop a life of its own. And so without ever having been enrolled in a single business class and with a total of $50 in my Teacher Credit Union bank account, I wrote a persuasive business plan. I urged a realtor to help me search out a location for my enterprise and wrote a script for my wife to solicit funds from our wealthier friends and relatives who might invest in this dream.
We jumped through more hoops everyday than others with similar plans would face in months to years of planning. Many laughed at us or just humored us by listening. It looked like an ‘impossible dream’.
From day #1, it took us only three months to write the Business Plan, secure promises from 10 investors, make an application to the Michigan State Department of Social Services and The Michigan State Board of Education. Nine months and 23 days later, we opened Bloomfield Nursery School and Kindergarten on a 5-acre parcel of land in a building licensed for a student body of up to 60 children.
In the years to come, the school and auxiliary programs went on to serve over 10,000 children, employ more than 200 teachers and caregivers, and earn many thousands of dollars. Even the current mayor of Detroit, Mi (Mike Duggan), was once a camp counselor on my staff.
All of that happened simply because we believed the opportunity was there, and we willed it into existence with our daring intentions.
I learned first-hand all about the power of opportunity and intention.
Whatever possibilities you may see for yourself within the coming year are definitely within your grasp too. Right now. What better time than at the beginning of a New Year? If you’re moved to do something and want a good listener . . . Let’s Talk. (949) 510-1673.
NOBODY SAYS IT BETTER
If you haven’t ever read one of my brother Joel’s pieces (a review of the year just passed), you’re in for an amazing treat. Can you say, “Attention to details”?
Enjoy the genius, frankness,and opinions of my favorite brother, Joel Moss.