2020 BLOGS

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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.

Players Rush to Use Tracking

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.
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.
Just saying!

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.’


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.

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.




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.

  1. Easy to say,
  2. Be Strong.
  3. Don’t give in to the fear.
  4. Shrug it off.
  5. Be deliberate!
  6. Whistle a happy tune.
  7. 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. 

  1. See the word; 
  2. Say the word; 
  3. Spell the word aloud; 
  4. Write the word ten times; 
  5. 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.
Words like:
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.


  • 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.




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.

WAITING ROOMS/Patients/Patience
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.
Growing upIt 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.

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.

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 protectivecautious 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.

Just Saying!

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.