Blogs October – December 2022

Word Plaques Inspired with Thoughts of Kindness

Ask Gary how you can obtain this Word Plaque to assist you in learning words derived from the word KINDNESS.  Placing this Word Plaque in a pronounced area of your home and office may inspire others to share KINDNESS.
Contact Gary at jftsoi.moss@gmail.com



November 16, 2022
If you enjoy tournament scrabble,
if you enjoy the opportunity to WIN day after day after day, if you enjoy sunny Palm Springs, CA during the holidays . . . then you’ll want to play in David Postal’s 6 1-Day WGPO tournaments. I played on 3 of the 6 day last year and won Division 2 on 3 consecutive days, and I wasn’t e even the top player in my division.


November 11, 2023
Don’t you just HATE IT
when you get the ‘almost’ perfect rack of letters like SATIRE+O and you spend more than a few minutes searching for the bingo that isn’t there. Did you look a little further for an 8 = SATIRE+O+?


November 7, 2022
Remembering BETH FLEISHER
Scrabble ™ player and friend:
https://www.cross-tables.com/results.php?p=386
R.I.P.

Beth Fleischer | Hacienda Heights, CA (USA)

Rating
1278
(Peak: 1656)
Ranking
(unranked) 
Lifetime record
458-426-1 (0.518)
Career earnings: $1,654
Avg. score
377-369

OCTOBER 31, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE (Revisited)

ANTICIPATION
This suggestion may not sit well with newbies.  But it’s one of the important factors that leads to winning at scrabble™ and life in general.  Some of it only comes after having gone around the block a time or more.

ANTICIPATION
When I coach and teach, I build this idea into my presentation:
“When you are making your play on this turn . . .Always think about the possibilities for your next turn.”
Huh?  It means to THINK AHEAD, have a plan, consider how your play will open certain ‘hot spot’ and allow for certain hooks.
Remember, that in every game with two players each person is playing both offense and defense.  It is usually impossible to avoid opening every hot spot and bingo lane.  If you develop the skill called ‘tracking’ you will know which tiles are still unseen at any point in the game which will allow you to not create places for your opponent to place the highest scoring tiles (J, Q, X, Z) on the highest scoring premium squares.

ANTICIPATION
This is a valuable tool in all aspects of life.  We have routine check-ups with our physicians; we seek out advice when making major purchases to protect our savings and our assets; we purchase insurance to safeguard our future; and we learn to drive our vehicles defensively for our safety amidst the crazies on the roads.

  • The more you know the better you become at anticipation.
  • The more life experiences you have the better you become at anticipating.

Learn more.  Live more.
Be aware.
Be in the NOW and expect what might be coming NEXT.


OCTOBER 26, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
During this past week I have met several brand-new players who have expressed their interest in playing scrabble at clubs and I’ve met other people who claim to have been playing for years with family and on their phones with other novices.

If you haven’t already guessed, I get excited to meet these people because I see myself as a Johnny Appleseed kind of teacher and I love to spread the Joy of Scrabble™.

Some of the people I meet who seem very motivated and anxious, tell me how much they love scrabble™, they talk a good game but they have very poor spelling skills.  Yet, they believe that they are already great.  I can tell in the first 3 minutes at the beginning of a game what my opponent’s S.I.Q. is and whether they have potential.  (S.I.Q. = Scrabble™ Intelligent Quotient)
Now I truly believe that any motivated player can become a ‘2-percenter’.  These are the folks who play competitively at most clubs.  They become obsessed with the game, with words, and with winning (not in an obnoxious way).  But the key ingredient that shines through the initial conversation is ATTITUDE.  An; “I CAN” attitude.

Ex: I arrived to live in California on the week before Thanksgiving in 1995.  Initially I stayed at my brother Joel’s home in Hollywood Hills, across the freeway from The Hollywood Bowl.  Joel works in the Music and Movie Industry, and I was frequently invited to join him, finding myself at galas with the stars.  It was difficult to conceal that I was star-struck.  One evening we attend a gala for the movie ‘El Position” which won an Oscar that year.  Joel was off mingling and there I was balancing my cocktail, standing with Elliot Gould, James Woods, and Rod Setiger.  One of them turned to me and asked, “Do I know you?  What do you do?”  Without hesitation I told them that I was Joel’s brother and that I was the Scrabble™ Director of Club #350.  I was the newest celebrity in the room at that point.  I held their attention, and we enjoyed a lovely time as I shared story after story about my scrabble™ adventures.

If you are a 2-Percenter you’d do the same.

Some people never show up at club because they think that they’re not GOOD ENOUGH.  What is that all about?  One becomes better by doing, learning from their mistakes, and hanging with people who are better to learn the ways of the experts.  If you play poorer players your rarely learn anything new at all.

WARNING!!!  DO NOT assume that the Mavens with the high-ranking ratings are good teachers and or be the best teachers for you.

I’m not the only one who is great; I know a dozen or more who are almost as good as me.  We are not at the top of the exclusive pile of the 200 Best.  But we have teaching skills that can bring out the best in you when you have the desire and choose to be teachable.

  1. You’ll have to change some of the ways you’ve always been and always played and always studied,
  2. You’ll have to participate in the creation of you study regimen and then follow it to the letter.
  3. SCRABBLE is a MEMORY GAME.  The lexicon you play with becomes your bible.  The OWL contains more than 170,000 words.   The Collins contains more than 300,000 words.  There are a few players who claim to have memorized their entire lexicon.  A 10 year old boy who did not speak English came to the US National Scrabble™ Tournament and placed in the money in the expert division,  These are exceptions.  And you’ll become better and better too.

Scrabble is a journey it is not a 1-Time event.

I offer my students a 25 Day online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’ in which they build study habits and learn about 25 of the Pieces that will contribute some skills they’ve never considered.  There is a fee of $199.  There is homework.
Even though the class is only 25 days long . . . the class never really ends.  I’ve been using these same pieces to learn, review and improve almost every day for the last 30+ years.  “When you love what you are doing, you’ll never work a day in your life.”

You can’t learn it all in 25 days or even 25 years.  There are always more ways to grow.  Scrabble™ will also transform and fit into the rest of your life.  You’ll become even more interesting person.
I’ve become friends with players on 5 continents.  I have met players from 40+ states.  I’ve played in 50+ clubs, 250+ tournaments. on cruise ships, in the Grand Canyon and at a Stagecoach Stop in Lapeer, Michigan.

I welcome you to call me and chat about your personal scrabble™ goal.  If you wish, I will help you to get from here to there.  I am the coach who will show you the path.  Avoid the Maze and begin today.

Gary  (949) 510-1673                     JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com


OCTOBER 23, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE
ADVICE
“Love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
“The more you know the luckier you’ll become.”

  • CNIDA   
  • BHAJI
  • EYRIR
  • NGWEE
  • BUTUT
  • OIDIOID
  • EKPWELE

Who you are today is only a piece of who you’ll become.  It doesn’t matter how young or old you are if you are still waking up each morning there are still many opportunities to learn.

Think of all the animals you can identify 
Google™ – COQUI & RHEBOK.
Now you have two more legal scrabble™ words which might cause your opponent to challenge you.

Did you know that most people have and use a vocabulary of 5,000 words or less?  That’s less than 2.8% of the words on the OWL (Official Word List).  You are better than that.  All it takes is curiosity and a plan.

  • Learn just 1 word a day;
  • Select it randomly from the OWL and write it on your calendar.
  • Play as many of your new words, whenever you are playing scrabble™.
  • Teach your new words to a friend.
  • Don’t wait till tomorrow; JUST DO IT NOW.

Think of words with ‘double letters’:
BAZAAR; CABBAGE; BACCA;  PADDY;  DEER;  AFFABLE;  BAGGAGE;  SHH;  GENII;  HAJJ;  EKKA;  JELLO;  COMMA;  JINN;  MOON;  APPLE; ORRA;  ASSET;  BOTTOM;  VACUUM;  BEVVY;  BOWWOW;  SAYYID;  JAZZ

Select words based on categories

  • Things you find on a salad bar.
  • Items you’d see in a hardware store.
  • Letters in the Greek alphabet.
  • Units of measure.
  • Things you put salt on.
  • Colors.
  • Things in the ocean.
  • Names of people that are legal on the OWL.

I see it frequently at scrabble™ clubs:  The THRILL of VICTORY and the agony of defeat.  But the determining factor of whether a perspective player returns to play again is ATTITUDE.  I know that you CAN . . . but do you know or care that YOU CAN?


OCTOBER 19, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE™ ADVICE
I’d like you to put down that thing you are fiddling with, listen to my question and participate in a vote.  The question; Am I, Gary Moss, a curmudgeon?
Well, I certainly felt like one today.  It was mostly due to the customer service, or lack thereof which I experienced while running errands around town.

My sad story began when I returned from Vegas and realized I had somehow lost or misplaced my ACCU CHECK Blood Meter.  I had all my other diabetes supplies packed neatly in my overnight bag.  On the drive homebound I obsessed about that meter, and I pictured myself going to CVS and getting a replacement.  I could even picture the aisle in the store where it would be stocked.  Along the drive home I listened to a variety of music and news on the radio.  One story highlighted that beginning Monday, October 17, people with hearing loss would be able to purchase hearing aids without a prescription and then the announcer rattled off a long list of pharmacies carrying these products.

My first stop when I arrived in the village was at CH #5 where the local scrabble™ club meets every Monday.  I won 2 of 3 and went home fully satisfied.   I told Adrienne that I planned to go back out to CVS.  We first went to an early dinner at CHILLI’s and then headed across the parking lot to CVS.  There were several different meters with the name ACCU CHECK. There were many more ACCU CHECK products as well.  I picked up 3 or 4 items and approached the pharmacist at the HELP DESK.  I told him that I wanted a replacement meter that was compatible with the test strips I had been using.  I showed her an actual test strip that I had brought from home.  She assured me that it would work.  I asked that if it did not work, could I have a full refund?  She had to ask two or three others before committing to ‘YES’.

When I got home and tried to insert the test strip into the meter it did not fit.

WOULDN’T YOU THINK THAT ACCU CHECK WOULD WANT ALL THEIR METERS TO USE THE SAME SIZE TEST STRIPS?  WHY WOULD 3 OF 3 EMPLOYEES GET MY QUESTION WRONG?  ONE OF THE THREE DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WHAT A GLUCOSE MONITOR METER IS.

Today I made time in my schedule to return the items to CVS and go to WALMART’s Pharmacy counter.  The clerk handed me the exact same WRONG meter and I gave him a lesson about Glucose Meters.  I asked him about those hearing aids advertised on the radio.  He told me that the hearing aids were only sold online, and the online pick-up counter was at the far end of the store in the rear.  I hiked a quarter mile through the store to the online pick-up counter to learn that employees are not allowed to assist customers.  Customers must order independently online; the product will then arrive at the pick-up counter where the employee is permitted to hand the product to the customer.

I asked, “What if I don’t know how to order online?”  The employee shrugged.

By this time, I was very frustrated.  But I was not ready to give up.  In my neighborhood there is a Walgreens which is less convenient and a wee bit pricier.  However, they usually have the item that fits the bill.  A lovely young lady asked if she could help.  I explained that I needed a replacement meter that used my test strips.  She pivoted reached up and handed me a package.  I recognized thee package she was handing me.  It was not a meter at all.  It was a box of test strips.  I slowly repeated my original request for a meter.  A co-worker was listening and grabbed a different item off the shelf and placed it in front of me on the counter.  NO, it was not a meter; it was a box of LANCETS.

My voice was now booming when I looked at the two clerks and asked, “Do you even know was a glucose meter is?”

Who trained these people?  I would have been happy if one had said “I DON’T KNOW BUT I WILL FIND SOMEONE WHO CAN HELP YOU”.

(The store manager overheard all this and offered to help by giving me phone numbers for both ACCUCHECK and the Walgreen associate who oversees the hearing aid department.)
Hiring and training continues to be sore spots for running most businesses.  Thinking back, I guess it has always been that way.

I was 16 when I got a part time job working for Federal Department Store on 8 Mile Road at Dequindre.  I was a high schooler earning some pocket money.  I don’t know why they hired me or why they placed me in a corner of the SPORTS DEPARTMENT.  It was summertime and the items I sold were mostly fishing gear.  (I knew absolutely NOTHING about fishing.)  I had never caught a fish.   I knew nothing about bobbers, sinkers, or test line.  I didn’t particularly like fish except the Gefilte Fish my Baubee served on Passover.  I was not shy about giving advice when asked any fishing question.  When I think back to those times, I get a big silly grin and laugh.

An even bigger laugh was in the summer of 1962 when I sold convertible baby furniture.  I think I was the reason that all those companies eventually went out of business.  When you opened the box you’d find several hollowed metal tubing, some connecters, and various pieces for canvass.  With these pieces one could fashion a highchair, a stroller, a changing table, and a bassinet.  My limited knowledge about baby furnishings heard the word bassinet as bath-in-net

My concept of a bath-in-net was something in which you’d bathe an infant.  With that said just close your eyes and imagine the first time I demonstrated the HOW TO part of the Bath-in-net.

(Side note:  We wonder why people do not want to work today.  If they are not trained, you have no investment in them, and they have no investment in you or your product.  Without knowledge consumers like Gary get frustrated and yes become CURMUGEONS because YOU the Sales Associate has no idea what it is Gary wants therefore your ignorance becomes a contentious item!)

OCTOBER 17, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE
ADVICE
I’m sure that you know how it is.

You anticipate a future event; you make plans on how to get there and whom you’ll share the experience; the pages on the calendar turn; the event comes and goes; and you are left with new memories.

And so, another scrabble™ tournament is in the books.  I didn’t play my very best and so I did not finish in the money.  I won 9 of the 14 games I played and so did the 2nd Place finisher. (Miriam Green) with 9W/5L and a cum o +276.   My result was in 7th Place and a finish of 9W/5L -3.  What a difference a few spread points makes.

The company was the best, the food was fantastic and a gallon of regular was only $4.47.  My hosts (Miriam and Larry Green) were superb, much better than a 5-Star hotel experience.

Tomorrow morning (Monday) I’ll try my best to get up at 5:30 AM and be on the road by 6AM.  Much easier said than done.  Already looking forward to another full week of challenging word fun:

  • Monday at 1PM at Laguna Woods Village,
  • Tuesday at the I-Hop in Huntington Beach, CA at noon,
  • Wednesday at Club #350 at 6PM in Laguna Woods Village at CH #1 and
  • Saturday, October 21 at the Game Room at CH #5 at 10:30 AM.

My takeaway today was a come from behind game winning word played by Miriam Green against Naurlene Canterman: ‘LOOBIES’. def – A Large Awkward Person.

Congratulations to

  • Yukiko Loritz
  • Evelyn Davis
  • Paul Rickhoff

for their winning ways.

Good night, Mrs. Calabash wherever you are.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 16, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
Can you spell H-E-L-P?
While I began the WGPO tournament like the wondrous CHAMP that I am, winning my first 3 games with score of over 400 points and 7 bingos, I played one of my very worst games ever in game #4 with 6 major errors.  I played 3 phonies which were all challenged off the board leaving two of my opponent’s phony bingos on the board without challenging them.  My cumulative score went from a plus 185 to a negative 63.  My 6th mistake was talking to my opponent in game #4 just before we started.
Sitting here thinking about what had happened I realize that I ignored my own best advice that I preach to others:

Considering the 30% luck factor in the game, the next biggest factor is getting into people’s heads.  In other words, stay focused and in the moment.  My opponent in game number four was whining as we greeted each other.  He was obsessing about losing his last game and I tried to cheer him up by reminding him that it is not unusual for the winds to just shift and that ‘tile gods’ to often change the flow of the ‘good stuff’ on their own.
I shouldn’t have said anything at all, or I could have confirmed that he was a loser and ugly to boot.   (Just Kidding)
Then just as I had predicted I had a run of bad plays.  An outsider would have assumed that I was throwing the game.  The truth is, I had undermined myself and self-destructed.
There was a much-needed break after game #4 and I had time to re-right myself but this time the tile gods took notice of my negativity and allowed me to wallow on the pity-pot.  Games #5 & #6 offered up not a single bingo with finish scores of less than 300 each.
I won game #7 against Anita Barry from Chi-Town.
Game #8 was played against Mark Immerman from Las Vegas. While Mark drew easy-to-work-with tiles to play T-O-A-D-I-E-S I struggled with I-M-P-O-T-E-N-T.  It was a close game, but I lost by 20 points.  I knew I was going to lose when after playing off 5 tiles I drew A-I-U-U-U. My next play was U-N-A-UThose short words with many vowels can be helpful.  I still had a “U’ on my rack and my next play was T-H-U-Y-A.  Neither of those words drew a challenge but they didn’t score major points either.
(The color of the words is insignificant.)

My luck at the Blackjack tables is still holding.  Today was a very long day for me.  In addition to all the scrabble™ and gambling, I had a great lunch with my son Marty in a sports bar with a great burger and onion rings.  While eating we watched Alabama vs Tennessee. (Now that was fun too!)

This evening I shared a Thai dinner with Miriam Green and Lynn Gunn. Superb!
When you hang with scrabble™ players you never go hungry.
It’s 10PM on a Saturday and I’m ready to pass out.  Tomorrow, I get to sleep in until 6:30AM.
Remember, to win at a tournament you must ‘Stay Focused’.
Be Ruthless; No Mr. Nice-Guy Stuff;
Sit on a pillow to appear to be taller and more intimidating;
Know that you are going to win even before it happens;

Then Just Do It.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 15, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
Hello Campers,
Here I am on Friday evening in Las Vegas as a guest at the home of Miriam and Larry Green.  I’ll be playing in Division 2 at the WGPO scrabble tournament which begins tomorrow morning at 9AM at the Palace Station Casino on Sahara.
Remember last summer after The Word Cup when I threatened to stop playing tournaments because I found the routine too tiring.  I drove here from Laguna Woods, and I’m exhausted already. I stopped twice along the way, pulled over and napped for about 45 minutes each time. 

Besides being a scrabble™ junkie the other two guilty pleasures that call to me are Dunkin’ Donuts and Casinos that play Blackjack.  The Primm Casino is just over the border from California into Nevada.  I couldn’t help myself.  The timing was right for me, and I lifted $200 from their till.  I hope that is a sign of better things to come.  I continued to the Green’s home where I played one game with Miriam and two games with Wes Morrison (from Alaska).
I played 2 phonies this afternoon: RATIOED and CREE.  I also allowed Wes to play a bingo using and unacceptable hook.  He hooked my good word (ARCO) with an ’S’.  ARCOS is Not Acceptable.  I’ll have to be much sharper to have a shot at the money prizes.
Of the 20 players in my division, I am good friends with a dozen of them.  It is a lot of pressure playing against friends.  Everyone wants to win, not lose.  Hopefully the battles will not go beyond the edge of the tables.

As an extra PLUS I’ll be sharing lunch tomorrow with my son Marty who lives and works in Vegas.

OCTOBER 14, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE,
CAN YOU BELIEVE IT?  I’m not playing scrabble™ today, I’ve enjoyed a good run of fun and good luck over the last two weeks.  I continue to surprise myself by finding and playing way outside the box.   Here’s an example:  E-F-N-U-S-S-T,  and on my rack and the only open line for the hope of a bingo was through an ‘F’.  I saw ‘SNUFF’ and ‘STUFF’.  The ‘F’ on the board was at (H,1) so those plays would have earned minimal points.  Next I saw ‘FUN’ which led me to seeing ‘FUNFESTS’ 15 face points x 3 (TWS) = 95 + the 50 point bonus.  Now that’s more like it.  I had no idea if FUNFEST was on the OWL, but it did not draw a challenge.  Turns out . . . it is acceptable.  YIPPEE-SKIPPEE as Gretchen Cowan would say.

I’m sure hoping my lucky streak continues at least over the weekend.  I’m heading out tomorrow morning for Las Vegas and this weekend’s WGPO scrabble™ tournament.  I’ll be playing in division #2. There will be 20 people in my division in which I’m ranked among the top five.  I’ve seen the list of players who I will be playing and there isn’t a single pushover in the crowd.  Several of my good friends are in my division too.  That adds some extra stress.  I always just hate losing to my friends, yet it isn’t a happy scene to beat them.

(Roy Dixon, Margie Gordon, Richard Frank, Lynn Gunn, Anita Berry, Miriam Green, Evelyn Davis, and Gretchen Cowan)

While reviewing high probability bingos on the OWL I came up with a new way to look at same old familiar data.  I’ve learned that sometimes when you look at things differently, just the change in perception is enough to stimulate one’s memory.  I frequently LIVE and DIE by the STEMS.  In the past I’ve put the Top 100 Stems on WHIZ CARDS (flash cards), on BOOKMARKS, on Electronic Flash Cards and on simple lists.  This week I created 100 booklets, each dedicated to a STEM.  Master the SATINE STEM and you’ll have 73 7-Letter-Long bingos in your arsenal.  If you are brave enough to take on the 6-to-8 SATINE STEM, you’ll have 262 8-Letter-Long bingos.  words like:
(AR) ARTESIAN;
(CM) SEMANTIC;
(CV) VESICANT;
(GN) ANTIGENS;
(KP) SNAKEPIT; and
(OR) SENORITA.

Hopefully I’ll see you from the winner’s circle.


OCTOBER 13, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
LUCK & LEARNING –PEOPLE DEVELOP THEIR OWN STYLE OF LEARNING; sometimes people have inborn abilities and styles.

This morning when I had A-E-G-L-N-O-T I SPIED ‘LONGATE’ I then thought of the word ‘ELONGATE” but there was not an open ‘E’ to be found.  After another minute of pondering, I found and played ‘TANGELO’.  At the end of the game, I studied the board looking for 8 letter words I had missed:

LONGATE + ‘C’ = OCTANGLE; + (I) = GELATION -or- Legation; + ‘P’ = GANTLOPE; + S = TANGELOS
  • There are many players who claim that they cannot remember a word if they don’t know its definition.  (I don’t believe that, BUT some do.)
  • There are players who arrange their racks alphabetically and train themselves to identify words from that configuration.
  • There are others who start out looking for words on their racks, I caution these players because I have witnessed many players see a word and then obsess on it, blinding themselves on the other possibilities.

Years ago while student teaching and again after becoming a classroom teacher as well as the Grade Level Chairman I had supervisors who righteously believed that there was only one correct way (when the reality is there may be numerous ways!). I felt like a square peg being forced into a smaller round hole.  I never fit and the squeezing hurt.

A few years later I founded a private school.  I abandoned the one-size-fits-all philosophy and adopted a do-whatever-works attitude.  Private schools tend to attract students from schools that may be failing them.  Some schools and teachers believe that if you fail a lesson that you should repeat the lesson until you GET IT.  (Similar to the many religious institutions that try to cure the genetic code that issues sex identity)

Have you ever met a person who is Dyslexic(1) or Dysgraphia(2)?  Today there are teaching and learning tools to assist these individuals.  Help for them came after  the educational systems accepted and understood that we all have human differences (i.e. learning differences).

My friend Rod Nivison is a Dyslexic scrabble™ player who has learned to overcome his uniqueness.  Rod plays in the top ranks.  My daughter Stacy is a gifted, Dyslexic artist responsible for teaching me that many gifted students are squashed in their schools by ignorant teachers with tunnel vision.  I’ve met a doctor who was once viewed by his teacher as retarded.  What would have happened to Helen Keller if there hadn’t been an Ann Sullivan?

  1.  Dyslexia is a learning disorder that involves difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words (decoding).
  2. Dysgraphia- the inability to write coherently, as a symptom of brain disease or damage.

And now you know what you may not have known!

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 12, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
The words on the OWL between four and nine letters long which end with ‘…ING’ number 6,625.  The number of those which take an ’S’ after ‘ING’ equal only 1,247.    (About 18.81%)

So what?  Let’s say that there is an ‘…ING’ word on the board and your opponent plays a word hooking an ’S’ onto it.  If you are not positive that the hook is acceptable, you’d have the odds in your favor to challenge the play.

Where can you find a list of all the words that conform to these two categories?  One free solution is to look up every word that ends with ‘ING’ and to the usage and it will generally tell you which extensions are legal.

OR –

You can obtain a copy of my Backward OWL in which all acceptable words are alphabetized from Right-to-Left.  All the ‘…INGS’ words will be found adjacently to one another.  Available for $40 + shipping at JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com

This morning while playing scrabble™ with a group of local friends, Nancy Douglas played ‘HUSTING’.  I didn’t know that word, so I challenged the play.  We learned something interesting.  ‘HUSTING’ is NOT ACCEPTABLE but the word ‘HUSTINGS’ IS ACCEPTABLE.  If you know of any other words that are similar, please send me an email and I will identify them.

I got away with at least one phony today.  I played ‘DOLAMITE’; how silly of me.  The correct spelling is D-O-L-O-M-I-T-E.  In a different game I tripped up my opponent by playing S-M-A-R-A-G-D-E.  I learned that word about 30 years ago from my late friend Frank Lee.  It is also good without the ‘E’ at the end.

Would you challenge B-I-B-L-I-S-T?  It was very appropriate with today being a Sunday.

Yesterday I was filing an order for a set of electronic flashcards.  The set that I was creating was for the STEM ’T-O-N-I-E-S’.  Electronic flashcards are PDF files dedicated to a given set of information.  There are 100 high probability STEM SETS, each with 26 cards (A – Z ).  If card #1 is TONIES + A, card #2 will show the answer/s = ATONIES.   Today I played ‘ONLIEST’ = TONIES + L which is also ‘ENTOILS’.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 11, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
It was a hot, humid day on July 23, 1967.  I was living on LaBelle in Oak Park, Michigan off Coolidge and 11 Mile Road.  Sunset occurred a little after 7PM that evening.  It seemed like all my neighbors were out on the street peering southwest into the sky.  There was a huge plume of smoke.  Detroit was on fire.
We all remember significant events that we experienced.  While I do remember the earthquake that happened around San Francisco in Loma Prieta in 1979 during the World Series, it was something I saw on TV and it didn’t hit me personally.  The same with Hurricane Rita.  But the riot in Detroit occurred about only 15 miles down the road.

I’ll share a secret that I’ve been holding onto all this time.  I was a struggling public school teacher.  My wife and I were hoping to start a family and I was trying to create an income stream to make our lives easier.  I was a risk taker.  Someone in my circle shared information with me about a great opportunity, a sure thing.  For a small investment of $2,000 I could receive 5 portable pizza ovens and $500 worth of frozen pizzas.  I would get an exclusive geographical area where I could place my ovens and sell pizza to bowling alleys, bars, and other establishments.  $2,000 was a fortune to me and I had about $100 in my savings account.  Risk-taker me snuck off to the bank and refinanced my 1964 Ford Falcon to raise the seed money (No, I never told my wife).

I placed 4 of the 5 ovens in late June and early July of 1967.   Yes, my exclusive area was right in the middle of the RIOT ZONE.  My ovens burned up in the fire.
I can truly empathize with the residents of south Florida, Puerto Rico, Ukraine and elsewhere.  I took extra tutoring jobs and took a summer job painting the bleachers at Oak Park High School to pay off my bank debt.  (My ovens were not insured!)

The worst thing I’ve done related to scrabble™ wrong, illegal, or unacceptable happened at a tournament in Gatlinburg, TN in March of 1989.  It was the first large tournament with more than 100 players.  I was 47 at the time and there many players in my division who reminded me of my grandma.  Many of the words that appeared on my rack were the naughtiest of the naughty.  I play them anyways. (Like any true scrabble player)

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 10, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE™ ADVICE
When playing scrabble™ do you ever think that you are plagued by the letter ‘I’?  It happens way too often for me.  As a club and tournament director I’ve spent a lot of time walking around the room while other players are competing at their games.  I’ve observed how players deal with racks when many of the same letters are staring back at them.
If the player is a novice, he/she tries to play them off one at a time, trying to avoid exchanging tiles and getting zero points for their turn.  The disadvantage faced by these novices is that they don’t know what they don’t know.  They don’t know that there are many words that require two or more of the letter ‘I’.
It pays to analyze your game by noting the situations that plague you.

When I was fumbling with the ‘I’ dilemma a mavin suggested that I would benefit by searching out words with more than one ‘I’ and the words that are heavy with vowels.  It sounded like a daunting task.  I admitted to myself that I would rather play scrabble than study word lists.  At first, I ignored the free advice.  But after a month or more of losing game after game at my local club I realized that ‘rack management’ is a very key part of winning.
I learned that I didn’t have to do all the research myself.  There already exists lists with the words I needed to know.  One such list was created years ago by Mike Baron.  It’s called the ‘CHEAT SHEET’.  I got ahold of that list and others and created flash cards with the words I wanted to recognize.  I carried these cards with me and reviewed them frequently when I was waiting in my doctor’s waiting room or at a car wash.  I took my cards out to breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Within a month or so I had mastered my flash cards and proudly played words like:
IWIS, PIKI, BIFID, RADII, FILARIID and IRIDIC.

You can do this too.  Too many vowels?
Do you know MIAOUED, SEQUOIA, ABOIDEAU?

Okay, don’t study word lists.  BUT don’t complain when you’re losing and just don’t see the bingo that’s right there on your rack.  For me it is fun to see those words, to play them whenever I can, and especially fun when my clueless opponent challenges my word.
Do you know USUFRUCT?
SVARAJ?
SENARII?
GJETOST?
OOLOGY?

P.S.  JFTSOI makes and sells sets of flashcards:   JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 8, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
Today I was reminded just why so many of the senior circuit are so grumpy all the time.  Their underwear is too tight.  Several parts of their anatomy don’t work as well as it did in the past -or- it doesn’t work at all.  Those same malfunctioning parts generate aches and pains, interrupt clear vision and hearing and most of the favorite tastes of yore, if eaten today, may lead to a diabetic coma or minimally diarrhea.  The Golden Years.
Several of these conditions, along with Alzheimer’s, are bigger challenges than any word played on the scrabble board.  Not too many years ago I remember how pleased I was with myself.  I had come to know that if I had a prolonged lifespan, I’d be able to ride it out at the scrabble table.  I even felt a bit sorry for my friends who spent their leisure time hiking, kayaking, and golfing.  I imagined they would find life more challenging without their activity of choice.

The only thing that I know is for certain in this life is that our lives are predicated upon CHANGE, ‘Jeopardy’, and ‘Wheel of Fortune’.  If you are like me, the sweetest things happened many years ago like gas at $ .17 per gallon; the taste of a Dairy Queen on the first day of Spring; the sound of jazz at The Purple Onion; the 1968 Detroit Tigers;  canoeing the canals on Belle Isle;  the first time you glimpsed over the edge, into the depths of The Grande Canon.
While a lot of the music of the 50’s and 60’s was loud one could still hear and easily understand the lyrics.  There were many crooners and lounge singers who would lull you into a dreamy mood.  Today’s shock and awe rap genre leaves me cold and annoyed with its noise.  But that’s about the same kind of thinking that my parents had about Rock ’n Roll.
Oh, for a telephone I could simply pick up and say Hello without pushing a button or swiping a screen.  Do you swipe your screen UP or DOWN?  Do you hate text messages as much as I do?  If you have something to say to me . . . JUST SAY IT.  Can you explain why so many of the movies and TV series revolve around murder, other crimes, and digital mayhem?  Give me a classic rerun of ‘Masterpiece Theater’, ‘Soupy Sales’, or ‘Leave It to Beaver’.

Why does it seem that so many politicians and celebrities are crooks?  It was probably the same BACK THEN but there wasn’t an internet and 500 channels to shine a spotlight as big and bright as today.  Could you be proud to be friends with Karen Bass, Herschel Walker, or Donald Trump.  What ever happened to the notion of SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE?  Was that simply some phony mask to make us feel superior?  What is so wonderful about the church which allowed priests to diddle children for years; does it still happen today?  After the exposure of the Holocaust and the righteous leading the chant “NEVER AGAIN”, why have other acts of genocide been tolerated like Rwanda, Ukraine and indigenous women in Alaska?

Scrabble™ changes too.  Be on the alert to new words being added to the OWL soon.  Know that to be a kinder more empathetic organization, NASPA removed words that are racial slurs (YID, ABO & SKIMO) from the OWL. At the same time WGPO did not remove the slurs from its lexicon.  They believe that a word is only a word:  STICKS AND STONES MAY BREAK MY BONES BUT WORDS CAN NEVER HURT ME.  Did you know that you must be vaccinated to play in a WGPO scrabble tournament BUT they’ll never shoot you if your hijab is not fitted properly.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 7, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
I’m always advising other scrabble players to learn the rules, know the rules, use the rules to seize every advantage.   And then what do I do?  I screwed up and should have lost a game at the end . . . but my opponent didn’t know the rule either.

Here’s the rest of the story:
  I was playing an opponent who has a lower rating than mine.  My first mistake was to underestimate him.  While I got off to a good start and took the early lead, what happens so often is that the tiles change.  After mid-game I picked up rack after rack with 5 or 6 vowels.  My opponent’s got bigger and bigger.  My lead withered and my opponent rebounded past me.
When we got to the end game, we each had 7 tiles, and my opponent played off 3 letter he now led by 30 points.  My rack was E-E-I-N-R-S-Y, there wasn’t a bingo line open on the board.  I had plenty of time left on my clock, so time was not a factor.  I spent 2+ minutes just staring at the board hoping to see something.  I had not tracked but I knew I had to score more than 30 points to have any chance to win.
The word ‘MAT’ was on the board at H7 to H9.  Sometimes a little knowledge in your sub-memory pops up under pressure.  I knew that there is a legal word on the OWL which is ‘SHOWGOER’.  That prompted my thinking and led me to extend MAT by adding INEERS = MATINEERS.
It went to the TWS.
I earned me 36 points and left me with a ‘Y’.
My opponent called HOLD and gave out a long sigh.  (It was a sigh of defeat.)  He was gaging whether he should challenge my play or try to play out.  He had about 2 minutes left on his clock, and it was ticking away as he thought away.  After a minute he released me from the HOLD and looked for his play.  If he played out, he would win.
He did not have an out play.  It turns out his letters were A-G-I-V.  while both ‘VIGA’ and ‘VAGI’ are good words they didn’t play on the board.  He played ‘V-I’ in front of an ’N’ for 6 points.  I had a place to play my ‘Y’ and went out.

It turns out that ‘MATINEERS’ is a phony.
The following day while recounting the story with Paul Rickhoff he pointed out a rule that I never knew or had forgotten.  When the tile bag is empty there is no limit for a hold.  That means that when my opponent realized he couldn’t go out . . . he could have still called challenge.  Had he done that my phone would have been cancelled and he could have played out in two turns and won the game.

Who knew?  Paul knew.  Now you know and so do I.  It is very likely to come up again over time.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 4, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE™ ADVICE
What determines what words you see on your tile rack?  What percent of the 170,000+ words on the OWL (Official Word List) does your memory hold?  How adept are you to recall the data in your memory accurately?
As you can probably guess the percentages vary from person to person.  We all learn and remember at our own pace.  Our interests influence our memories.  The two-percenters (or fewer) are the ones who devote greater portions of their awake time looking at words differently.  They are the nerds and mavins who pursue the goal of remembering as many words as possible in the hope of winning game after game at the scrabble board.  For these people there is no greater thrill than looking at their tile rack and seeing endless possibilities of words made up from their seven tiles.  One of the most amazing experiences after years of reading the dictionary is to have some obscure words jump out at you off your rack; something you didn’t know you knew.

It all begins when you begin to understand that there are many sets of words that contain repetitive patterns. Think of the words that begin with ‘OUT’:
OUTCRY; OUTSPED; OUTPACE; OUTDRAW; OUTTALK; OUTRANK.

Think of the many words that begin with home: HOMERED; 
HOMEBOY and on and on and on.

Now consider what happens when you overload your memory with the thousands of words you’ve glimpsed at and sort of think you know more than you know.  Many times, there is an underlying confusion that convinces you that phony (unacceptable) words are real words on the OWL.
Some players will not permit themselves to play any word unless they are 100% certain that the word is acceptable.  Then there are players like me who frequently believe that some word is acceptable when it is actual phony.

Maybe you call it wishful thinking, but I call it ‘reaching for the stars’.  I’ve gained the infamous reputation of being a phony king.  Now I will refrain from playing something absurd like ‘QRSTA’ but I will do my best to use my tiles to play ‘QAJAQ’ or ‘XYSTI’ so when you lose those challenges you’ll be leery of my plays and challenge me less in the future.

But that’s not fair, you’re thinking.  It is the job of each player to know the words that are real and the words that are phony.  And you do have a remedy to keep me honest.  You can challenge me on any word I play.
Earlier today while playing a very good player I had A-H-M-O-R-S-T.
For whatever reason I saw ‘HOMESTAR’ through an ‘E’ on the board.  I played it.  It was on a double/double and scored 92 points.  My opponent didn’t flinch; I expected a challenge.  He never challenged the play.  After the game ended we; looked up ‘HOMESTAR’ and learned it was a phony.  At the same time, we looked to see if there was an acceptable word I could have played with those same tiles.  Before this I would have never seen ‘TERAOHMS’.  But I learned that because of my phony and hopefully I’ll remember it if it should come up again.

A lot of what we know is a result of making errors and learning from our mistakes.  I love this game and how it pushes me to THINK.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 3, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE™ ADVICE
It happens so fast it comes out organically.

There’s pressure and there’s instant pressure.
Build skills with passive practice.

For me, the worst party of playing kitchen-table-scrabble™ is the waiting for my opponent to complete their turn.  In club scrabble™ we use timing devices.  In the old days we used sand-timers.  Now we use chess clocks (digital clocks are preferred over analog clocks).   Clocks create an urgency to make your play and they clearly define when a turn ends.  If you go overtime, you receive a penalty.

If you develop the ability to play faster than the average bear (without getting sloppy) you’ll give yourself an advantage over your opponents.  How does one develop speed skills?  Remember the 3 P’s: PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE. It’s a whole other dimension of the game.  You have to be alert and feel time passing like the ticking of seconds off your clock.

While your opponent is taking their turns think ahead to your next play and be ready to pounce.  Sometimes your opponents’ play will influence your next play.  Statistically the average turn takes 90 seconds; your goal should be to reduce your average turn to under 45 seconds.  Play solitaire scrabble using a clock and record your TPT (time per turn).

The most pressure that players experience is at the end of the game.  If you’ve used less time throughout the game you’ll have more time still on your clock at that crucial period.  Use time purposefully and thoughtfully.
You don’t have to be sitting at a desk with a dictionary in order to study.  Here are a few 30 Second Think-Sprints:

#1 While driving about town doing your errands pick out a street sign or a word on a billboard.  In the next 30 seconds find an anagram of that word or a word within that word (sub-anagram).
Ex:  AVENUE  >  venue;  uvea;  vane;  eau 
McDONALD’S >  almonds;  salmon;  comas
HOSPITAL  >  topsail;  polish;  spoilt;  potash

#2 While sitting with your dictionary, open to a random page (370).  Focus on a single word on that page (FURZY).  Do you know that word?  You know it now.

#3 Most phones have a setting for a time clock.  If yours doesn’t, go to the APP Store and obtain one.  Set your timer for 45 seconds.  Play endless games of your board.  Put 7 tiles on your rack and hit your timer.  Have a pen and paper on your table and write a list of all the words you see on your rack (IN 45 SECS.)

Every now and then put your rack into an anagrammed and compare your list to the anagrammed.

Now don’t just sit there.
DO SOMETHING and do it quickly.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 2, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
The deeper you go the better it gets.
Only you can let in the light.
Beware of the possibility of serious side effects.

My introduction to Club and Tournament Scrabble quite by accident in the winter of 1987.  I was a divorced-hetero-male looking to meet a female.  It was before computer introductions and dating was the rage.  Most in my situation met others at church socials or community dances or at a bar.  None of the above interested me.  One afternoon while glancing through a local newspaper an announcement caught my eye.  It was in the singles section and suggested that was a scrabble event on a Saturday morning the following weekend.
I thought that would be fun and different.  I planned to attend.  It turned out that the event was scheduled on Valentine’s Day., February 14.  At the time I was living in Union Lake, Michigan where February 14 was usually the coldest and snowiest time of the year.  The night before the event there was a blizzard and by morning more than six inches of snow had fallen.  The event was at The Presidential Inn in Allen Park, more than 30 miles from my home.  I left extra early so I wouldn’t be late.  It took almost two hours to make the trek.

Once there I was greeted warmly by the event planners.  They asked me all about myself and my scrabble™ connections.  I was ushered into a meeting room where many people were seated at card tables.  Many were already busily playing scrabble one-on-one. At first glance I was not impressed by the crowd.  I looked around hoping to spy an interesting looking lady. Most of the ladies looked to be older than me and very Bohemian.  I pulled the director aside and shared my observation.  He looked startled and then laughed.  He explained that the newspaper had wrongly placed the announcement into the Singles Section.  This group of scrabble™ players were the cream of the crop of Michigan players who were vying for spots to represent Michigan at the summer National Scrabble™ Tournament in New York City.
He apologized for the error but encouraged me to stay and play.  After walking around the room and peering over shoulders at the games in play I began to wonder which languages they were using.  When I ask the director, he laughed again.  He handed me a copy of the OWL.   That was when I was first aware that I didn’t know what I did not know.

Everyone wanted to win me over and teach me their favorite weird words.  On that first day I learned CWM, CRWTH, and OUISTITI.  I was introduced to the director of the club from Livonia, MI.  That was the closest weekly club to my home.  I was invited to join the group on Tuesday evenings.  And that’s how I was initiated on February 14, 1987.

One of the biggest obstacles was to not get discouraged.  One good piece of advice was to think of every word I learned as a victory and to track my personal accomplishments.  Going months without winning a single game was painful but a normal part of the process.  When I finally won, I was so pleased with myself.
The deeper you go the better it gets.
Only you can let in the light.
Beware of the possibility of serious side effects.

A wise scrabble champion shared that the more you know the luckier you become. There is no magic pill only results in direct proportion to your hard work and persistence.
The serious side effects alluded to becoming so hooked on scrabble™ and the lexicon that you begin to dream about words and become a full blown addict.

Scrabble™ is a trademark

OCTOBER 1, 2022
MARGINAL SCRABBLE ADVICE
When you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life.
I’ve been lucky that way.  I started working at age 7 when I was a cub scout.  My friend Arnie owned a jigsaw and at cub scouts we learned how to design knick-knacks. Together we designed wooden chachkas, built and painted them and peddled them door-to-door in our neighborhood.

My other jobs included: paperboy,  raking leaves in fall and shoveling snow each winter;  coat-check attendant;  photographer’s assistant;  hopper on a milk delivery truck;  salesman in a department store; stock boy in a drug store;  game room attendant;  youth group adviser;  tutor;  public school teacher; private school headmaster; entrepreneur; motivational speaker and seminar leader;  scrabble™ director;  tournament director;  census worker;  imaginer;  dealing machine operator; and private chauffeur.
I more than likely forgot a few gigs.  The only times I’ve felt stressed about work were periods when I was dependent upon earning money doing structured jobs in which I could not use my creativity.  I’m an outside the box kind of guy and I often feel that I have a better way of doing the job than my supervisors.

I attribute my success in the scrabble™ community to my ability to watch and puck up clues from champions and interpret the lessons I’ve learned into language that is easily understood by the common folks.  I love sharing the secrets that can turn kitchen table players into mavins. It’s not a difficult thing to do when you have an eager student.
I didn’t set many records as a student.  While I was an all A & B student through the 8th Grade, if you had seen my report cards from 9th Grade thru 12th you’d predict that I was a total loser.  I barely graduated high school, but one oddity was I had one A in 11th Grade in an elective class called LEADERSHIP.  At the same time, I was flunking all my classes in public school I was president in a synagogue youth group and president of a 5 state region with hundreds of teenagers in the mix.
Going to college was expected of me by my parents.  With zero ambition for the system and the task I begrudgingly attended a junior college and then flunked out.  Meanwhile I continued working several part time jobs including a job as youth director in the synagogue.  I was treading life.

The catalyst that changed my worldview was LOVE.  The girl in my life required her life partner to have a revenue source from a respectable profession and steered me into becoming a teacher.  The question was:  How does a guy who flunked out of Junior College have the chutzpah to pursue a license to teach?
It wasn’t easy.  I applied to a private college where I could attend if I paid the expensive tuition.  I had to work two and sometimes three part time jobs to pay my tuition.  But voila, all of a sudden, I was earning all A’s and after two years my four-point average made me eligible to transfer to Wayne State University and its College of Education.  99% of my college experience was fun and I had some inspiring professors that made college great.

The last two semesters required that I take a student teacher assignment to earn my certificate.  I was excited and was looking forward until I met the classroom teacher who would be my supervisor.  She represented and practiced everything I hated about the school environment.  She was a cookie-cutter educator who believed that her way was the only way; students rarely smiled in her classroom.  I knew I was doomed from the first day when I shook her cold, clammy, boney hand.  Everything I did was wrong and unacceptable in her judgement.  At the end of the semester, she gave me an E.  I flunked student teaching 101.
I was downhearted when I walked into my advisor’s office and told her my disaster story.  She wouldn’t even allow me to think about giving up.  She had thought long and hard about her plan for me.  It taught me some valuable life lessons about people and how to deal with hard times.  My next assignment was to student teach in the classroom of Mr. Nate Fine.  He was a Merlin, he was like an orchestra leader, he made kids want to come to school and stay late.  Mr. Fine was always smiling and made you feel good about yourself.  Mr. Fine liked my ideas and invited me to experiment with teaching techniques.  I was full of renewed hope and enthusiasm once more, I was the same person who’d just flunked last semester but this time I earned an A.

We’re all different.  We’re all made from different cookie cutters.  We all like different things.  We all learn in different ways.  We each have qualities that make us unique.
The good, bad, and ugly I experienced while student teaching was an amazing AHA for me and gave me skills to navigate the good, bad, and ugly of life.


Scrabble™ is a trademark