Blogs May 2020 to Aug 2020

MONDAY 5/25/2020


It’s Memorial Day and the beginning of summer. The whole country is trying to open up with their fingers crossed. If things go well we’ll soon be playing scrabble again with friends and at clubs. I really miss all my scrabble buddies.

Some days are Smaragdes while other days are Stones. Expect every day to be a GREAT DAY and take actions which will increase the number of positive scrabble days in your column.

The more you know, the luckier you become.

There’s a silver lining in every STEM you master.

In scrabble circles HOOKER hold a definite advantage.


Fast THINKERS use TIME more efficiently, pressuring their opponents.

Using the HOT SPOTS will make your score SIZZLE.

8 Simple Strategies Used By Winner:
Have your own custom SCORESHEET and TRACKING SYSTEM.
Use the bathroom before beginning each game.
Sit TALL in your chair to intimidate your opponent. Sit upon a pillow.
Catch your opponent doing something wrong. Call the director.
Have 10 unusual words in your arsenal and play them.
Verify each score. Catch your opponent miscounting.
Learn to TRACK accurately. Use that to take the best advantage.
HOOK as often as possible.




If you’re not already on the hook, you could be. Scrabble™ players who are ‘HOOKED’ win 26.58% more games than their opponents. To become one of the hooked, all you need to do is make a pledge and follow through to seek out and learn one or more hooks every day.
Where do you begin, you ask? There are both ‘FRONT-HOOKS,’ and there are ‘END-HOOKS.’ There are A-HOOKS through Z-HOOKS. You can start with any letter. May I encourage you to place every word you choose onto a flashcard. EX: The word ‘PLENTY’ takes a front ‘A’ hook. On the front side of your flashcard, print E-L-N-P-T-Y + A; on the back print ‘APLENTY.’
If you want to create more than one flashcard per day, do no more than 5. Don’t burn out. Review your pack of cards at least three times every day, morning, noon, and evening. If and when you have the opportunity to play the word in a game, do so.
A HOOK is a single letter which, when added to the front or end of a legal Scrabble™ word, creates another acceptable word.
How do you find words with front hooks? Search the OSPD6 or the OWL one word at a time and think . . If I take off the first letter, do I still have a legal word?

  • BHANG = B + HANG

How do you find words with back hooks? Search for hooks other than ’S’.

  • TORII = TORI + I
  • ZOEAE = ZOEA + E
  • QUAIL = QUAI + L

You will come across many hooks that are new to you. Those words will likely be unknown to your opponents and possibly draw a challenge if you see words that are a surprise to you. Those are the words you will surely want to learn.

  • SHERO = S + HERO
  • HOWFF = HOWF + F
  • DHOW = D + HOW

When playing and you have ‘SHERO’ on your rack, think ahead. Just play ‘HERO’ on this turn and hope to play some other word with your hooking ’S’ on the next turn.

Developing that strategy will earn you many more points and cause others to fear your superior knowledge.


One of the last things that I did before social distancing was to play scrabble™ at the Escondido Scrabble™-Thon fundraising event to support the Literacy Project at The Escondido Library. That was on Saturday, March 7. Who knew what was to come ten days later?
It was a glorious, scrabble day. Four other players from Orange County joined me in the trek to Escondido. We carpooled from OC and had to leave by 7:15 AM to make the 9 AM start time.
I’ve been enlisting the group from OC every year for more than a decade. Before this year, teams were encouraged to compete. My OC team took 1st Place every year we entered. The members of the teams changed each year according to availability. In addition to myself, players included: Gretchen Cowan; Margie Gordon; Lynn Gunn; Bill Lapinski; Yukiko Loritz; Maliha Mahmood; Amnon Meyers; Gwen Rea; Fern Trausch.
The last meeting of Scrabble Club #350, before the world changed occurred on Wednesday evening, March 11.
Finally, some of the activities at LWV are reopening: Golf courses Driving Ranges and Tennis Courts. Everything else is still on hold.
I’m coping with the crisis by continuing to use some of my home-time to work on pieces of the game. Right now, I’m working with HOOKS again. There is enough data about HOOKS to engage anyone for weeks to months. I rotate my study items at least every three days, so I don’t lose interest or burnout. I suggest that you do the same. Keep a diary or log of the things you are studying, which will empower you when you see how much you’ve accomplished.
Join me in prepping yourself for our return to scrabble play. Today let’s do it by finding the SUB-ANAGRAMS in the word ‘UNMEWS.’ A sub-anagram is any word of any length made up of letters in the word, like ‘MEW’ or ‘SUN.’
Set a time for 15 minutes, write out your list on a paper, then check your answers against mine, which you’ll find on this web site by clicking on the link in the left column. Click on PUZZLE ANSWERS.

If you find a word that I missed, notify me with an email.
( )
Have Fun.



So here you are, social distancing for the last 60 days, reading, watching too much TV, eating too many snacks and bored out of your mind.  I’ve been breaking up the boredom in my world by working sudoku puzzles, reading the OSPD6, writing a daily blog on my scrabble web site, and creating learning exercises to amuse myself and challenge folks like you.
One of my favorite puzzles is one I named ‘What A Difference An A Makes.’ The idea of this exercise is to provide a set of letters plus a given single letter. The object is to out the word that results from the set + 1. (Ex: A-E-I-N-S-T + E)

The answer being ‘ETESIAN.’

After developing the idea, I usually go ahead and create a puzzle booklet of 70+ exercises and make the booklets available for sale. Then I often create another ten or more booklets with the same theme.
Number two on my list of all-time favorites are JUMBLES in booklets related to themes. Some of the categories include Animals; Apparel, and Monetary Units.
Ex: E-G-I-N-N-P-U; A-C-E-O-O-R-T-V; G-L-M-N-R-T-U-U


There’s rarely a dull moment at my house. The bigger problem is turning off my brain when nighttime arrives, and I know I should be heading to bed. I can’t always turn off my mind. My body knows it needs sleep, but my brain doesn’t always cooperate. I head to bed, close my eyes, find a comfortable position, and then I start thinking; my brain is working overtime. That’s when I get an excellent idea for a new kind of exercise. That’s when I think of a word and try to spell it in my head. I can’t always satisfy my curiosity and want to look it up right NOW.
That’s when I slide out of bed and head back to the computer. Here I try to capture all those things that popped up when I shut my eyes. If I can clearly recall some of those ideas, I become hooked to complete the process. At times this holds me at the computer until the wee hours of the morning.
Do you ever lose sleep thinking about FRONT-HOOKS and BACK-HOOKS? I do.
Front Hook for ‘BOON’ is A+BOON; then Front Hook to ‘ABOON,’ which is B+ABOON = ‘BABOON.’ How about front hooks to ‘AWFUL,’ ‘BASHED,’ and “CLEPT.’ What about back hooks fo ‘GWEDUC’; ‘CINQ,’ and ‘QUIP.’


I don’t know when I’d ever have enough time to do all this without


Call Your Doctor If You Have Suicidal Thoughts
It’s only a game. Don’t get carried away. But I understand your upsets when you draw those ugly racks Heavy With Vowels or Heavy With Consonants.
Another thing that I’ve experienced that can push one over the edge is being in a 15 game/2-day tournament with ‘everything’ going my way on Day #1, winning the first 7 games. Then on Day #2 the tile gods have their fun with me by providing me with rack after rack of JUNK. (And me NOT finishing in the money.)
I often remind myself that there is a 30% luck factor in the game, so if you’re GOOD, achieving an average of 70% or better it is like a baseball batter hitting for an average over .350.

But when any disappointment happens to YOU, it smarts.

  • I’ve seen grown people cry at tournaments.
  • I’ve witnessed players just get up, walk out, and not return to finish the tournament.
  • I’ve seen players become so frustrated and angry that they’ve tossed their board with all the tiles up into the air.
  • I’ve seen some people who had the need to WIN so bad that they cheated, got caught, and were ejected on the spot.

Have you ever experienced a MELTDOWN? I never thought it could happen to me. Never over a game. Never caused by scrabble™. So I saved my hard-earned money to attend a 33-Game National Scrabble™ Tournament. I used vacation time at work, I paid the entry fee, I bought a plane ticket, I booked the hotel for 5 nights, I put aside enough money to cover meals and entertainment. At this point I was investing about $1,500. I spent a whole lot of extra time studying for two full months before the event. All my friends and family (who think I am the greatest) sent me well wishes. And then I was finally off.
The tile gods had it in for me. I totally embarrassed myself. After losing six of the first 7 games on Day#1 I knew it could only become better. You know . . . that 30%. There was a Devil in my tile bag. I only won 5 of the 33 games over 5 days.
After that beating I starting singing that song. The one that goes “pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and start all over again.” What else can one do other than the suicide route? But I’m living proof that ‘THIS TOO SHALL PASS’.




  • “I can’t play scrabble™; I’m dyslexic.”
  • “I can’t play scrabble™; I’m a terrible speller.”
  • “I can’t play scrabble™; I’m too old.”
    • What’s your excuse?
    • When you say YOU CAN’T, guess what?
    • YOU CAN’T.

You have the power to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. How many times in your life have you stopped yourself from doing something by making a declaration that “I CAN’T DO THAT!”?

Do you know that YOU CAN do anything you choose?
My friend Rodney Nivison is a scrabble™ EXPERT, and Rodney has dyslexia.
There is a very successful public speaker named Les Brown whose public school teachers pigeonholed him as retarded, and then he rose to become the man that he wanted to be.  Some world-class sprinters race without legs. (And you say I CAN’T?)
It frequently depends on desire and attitude. Any of us may shy away from doing things where we have a history of lacking success. It is much more fun to do something when we can have success and receive accolades.

So, if you don’t want to take on scrabble™, that’s fine, but it’s not because you’re a poor speller. That can be changed.

In the early 1990s, I was working as a personal trainer. One of my clients, Lisa, was an okay saleswoman working in the auto industry. She had been working at her job and had been mildly successful for more than three years. Her largest sale to date had been $75,000, while many of her competitors had sales dwarfing her results. Together we designed a 21-day program for her called, YES I CAN. The plan included doing many of the same actions she had done in the past. However, we focused on ‘INTENTION.’ During the 21 days, she did a lot of assigned reading and self-analysis of her daily TO-DO-LIST. We talked every day during the program, and she was accountable to herself and me. She was 100% true to her mission.
On Day #18, my phone rang. It was Lisa. She was Jubilant. She had just closed a deal for $450,000. We spent the better part of an hour debriefing. It was clear to me that she had accomplished her goal due to the things she had done. I was a proud mentor.


After Beginning Scrabble™ 101

  • ON DAY #1 after beginning scrabble™ 101, you will start the journey to MASTER all 107 of the 2-Letter-Words that are deemed acceptable. These are not abbreviations. Each of these words has a definition found in the OSPD6 (Official Scrabble™ Players’ Dictionary, 6th Edition). Anything not on the OSPD6 or OWL is not acceptable. MASTERING is much more than learning. MASTERING is creating an autonomic response, knowing without thinking or any hesitation.
  • ON DAY #2, after beginning scrabble™ 101, you will learn that you may have one or more BAD SCRABBLE™ HABITS. It behooves you to lose your bad habits ASAP, but that’s much harder said than done. You’ll find that you need to develop skills that require practice and repetition. You’ll learn that you’ll be most effective when you chart your progress.
    You’ll be tempted to think you can use shortcuts by side-stepping some of my suggestions and doing things your way.
    You’ll learn that by initially doing things, your way will diminish your experience and only lead to more bad habits.
  • ON DAY #3, after beginning scrabble™ 101, you’ll be looking at HOOKS to the 2s. You will appreciate the value of the 2s for placing words from your rack onto the board. Knowing MOST OF THE 2s is not good enough. You must MASTER every one of them.
  • ON DAY #4 after beginning scrabble™ 101, you’ll learn which of the 2-Letter Words can create high scores, using the HOT SPOTS. You’ll be prompted to see the board so that you’ll rarely miss a higher scoring opportunity in future games.
    One common error made by ‘novice’ players is that they frequently miss opportunities that are hiding in plain sight. My students learn systems enabling them to quiet their anxiety during a competition, seeing the board methodically, and making their best plays.
  • ON DAYS #5 thru #30 after beginning scrabble™ 101, my students will continue learning every piece of the game from TRACKING to HOOKS to STEMS to ANAGRAMS and more. Students are challenged with exercises that will create a series of ‘AHAs.’ You will see many things you may have already known but with a deeper, clearer understanding and appreciation.


NO! But you will possess all 30 pieces, and you will master all of them over time as you apply SPACED-REPETITION to them at your own pace.
You will become a much better and knowledgeable player after Scrabble™ 101.
Call me today, and you can begin tomorrow. (949) 510-1673.

The producers and sellers of the game scrabble™, tell us that one out of every ten households in the United States owns a scrabble™ set. With that said, it becomes easy to predict that the overwhelming majority of people who play scrabble™ are casual, kitchen table, players.
While the majority of players are amateurs, there is usually one person in the family or one who rises to the top of the pile, becoming the K-O-T-H (King of the Hill) Q-O-T-H (Queen of the Hill) in every group. That person sometimes seeks out the better competition and wanders into the lair of CLUB PLAYERS. Club players are very competitive compared to the average street player.
Club play is a whole different game.
Most casual players who find themselves in the lair of club players are shocked by the word knowledge and expertise of the seemingly old blue-hairs and young kids who bingo, bingo, bingo on almost every other turn. The more significant majority of these newbies rarely return a second time. They rarely take or make the time to learn the basics of what club players are doing to account for playing that well.
Believe It Or Not . . . you can become a formidable opponent, and respected scrabble™ club player too . . . if you so choose. It will not take you a lifetime to develop the skills and vocabulary needed to move up in the ranks.
To be precise, YOU have to change the way you play the game. Forget how you’ve been playing, lose the bad habits held by most casual players, and learn The Basics of club and tournament play. You can do it on your own, or you can get a fast start at ‘SCRABBLE™ 101’ Contact:
You can get an overview of The Basics in 30 Days, and I promise that if you play for 30 more years, you’ll still be learning things and refining your game skills. There are 175,000+ words on the Official Word List. You most likely already know 5% or 8,750+ words on the list. The rest will be up to you.
Playing at the Club level is a game-changer and great fun for people who love learning, love learning new words, and enjoy the competition.

Check out the Word Of The Day by clicking on the left column.

Most things don’t happen all at once. That’s why there is TIME; it provides space between the drips. We can see its effects everywhere in nature. Some of the most dramatic examples are the Arches in our national parks, the Grand Canyon, and the majestic Red Woods.
Our personal knowledge, ascending to speed, takes time and experiences, which allow us to flourish (some faster and greater than others).
I’ve been dripping for more than 30 years, hoping to create stalagmite of scrabble™ knowledge. I consciously worked at being a Johnny Appleseed with scrabble™ words on Whiz Cards. I have been planting acceptable words across vast expanses of the US and Canada and on the internet.
It is clear to me that we can all become excellent scrabble aficionados using the drip, drip, drip method, and spaced-repetition.

  • See the Word.
  • Say the Word.
  • Write the Word.
  • Put the Word on a flashcard.
  • Place the tiles forming the Word onto your scrabble board.
  • Create the Word with alphabet cookies; eat the Word.
  • Write the Word in the sand with your finger.
  • Paint the Word with water-colors.
  • Share the Word with others.
  • Play the Word during a game of scrabble™.
    Repeat often.
  • MASTER all 107 2-Letter-Words
  • LEARN all 1,082 3-Letter-Words
  • REVIEW all 4,218 4-Letter-Words
  • REMEMBER ! ! You do not have to do this all in one day, one week, or one month.

Drip, drip, drip your way to success like the Tortoise;
Slow and Steady Wins.

(Start with your Big Toe and proceed to the smallest toe.)
This Little Piggy went to the Farmer’s Market on Melrose in LA, where Scrabble™ Club #350 was hosting a special event at 7 PM to honor the memory of all those dear friends who played the game and remain unforgotten.
This Little Piggy stayed home. But he began feeling guilty as the time got closer to the start time of the event. By 5 PM, the guilt was unbearable, so he headed out, arriving at 6:45 PM with just enough time to sign in and be assigned an opponent. He scurried to his appointed board and played ‘BEEF’ at F8 – I8.
This Little Piggy played ‘ROASTBEEF’. ‘BEEF’ was already on the board at (F8-I8). So, when this Little Piggy added ‘ROAST’ to ‘BEEF’ as a front extension, it scored 42pts.
Reacting immediately, the other Little Piggy was outraged by this little Piggy’s CHUTZPA and CHALLENGED the play (even though he wasn’t entirely confident that it was a Phony).
Their pigs’ feet clattered on the floorboards as they made their way to the adjudication computer at the far of the room. The other Little Piggy let out the loudest OINK when the computer registered NOT ACCEPTABLE. This Little Piggy withdrew his play and took a ‘0’ (ZERO) for that turn.
That Little Piggy played ‘NONE’ (horizontally above ‘BEEF’ with the first ’N’ over the second ‘E’ at H7 and the ‘O’ over the ‘F’ at I7) for 13 points.
Then this Little Piggy cried wee, wee, wee, wee, wee (just like that Piggy in the Geico™ commercial). And the game continued until its conclusion. This Little Piggy won the game with a + spread of 56 points.
That Little Piggy complained that this Little Piggy had hogged all the good tiles. But the tiles go to the players randomly as they draw them blindly out of the tile bag. This Little Piggy grunted, saying that Little Piggy was pig-headed and a poor loser. The director called for cooler heads and demanded that they makeup and shake hooves. The pigs complied, and they all adjourned to the kitchen where they all pigged out.

When we finally caught up with her and asked her why she had no recollection of crossing the road at that time in that place.
The place, however, was at a crosswalk, and it was less than a half-block from her local scrabble™ club meeting site, and she was running late.
The newbie was a thirty-something woman, originally from Atlanta. Her big claim-to-fame was having once beaten Cynthia Seales at the Atlanta club. After further investigation and probing, we uncovered that she was lost in her mind, reviewing all the 2s while walking to the club session. She was sporting a scrabble T-Shirt with an array of all the 2-Letter-Words and was anxious to appear in it at club. While some people are challenged to walk and chew gum at the same time . . . motivated scrabble players are great at multi-tasking as long as one of the activities revolves around words.
Some of the multi-task pursuits of scrabble players can be downright dangerous. Consider Jason from the club in Albany. He likes to attempt to anagram or sub-anagram street-signs while driving around town. As a result, he has had two minor fender-benders and received a few tickets for illegal right turn on Red, rolling through a STOP sign, and parking too far from the curb. At other times Jason puts on his JFTSOI scrabble cap and sits in a prominent location in a city park, making sub-anagram lists from words on the surrounding billboards. He loves interacting with passers-by who frequently stop when they notice his cap that says ‘PLAY MORE SCRABBLE.’ People love it.
While riding her bike, Carol from a club in Detroit, Michigan, almost hit a pedestrian when she became extremely excited after seeing ‘DOTTIER’ in her mind’s eye. Seeing the older man at the last instant, she sacrificed herself and steered her bike into a lilac bush. OUCH!
Then there was Don, en route from Orange County to Rancho Cucamonga, CA. He left O.C just afternoon. Traffic was relatively light and flowing at about 70mph. Don was sorta daydreaming and thinking about the sub-anagrams in ‘Rancho Cucamonga.’ He lost all sense of time with his mind productively finding words like ‘coachman’ ‘curacao’ and ‘gunroom.’ He was so enjoying himself until he had to use a bathroom, shook himself to being back in the moment, and discovered that he was almost to Las Vegas at the CA./NV. Border. Don pulled into Whiskey Pete’s Casino, used the facilities, played an entire shoe at a Black Jack table (Winning $35) then turned around for the long ride home.
Being a NEWBIE is a dangerous place in life. There is still so much to learn and an urgency to try to learn it ALL ASAP. But that is an impossible task. Even after 30 years in the ranks, I still find myself learning things almost every time I play the game. There’s always a new HOOK, a new WORD, or another ANAGRAM I never noticed before. The more we learn, the more obvious it becomes that there is still even more that we don’t know. No matter how long we play, there will always be a bit of a Newbie that will live on within each of us.


(not necessarily in that order)
Consograms are a system for remembering words based upon the consonants in the words. (Usually revolving around 3 consonants)

  • 5-Letter-Words with CDD
  • 5-Letter-Words with CDF
  • 5-Letter-Words with CDG
  • 7-Letter-Words with DFG = 49 words ie.
  • 7-Letter-Words with JKL = 10 words ie.
  • 7-Letter-Words with MMN =79 words ie.

Alphagrams are the way you can set up your tile rack alphabetically and then use that arrangement as your learning system. This has been adopted by many of the top scrabble players across time.


Anagrams words in words providing scrabble players multiple options for using specific sets of letters. The majority of time searching for anagrams is within 7 & 8 letter words because they lend themselves to creating BINGOS and earning bonus-bingo-points (+50).


These are some of the amazing things that I learned and rely on whenever I play scrabble™. You Can Too.


Once upon a time, there were 3 Little Pigs, Pokey, Porky, and Pennelopy who grew up in a happy home with caring, and hard-working parents. A time came when the piglets grew to the stage in their lives where they played games learning many life lessons.   So when Christmas was nearing, mama sow went shopping on Black Friday and bought each piglet his or her own Deluxe Scrabble™ Set, hoping the gifts would open their worlds to words and more. In the weeks between Black Friday and Christmas, mama sow gathered her litter around the kitchen table after dinner and taught her piglets how Scrabble™ was played. They all became excited, hoping to prove to the world that pigs are the smartest members in the barnyard. When they received their gifts on Christmas morning they were all stoked and excited to receive their own scrabble™ sets.
Pokey took his set to the barn where he taught the game to his animal friends and played day and night. He hoped to play often enough so that he’d become the best scrabble™ player in the barnyard. What he didn’t realize was that as frequently as he played, the set of words that he and the other animals played were limited to the extent of their knowledge.  Rarely any new words were introduced to their games. The games were fun but stagnant.
Porky went into town the day after Christmas to have his tail curled. While at the salon he talked about his scrabble™ gift.   Another customer in the salon who overheard the conversation happened to be the director of a local scrabble™ club and invited Porky to attend club later that same afternoon.  Porky was more than excited. Once at the club, he met several friendly players who offered him this hint and that suggestion and he felt he had tapped into a wealth of knowledge. What he didn’t know was that some of the information that he was taking in as ‘good’ information was flawed and leading him down a path of learning bad habits. Porky didn’t know that THEY didn’t know what THEY didn’t know.
Pennelopy was a computer whiz. She surfed the web for hours at a time and found many sources of information. She was very particular and knew that everything on the internet was not necessarily what it promised to be. After a day or five, she was lucky enough to identify a reputable source. It was my Online Class, ‘SCRABBLE™ 101’. Pennelopy called me and we identified her goals and I described in detail how I would coach her via the course. She began working with me that very same evening.
Weeks and months passed. The three pigs each improved their game skills to different degrees in their own ways. Each felt that they were improving by leaps and bounds beyond the abilities of their siblings, in their own fashion.
Then it happened that the local scrabble™ club decided to hold an OPEN Scrabble™ Competition. The whole town was abuzz.  Entries came from near and far. Some of the entries were famous mavins with renowned reputations. Early enrollees included: Henny Penny; Horse Sense; and Virginia Wolf who were the odds on favorite to win the whole enchilada.   Virginia had a reputation of blowing her opponents away.
When Tournament Day finally arrived Pokey Pig was paired against Hose Sense. Even though Pokey played according to all the rules he soon fell behind in the score because his vocabulary was not powerful enough to compete. Horse Sense played many words that left Pokey oinking in his own dust.
Porky Pig faced off with Henny Penny. Porky opened with ‘ZELKOVA’ and Henny countered with ‘ABOIDEAU’ through the ‘A’. And then it was back and forth. At the very end of the game, Porky was short on time. He knew that his rack most likely contained a bingo but he couldn’t remember it. (AEEINST) He slipped into negative time, gave up on finding the bingo, and lost the game by 37 points. When asked about the experience of playing tournament scrabble™ all he could say was, “It felt like the sky was falling”.
Pennelopy took several deep breathes and tried to stare Ms. Wolf down before her game began. She closed her eyes and reviewed all 30 lessons and the exercises she aced during ‘Scrabble™ 101’. She remembered HOOKS and ANAGRAMS. She recalled STEMS and CONSOGRAMS, And then the game began. She played parallel words earning maximum scores.  She used HOT SPOTS, playing lesser-known HOOKS, drawing challenges with words like ’S’ + ‘HERO’ (SHERO) and ‘A’ + ‘URIC’ (AURIC). She TRACKED making sure she knew what tiles remained unseen. Virginia tried to blow her over at several crucial points during the game but Pennelopy dug her pigs’ feet into the tiled floor and held her ground. Pennelopy wolfed down Virginia and when the hayseeds settled, stood proudly alone in the winners’ circle.

MORAL: Save your BACON with SCRABBLE™ 101.


MAY 12, 2020

  • Maybe you can find a study guide at Barnes & Noble or some other bookstore.
  • Maybe you could play non-stop and improve with practice.
  • How about enrolling in college courses majoring in English and Literature?
  • How much time would it take a knowledgeable scrabble club player to teach you all that you’d need to know? 
  • Would you be able to identify a suitable teacher?

I’ve got it. Go to Google and search ‘how to play scrabble.’ Don’t waste your time; I’ve been there. It will teach you just enough to become a frequent loser.
ENOUGH! Where can one go to find a ‘HOW TO’ guide, which will allow a person to become a worthy adversary?
Look no further. You are in the perfect place—MY HOUSE.
I have been teaching scrabble skills and creating scrabble learning tools for more than 30 years. Some of the things which I can provide for you include:

  • EQUIPMENT: custom boards; pro tiles, tile bags, time clocks; score sheets
  • LEARNING TOOLS: All varieties of Flashcards ( 2-Letter-Words; 3-Letter-Words;
  • Sets with high-value letters, i.e., 4-Letter-J-Words; 4-Letter-X-Words;)
  • STEMS: A Stem is a high probability set of 6 Letters + a variable. There are 100 different sets of 6s to 7s; 100 sets of 6s to 8th.
  • ANAGRAMS: 100 different sets
  • MNEMONICS: 100 different cards
  • STEMS of Book Marks.
  • WORKBOOKS, each with multiple exercises designed to build your skills.
  • HOOKS: More than 100 different books.
  • VIDEO FLASHCARDS: More than 100 different PDF files to work on your computer.
  • SCRABBLE 101, my online course, a 30-day course to build your word knowledge and skills. I will be your “personal” coach on this journey.

Contact me via email: to tell me how I can help.

MAY 11, 2020

  • What motivates you?
  • When does it occur?
  • Does motivation happen to you now and then, or is it something that you have learned draw upon when you need it, and so you do specific actions?

We are not all motivated by the same factors.
Some of us are more easily motivated than others.
An untidy home will quickly motivate some people to clean and wash and arrange things to meet their standards before they can rest and be at peace. Others can live among all sorts of dust and clutter without lifting a finger until visitors are expected.
I remember being about ten years old, living in an upstairs flat on Northlawn. We were renters, and the landlord, Charlie, and his son lived below. To enter the building, we’d walk past an archway that looked into Charlie’s living room. By the looks of things, he hadn’t cleaned the place in years. Newspapers and books and magazines were stacked against the walls and on chairs and tables. There were visible cobwebs everywhere. It bothered my mother, who was a prudent housekeeper. Mom got it into her head that Charlie, an older single dad, didn’t make time to do the house cleaning. Mom planned to clean Charlie’s home as a birthday gift. And she did.
She waited for Charlie to come home that evening and expected him to thank her for her thoughtful gift. Instead, Charlie flew into a rage. We had never seen that angry side of Charlie before. His home had been untouched for the last dozen years since his wife had passed. Who knew?

When I lose a challenge at the scrabble board or play against Mavins, who seem to know much more than me, I become motivated to take action to study more, learn more, make more lists. When I chart my progress, I can usually witness my growth and development. When I see how my actions lead to my growth, I become motivated to do even more. If I don’t track my advances and see my measured improvement, I don’t try as hard.
I see motivation as a good thing. It keeps cobwebs from clouding up my mind.

Happy MOTHERS DAY to all you MOMs. Today I find myself thinking about my mom. My mom, Dorothy Moss, passed in October of 2016 at the age of 96. She was born in Detroit on the leap year of 1920, married Jay Harmon Moss, the love of her life, on June 21, 1941, and touched the hearts and souls of everyone she encountered in the 96+ years she was with us. She was mother to Gary, Joel, and Karen, grandmother to Sue, Marty, Rachael, Steve, Stacy, Alex, Lauren and Lindsay, Great grandmother to Haley, Wiley, Zuzu, Amanda, and Griffin. She was the proud and doting matriarch of her extended family. Her greatest gift was that she made herself available, to cook, to bake, to sew, to volunteer, or just listen. She was hilarious. The world is less exciting without her. And I am grateful that she didn’t have to deal with Covid-19.
She gave me a false sense of tallness and taught me many life lessons. Living under her roof, I thought that it was natural for people to put on large amounts of weight and then diet the extra pounds away. I watched her and came to believe that it was noble and reasonable to hold grudges against your adversaries. I still despise some kid who stole my lunch money at Noble Elementary School. It was mom who taught me to work HARDER (which I did), and it wasn’t until meeting Dr. Bill McGrane that I learned to ‘WORK SMARTER’. Mom was a Den Mother, a housekeeper, a world-class BAKER (but her Pot Roast always was missing some spice). She washed our clothes, chauffeured us to and fro, supervised me delivering Newspapers (driving me around on the coldest days), she worked jobs to bring home a second salary, also as a leader at the synagogue in the Sisterhood and as a Youth Advisor. Mom had a strong moral and social code that she wanted her kids to adopt and follow. She was not flexible. When I wanted to attend Middle School ‘A’ after graduating from elementary school, and she wanted me to attend Middle School ‘B’, guess where I went? I went to Post Middle School . . . her choice ‘B.’ She found after-school jobs for me so that I could earn spending money that she and dad couldn’t afford to give me as an allowance.
On a 1 – 10 scale, I give my mom a 9. I think that’s more than excellent and higher than the average peahen. That other stuff that makes her a nine instead of a 10 is purely my perception of the issues that forced her heels into the ground and push and resist against me. (Unconditional Acceptance) And yet . . . I loved my mom unconditionally, even when she turned her back on me for her own reasons. Having experienced that pain has led me to provide conditional acceptance of my children and associates. It has made me more empathetic
Mom is personally responsible for me acquiring specific tastes for Chocolate, Ice-Cream (all flavors, but not popsicles), Kreplach, Fried Bologna, Hot Dogs, Pan-Fried Veal Chops, Spaghetti, Kugel, Matzo-Ball Soup, Mushroom Barley Soup, Fried Chicken Livers, Chopped Liver, Corned Beef, Dill Pickles, Mashed Potatoes, Bagels, Rye-Bread & Butter, Ketchup, Canasta-Chocolate Cake, Boston Coolers, Chocolate-Chip Cookies, Coconut-Cream Pie, Latkes, Hamentashen, Pizza, Greens Hamburgers, Chinese Cuisine, and Kasha.
Let’s raise a fork to MOM.

The memory is pretty amazing. Sometimes you can be doing something in the NOW, and some trigger ignites stuff that you haven’t thought about in years. I believe that the more you use your memory, the better your mind/brain works. I feel fortunate and blessed that my memory entertains me with vivid dreams at night and daydreams, too, when I least expect it.

Photo by Terri-Lynn Pellegri

(Photo by Terri-Lynn Pellegri)

This morning, my photographer, sister-in-law, posted a photo of some generic tree branches. It was like clicking a link to the internet for me. All of a sudden, I was eight years old, living at 14046 Northlawn in Detroit, Michigan. I had just received the gift of a BROWNIE 620 Box Camera. I was outside on the sidewalk, pointing my camera up at the branches of the elm trees that created a canopy over Northlawn. I shot the entire roll of film (only a dozen photos), and then I took the film to the corner drugstore, filing out a form and leaving it for pick-up by the Kodak Processing Service (which took a week). My oh my how the world has changed. That was in 1950.
I’m not an avid reader, but during these last seven weeks, I’ve been reading up a storm. I’m now on my sixth novel during this time. The current book is entitled ‘The Ripple Effect’ by Paul Garrison. One of the characters in the story is a fifteen-year-old girl who plans to steal a boat to escape her worrisome life and sail away. She’s a novice sailor and thinks she knows a lot more than she does. She doesn’t hesitate; she is fearless. This, too, worked on me like a TIME MACHINE, much like the experience had by Scrooge on Christmas Eve.
I was 14 years old, living in my parent’s home on Northlawn, in Detroit. I was active in USY (United Synagogue Youth) and had friends in many other chapters across the mid-west. I suffered from a gnawing case of puppy love. The object of my affection was a girl who lived in Cleveland, who had invited me to be her date at her Bat-Mitzvah. I was definitely going, but my folks said emphatically NO. I made arrangements to stay with a friend who also was invited to attend the event. On the Friday before the Saturday party, I played sick and waited for my mom to head out to work. As soon as I heard her car pull away, I packed a bag and called Checker Cab. I told the driver to take me to the Greyhound Bus Depot, where I purchased a ticket on the bus that left at 11 AM. It was a slow bus with stops in Monroe, MI, Toledo, OH, Sandusky, OH., and then Cleveland.
Being the GOOD, THOUGHTFUL BOY who I was, I left a note so my parents wouldn’t stress. I never stopped to consider their reaction. They knew the parents of my friend where I’d stay. They were waiting for me at the Bus Depot in Cleveland, where they intercepted me and put me on a return bus to Detroit.
My 2nd and 3rd runaway attempts didn’t occur until I was a grown adult nearing 40. I was more successful on these occasions with foibles and stories of their own.


TO BECOME ELITE -or- to remain plebeian . . . That is the Question.
You feel smarter; you feel clever; you feel luckier; you feel invincible.
Enjoy those feelings, but don’t close a blind eye to the facts.
You most likely took some action to learn those words at some point in your past. Merely discovering the patterns within words will allow you to make countless educated guesses that ferret out words in plain sight.
Recognition of words could be the result of having read them in a book, seeing them on a billboard, studying them on a word list, watching a scrabble opponent playing them against you, finding them inside a Chinese fortune cookie, or finding them in the small print on a traffic ticket or summons. The possibilities are endless.
If you are mindful of making a plan that includes being actively engaged with learning words all the time, making mental and written notes related to the above circumstances and beyond . . . you will find yourself on a path to wisdom.
BUT beware! I’ve been on that path for more than 30 years. I keep an OWL and a pad of paper on my night-stand. I frequently dream about words and have found myself sitting up in bed, waking from a deep sleep, to turn on the light and look up that particular word in the dictionary. If I find the word, I feel lucky and quickly go back to sleep. But there are other times when I can’t find the word on my first try. I then head to my computer and try the word-search. By that time, I’m wide awake, and there goes another night’s sleep.
Another MINUS. If and when you play online scrabble™ against strangers, and you find ‘lesser-known words’ on your rack and play them . . . your opponents may call you a cheater and quit mid-game. Most of your friends and family who are casual scrabble™ players won’t want to play scrabble™ with you any longer.
You will be able to find club players very excited to have you join them as their opponents. Clubs and tournaments are happening all around the world that wants you to play with them.
That’s what’s in your future if you are a ‘Smartie Pants.’


People ask me HOW and WHY I came up with the name JFTSOI?
I wish I could remember and share the original inspiration for the name. But I can tell you this . .. In the beginning, the name was Just FOR The Spell Of It. That was in the early 1990s. and it stayed that way for nearly 10 years. At some point at the end of the 1990s, I found myself relocated from Michigan to California. Besides having a new residence I was reinventing myself and one piece of that was establishing a website and a daily blog. I always tried to do things on my own and even though I was very comfortable using the computer, I wanted to make my website special. I searched for a professional computer guy/gal to assist me with the creation of my new site.
For a few years in the late 1990s, I lived in a 32-foot RV at The Dunes RV Park in Newport Beach, California. It was from there I resurrected Scrabble Club #350 with locations in Costa Mesa and Tournaments every 1st Sunday on the grounds at The Dunes.
In order to network with local businesses and residents, I joined the Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce and attended their weekly meetings and lunches at The Costa Mesa Country Club. It was there that I met a savvy computer guy whom I hired to create my new web site. I gave him a $DEPOSIT$ and to make things easier for him, I provided him the authority to use my name (Just For The Spell Of It) and register it as part of creating the web site. Weeks passed.
Oops! The most unlikely people can turn out to be scammers.
After a few weeks and little results, I expressed my displeasure and tried to renege on our verbal agreement. He refused to cancel our agreement and refund my deposit, and he never produced anything of value. When I attempted to reclaim my name I learned that he had registered it using his own name. Then I think he had the balls to try to sell my own name back to me. I was angry and didn’t want to engage in a court battle.
I looked for alternatives and came up with substituting a ‘4’ for the word ‘FOR’.

May 6/2020
Don’t just sit there. Don’t ask what others will do to help you with your scrabble™ prowess . . . think about what you can do to give yourself a boost.
I’m here to help.
The greater majority of scrabble™ players dislike and avoid the ‘sweat factor.’ These folks receive their satisfaction from playing and tell themselves that the more often they play the game, the better they’ll become. While that is incrementally true, they continue to lag far behind the others who pursue as little as one new word per week. And it doesn’t that much energy to learn words to expand your vocabulary.
When most first-time visitors come to any scrabble club, they all ask the same question: “Are those real words on the board”? That’s because they don’t know how much they don’t know.
The average person you meet randomly knows only about 5% of the words in the scrabble™ dictionary. That doesn’t mean that all those other words are not real. With more than 175,000 words in the scrabble™ dictionary, that means that the random person does not know more than 166,000 words.
You might be wondering where does one even begin to learn 166,000 words and all the other skills to improve your game. The answer is simple—one step at a time. Use the most efficient path to advance in the ranks.
You can try to figure it out on your own, or you can ask someone like myself. Someone who has a plan to build scrabble knowledge and skills.

One way to obtain a fast start is with my online class, SCRABBLE™ 101. Call me at (949) 510-1673.

This web site has many other hints for players who are growing into the game. Click on the links on the Left Margin and explore. Personal growth happens when you take action. Very little happens when you take a passive approach and sit waiting for information to come to you.

Cinco de Mayo is an annual celebration held on May 5. The date is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, under the leadership of General Ignacio Zaragoza
When in 1861 Mexico declared a temporary moratorium on the repayment of foreign debts, English, Spanish, and French troops invaded the country. By April 1862 the English and Spanish had withdrawn, but the French, with the support of wealthy landowners, remained in an attempt to establish a monarchy under Maximilian of Austria and to curb U.S. power in North America. On May 5, 1862, a poorly equipped mestizo and Zapotec force under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza defeated French troops at the Battle of Puebla, southeast of Mexico City; about 1,000 French troops were killed. Although the fighting continued and the French were not driven out for another five years, the victory at Puebla became a symbol of Mexican resistance to foreign domination. The city, which was later renamed Puebla de Zaragoza, is the site of a museum devoted to the battle, and the battlefield itself is maintained as a park.
The day is celebrated in the state of Puebla with parades, speeches, and reenactments of the 1862 battle, though it is not much noticed in most of the rest of the country. In the mid-20th-century U.S., the celebration of Cinco de Mayo became among Mexican immigrants a way of encouraging pride in their Mexican heritage. Critics observed that enthusiasm for the holiday celebration did not take off with a broader demographic until it was explicitly linked with the promotion of Mexican alcoholic beverages and that many U.S. festivities tended to both perpetuate negative stereotypes of Mexicans and promote excessive drinking.
Can you spell C-E-R-V-E-Z-A ?
Spanish Scrabble™ plays just like the classic Scrabble™, but different letter values on the tiles correspond with Spanish language usage. It’s a great way to practice.
The Spanish language does not natively contain the letters K or W, and they are therefore not included in this lookup utility. The accented letter ñ is a separate letter tile in Spanish Scrabble as are the letter combinations “CH”, “LL” and “RR”.

There are many Spanish words in the OWL, including one of the newer words that has a ‘Q’ without a ‘U’, ‘CINQ’ (very handy).


May 4, 2020
May the 4th became a very special day with a whole different perspective with the STAR-WARS franchise. Trekkies tweaked things and began greeting one another with ‘May the 4th Be With You’ (May the FORCE Be With You).
While STAR-WARS has made a big splash in pop-culture, much of the terminology has not yet made its way into the scrabble™ lexicon. So, as of now, do not use any of the following terms since they are all unacceptable: CARBONITE; JEDI; NERFHERDER; PADAWAN; STORMTROOPER; WOOKIEE . . . BUT both DROID and FORCE are okay to use.
The contents of the OWL (Official Word List) is an arbitrary set of words put together under the auspices of the Dictionary Committee of NASPA (North American Scrabble™ Players Association). Every few years there have been both additions and subtractions to the OWL. If you are a serious, competitive player you’ll want to be certain that you are using the newest up-to-date version of the Official Word List. BEWARE! There’s a lot of bad information out there on the internet and on shelves in bookstores that push old, outdated lists. If you are in doubt ask me or any other sanctioned scrabble™ director.
Sometimes the updated changes reflect the changing world of words. The last newest version also includes some utterances that are used in some circles but are frowned upon by language purists. But that brings us down to the basic question, “What Is A Word?” You may not even know that some of these entries exist on the OWL. Words like: WHATSIS; OUTA; GRRRL; BRRR; CWM; and QWERTY.
This brings me back to something I tell all newcomers to competitive scrabble™. While most people see the game as an exercise in word knowledge and strategy, the game is really an exercise in MEMORIZATION. While the OWL contains more than 175,000 entries . . . there may be a million or more words in word lexicons. The OWL is only a select portion that is deemed acceptable by the rules of the game. Included within the OWL there are many entries from many cultures, not just English. If you play in some other part of the world you will find other lexicons like COLLINS being used. ENJOY and GROW YOUR EXPERTISE.



Gretchen got a dog. Not just any dog. JoJo is a LEXICON-SPANIEL. JoJo looks like most other Spaniels from the pound but has been specifically bred to be able to recognize words. Even before being fully weaned her caregivers had taped pages from the OWL onto the walls in her quarters. The LEXICON-SPANIEL has an innate ability that is envied by scrabble™ players near and far. The dog sees words and remembers them with its photographic memory.
Gretchen has a granddaughter. Sarah has come back to the home that Gretchen shares with her daughter and son-in-law. The pandemic closed all universities and brought Sarah back home to finish her studies. Gretchen is a lot like you and me, scrabble™ starved. She implored Sarah to play scrabble™ when she takes her breaks from studying. Sarah had been a very casual player up until a few weeks ago but when Gretchen shared a few scrabble™ tricks with her granddaughter, Sarah came into her own as a formidable opponent.
That’s when Gretchen took off her kid gloves and at the same time unleashed JoJo as her backup.
While JoJo can’t speak, Gretchen has trained her to give signals. When JoJo sees an acceptable word she pants and wags her tail; When JoJo sees a phony she puts her right paw over her eyes and whines. As of yesterday, Sarah has not yet caught on. Over the last three weeks, Gretchen continues to beat Sarah 2 out of every 3 games. JoJo provides an assist at least once per game.
There have been a few times when JoJo was stumped and unable to provide a clear signal. In those instances she just turned in circles, chasing her tail. The words that stumped her were RISHI, LUNGYI, BASHLYK, and DOGLIKE.
Gretchen has begun the procedure to declare JoJo as a service dog. Once that is approved and the world reopens Gretchen has plans to attend several upcoming tournaments with JoJo in tow. It will be very interesting to see how JoJo does on the tournament circuit. At this time there are NO RULES related to service animals at tournaments. JoJo will be breaking the ice and establishing precedents.

Gretchen got a dog.

Today is the beginning of a new month and we all have another opportunity to enjoy a new beginning. Let’s look at things differently, struggle less, and make a dent in the obstacles that have blocked our way.

One of the greatest challenges that most of us face is our own bad habits. ‘IF YOU ALWAYS DO WHAT YOU’VE ALWAYS DONE, YOU”LL ALWAYS GET THE SAME THINGS THAT YOU”VE ALWAYS GOT’.

Know that when at first you look at things differently it usually feels uncomfortable and unnatural. DO IT ANYWAY.

  • To begin with, when you put the tiles onto your scrabble™ rack, arrange the tiles alphabetically from left to right. Challenge yourself to see the words that are hiding in plain sight. When you have A-E-G-I-M-R-T see MIGRATE, RAGTIME.
    How many of the 156 words between 2 and 7 letters can you find?
  • Develop an awareness of what tiles remain unseen (they are either still in the bag or on your opponent’s rack). After you play ‘MIGRATE’ on your first play, how many ‘M’s remain? ‘A’s? ’T’s?
  • MASTER the 107 2-Letter-Words. Whenever possible play words parallel to other words using multiple HOOKS to score double with the hooking letters.
  • Begin each turn identifying the HOT SPOTS where you can make even higher scoring plays, using high point tiles in two directions. Work at learning to look for and seeing the possibilities quickly.
  • DO NOT SQUANDER YOUR TIME. When it is your opponent’s turn you need to be thinking ahead. Get a head start on your next turn by thinking about your opponent’s time.
  • When it is your turn, while you are playing THIS TURN, give some consideration to what you may do on your next turn. Plan ahead. Set yourself up for HOOKS and/or EXTENSIONS.
  • Always have a few new, unusual, words that you’ve learned in mind to play if you get the right tiles.
  • Always hope to draw a challenge from your opponent. Once the opponent loses a challenge to you he/she will lose confidence and that’s worth a lot.

Scrabble™ is a head game as well as a word game.