Blogs May 2020 to Aug 2020

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Passion can be a blessing; passion can be a curse.
But one thing is for sure . . . when you have a passion you can become like a flowing river, always on the move. Nothing can stop you. Just take a thoughtful look at The Grande Canyon.
I have had the passion experience at least twice in my lifetime (probably many more).
The first time I acknowledge my passion was in the founding of Bloomfield Nursery School & Kindergarten. It was 1968. From the very moment the idea was conceived I became so consumed that I turned myself into a form of one of those superpower heroes written about in fantasy comic books. I developed skills and talents way beyond my studies and experiences. I knew things I didn’t know I knew and I took leaps of faith that somehow worked out. I was a poor public school teacher with a dream and only $50 in my savings account. I didn’t have a rich father who’d give me a loan; I didn’t have a string of entrepreneurial successes to point to giving me credence to potential investors; I simply had an inner knowing that I CAN.
I found a realtor willing to work with a man who could never ‘qualify’; I talked a seller into holding the paper and selling to me on a land-contract when I could never initially obtain a mortgage; I wrote a business plan that was good enough to convince 10 investors to part with their hard-earned money; I wrote a curriculum that met the standards to earn a license from the State Board of Education; I presented to the local Zoning Board of Appeals and was granted permission to open a Private School abutting a residential neighborhood; and on and on. The endeavor began in January and the doors opened in October of the same year, unthinkable, unimaginable. It grew, prospered, and expanded to Summer Day Camp, Grades Pre-K thru 8th Grade, 3 Campuses, an on-site Barnyard, with a menagerie of animals, swimming pools, and tennis courts. I rarely slept; the gears in my mind worked overtime, 24/7. It was glorious.

My $50 grew to more than 6 figures. Sadly it all ended,
but that is a whole other story.

I found myself single again and no longer a Headmaster of a private school in 1987. I was open to finding a new way to reinvent myself. BANG! WHAM! ALAKAZAM! I showed up at a scrabble event on a February morning in a Snow Blizzard in Allen Park, Michigan. I had come here for an entirely different reason. But I was smitten by what I saw and a new PASSION was ignited within me.
I began playing Club Scrabble and found myself loving the experience and totally surprised at how much I didn’t know. As I learned new words and strategies, each addition created a desire within to learn another, and another, and another. I began compiling lists and marketing them. I invented WHIZ CARDS and became a reseller of boards and clocks and tiles. I even became a custom board builder for a few years. I became a club director and initiated more than a dozen clubs and locations in Michigan between 1988 – 1995. In the years since I have directed thousands of club meetings and more than 250 sanctioned tournaments. I continue to write my daily blogs, create countless scrabble study tools, and teach the online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’.

Can you spell P-A-S-S-I-O-N ?

(SCRABBLE is a Trademark)

TOP 10 WISH-LIST of the average club scrabble player.

#10 Comfortable sized scrabble tile bags; Not so small that one loses time off their clock when they have to work hard at scrunching their large had into a tiny bag -or- not so large that at the end of the game some letters seem to hide-out in the deep corners of oversized bags.

#9 Wishing that the fashion industry develop a line of clothing in consideration of the specialized needs and comfort of scrabble players. Persons who typically spend 7 and more hours a day sitting at the scrabble table require greater consideration for aeration down there and padding in the seat of their costume.

#8 A friendlier ZYZZYVA. The wonderful word anagrammer that was bought by NASPA from its inventor was altered so that the average user cannot reap all the benefits. They went ahead and limited used to print no more than lists of 200 words long. Then they require us to buy an annual membership in order to use that bastardized version. Shame, shame. Restore ZYZZYVA.

#7 Fresh Meat. That’s the term endearingly bestowed upon the newbies who show up to play with us. We actually love them and try to create an atmosphere where they will thrive. BUT it all depends on their attitudes. No one ever promised the transition from the novice player to a club player to be easy. There’s a lot to learn . . . but that’s a big part of the fun to be had.

#6 PROTILES and DIGITAL TIMERS. The quality of the equipment used during play makes a more pleasurable playing experience for all concerned. PROTILES are double-molded and the lettering on the tiles never fades like the screen-printed tiles. Digital timers provide time readouts to the exact second.

#5 Reliable Heat & Air-Conditioning. The amenities are of prime importance when the heat of competition is ever-present. With that said, clubs have been known to play in unreasonable circumstances: Heat of 100+; Cold of 50 and less; backed-up toilet water flooding the floor; delayed arrivals during snow blizzards and more.

#4 SCREENING FOR PYSCO TYPES. Not that it happens very often but there have been people who have personal issues who have enrolled and shown up in our community. People who have to WIN so badly that they’ll cheat or be so frustrated after they LOSE that they’ll throw their scrabble board.

#3 TASTY NUM-NUMS. Many of the clubs out there provide finger foods and drinks. Therefore there should be some standards to avoid smudging chocolate or peanut butter on the tiles or spilling beverages onto the equipment. It is also the case that most items provided are generally unhealthy: too much sugar and too many calories.

#2 LIGHTING, QUIET, COMFORTABLE CHAIRS, & SMOOTH TABLES. Have you ever cut your finger or hand on a sharp screw or molding on a table? Have you ever sat on a chair too low for the table in front of you? Have you ever been unable to think because the volume from the group next door is blearing? Have you ever tried to see the board and your tiles through dim, romantic lighting?
Enough said.

AND THE #1 Item is

(SCRABBLE is a Trademark)



There’s a word used in scrabble™ circles that is relatively new as far as words go. There are many new words that pop up in all different languages that are pop culture terms or slang. But the particular word I’m thinking of doesn’t fall into either of those categories. It is a word of endearment and a word of acknowledgment. It’s the only word of its kind in scrabble™. But as special as the word is, it is unacceptable to play this word during play.

The word is ‘GIBSONIZE’.

I don’t have a story to tell you about the first time the word was coined but I can tell you a bit about what it means and why it is such a special word.
It’s all about an extraordinary scrabble™ player named David Gibson. David was born in February of 1951. After college, he became a Math teacher and Professor. He played his first scrabble™ tournament in March of 1986 and earned an initial rating of 1700, way beyond the top ranking of most in the field. If you’re a club or tournament player you know the difficulty to win a tournament and even when you do, the prize money is meager compared to other tournaments of skill.
David passed on November 22, 2019, at the age of 69. I had the personal pleasure to meet David at a tournament in Cleves, Ohio in June of 1987. He was such a gentleman, very classy. He shared his knowledge with others and was an inspiration to all teachers.
David’s rating over his 33 years of play never dipped below 1700. His final rating was 2200, unimaginable. And while most of the other top earners in the game have won $10,000 — $40,000, David’s life earnings topped $175,000.
David was soooooo goooood that it was common in tournaments for him to amass an insurmountable lead over his opponents, that way before the tournament ended, no one in the pack could even catch him.
That’s where the word GIBSONIZED was born. Today when any player earns an insurmountable lead over all the other players, the tournament director will declare that player to be GIBSONIZED (the WINNER before playing all of his games). The director will then alter the final parings so that the remaining players are competing with one another for 2nd Place, 3rd Place, etc.

Being GIBSONIZED is a distinction and the highest of honors.

In the matter of players achieving expert status in the competitive scrabble™ community, the verdict is that you are unlikely to get to the Winner’s Circle without a heavy dose of word knowledge and board strategy. (Not the usual vocabulary that you pick up from reading literature, but the ‘scrabble™ jargon’ used to enable you to HOOK words so they can play on the board.)
Where does one obtain that knowledge? Is there a book called ‘SCRABBLE™ FOR DUMMIES’? Not exactly. The closest you can come to a book is an online class called ‘SCRABBLE™ 101’. It has assisted hundreds of wannabes to move up in the ranks and achieve 15 Minutes of Fame.
Competitive scrabble™ is not a game for the faint-of-heart. There are more than 175,000 words in the OWL (Official Scrabble Dictionary).
One of the ways I learn more words is by simply picking a letter and then devote a weekend to it. For instance, this past weekend was spent with 5-Letter-Words containing a ‘J’. Some of the more unique words I learned were ‘KOPJE’ ‘QAJAQ’ and ‘THUJA’. It’s the lesser-known words that will most likely draw a challenge from your opponents.
Did you know that in the average game each player only takes 13 – 17 turns. So If your opponent loses a turn due to a bad challenge, they will be losing between 6% to 8% of their score. That helps turn you into the WINNER.
There are many people who like to play but are not competitive. They just like to find common words on their racks and figure out how to play them. They will rarely beat you if you are clued into the basics. BUT BEWARE! When you know the basics, most of your friends and family members will no longer choose to play with you. They see you as being too good. But have no fear. There is a whole scrabble™ community out there that is waiting for you to show up. They crave new opponents.

Want info about Scrabble 101 or how to find clubs across the country
or around the world?
Contact me:

Being your own person is a great feeling, especially when you are a whipper-snapper and revolting, getting out-on-your-own, feeling all the JOY by doing it ‘MY WAY’.
Unfortunately, we all learn some startling, hard lessons when we fall out of the nest, encounter many unexpected bumps in the road, and are taken advantage of by some cons and low lives.
It is often hard to admit that if we had it to do over again we would have done things differently. This is when we have the opportunity to pick ourselves up, brush ourselves off, and start all over again.

At times like this we realize that we should have had a plan.

  • At times like this we realize that we should have listened to some of the warnings from those who are wiser and more experienced than ourselves.
  • At times like this we know that we should have had munitions on our persons to deal with those we encountered who tried to take advantage of our station.
  • When I first started out on the road to compete in the scrabble™ world there were no online classes like ‘SCRABBLE™ 101’. There wasn’t even an ‘online’.
  • When I first started out on the road to compete in the scrabble™ world there wasn’t yet such a thing as an ‘anagrammer’. One had to look words up one-at-a-time, manually.

STEMS had recently been invented. No one was making and selling these study tools and the EXPERTS who knew about these aides were reluctant to share with any would-be contenders.
Being a trained and documented educator, I took the task on my own shoulders and corroborated with some of the best players to develop my agenda to guide me in the production of useful tools.
I enjoy my independence and take full advantage of using it to explore and create tools and strategies to advance the ability and performance of all players. We only become a truly great player by building the skills that enable us to WIN over other great players.

If you want my assistance, call me: (949) 510-1673


When it comes to stocking your arsenal with words to play at the scrabble board there are so many different directions to take.  When you are first starting out you’ll want to nail down the 2s, the top 10 STEMS, and other basics.  But then a time will come when you want some variety in order to keep things interesting.  If you’re like me and many other players you’ll know exactly what your weaknesses are.  One of my weak points is when my rack has multiple A’s.  Hence, I will create aides that focus on my weakness.  Other times I have a curiosity that needs my attention.  It’s not necessarily a weakness, but we can all become better with different options.                                                                                              This morning I woke up wondering about the letter ‘J’.  That was enough to start me out in search of a list including all the words with a ‘J’.  I knew it would be a lengthy list, so I designed the task so I could break the list into pieces should I become bored or overwhelmed mid-list.  I just hate it when I am deep into a project and feel compelled to complete it, and I can tell that the project will take many more weeks or months.  So here’s what I undertook today:

I worked several hours and still am working on the 4-Letter words with ‘J’.  I may change my original plan and stop after I have all the 4s.  Then I’ll create a new file for the 5s, 6s, and 7s.  I’ve learned that I should never make any file too long because then it will not easily travel via email from me to you.  I create my files on my MAC using Keynote which is similar to Power-Point on PCs.  But when I send files I always convert them to PDF format first.  I find that I learn new words as well as the many words I already “sorta know” when I do these projects. 

I highly recommend that you give it a try when you are bored
with nothing much to do.

WHY STUDY 6s – 8s?
If we were to make a list of priorities, the 6s-to-8s would not rank at the top of the list, BUT that is not to suggest that those words, especially on a STEM list of 6s-to-8s are anything to yawn at.  As all players know, at times you’ll have a great UNPLAYABLE bingo sitting there in plain sight.  It is most likely unplayable because it doesn’t hook to the beginning or end of any of the words on your board.  Here’s where a little extra word power can come in very handy.  There may be one or more letters on the board that could accommodate your rack of 7 tiles playing through a tile, creating an 8-Letter-Word.  That’s why I spend time creating 6s-to-8s STEM Video Flashcards.  This is one efficient way to familiarize myself with so many commonplace 8s.  See a sample of one of my cards.        


RETINA is the 3rd of 100 commonly studied STEMS.  If you are intending to study the stems, you’ll want to focus on the TOP 10.  Study the 6s-to-7s first.  Once you are comfortable with those, move on to the 6s-to-8s.  The TOP 10 in order include

  10. EASTER

Now You Know What You Need to Know!

With the 4th of July weekend coming, leaders are being overly cautious and taking extreme measures to assure people for their safety from COVID-19. County doctors and nurses have been given lists of activities that could be closed down in an effort to protect the public. In many instances, the lists were so long that many of those responsible to check those lists were [overwhelmed and simply checked off ALL the boxes. The OSPD6 was on that list. Who knew?
A car was set on fire by a disgruntled scrabble™ player after losing a game when he lost his challenge on the final play of the game by his opponent. The word challenged was ‘STRIGILS’ through an ‘I’ between two triples, for 149 points. The funny thing was that earlier last week he had gone to his dentist where the dentist used a strigil on the same player’s teeth. 
The expansion of the use of Contact Tracers in an effort to identify and war against Covid-19 created at least one huge AHA in the scrabble™ community. Taking a closer look at the role of Contact Tracers there was an obvious and simple segue identify and recruit scrabble™ enthusiasts from within the general population to play at local clubs and tournaments. DUH!

June 30 was National Corvette Day.

The article above was all Fake News except for the blurb about the Corvette.

Actually, make yourself proud. The way you do that is by staying true to yourself. If you’d rather be playing golf or backgammon, tell me thanks but no thanks, and don’t spend your time on scrabble™ when your passion is something else.
You see, playing scrabble™ well is not a part-time passion. You can still play every now and then for the fun of it, but you’ll never become a real competitor with a part-time effort. Every day players who are trying to rise in the ranks are busily learning new words, studying stems, identifying anagrams, reading the official rules, and developing winning strategies. If you are not doing those things . . . you are losing ground.
Get on track. You begin by making a resolution, not like the New Years’ Resolutions that evaporate a week or two after the year begins. You make a declaration that you’ll dedicate a minimum of 15 minutes a day to some form of scrabble related learning and follow-through.

Tomorrow is the beginning of a new month. It’s a great time for a new start to a new effort.

Just Do It.

When a challenge comes along we have a variety of choices. Some people experience fright and flight, they turn their backs and walk away. Others turn to a friend or mentor seeking help to confront the challenge (two heads are better than one). Still, others take a deep breath and step into the arena on their own.
There is no shame in failure. Actually, there are many lessons to be learned in the process of doing, even when we don’t achieve our goals. The processes used by all the scientists throughout history included many hypotheses and failures on the road to learning and discovering successes.

  1. Define your GOAL.
  2. Create a PLAN and a PATH FOR DISCOVERY.
  3. Establish a REGIMEN.
  4. Take a STEP and keep on stepping forward.
  5. REVIEW your plan and MEASURE your progress.
  • Be true to your journey.
    Build in a support system to bolster you when the going gets hard.
  • DO NOT SABOTAGE YOURSELF with negative self-talk when the going becomes rough.
  • Stay focused.

Recommit yourself to the task.
Take another step.

Meet my alter-ego: LETTERMAN
Are you a coaster? I’m 77 and have been semi-retired for nearly 30 years. If I had just coasted since back then I’d be penniless and most likely brain dead.
I think of so many of the stories we hear about the people who win the LOTTOs. The facts show that a large number of those lucky folks who won MILLIONS now are broke and broken. The broken did not know how to manage their fortunes and saw the money as their opportunity to get out of the RAT-RACE, get off their TREAD-MILL, and enjoy the days of their lives. They became coasters.
No matter the size of your fortune, if all you do is coast, your fortune evaporates in proportion to the size of your fantasies.
Scrabble™ competitors know well that coasting does not work in club and tournament circles. It’s much like a bicycle race. If you worked your hardest to push yourself to the front of the pack and then decide to let up and coast, you’ll sadly experience the pack creeping up in your rear-view mirror. And if you don’t quickly get back to the task at hand, you are passively inviting defeat.

Keep your pedal to the metal.

All coasters are not necessarily in a state of atrophy. They may have retired from a life they have pursued in an initial career; and now they are exploring or flopping over into a new career. That pretty much describes me and so many others. The degrees that I earned are in Education. I used them to teach in public schools and then to found and lead a private school for nearly 20 years. And while I’ve spent the last 30 years doing other works and projects, I haven’t strayed too far from Education, still using a lot of the skills which I learned.
Keep your eyes forward. Opportunities abound everywhere. A glorious idea will show itself when you least expect it. And while you have all those successes in your past; don’t sell yourself short. Your BEST is yet to come.


Ain’t it the truth? Just when I learn a new word it hits me how surprised that I somehow didn’t know that word. I really hate it when my opponent plays a four-letter word against me and I don’t know it. Too often I think it’s a phony and call ‘CHALLENGE,’ only to learn a few minutes later that it is acceptable.
From that kind of experience I have learned that one is more likely to win a challenge against the highest-rated players with a lesser-known 4, 5, or 6 letter word than a bingo. The ‘mavins’ tend to put most of their focus on bingos.
If you’re up to seeing and learn words that you most likely don’t know, click on the link on the left-hand side of this page ‘WORD OF THE DAY’, These lesser-known words are a perfect recipe to put your opponents onto shaky ground. Then once your opponent thinks you know piles of words like these they’ll respect the words you play. A big part of competitive scrabble relates to perception. Use it to your advantage.
Begin to build your vocabulary at a place where you can feel comfortable. Let’s look at all the THREE letter words. YOU and I KNOW ALL tHE THREEs, Right?

Do you know that there are 1,024+ 3-Letter-Words?

Now, do you still think that you KNOW all of them? How about these?

If one of these words looks familiar to you, that’s not KNOWING it. Knowing a word is that it is automatic, without a doubt.
To get to KNOW a word you have to develop a relationship with it. WRITE IT on a list. Put it onto a flashcard. Play it in a game when the opportunity arises. Take it home to dinner and introduce it to members of your family. Recognize it in a room filled with other words.

Sound silly?   That’s what the mavins do.

If you’re not ready to end it all, give up the ghost or throw in the towel this might be the perfect time to redouble your efforts, commit to enjoying the journey to improve your scrabble™ skills.
Homebound people everywhere are turning off their TV sets and turning to things more challenging, providing a sense of accomplishment that comes with completing incremental achievements. As in developing word knowledge and power.

  • Set a goal for tomorrow (Example: Learn 5 new words, heavy with vowels).
  • Create a plan for the day.
  • Up by 9 AM
  •  10 AM morning session
    • Write down these five words on a sheet of paper.
    • Look up their meanings in the OSPD6.
    • Create flashcards: Letter alphabetically on front; word on the back.
    • Write each word 10 times.
    • Look at and memorize each flashcard (Total of 10 minutes)
  • Go do whatever you normally do in the morning
  •  2 PM (15 minutes) Review cards and write the words 10 times.
  • 8 PM (15 minutes) Review cards and write the words 10 times.
  • Bedtime. (5 minutes) Review flashcards.

How did you do?  
Will you remember these 5 words in the future?

As long as you are still hanging out on the planet, keep growing your memory and knowledge.

You Can Do It.

In previous blogs, I’ve suggested an aggressive approach to studying and growing your word power and style of learning. While pushing you in that direction I know very well that most folks like you have busy lives and have their own priorities. I know that it is really hard to do even half of what I’ve asked of you and others. Only about 1 in every 50, the two percenters, call me and talk about the regimen I impose upon my students in ‘SCRABBLE™ 101’. So, I’m going to suggest an entirely revamp here, a change, of course, a drastic change in the required actions, a friendlier path.

  • To begin with, I’ll reduce the number of sessions from 21 to 5.
  • Next, I’ll schedule each session for 1 per week, with the flexibility for you to work on the session on the weekday of your choice.
  • For expanding your word knowledge we’ll depend on only learning new words from a list of words, new to you, played by your opponents at scrabble clubs or on words-with-friends.
  • I’ll ask you to create a list of the 5 Biggest Challenges, your weaknesses, that you face playing the game of scrabble™,
  • And I will create a plan designed according to your needs.

How would that work for you?

Now, allow me to point out that while you and I are waltzing through our study regimen all the serious scrabble™ players in the ranks will be doing what they do: studying a wide variety of scrabble skills and the words that reflect those categories plus learning many lists of words seldom played by their opponents, in anticipation of playing them against you, and drawing your challenges.

How do you fell about that?

The truth is when you take it easy, even when you’re using a relaxed regimen, you are losing ground to the go-getters in the ranks.

The question you have to ask yourself is . . . “How do I want to show up at the table for a scrabble™ competition”?

The scrabble train is always in motion, moving forward.

  • Are you standing at the station watching pass by?
  • Are you riding on a slower train on a parallel track?
  • Or are you going to get on the train and be ‘ALL IN’?

PEOPLE sometimes look at my Word-Of-The-Day list,, and ask me why they would want to learn some of the words that I highlight? GOOD QUESTION. My reason isn’t usually about just the word itself. Many times I’m thinking beyond the word. For example, take the word-of-the-day on Tuesday, June 23rd, INFULA.

  • First of all, I think that most of my opponents wouldn’t automatically recognize it as a word. They’d have to pause and think about it (consuming some number of seconds off their clock). And maybe opponents might challenge my play, then lose a turn.
  • Secondly, most opponents probably don’t know the plural hook (E). I’m setting myself up for a potential next play.
  • Third, the letters in ‘INFULA’, can be rearranged to play through another letter which might be sitting on the board: INFULA + T = ANTIFLU;

While seeing INFULA on my list and memorizing it is better than nothing, it’s much more valuable when you look more deeply at each entry. That will make your learning experience more dynamic.
Every WORD deserves your thorough attention and scrutiny. Take another look. Look at words from different angles Look for its anagrams and sub-anagrams; recognize the potential hooks and extensions.


Sometimes I experience having a sore tongue. Okay, more than sometimes. Every now and then it occurs when I eat ‘HOT’ food. It frequently happens when I drink ‘HOT’ coffee. But too often I do it to myself, biting my tongue, trying to hold back from saying something to scrabble™ players whom I observe at clubs.
The event usually involves some of the newest club players. The circumstances are usually similar. The newbie is being gregarious, meeting new people, and sharing their exuberance. Next, they are talking about all phases of the game and because they are new to club play, the newbie begins asking advice from their new friend/s. If there are 10 club players present and I were to rank them 1 – 10 by their knowledge and playing ability, the newbie usually chooses to ask for guidance from #8, #9, or #10.
Part of the reason for that is that the top-rated players are usually less social and gravitate to the other higher rated players. A bit snobbish.
If you were planning to invest your hard-earned money, would you look for guidance from a friendly person you met while grocery shopping -or- would you seek a financial advisor?
If you need a car repair would you seek assistance from a new car salesman -or- would you hunt down a certified mechanic with a long list of references.

I’m sure you get it.

I’m perplexed why newbies take the advice seriously from anyone other than club directors or someone suggested by the club director. When I do something I want to do it right and find success. When you learn from a novice, you learn many of their bad habits. DON’T DO THAT.
WARNING! BEWARE! Just because someone is a director it doesn’t mean that he/she is a good teacher. Make sure that the relationship is constructive. When you are starting out on any endeavor, you deserve a good start.


If you are like other scrabble™ players, there have been many times when you wished that your memory was just a little bit larger, that you were just a little bit smarter, that you were just a little bit luckier.
Just in case you didn’t already know . . . THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE LUCKIER YOU BECOME.
That’s where DOING comes into play.
Thinking about DOING and wishing about DOING does not work. It’s the actual DOING that counts and makes the difference.

Now that I have your attention I’ll tell you the rest of the truth. There is DOING and then there is DOING THE RIGHT WAY. Don’t waste your time and energy trying this and that or asking some friend what they do.
Create a customized plan with an informed plan to learn the WHAT. Create a place that is conducive to study with all the necessary tools to do the job, the WHERE. Develop a very specific schedule: Day and Time of Day, the WHEN.


  • Tell someone of your intention. Be accountable to yourself and this someone.
  • Outline the pieces of the game which you will study.
  • Put them in an order of priority and create a calendar with a proposed timeline.
  • Review the timeline at designated intervals.
  • Be flexible to allow alterations of the timeline.
  • Your regimen should be daily for a minimum of 21 Days. It takes 21 consecutive days to develop a HABIT. BE COMMITTED.
  • Measure and evaluate your progress. DO NOT compare your growth to others. Chart your emerging skills.

If you don’t know where or how to begin, seek a class like SCRABBLE 101 to show you the way:


My Fathers’ Day Rant
Sometimes thinking can really shake up, shaping and changing the world in your own mind. The changes happening in real-time might be very good, but coming to grips with the part you played in the past can be potentially unsettling and devastating.
I’ll begin by explaining what I call ‘The Rubber-band Dilemma’. The way I see it, we are all born pretty much the same, lovely, cute, and other than carrying some physical and mental genes from our parents we’re all perfect and pliable.
To a major extent, our future learning begins in the hands of our parents and the influences of the villagers who will interact with us directly or those who already have a significant influence upon our nuclear family.
We are all tiny rubber-bands. Now, rubber-bands are not all exactly the same. Some are thicker and others are thinner; some are more fixable and others are more rigid; some are longer and some are shorter, and they come in a rainbow of beautiful colors.
Us, being the rubber-bands, we must stretch whenever we learn things and have life experiences. While all this learning and stretching is happening, some of the basics which we learn occurred at our very beginnings, when we hadn’t stretched much at all. I’ll call this early stage ‘OUR CORE BELIEFS’. As we grow older and more learned, when the stretching becomes tougher, we sometimes become tired or lazy or simply lost our focus. When that happened we slacken and our stretchiness relaxed and we returned to the size and shape of our core.
Unfortunately, our core values my not be the ones we want, the ones we’ve developed on our own through hard work and simply evolving. Unfortunately, our core values are things instilled within us by ancient/outmoded thinking that were useful for survival when our ancestors lived in caves, trusting no one outside of our clan.
We all have experienced the battles with our inner demons who gnaw at us when we push the boundary and work to grow into enlightened beings. It’s the old cartoon with the angel on one shoulder and the devil on the other. Both are whispering in your ears, trying to influence us to do their bidding. It can be a very powerful struggle to assert yourself objectively.
It is declared over and over again by all ‘sides,’ “WE ALL WANT THE SAME THINGS”. (Peace; Love; Freedom to live our lives.) But we all have different cores and so many WORDS mean different things to different people.
Ancient instincts and habits and suspicions and irrational prejudices, and mythical beliefs still influence the actions of many, still today. Large numbers of these individuals remain blinded by the teachings that live in their cores. They honestly believe that 2 + 2 = 5. They believe that their faith will protect them from being infected from Covid-19, so the walk the streets without face masks and gather in large crowds of the clansmen. Those rubber-bands have been ‘CAREFULLY TAUGHT’ lessons like: ‘WE’ are the chosen people and all others who are different from us are the enemy.
If you live in the US you see it spouted from the WHITE SUPREMACISTS. You see it in the tweets and actions of POTUS and many other elected leaders.
But don’t be fooled, it’s not just here. It’s alive and well in pockets around the entire globe. And if we get to Mars it will live there too. It seems to me that it is an unfortunate piece, a built-in feature that we humans are afflicted with.
And so we fight on for Justice; we fight on to find Fairness; we fight the bigots and the haters. We work to provide a More Perfect Union; we work to root out the Evil; we march to display our desire for peace and happiness.
BUT that is not enough. We’ve marched so many times before. We’ve uttered the words,’NEVER AGAIN’. We’ve fought wars. We’ve built monuments.
We’ve declared that we’re now at WAR with an invisible enemy, COVID-19. Men and women are working feverishly to find a vaccine to inhibit and/or demolish it.
We need to do the same to eliminate racism. We need a vaccine that when injected into the brain will vanquish that point where bigotry and discrimination live. We must root it out.
We must sever the rubber-band and never be drawn back to the old ways again.

And be allowed to play scrabble in peace.

Stuart Freedman Colby would have been 78 today had he lived.
Happy anniversary to my daughter Stacy and her husband Dan Schwartz.

People who yap, yap, yap at us are sometimes said to be running at the mouth.  I’m rarely accused of that.  But I’m guilty of running on with my fingers.  Today’s blog is my recap of my version of SPRING 2020.

Its been three months now since the first decree was issued for sequestering in our homes and social distancing due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
It was made clear via the edicts that in order to remain safe, away from the virus, that one should stay away from others who may be contagious through social distancing. But we could not tell by looking at any person whether that individual was a carrier. It was clearly a war against an invisible enemy.
In the beginning, it was a novel experience, not an overwhelming request So like many others I headed to the market in the late evening, to avoid daytime crowds, to purchase the necessities to make life livable within the wall of my 800-square foot condo. It was unusual to learn that two of the things with the greatest value, ranked by their sales and flying off the shelves, were toilet paper and water. Within hours these items were swept away by greedy shoppers who perceived the future to include a long stay-at-home period. Other items were soon to be added to a growing list of scarcities.
I think we all expected the quarantine situation to be a brief predicament. But as day after day passed without sight of an end and then became week after week, we all began to feel the pangs of cabin fever and ask ourselves “When will this ever end?” Like others, I looked forward to being the one from my home to make the weekly escape from our compound, to go out to the stores and replenish our food supplies and meds. I took special precautions when going out into the public by wearing a mask and wearing plastic gloves. At first, the streets were basically empty of traffic.
New daily patterns of life emerged. Before mid-March, I enjoyed having two part-time jobs within Laguna Woods Village, where I live. I also directed Scrabble Club #350 on Wednesday evenings nearby at Clubhouse #2. As a result of the pandemic surrounding Laguna Woods Village, the village closed all the programs where people might congregate. That included everything. Therefore my jobs ended and I was furloughed; the scrabble club was suspended with nowhere to meet. My financial circumstance was jeopardized without any hope of when life might normalize again.
Initially, life felt like an extended vacation. I could sleep in late if I chose without having to go to work; I watched endless, mindless TV. Even the NEWS on every channel was repetitive and mindless. The surge in Corona Virus was reported on hour after hour, day after day, and the numbers of illnesses built and soared along with the resulting deaths. From an initial few deaths in mid-March to almost 120,000 deaths today as I write this. And then there were the mindless daily tweets from POTUS who from the very beginning claimed that the virus was affecting only a very TINY portion of the population and the entire panic was due to FAKE NEWS. While health officials were consistent with their warnings, the president poo-pooed them and made light of their warnings. He spoke to the people in his frequent appearances and said he took NO RESPONSIBILITY for the virus, and at the same time did NOTHING to take a leadership role to allay the fears and take actions to meet the cries for help from health officials to trump up a national response.
As EASTER came around the corner on the calendar, POTUS projected that the country could reopen by Easter and churches would be permitted to open to the faithful. It became very clear that there was a clear divide between people of faith and people of science. It’s as if people of faith believe that they are immune from, protected from the virus. Still, while the virus continues to devastate communities across America, the president’s followers do not wear protective masks and shrug off warnings of gathering in large numbers.
For me, life at home has allowed me to expand my opportunity to write. I’ve continued to write my daily blogs with an unbroken string of entries going back to the end of August 2019. Additionally I’ve create endless scrabble learning tools which I post on Facebook, use in exercises for my students as a part of my online class ‘SCRABBLE 101,’ and created tools and booklets for future publication.
I’ve become a more avid reader. In my past, I read a shortlist of different authors. But during this social distancing practice, I’ve become a readaholic, having read more than a dozen books in as many weeks. I’ve watched as many as 12 movies every week as well.
All this sitting around has not been good for my health. I never was one who enjoyed exercise. I counted on my part-time jobs to get me up and out of the house, but that has been eliminated from my daily routine. Every day I think to myself that I need to get out and walk as a minimum, but that’s as far as it goes.
I’ve become fast friends with Jake Tapper, Whoopie Goldberg, and David Muir and have spent great amounts of time with them on a daily basis.
I have had many more conversations with my sister Karen in the past months than she and I had talked over the last dozens of years. We now collaborate on our weekly PODCASTS which are linked on my website. While the focus of the podcasts is scrabble, we touch upon many other of life’s’ lessons.
While I haven’t enjoyed scrabble competition face-to-face, I have been playing many, many games of Words With Friends on Facebook. I really appreciate the time that others share with me there.
While day-to-day life has changed so dramatically for all of us, while trying to be objective and being upset by missing out on highly valued life experiences, there have been some pluses with the new normal.
Many times I think about some friends who are senior to me and how the limits of today’s regimen steal away their days, but realistically at 77 years young, I am in that same circumstance.
Then while all this is a center stage along comes the shift in focus to BLACK LIVES MATTER. As awful as the BLACK deaths are, they were timely. Vivid striking visuals of evil reignited the human fury against abuse of power and the overreaching lawless and brutality against minorities within our communities. Again exposing the unfair practices of the police at a time when the multitudes were sitting there watching their TV. It was a perfect time with a perfect medium which made a dynamic difference. TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
We’re living at a critical moment in time when the people of the United States have an opportunity and an obligation to make a massive statement by doing much, much better, and voting for a change in direction.
I’ve been shaken like so many of you. I’ve looked deeper within myself and examined where I have been while these atrocities have been occurring. I report feeling more than a little guilty about hiding out in the realm of safety instead of rushing in to help. How has that worked? It has only delayed accountability. I plan to do better.

All that’s necessary is a little common courtesy. These actions are not a part of the official rules but they make a whole lot of difference to the quality of the game.

  • In today’s world, it is accepted that there is NO SMOKING in or around the playing area.
  • Many people are sensitive to strong scents. Be considerate and DO NOT WEAR heavy perfume, aftershave, or other scents.
  • If you bring any kind of beverage to the playing table be certain that it is in NO SPILL CONTAINER.
  • Having food (snacks) at the playing table is frowned upon. Eat-in designated areas only.
  • Scrabble is a quiet game.
  • The conversation should be limited to announcing your cumulative score after each play, making challenges, and calling for and speaking to the Director when there is a dispute.
  • After the game, if you chose to speak with your opponent or anyone else be courteous to others still playing, by taking your conversation outside of the playing room.
  • Most often you may be playing with other peoples’ equipment. Treat it better than if it was your own.

DO NOT put the tip of your pen or pencil directly onto the tiles.
DO NOT move equipment from one table to another.
DO NOT slam the clock, simply tap it when your turn is over.

KNOW THE RULES and follow them. If you don’t know, call, “Director”.

Have fun and promote enjoyment and consideration for others.


If you feel anxious, stressed, or simply suffering from foot pain, it is difficult to focus your full attention on the tiles on your rack and the words hiding among them in plain sight.
Some players I’ve known have taken extraordinary measures to address their individual needs (especially in tournament settings), to address their comfort and underlying conditions. Some of the steps taken have included bringing pillows and/or cushions to sit upon, wearing masks, providing their own lamp or another light source to improve vision, slippers and/or compression socks for aching feet, a fan to cool off, or an extra sweater to beat the extreme air conditioning.
Whatever helps, it is up to you to think ahead and plan for your personal well being. People with special diets or medications have to take responsibility for that too. It is incumbent on you to advise the director before the play begins of your special needs and how you have planned to address them. Most directors will support your conditions.
Players with limited vision or Parkinson’s may also find that they are entitled to an additional 5-minutes of time on their clock in each game.
If you require extra bathroom breaks there are rules to handle your needs too. If it is mid-game the procedure is: after your turn, DO NOT replenish your tiles. Just leave the room (your clock continues to run), go to the bathroom, return, hit the clock and replenish your tiles, and the game proceeds. You may not take your phone, a dictionary, or an anagrammer with you to the bathroom.
I’ve encouraged manufacturers of footwear to create a scrabble shoe. If you feel as strongly as me, contact SKETCHERS or your other favorite shoemaker.


What I continue to find so amazing is that the average person on the street knows only about 5% of the words in the dictionary.
One of my scrabble friends, Beth Byrne shared the list below. How many of these items were ‘old news’ to you?

1. The space between your eyebrows is called a glabella.
2. The way it smells after the rain is called the petrichor.
3. The plastic or metallic coating at the end of your shoelaces
is called an aglet.
4. The rumbling of the stomach is called a wamble.
5. The cry of a newborn is called a vagitus.
6. The prongs on a fork are called tines.
7. The sheen or light you see when you close your eyes and press your hands against them is called phosphenes.
8. The tiny plastic table placed in the middle of a pizza box is called a box tent.
9. The day after tomorrow is called overmorrow.
10 Your tie toe or finger is called minimus.
11. The wire cage that holds a cork in a bottle of champagne
It is called an agraffe.
12. The ’na na na’ and ‘la la la’ which don’t really have any meaning in the lyrics is called vocables.
13. When you combine an exclamation mark and a question
mark like this ?!) it is referred to as an interrobang.
14. The space between your nostrils is called columella nasi.
15. The armhole in clothes where the sleeves are sewn
is called the armscye.
16. The condition of finding it hard to get out of bed in the
morning is called dysania.
17. Illegible handwriting is called griffonage.
18. The dot over an ‘i’ or ‘j’ is called a tittle.
19. The sick feeling that you get after eating or drinking too much
is called crapulence.
20. The metallic device used to measure your feet at a shoe store is called a Bannock device.


“Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to take rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the grey twilight that knows not victory or defeat. “ ~ Theodore Roosevelt

Scrabble™ Is such an opportunity. IT IS NOT FOR THE FAINT OF HEART.
No matter what the field of interest you pursue, no matter what your level of competence and skill, you’ll most likely find that there are others who know more or have more. Then, assuming you improve your station by reaching the next level there will still be others who still know more and have more.

It is very rare to become the King Of The Hill.
(There is only ONE at any moment)

And if you ever are so fortunate to become the KOTH, you’ll find yourself being pursued by others who wish to knock you off your perch. You may have to work even harder to stay atop than you did along the climb.
In the early 1990s when I was an ambitious newbie I created an intention to become a formidable Scrabble™ player. I studied constantly, I created study tools for myself, and checked in with many of the top players for their guidance and mentoring. I played 1:1 with friends, at clubs, and at tournaments. I played 50+ games every week for years on end.
My very first tournament was in Saginaw, Michigan (1987) when I came away with a rating of 1308 (very novice). Playing at a tournament requires many skills above just playing scrabble™ (focus, intimidation, breathing to name a few).
It took me about 12 tournaments and 27 months until I played in my first National Scrabble™ Tournament where I boosted my rating over 1400 for the first time and won a prize of $350.
Just when you think you’re HOT STUFF and on your way to glory, the roof caves in on you. For me and most others, scrabble™ ratings climb and plummet over and over again. It would take me another 20 tournaments, until November of 1990 in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, where I broke 1500 for the first time (my rating was 1515). That was the first time I thought that I might have a shot to become an EXPERT.

The EXPERT DIVISION usually was made up only with players rated 1800 and higher. Occasionally a lower-rated player was permitted to PLAY-UP.
I set my sites on 1800.
After the tournament in March 1991, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee I achieved a rating of 1571, but after a poor performance a month later in Grand Haven, Michigan I was back down to 1488. Oh so frustrating. I dug my heels even down deeper and renewed my resolve.
In Ann Arbor, Michigan in February 1993 I bounded over 1600, to 1638. With that achieved, I became a bit cocky. Another year plus, in May 1994 in Montreal, Canada I rose to 1687. The next 4 years I bounced up and down like a yo-yo. After playing my 129th tournament in Reno, Nevada on January 18, 1997, I cracked 1700, winning 21 of 32 games and earning a rating of 1721. August 1997 after playing the MASTER’s CHAMPIONSHIP in Cincinnati, Ohio my rating stood at 1761. I was only 39 rating points from my goal of 1800.

I had just spent the summer of 1997 in southern Michigan. Living in a 32’ RV in Newport Beach, California, I had driven cross-country to Michigan to help celebrate two weddings. My daughter Stacy married Dan Schwartz in June and later in August my daughter Sue married Don Sutton. Besides the weddings, I played endless scrabble™ with old friends and attended tournaments in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Portland, Oregon on my way home. I turned 55 just after the Cincinnati event and found myself driving on Highway 55 on my 55th birthday,
Can you spell ‘slippery slope’?

When you sign up to play in a tournament you never know exactly where you’ll be grouped (Division 1, 2, 3 or top, or bottom in a division) If you are the top player in a division, your rating is higher than those below you and the expectation is that you will beat those challengers. Your rating will drop every time you lose to a lower-ranked player.
After achieving my 1761 rating, in the next dozen tournaments, I was frequented, I found myself to be the top or near the top-ranking player in my division. My dismal performances as such caused my dramatic drop in my ranking. That’s when some of us succumb and say things like, “It’s just a game.”

Today after 319 tournaments played my rating is 1437. (I, of course, think that I am underrated and much better than that.) Yet I have so many memories of flirting with greatness, playing against several of the elite players from around the globe. (David Gibson, Mark Landsberg, Joel Sherman, Joe Edley, Chuck Armstrong, Rita Norr, Mohan Chunkath, and Gwen Rae)

Aim for the Stars, if you miss you could still land on the Moon.


  • An endless number of statistics regarding the scrabble™ play of tournament and the individuals who participate are collected, stored and available for viewing at
  • Did you know that there is an APP called ULU available to look up all the words in the OWL?
  • SCRABBLE™ GO is available to play on your phone.

Beer/Scrabble – one and the same


Have you noticed that there are certain letter combinations that are especially difficult to play? That’s because there are not many words that contain those groups of letters together in words. Don’t waste time attempting to play those tiles. Prepare yourself because you will have them on your rack and you’ll have to deal with them.
Death Combos include II; QW; UU; VU; V V; WU; WW; YU; and YY.
You may have other combinations that plague you. (I have a tough time with AA.) If you have other combos that cause your mind to go blank, add them to the list.

Let’s deal with them. Consult your OWL or OSPD and write out a list of 5 or more words that contain each of your ‘DEATH COMBOS’.
Put them on hardcopy flashcards or video flashcards. Study and learn these words. Be on automatic if and when you have these combos on your rack. If you can play the COMBO or at least one of the two tiles . . . DO IT.
IF you have a ‘DEATH COMBO’ + a 5-Letter-Word, DO NOT play the 5-Letter-Word, keeping the death combo, unless the 5-letter-word scores high points or if it is necessary to block your opponent from scoring big.

You are always playing both offensively and defensively so everything is relative. Sorry, I can’t give you a rule etched in stone; you still have to make the final decision. Make your best guess. If you guess wrong, learn from it and try to not make the same mistake again. BUT if you play a lot of scrabble™ you will make some of the same mistakes again. Don’t beat yourself up.
You always have the option to exchange the Death Combo when it is your turn. At times this is the best option if you’re not far behind in the score or if you’ve tracked and there are several valuable tiles still unseen.

During the first year I began playing at scrabble™ clubs I was definitely the ‘fresh meat’. Even though I had played casually over the year before with family and friends, I was clueless when it came to club scrabble™.
I was a teacher by profession and very stubborn and determined. I really wanted to learn how to play the game well. I wanted to learn how the champs studied and try to rise in their ranks. I asked the directors for tips and I watched the top players in the club play one another. I kept a notebook and at every session, I filled a page with scrabble™ jargon played by others that looked like an alien language to me.

Someone back then gave me a dog-eared copy of a booklet called ‘The Backwards Book’. He suggested that I look at words differently from the way I was used to seeing them on the board and in the OSPD. I thought he was nuts but he was one of the star players in the club.
I remember spending hours and hours at my desk at home looking at the pages and the way the words were organized in The Backwards Book. It was an alphabetical arrangement of all the legal words but they were all in order from right to left, instead of left to right as in the usual dictionary.

At a glance, you saw lists of words that ended the same way. All the words that ended with ‘ful’, ‘ium,’ ‘less,’ ‘ness,’ ‘way,’ etc. Players at the club were always guessing about the words that ended with ‘ING’ (does it take an ’S’ or not? In the backward book, all the words which ended with ‘INGS’ were right there, all together.
It goes without saying that it was one of my favorite study tools. For some reason, the publisher of that book never updated it over the years. Many new legal words, as many as 20,000+ have come into play since that book I used way back then.

About two years ago I remembered the magic in that old book and I tore apart my home looking for my old, outdated copy. It was nowhere to be found. I wrote emails to many of my old friends asking if they remembered the book and if they still had a copy that I might borrow or buy. While many remembered it, no one still had a copy.
That’s when I decided to recreate it. I’m not a programmer so I didn’t know how to create a program to sort the words for me. I told myself that if I were to type all 175,000+ words manually that maybe 5% — 10% of the words might possibly transfer into my consciousness by osmosis. And that is how and when I began.
How long did it take? Can you imagine endless hours, endless day, endless weeks, many months? And then one day about 9+ months later I was finished. At that point, a good friend (a top natch programmer) suggested that during all my typing I most likely made many typos and that would be a shame. The thought of editing the tome manually made my mind spin. So I allow my good friend to proof my book.
I call it a BACKWARDS DICTIONARY but there are no definitions, It is an alphabetized word list of the legal words from the OWL up to 8 letters long, but alphabetized from right-to-left.
It is amazing. My first printing sold out in a few days, hot off the press. My printer has been closed during the COVID-19 Pandemic so I only have a few copies in-hand until he reopens. This is the first time I’ve written about it because I only have 10 in stock. The book sells for $40 + $8 shh. If you want one order on PayPal.
Pay to the account of

See a sample column below.


TODAY IS THE DAY TO START (Today is Yesterday’s tomorrow.)
How many times have you said to yourself -or- thought to yourself “ I’ll begin ‘THAT’ tomorrow”?
How many times did that tomorrow never come?
About 48.6% of the time people never take action. About 38.3% of people begin ‘THAT’ tomorrow but lose inertia within the first week. Only 13.1% of people will actually follow through on whatever ‘THAT’ is.
This even applies to pleasurable things.
If you really want something to occur you should

  1. Make a conscious intention for ‘THAT’ to happen.
  2. Write it down on a TO DO LIST on your calendar.
  3. Tell someone about your plan. and 
  4. JUST DO IT!

When you are doing ‘THAT’ the odds of it happening will go up considerably.  Things that reduce the odds of ‘THAT’ happening include but not limited to

  1. The weather
  2. Health issues
  3. Having a flat tire
  4. The dog ate it
  5. Aliens

When the object at hand has to do with developing skills to improve your scrabble™ game, you’ll definitely want to begin TODAY as opposed to TOMORROW. That’s because there is so much to learn beyond the 175,000 legal words. You can compare the journey to master the game of scrabble™ to a journey in the travels of an explorer who plans to travel west. No matter how far west he travels there’s always more west to go.
There are many levels of learning which can compare to the layers in an onion. Just stop and think about the 2-Letter-Words. A first time player arrives at club and I attempt to size him up and assess his skill level. He tells me that he knows the 2s. As we begin to play a game I find him challenging ‘HM,’ ‘EW,’ and ‘XU’. Guess what? He doesn’t know the 2s. He knows some of the 2s. That’s okay; we all have more to learn. But the 2s are an important part of the BASICs. We need the 2s in order to attach the words we find on our rack to the words on the board.
Did you know that EXPERTS sometimes review the 2s? Knowing the 2s is actually not GOOD ENOUGH. It should be a goal of every serious scrabble™ player to MASTER THE 2s, MASTERY looks like something second nature; knowing something without having to think about it and figuring it out.

Do you know all the TWOs?


When enthusiastic scrabble™ players first find scrabble™ clubs they often think that their skills are good enough to allow them to become instant winners.
This notion is quickly snuffed out during the very first session.
The problem IS NOT that they are lacking an adequate vocabulary. The challenge IS that there are many word skills that the newbies’ DON’T KNOW THAT THEY DON’T KNOW.
Not to worry. Scrabble™ directors and many players who attend our clubs want the newbies to succeed. We all want new blood in our groups. Scrabble™ clubs and tournaments wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for all the other players. So, most of us take it upon ourselves to teach the ropes to the newbies.
Being a newbie has many frustrations. The first thing is all the ‘LEGAL’ scrabble jargon that litters the board. The common newbie will frequently ask the question, “Is That A Real Word?” Opponents play things like ‘CWM,’ ‘HMM,’ ‘UNMEW’, or ‘QWERTY’, and the newbie will want to just get up and go home.
The good news is that newbies who weather the storm will more often than not turn a corner and become a challenge to others.
One thing that is very hard to learn is that THERE IS VALUE IN EVERY GAME EVEN IF YOU LOSE. There is something to learn from each loss if you take the time to look back with a student’s eyes. It may be a word that is new to you; it may be a hook that your opponent used. Maybe you played a word that opened a bingo line when you could have played somewhere else.
IN THE BEGINNING . . . winning is not the greatest teacher. Do not permit yourself to be defeated by your Win-Lose Ratio. Remember the tortoise and the hare.
If you want assistance, ask the director, or ask me. (949) 510-1673. Don’t waste time creating a plan with the guidance of a mediocre player/friend.


June 9, 2020
Studying to improve your scrabble™ skills can be great fun and you can choose to do it almost anywhere. The tools for scrabble™ are relatively small and portable permitting you to study at home, on the subway on your way to work, in a plane when you’re flying cross-country to a tournament, or while you sit in a waiting room for your doctor, a haircut, or an oil change.
In today’s world, you can use your cell phone to play scrabble™ online against both friends and total strangers. You can carry your tablet with you and study video flashcards to build your knowledge of STEMS or HOOKS or 5-VOWEL-8s.
My old friend, Walter Koniki, of Independence, OH owned Angie’s Pizza for years. He had scrabble™ words that he was studying taped to the ceiling, right above the spot where he stood, tossing pizza dough up in the air.
Another friend, Chuck Armstrong, wrote every legal word on 3 x 5 cards and filed them in a 4-drawer file cabinet that rimmed the perimeter of his living room.
Scrabble™ mavens are creative in the ways they invent to study the arsenal of words that they’ll need to achieve scrabble™ excellence.
It’s up to you. Study early in the morning when you are fresh and alert. Study throughout the day on short breaks in your day to reinforce certain words or concepts. Study during meals at home or out at your favorite restaurant. Study just before bedtime and dream away about words the whole night long.
You can study wearing a tux for some formal affair, in grungy work-clothes while mowing the backyard lawn, at the beach in your bathing suit, or lounging at home with NO pants at all. It’s your choice.
But whatever you do, Study, Study, Study, and improve your skills. Move up in the ranks to outshine your competition.
One DYNAMIC way to get a fast start is to enroll yourself into SCRABBLE™ 101, my online class that will emerge you with lists and exercises and strategies that relate to scrabble. I promise that you’ll learn some things that will cause you to think “AHA, I never thought about that”. I strive to teach you how to see the board and words differently, seeing new ways to achieve higher scores while unraveling racks of letters to identify bingos hiding in plain sight.

You can begin this 21 DAY class TODAY. (Fee: $199).

Call me NOW! (949) 510-1673. Pay via Paypal or with any credit card.

My dad, Jay Harmon Moss, was born on June 8 in 1917, 103 years ago, and passed away on February 3, 2004.
I am his eldest, born in 1942 during the crazy times of the WWII era, in Detroit, Michigan.
The carefree years that accompanied my childhood provided shelter to me that only now can I appreciate. I’ve been awakened by the reality of the events in today’s Pandemic, in today’s Economic Challenges due to the loss of jobs and income streams that people count on, Despotic leaders in the White House and Congress, Injustice personified in the ranks of our police forces (hiding in plain sight).
I find myself wondering . . . Dad, how did you manage to weather the storms that brewed during your lifetime? You were born in the midst of the Spanish Flu Pandemic and became critically ill as a baby. I am proof that you somehow beat that menace but sustained a weakened heart that challenged you again in your senior years. You waded through the Great Depression years helping support yourself and contributing to your family as best you could. You had to work and set aside your personal ambitions of becoming a veterinarian. And then WWII comes along. Your physicality marked you as 4F so you went off to work for the war effort while others went to the front lines.
You were always a hard worker, working long days for minimum wages. I remember you coming home from work, eating dinner, and drifting off fast asleep in your easy chair in the living room. You were a staunch family man. You always demonstrated love and affection for mom and we filled our spare time on weekends with visits to your parents and mom’s parents. Without a profession to rely upon you were always in search of a better job. I had a hard time keeping up with knowing what you were doing and you described yourself as ‘Jack f All Trades, Master Of None’. I loved working alongside of you, holding a flashlight while you repaired jukeboxes, and being your hopper, delivering milk in the wee hours of the morning before the world woke up.

And you were so creative. You wrote so eloquently. Your penmanship looked like calligraphy. You wrote notes and letters and poems. Mom prized the hundreds of poems you showered upon her. At family weddings and other celebrations, you wrote parodies to songs that left every eye in the clan weeping. You celebrated me at my Bar Mitzvah with a new version of ‘Mighty Like A Rose’. You gave a stab at becoming a MusicMan when you and next-door neighbor Paul Courtner collaborated on songs like ‘Doctor, Doctor’.
You were a dreamer and schemer. While working full time with a commute of more than an hour to and from work you taught yourself to become a rabbit breeder. And from the beginning of 1 male and 2 females you built a rabbit herd of hundreds in a matter of months, right there in our garage on Ohio, in Detroit. When the neighbors caught wind of what you were doing (you know what I mean) you moved the herd to a rabbitry in Rochester Hills, MI right along the route to your day job..
Even in the most difficult of times, you managed to keep a positive perspective and believed that ‘THE BEST IS YET TO COME’.
There have been numerous times when I been standing, usually shaving, in front of the bathroom mirror, when instead of seeing myself, you appeared, looking back at me from within the mirror. It’s eerie, but oh so welcoming to be standing so near to you.
I believe that my passion for words is a gift to me from you. Thank you so much.

Happy Birthday, With Love,
#1 Son

The odds say that if you’re seeing double you have a problem. As a general rule in scrabble™ too . . . having doubles is a curse that gets in your way for finding bingos. I will not deny that there are thousands of words that include 2 of the same letter ie. ABBA; CYCLE; EDDO; WOOFER; AALII. BUT take it from the scrabble™ oddsmakers, your chance to bingo improve dramatically when you are without doubles.
POINT OF OBSERVATION. There’s a fork in the road where we find ourselves split into two camps of players. Some of you who have just read this explanation and warning in a casual manner may have thought to yourself ‘interesting’ . . . and then will continue to do what you’ve always done in the past (play your own style and your own game). OTHERS, having read the exact same explanation, will make a concerted effort to create their future racks without doubles and be satisfied to simply reap the benefits from the oddsmaker’s advice.


I watched two of my former students play a game of scrabble™ at club. John was down in the score by 53 points when he used his BLANK to create the word ‘JU?T’ which scored 23 points. After the game was over I approached John and asked him about that play. He explained that he had had the BLANK for three turns and had not been able to use it. DUH? I asked him how that strategy worked for him? He admitted that it didn’t. The BLANKS are the keys to creating bingos. The rule of the oddsmakers is: NEVER PLAY A BLANK FOR FEWER THAN ’50 POINTS’. John learned that piece of information from me but still becomes impatient when playing the game.

Which is more fun for you? Winning or Losing the game?
Maybe you answer that neither is important, it’s just the fun of the game.
From my perspective, I believe that everyone finds greater enjoyment from Winning vs Losing. I see you beam when you find a great play and earn a large score. I sense your pride when you win the game.
I watch endless players settle into playing mostly the same words week after week because they never attempt to lean even a single new word from the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. Even when I serve up a ‘WORD OF THE DAY’ on this website, most players never even take a peek.

Maybe that’s just a part of Human Nature. (Do as much as you have to do to get by.)  I challenge you to learn just one new word today which will make me or your opponent pause to think if it is acceptable. I invite your competition.


I’ve referred to Mike Baron in the past. Mike is a college professor and a highly rated scrabble™ guru on the shortlist of noted scrabble™ champions.
When playing the game of scrabble™ at its highest level players look to memory tools to help themselves achieve excellence. There are more than 175,000 words on the OWL (Official Word List) and many strategies players can employ to prompt their own MEMORY and RECALL.
One of the tools that Mike uses so well and has shared with the ranks is the power on MNEMONICS. A mnemonic is simply using a ‘made-up’ word or phrase that will assist you to remember some word, set of words, or some valuable piece of information,
The mnemonic I want you to consider is one that Baron manufactured to help himself remember four key strategies when deciding what to play on each turn.
The mnemonic is ‘SCRABOTI’. Why is this so magical? Good question!
It only becomes magical when you understand the message it holds and when you use that information in plotting your course throughout a game of scrabble™.
Mike uses ‘SCRABOTI’ to remind himself of four important things to remember while he plays the game. (Often in the heat of competition we get caught up in our own minds and lose sight of our strategy. Tools like SCRABOTI can pull us back and help us refocus in the midst of the battle.)
Mike uses successive pairs of letters in ‘SCRABOTI’ to prompt himself to think:
SC = score;
RA = rack leave;
BO = board development;
TI = tile turnover. 
For Mike, these 4 pieces are essential when playing every single turn.
Another player might have the exact same goal but may use a completely different prompt.   The mnemonic itself isn’t important; the job it does is.
The more you personalize your tools, the greater chance they will work for you.
We all probably learned the mnemonic ‘HOMES’ when we were in geography class, studying the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.

Always be open to using tools to help you develop your memory.
Check out:

One of the GIANTS in the game of competitive scrabble™ is Mike Baron. He has written extensively on the game, having authored a number of articles and books, including Scrabble® Wordbook. A member of the National Scrabble® Association’s first Advisory Board, and a “Johnny Appleseed” ambassador for the game, he was instrumental in helping forge the first World Scrabble Championship and School Scrabble® program.
Besides offering us his own wisdom and guidance, he sometimes plucks the gems from others the quote below:

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950

Here are just three of the many ideas he has shared over the years.
“(1) Play more tiles at game’s outset in the race for the power tiles (a ? Represents a blank tile): ? ? S S S S J Q X Z.
(2) Play more tiles if ahead thereby more speedily using up your opponent’s comeback ammunition.
(3) Slow down, play fewer tiles, if behind.

I salute Mike and so many of the other players who have promoted the game and raised it to higher levels of play. When I expound on the ‘HOW TO’ of the game I am usually sharing ideas I learned from others, standing on their shoulders adding a bit of my own personal experience.
I’m sure, if you’re a club player you know that in a game between two opponents you find yourself playing both offense and defense. That requires you to possess both sets of skills in order to be successful. There is a delicate balance to do both simultaneously.
Offensively you are always looking for the highest scoring play . . . BUT at the same time, you will try to be careful not to set up your opponent for a huge comeback play. There are many things to consider.
1) Try to avoid serving up a TLS next to a vowel in your play.
2) Try to avoid placing any letter between two TWS or DWS.
3) Play words that can’t take hooks.

My general rules are
1) Never spend your BLANK for less than 50 points. (It is usually the key factor in playing a BINGO).
2) Never spend your ’S’ for less than 25 points.
3) The decision of what tiles to play from your rack on every play includes the consideration of what you might do on your next play (this requires your awareness of the tiles remaining unseen and what you may draw from the tile bag).


Every part of our lives are influenced by and subjected to witnessing events and the quality of justice or injustice that prevails.  Yes, even in scrabble™.
All games have RULES. The rules apply to each and every player. In some settings like scrabble™ clubs and tournaments, there are directors who are sanctioned and assigned the obligation of making adjudications when events occur where rules have or may have been violated, broken. Charges for wrong acts are usually made when one of the two opponents in the game, one player calls ‘DIRECTOR’ which summons the director who then investigates, listens to each of the opponents, clarifies the actions and allegations, and then makes a determination according to the Official Rules of The Game.
GOOD OUTCOMES are expected and hoped for, but do not always occur. The director’s investigation of the facts is limited to the testament of the two opponents and others who may have witnesses the allegation. The director’s decision is based on the information he/she can gather. It is not always the whole truth and clear. The bias held by the director will color the adjudication.
I have heard about directors’ calls that I believe are GOOD and others that I find disgusting and in my opinion WRONG.
I myself have directed thousands of club sessions and more than 250 tournaments. Of all the hundreds of adjudications that I’ve made over the last 30 years, the greater majority were easy and direct:

  • Who Plays First?
  • Player #1 has overdrawn 2 tiles when replenishing her rack. What should she do?
  • Our game is over and my opponent went overtime. What is the penalty?

When a director makes a BAD CALL, that director chastises himself/herself, especially if it was during the days before we used computers to adjudicate challenges of words played. I was also the ‘WORD JUDGE’. I used a version of the OSPD to look up challenged words.
When I was called to adjudicate a word. I looked in the OSPD and ruled the word to be UNACCEPTABLE. The player who made the play picked up the word and lost his turn. Later that day that player came to me with a dictionary and showed me that I had GOOFED. His word was acceptable. I apologized profusely but there was no going back and correcting my BAD.
**FOR YOUR INFORMATION. If a director makes a ruling during a club or tournament and you believe that he/she is wrong . . . YOU have the right to ask for a 2nd OPINION from another source.



I am not Black so this is just one white mans’ opinion. From my experience at scrabble™ clubs and tournaments I have witnessed the scrabble™ community as color-blind. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about organized scrabble™. I’ve met and made friends with people of different colors and cultures whom I may have never met otherwise. We’ve played together, traveled together, and dined together. Some of these friendships blossomed into life-long friendships.
The death of George Floyd and the inequities and injustice it represents anger and saddens me when I think of the implications for my black friends. It leaves me at a loss for what I might say to them to soothe their anguish or make any positive difference. It makes me wonder if I’m any part of the problem.
I’m usually one of those people who remains in the background, expressing disgust at injustice but rarely marching or demonstrating in the streets. I’ve signed petitions and written posts on Facebook expressing my positions. I’m questioning myself today if that alone is enough.
It is obvious to me that the CAN Of Justice has been kicked down the road for 150 years since The Emancipation Proclamation was signed. Some white men in power have taken baby-steps to quell the rumblings along with imposing strong-arm methods to restore order time after time. And they have never created the justice promised in The Bill Of Rights or other beautifully sounding promises in writing that demand to do ‘THE RIGHT THINGS’.
The ‘KNEE’ on George Floyd’s neck was a vivid observation of the ‘KNEE’ that is held against the necks of the non-white constituents living the American Experience. It remains anything but equal and just.
Leaders like so many in positions of power continue to KICK THE CAN and try to keep things under control. They have many reasons for the actions which they take but they all boil down to POWER and MONEY. Most of our leaders in power are so rich and entitled that they have long lost touch with the challenges of living life without food, money, health care, and more. The chasm between the HAVES and HAVE-NOTS continues to grow dynamically.
This Pandemic that we’re experiencing has brought with it unwanted off-shoots shining the spotlight on lack of health care, unemployment, lack of realistic safety nets to ensure that we live in a land which establishes Justice, insures domestic Tranquility, provides for the common defense, promotes the general Welfare, and secures the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity to all of its people.

Oh, what a wonderful world it would be if we could only all live our lives around the scrabble™ board where we could all live equally in peace.

The rule in scrabble™ is that Proper Names are not acceptable to play unless the word has an alternate definition. When I was growing up the kids in my neighborhood had names like Bill, Jane, John, and Mary. While I was allowed to play BILL and JOHN, Jane and Mary were both unacceptable.
When I began playing club scrabble I knew a lot of people who came from outside the neighborhood. They came from other cultures from all around the world. I never knew people with so many of their names.

When I learned the scrabble™ rule relating to names I had the realization that there were a huge number of names that had other meanings. I have taken the time to make lists of these names/words and now play them and sometimes draw a challenge from an uninformed opponent.

Here is a long list of most of the ‘A’ names that have other meanings. It is well worth your time to consider this.


You could google ‘NAMES’ and find lists of other names from B to Z but then you’ll have to look up each name in the OSPD6 to see if it is acceptable to play in the game of scrabble.

Take Action! There are all sorts of pills and potions on the market that promise help in this area. I am not a doctor so I will not endorse any single item but you might ask your primary physician.
I strongly believe that we all possess the ability to hold on to as well as expand our memory by using techniques that have been around for decades. If you are motivated to do so it’s easy to get started.
Make a complete list of what you hope to accomplish.
Things like:

  • remember the names of friends and neighbors;
  • remember new words in order to be more successful playing games like scrabble™;
  • remembering general data to become more valuable in the workplace;
  • become more ‘KenJennings-like’ in order to win millions on Jeopardy.

My new and updated online class, Scrabble™ 101, will lead you through 21 steps over 21 Days to provide you with all the tools you need to become a scrabble™ player to be reckoned with.

After taking the online class, Scrabble™ 101, students often complain that their friends and family members who used to play with them will no longer play scrabble™ with them because they are TOO GOOD.
When you choose to take a class like Scrabble™ 101 you are making a commitment to an ACTION. You are declaring your accountability to me, your teacher. You are committing to 21 Days of lessons and exercises.
I promise that you will rise in the ranks.

  • You will learn what you’ve been doing wrong and make the necessary corrections.
  • You learn things you never knew which were hiding in plain sight.
  • You feel the thrill of learning new skills and using them at the board.
  • You’ll experience the THRILL OF VICTORY more often.

You Can Remember. Allow me to show you how.

And if you find that interesting, you’ll find countless fun facts in the world of words. LISTEN and SILENT are ANAGRAMS (different words that share the same set of letters). They also share four other words with the same set of letters:


Scrabble players are tougher opponents when they are skilled in finding and using anagrams.

Your opponent makes the first play in the game and puts down the word ‘PLENTY’ at (8D) to (8I). Having the aforementioned rack plus a ‘V.’ Let’s see what we could play.
‘PLENTY’ does not take an’ S” after the ‘Y,’ so let’s look for a parallel play (some word to play horizontally above or below PLENTY.)
Here is where knowing the 2-Letter words is essential. Two of the anagrams above begin with an ‘E,’ which will play under the ‘Y.’ If you only see LISTEN and SILENT, those choices don’t work.
There are other choices. Can you think of one or more?
You can play vertically through one of the letters in PLENTY. There are many, many choices.

By any chance, did you consider a ‘FRONT HOOK’ to PLENTY? ‘A’
You can play any one of several words that have an ‘A.’
One of the things I love about this game is that there are usually multiple choices on every play. You have to survey the situation quickly and not fall into the trap of looking for everything because there is a TIME FACTOR, and your clock is wasting away on your turn. Spend no more than 1.5 minutes of each play to be safe.

Not every word has an anagram. Write down ten words randomly from your dictionary. Look and identify anagrams within them.

It was a year after the episode happened that I created The Barnyard Series. And it all occurred in 1991 after a dream of real events that had happened some twenty years earlier.
In one of my actual past lives, I was the owner and Headmaster of Bloomfield Nursery School & Kindergarten, in West Bloomfield, Michigan. I remember myself as being very creative even back then. I was always looking for some way to make my school outstanding by standing out.
The school initially sat upon 5 acres where city living abutted country. I was attuned to the notion that kids loved animals, and we certainly had enough space to create our own little Barnyard.
BUT, I was a City Mouse with this image about a Barnyard. I had been able to meet every challenge during the school’s formation with a degree in business or experience working with zoning boards of the State Department of Education. What could be so tricky in creating a Barnyard?
I had a great friend who was a builder and another who was an architect. Within four weeks, we poured a foundation to support a super-sized garage of 20’ x 40’.
The salesman that sold the school cleaning supplies happened to live on a farm and offed to give the school a pony named Ginger; he even offered to deliver the pony with feed. He provided directions for us to build a corral adjacent to a side door of the garage. My builder was able to create the log fences in about a day. Do you know how much one little pony poops? Would you have any idea what to do with an accumulation of poop? This city mouse was overwhelmed.
I found a few teenagers who lived nearby and employed them to feed and shovel up after Ginger. They did a great job.
A month later, the children were scheduled to take a field trip to a Farm that catered to city kids, teaching them about all the animals. While at the farm, I had an opportunity to speak with farmer McDonald and share my pony and barn experience, I was floored when he made me an offer impossible to refuse. He offered me a goat, sheep, and piglet. It also included a dozen chicks and a couple of ducks with enough feed for a week. He suggested that I come back to the farm on the weekend, early on Sunday. Sounded cool, right?
Being the City Mouse without a clue, I called a friend to join us. He and his wife came with my wife and me. We drove to the farm in my station wagon ( an hour away). Farmer McDonald put the piglet into a burlap bag. I never planned about protecting the inside of my car. The farmer put some plastic on the floor in the back then loaded a closed box of chicks and ducks plus a live sheep and goat on the plastic.
Within seconds the car stunk like a barnyard. DAH! The hour drive back to the school brought a lot of waves and laughter from people in the cars around us. Our friends sitting in the middle seat had to deal with the sheep and goat nuzzling them over the seat and sneezing on them.
Things like this make indelible memories, and in this case, 20 years later, I showed up in one of my dreams when I was creating a scrabble word list during the daytime. I entitled the lists ‘The Barnyard Series’ and here are some of the entries:


Safe Drivers Save 40%.
ANAGRAMMERS Score 40% More.
An ANAGRAM is a set of letters that can be manipulated and re-ordered so they can form two or more different legal words.
Did you know POOPING = POGONIP?
And it doesn’t matter how small or large the group.

  • 2s: AB = BA DO = OD HA = AH MO = OM TE = ET
  • 3s EAT = ATE = TAE = TEA = ETA SPA = ASP = PAS = SAP

Not every word has an ANAGRAM: ID; TOE; MOUE; WITCH; ETESIAN.
What is the advantage that anagrammers possess?

When it is your turn to play, it is your challenge to place your letters onto the board creating a legal Scrabble™ word. If you are an anagrammer you will most likely know how to look for and identify combinations that fit onto your board.


When you develop the skill of anagramming you possess one of the most important skills of scrabble™ champions. It lends itself to finding the words in the system of STEMS. Each STEM provides a pathway to many 7-Letter-Words which in turn earn you a 50 point bonus for each bingo you play.


When it comes to playing the ‘official’ game of scrabble™, there isn’t any room for debate about a word is and what isn’t a word. Yet there is a constant debate on this question from ‘casual’ players who make up the majority of those who play the game day after day.
At THE BEGINNING (back in the late 1940s and early 1950s,) there was no ‘official’ dictionary. People used the FUNK & WAGNALLS or whichever dictionary they already had in their home. Years later, when the NSA (National Scrabble™ Association) was formed, and clubs and competitions began, the official word list was incorporated into the game to create a level playing field. Over the years, the OWL (Official Word List) management was assigned to the care of a WORD COMMITTEE. This committee continues to have jurisdiction over the list and has altered the OWL many times with additions and subtractions.
Currently, the only source which sells the newest copy of the OWL is NASPA (North American Scrabble™ Players Association). Some used copies may be available online at eBay or Amazon. Always make sure that you are using the latest copy of the OWL, especially if you are a serious competitor.
The OWL currently contains more than 170,000+ words. While the OWL is primarily in ENGLISH, many words come from other languages, and they are legal to play, Coming back to the question WHAT IS A WORD:
Many words are real and not found in the OWL; therefore, they are now acceptable in scrabble™. There are many foreign words in the OWL that have been transliterated. Those may have more than one acceptable spelling. There is slang in the OWL… Abbreviations and Proper Names are not acceptable in scrabble. However, when a Proper Name has a second meaning, i.e., bob, nancy, or abigail, those words can be acceptable if they are on the OWL.
There are currently 107 two-letter-words on the OWL. Each of those words has a definition; they ARE NOT abbreviations. The OWL format is merely an alphabetical list of all acceptable words from 2 to 14 letters long and their extensions. Definitions are not provided.
The OSPD6 (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary 6th Edition) is produced by Merriam Webster and sold online and in bookstores. All the entries in this dictionary are found on the OWL. HOWEVER, not all the words on the OWL are located in the OSPD6.
The OSPD6 has definitions for all of its entries.
The OSPD6 does not include more than 140 ‘naughty words’ to protect school children’s morality. Those naughty words can be legally played in scrabble outside of school competitions.

And that’s all I have to say about that!

In order to be successful playing scrabble™, players require a total awareness of the letters on their racks, the countless words stored away in their memory, and a general understanding of the opportunities that they are creating for their opponents with every move they make. When you are engaging with just one opponent, you are playing both Offense and Defense.
When you are taking your turn, you must also consider how your opponent may respond after your move; additionally, you must imagine your next play. That’s a lot to be thinking, but you need to evaluate every step if you want to be a frequent WINNER.

  • Play a game of solitaire with two racks.
  • Practice analyzing the board.
  • Practice getting faster at seeing the set-ups that each turn makes.
  • Always be thinking ahead one move; if you can, imagine ahead two steps.

Many-to-most players sit there thinking away when their opponents are pondering their play. Sometimes they even decide what their next play will be. That’s good. BUT, after your opponent makes their move pause and look at the board. Reexamine any new opportunities that your opponent provided for you. Check out any new openings at the HOT SPOTS. Look for available HOOKS. Play quickly, but don’t miss an opportunity because you played too fast.
Develop your mastery at TRACKING. Develop a sense of knowing what tiles remain unseen, especially the ‘power tiles’: J, K, Q, X, Z, S, S, S, S, and two blanks.
Don’t FISH blindly. I’ve watched players exchanging in the hope of drawing a ’T’ when there were already 6 Ts sitting on the board. There are only 6 Ts.
Do you know how many of each tile is in a complete set? 9 As 2 Bs 2 Cs, 4 Ds
After your game of solitaire scrabble™, pick up a handful of tiles randomly off the board, put them aside face down, then track the remaining tiles. When you finished tracking, check to determine your accuracy. Do this repeatedly until you can track a board with 100% accuracy in under 3 minutes? Then begin tracking in your games.
When an opponent plays a word that you don’t know, write it down, add it to your list of ‘New Word I Learned At Scrabble™.’ Next time you can play that word, do so.

Don’t miss any opportunity to learn and grow.


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 that 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 holds a definite advantage.
  • ANAGRAMMERS all know that ‘POOPING’ = ‘POGONIP.’
  • Fast THINKERS use TIME more efficiently, pressuring their opponents.
  • Using the HOT SPOTS will make your score SIZZLE.

8 Simple Strategies Used By Winner:

  1. Have your custom SCORESHEET and TRACKING SYSTEM.
  2. Use the bathroom before beginning each game.
  3. Sit TALL in your chair to intimidate your opponent. Sit upon a pillow.
  4. Catch your opponent doing something wrong. Call the director.
  5. Have ten unusual words in your arsenal and play them.
  6. Verify each score. Catch your opponent, miscounting.
  7. Learn to TRACK accurately. Use that to take the best advantage.
  8. 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.