Blogs Jan 2020 to April 2020



At times I observe newer players who are very passionate about gaining masses of word knowledge as quickly as possible. Some of those players are super bright and believe that they can create their own system for learning to achieve their goals.
I would never interfere with their pursuits.
And yet I would like to share with the rest of you who want a fast start to consider that you may not need to reinvent the wheel. There are archives with the work of former mavins who invented a system that has been used for decades to achieve excellence.
Over the years each new generation has stood on the shoulders of previous generations to climb to higher levels of learning.

The Story Of Creation
DAY #1
An unemployed architect and engineer, Alfred Mosher Butts, was lounging in a chaotic world of void when he experienced a personal BIG BANG, inventing a game he called Kriss-Kross. A dozen years passed while the game gelled and evolved into Scrabble. THEN . . .
DAY #2
In the beginning, there was pencil and paper when players read dictionaries and learn new words one at a time.
DAY #3
Players learn about using the HOT SPOTS on the board and how to use the placement of words to earn premium scores.
DAY #4
On this day players learned the importance of the 2-Letter-Words and how HOOKS permitted words to attach to one another, especially when played parallel to each other.
DAY #5
And then they recognized STEMS. Sets of letters with a high probability of creating BINGOs were identified. And the secret leaked to the vast majority of players and high scores erupted.
DAY #6
Players excitedly explored other means for attaining high scores, exposing EXTENSIONS, DOUBLE/DOUBLES, TRIPLE/TRIPLES, and ANAGRAMS.
DAY #7
And on the Seventh Day, the players rested, sorta. They let all their new knowledge seep deep into their consciousnesses and prepared for competitions that were on the horizon in clubs and at tournaments.

We have been blessed.

How do you look at things? Do you have a preferred perspective? Are you more focused on how things begin or how they end?
If you play scrabble™, frequently work with words; in my opinion, you MUST look at both ends of words to develop a significant advantage over your opponents.
A while back, I considered ‘strange’ (unusual ) ways that words end. The thing that made a ‘strange ending’ in my study was the infrequency of words ending with a particular letter or set of letters.

  • Do you know that there is only one word on the OWL that ends with ‘….YK’?
  • The answer is ‘BASHLYK.’
  • Do you know that there is only one word on the OWL that ends with ‘….IH’?
  • The answer is ‘SHANTIH.’
    Now some others will tell you that it is silly to rely on this kind of information when the odds are so slim that you’ll ever be able to play those words. But I’m not telling you to spend 99% of your time in this endeavor. But how about spending 1% or 2% of your time learning a few of these unusual oddities?
  • How about the two words that end with ‘…NQ’
  • How about the six words that end with ‘…HK
  • How about the words that end with ‘…YU’
  • Have you ever been a snooper, looker, detective, peeper? – or – a pryer, meddler, gumshoer, operative?
    Put on your ‘deerstalker,’ take out your magnifying glass and the largest print OWL or OSPD6, and begin your hunt. Identify those words where there is only a limited number that ends with the same letter pattern. Write them down if you hope to remember them. If you have an interest in them, put them onto flashcards and review these words from time to time.
    If you want to make the job a lot easier, you can always order either ‘STRANGE ENDINGS’ – or- my ‘BACKWARD DICTIONARY,’ which is a complete list of 2-Letter-Long to 8-Letter-Long legal scrabble words alphabetized from right-to-left.

Inquire at or (949) 510-1673.

Why should you like, like? It comes up on more racks than you’d think, and it has a ‘K,’ which has a point value of ‘5,’ better than a one-point vowel.
You’ll begin to like ‘like’ even more when I tell you that there are more than 300 words between 5 & 8 letters long that end with ‘LIKE.’ How do you like that?
The bad news is that there isn’t any good reason that I can show you how to tell if a word is going to take a ‘like’ glammed onto it. So when you play ‘WASPLIKE’ or’ GONGLIKE’ or ‘SCABLIKE,’ your opponent won’t know if you’re right-on or if he/she should challenge. Several clothing words take ‘LIKE’ so you might play ‘HATLIKE’ or ‘HOODLIKE’ or ‘TOGALIKE’ and have fun with it.
BUT, don’t try to play ‘togalike’ against anyone who has been around the block a time or two. It is a phony. But there is an excellent eight-letter word using those same eight letters, and it ends with ‘like.’ I learned it the hard way when I played ‘togalike’ in a tournament and was challenged off by a laughing MAVIN. The legal word is GOATLIKE. (I guess,)I should have known that. Many animals take ‘LIKE’: LAMBLIKE, TOADLIKE, OWLLIKE, CRABLIKE, ASSLIKE. BUT DON’T PLAY EMULIKE OR NILGAULIKE.
I like ‘LIKE.’
Another one of my favorite extensions is ‘NON.’ Most players haven’t got a clue. Which of these words are legal and acceptable? NONACID, NONART, NONBASE, NONEGO? Three of the four are acceptable.
Now, you understand that ‘acceptable’ applies only to the words on the OWL, most of which are in the OSPD6th Edition. They are put there by a dictionary committee of NASPA and used across North America at sanctioned clubs and tournaments.
The OWL and OSPD6 are valuable tools. The OSPD6 has definitions, while the OWL is strictly and alphabetized word list. To look up entries and make word lists easily with a front extension like ‘NON’ use either lexicon. But if you want an easy way to study endings, like words that end with ‘like’ or words ending with ‘ing’ and take an’ S’ after the ‘ing,’ you’d do much better with a tool I created, my BACKWARDS DICTIONARY which has every alphabetized word (up to 8 letters long) from right-to-left. It sells for $40 plus $5 shh. I refer to it almost every day. You will love it too.
To find all the words that end the same way in a regular lexicon, you have to flit back and forth through the tome. With the Backwards Dictionary, all the words that end the same way are there adjacent to one another. See ALL THE WORDS that end with ‘IC’ ‘ABLE’ ‘X’ ‘Z’ ‘EAU.’ Put a few of these into your vocabulary and leave your opponents in the dust. BUT this will only work miracles for you IF YOU USE IT.

Call me to reserve your copy NOW. (949) 510-1763. The computer wizardry of Amnon Meyers has proofed the book.

Questions are a good thing. Having questions shows you’re engaged. It’s when you don’t have any more questions that you need to be worried. But when you’re that far gone you won’t even question that you no longer question stuff.
The scrabble™ players I know are filled with questions. When you’re in a learning mode questions beget questions. In my last blog, I wrote able the ‘5 More Minutes’ factor. For me and many others that reflect the manner in which questions grab and hold onto our attention, urging us to press on, NOW.
Frequently, questions contain a ‘LEAPFROG EFFECT’ which may cause some confusion. And yet, that same effect may steer us to other useful information which we didn’t know we didn’t know.
Are you still following me?
Example: A few weeks ago I began one morning with a plan to create some word-pyramids. The top of the pyramid would be a single letter. Each row going down would be one letter longer and each row would have to be a legal scrabble word including the letters +1 of the row above it. A, AN, AND, BAND, BRAND, RIBAND, BIRDMAN, MIDBRAIN, MIDBRAINS.
It seemed like fun to me and I don’t know exactly where the source of the inspiration to create this exercise cam from. The next thing I knew I was creating a booklet of 100 similar triangle puzzles with 4 – 8 lines, providing only the top line with a letter and the bottom line with a word. The person doing the puzzle would have to discover a series of words to get from the top ‘A’ to the answer ‘MIDBRAINS’. Even though I had found one path, the person doing the puzzle could possibly find a different path and achieve the same result.
This exercise would create a challenge, fun for many, and a great learning opportunity for word people. I call my booklet ‘THE LAGUNA TRIANGLES’.

When half-way through this project I experienced the ‘Leap-Frog’ phenomenon. I was about 36 puzzles into my pyramid booklet when I thought about doing a similar exercise but one in which each next word would have to be this word + a front-hook, I liked the idea so much that I wrote it down so I wouldn’t forget it. Then I worked very hard and fast, day and night, to finish the triangle booklet, in order to begin my HOOKS booklet. Don’t you just love it when you are inspired?
I challenge YOU to just sit yourself down, close your eyes, let your creativity flow, and imagine the things that you want to do and/or create. Then, when you feel ready, open your eyes and JUST DO IT.

Do you remember when you were a kid, just before bedtime, working on a project you loved, reading an exciting book, listening to your favorite music and your mom reminding you, “It’s BEDTIME”?
And what did you reply? “Just 5 more minutes.” That was a universal response.
Every one of those ‘5 Minutes’ added up to some cumulative hours and days of pure enjoyment. Those minutes contributed to your happiness, to your fulfillment, to your knowledge, to your soul.

  • Now that you are an adult do you allow yourself those ‘5 more minute’ segments
  • Are they still as special and magical for you today as they were back then?
  • They can be and you don’t even have to ask anyone else’s permission.

I use my extra pieces, 5-minutes mostly for writing and creating scrabble word lists. I even cheat a lot and allow the 5-minutes to linger into 10, 15, 25, or more minutes. Even though my body still needs and enjoys 7 – 8 hours of sleep each night, my bedtime fluctuates from 11 PM to 3 AM depending on the depth of my emersion.
There is nothing more delicious to me than sitting in my easy chair, with my side lamp beaming, at 1:30 AM, with my laptop on my thighs, searching my brain for the perfect word to express a thought. Waiting, waiting, thinking, searching, grasping, poking, pondering . . . . . . . AND THEN ! ! ! ! ! There it is. ORGASMIC.
At times the right word can open a channel to an entirely new chapter; sometimes the correct sentiment can provide closure and send me off to sweet dreamland.

  • Have you ever experienced writers’ block?
  • Have you ever just sat there staring at a blank page and adjusting the margins with nothing particular to say?
  • Don’t you just HATE IT when that happens?

You just can’t walk away until you create something on the page. And then sometimes you finally give up. You crawl into bed and get all comfortable under the covers. You have the widest, deepest yawn. And then you’re wide awake again with some new idea spilling out of your ears onto your pillow. You rush back to your favorite spot and grab your computer and hope to capture that vision of which you just had a brief glimpse. You then NAIL IT.

Just 5 More Minutes.

The idea is a simple one. What if each club and designated ‘tester’ was sanctioned to test individuals on the basics of their scrabble™ knowledge?
As you sadly may know, we have lost and continue to lose many dear scrabble™ friends year after year. While we can never replace these special individuals and dear friends, it is obvious that if we want to continue to play we must fill their chairs in order to ensure the health and growth of scrabble™ life in American and around the globe.
Just as every rack of tiles contains many words hiding in plain sight, there are countless individuals in our neighborhoods (in plain sight) who are yet undiscovered scrabble™ mavins who are wasting away watching reruns on TV and putting themselves at risk of playing Pickleball.
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Let’s simply double down wherever there is an opportunity. On weekend evenings when there are roadblocks, spot-checking for drunk drivers, let’s also administer an anagram test. At large venues like the Rose Bowl or Disneyland, where people enter one-by-one through turn-styles, quiz individuals on the 2-Letter-Word List. While we have a captive audience in our jails and prisons, use Learning The Rules as a tool to rehabilitate the yeggs.
While some are concerned that there are not now enough tests available, we can easily mobilize school librarians to fill the gaps. Other unique groups also stand ready and willing to come to our aid include den mothers, parents without partners (PWP), recovering alcoholics, and laid-off auto workers.
A group of NASPA club directors have proposed to make a plea before Congress to come to the aid of the Scrabble™ Community, Just For The Spell Of It. We have a dream that one day little white boys and little black girls will be able to sit across tables and scrabble™ board from one another and play words like honor, mother, chevy, and fruitcake.

Test on America.

A mnemonic is a system for prompting a recall. The very best scrabble™ players have used mnemonics as a tool to assist themselves to recall acceptable words when they are playing competitively. One of the best payers that I know in southern California who uses this system is Pearljam (David Pearl). I was there when he began his use of mnemonics in the early 2000s. It is a very challenging system and not for the struggling novice, BUT IT OFFERs A VERY BIG PAYOFF for those who will master it. In 2000 there were 200 top mnemonics that were used to expand 7-Letter Words to 8-Letter Words and provided its master with many, many bingos.
The Mnemonic with the highest probability in this category is ‘NASTIER’. The nonsense sentence that pairs with NASTIER are ‘HORRIBLE WICKED FANG STUMP’ Remembering this weird fact is only the first step.
Now you know that every single letter in the weird sentence, when added to the letters in NASTIER, will create an 8-Letter Word. That’s how I learned the word ‘TINWARES’. There are 74 8-Letter Words in the mix.
Below is a step-by-step recipe to demonstrate how you can create your own set of mnemonics. Try it over the weekend and send me a note with some of your results. Every step along the way, working with words, is valuable for you to understand and learn even more words along the way. Make this a fun project.

Choose a base word. Let’s do a 5-Letter Word to a 6-Letter Word.
Our word of choice is TRAIN.

  1. Next, we find all the individual letters that when added with A-I-N-R-T + ? can create acceptable 6 letter words.
  2. Finally take the letters identified, use them to create a sentence or phrase that could be remembered for the purpose of prompting a recall of critical words.



Create a sentence using the ADD-ON letters.

Every letter in the nonsense sentence ‘EGOS EQUAL GLOSS GEMS’ when added to TRAIN will create an acceptable 6-Letter Word.

JUST CRACK THE OSPD6 or OWL and then some.
Q. I want to become one of those scary scrabble™ players that everyone in the room fears to play because of my winning reputation. Where do I begin to cultivate that persona?

A. Just crack the OSPD6 or the OWL, but that’s not all; that’s just the beginning.

Q. How long will it take me to become a scrabble superstar?

A. It could take a lifetime. Don’t be in a hurry; enjoy the adventure.

Consider this, if you own an OSPD6 you hold everything you need to know right in your hands. Now all you need to do is ingest the contents and organize it in your consciousness so you can tap into any part of it with instant recall whenever you are at the scrabble™ board.
At one time people believed the world was flat. There was a time when putting a man on the moon was a fantasy. There was a time before you could talk or run or read. Integrating a computer chip with your brain function is something that just isn’t possible, YET. However, if the game was that easy for us it would surely become boring and nobody would want to play with us at all.
For now, the road to mastering scrabble™ begins with utilizing systems to learn the contents of the OSPD6 in the most efficient way (that is my opinion.) Consider my system called SCRABBLE™ 101, an online class. It contains the steps and exercises to guide you to mavin-hood.

People tend to perform at higher levels when they have a teacher, a mentor, or a program which holds them accountable. Your success has a better chance of occurring when you have a plan that infuses accountability. Scrabble™ 101 will provide that for you through a series of exercises touching every aspect of the game. You will find that you already have mastered some of the skills within the game. You will identify your strengths and weaknesses. You will channel your efforts to overcome your Achilles Heel..
This program does not work for everyone. The stoppers include tentativeness on the part of the student. Not engaging with 100% effort. Doubting the program’s effectiveness and/or fostering the notion of self-doubt

I believe and know that YOU CAN DO IT. You have to know that too.

Make today the first day of the rest of your scrabble™ life.
Call me: (949) 510-1673

When playing scrabble™, as important as it is to ‘move your vowels’ it is equally important to ‘avoid consonantation’. That’s one shitty way of putting it.
Both heavy with vowels and heavy with consonants are unfriendly circumstances. The optimum status is BALANCE. Achieving balance is always the goal of every scrabble™ player but a balance can be elusive. The factors that contribute to the status of your rack includes 

  • Luck of the draw
  • Tracking (knowing what’s left in the bag or on your opponents’ rack)
  • Playing off certain tiles, anticipating that you’ll draw a balanced combination of 4)
  • Exchanging between 1 and 7 tiles, anticipating that you’ll draw a balanced combination.

All roads in the game invariably lead back to the same skill sets: word power and word knowledge being two of those skills. Being inundated with vowels will usually provide you the sad option to play off 2 or 3 tiles on a single play but will result in low score counts since the vowels are all one-pointers. While all the consonants have greater values, of 2 – 10 points, you may not be able to play them off at all or only one at a time.
Knowing what’s unseen is key to your decision as to what and how many tiles to play off or exchange. Without tracking with 100% accuracy it boils down to luck of the draw. How lucky do you feel? There is no guarantee that you’ll draw the good stuff. We’ve all had the experience of exchanging 6 vowels and drawing a different 6 vowels. Don’t you just hate this game when that happens?

  • It becomes important to study lists like words with 0 vowels: CRWTHS; CRYPTS; FLYSCH; GLYPHS; LYMPHS; BYRLS; HWYLS; HYMNS; LYMPH; MYTHS; RYNDS; SYLPH; SYCH; SYNTH; GYMS; WYNDS; PSYCH; DRYS
  • It becomes important to study lists like words with 1 consonant: AALII; AQUAE; COOEE; LOOIE; OURIE; QUEUE; URAEI; AUREI; ZOEAE; AGIO; ACAI; AERO; ADIEU; AECIA; AERIE; AIYEE; AURAE; AUDIO; AREAE; MIAOU.

Study on McDuff!

Who are you talking to? I hope it is someone as savvy as Jake. Jake is in the loop and in the know. Jake can answer your questions and provide you with good, valuable advice that benefits you down the road.
Back in 2002, a scrabble™ enthusiast from somewhere in Orange County was at the South Coast Plaza on a Thursday evening. I was directing scrabble™ club #350 at the Borders Bookstore in the mall. A lady, named Andi, wandered through the bookstore noticed a group of 12 of us playing scrabble™. She was so excited, she made a beeline for us and I got up to greet her. I invited her to sit down and play with us but like most, she asked if she could simply watch.
When the current game was coming to a finish she gravitated to one of our newest club players, Bonny, and they clicked. I noticed that they exchanged phone numbers and email addresses. When the next club game began she sat behind her new friends and watch the game taking mental notes. When the evening session ended I went to say a few words to Andi but she had gone.

What I had wanted to say to Andi was that I was available to field her scrabble™ questions and provide some guidance to the minutia of club scrabble™ play.
I see myself as being THE Jake of scrabble™. I am an ambassador for the game and just hate it when newbies turn for information and advice to people who mean well but don’t know ‘the whole story’.
If you were ill would you call a friend or your doctor? If your car is making a funny noise do you tell your mailman or do you call your mechanic? When you need a haircut do you go to the butcher or make an appointment with your hairstylist?

I couldn’t stand by and watch Andi make Bonny her scrabble™ guru. The very next Thursday at the club I met up with Andi and Bonny when they walked into the bookstore together. I wasn’t sure what I was going to say to them. But before I could say a word, Bonny spoke up. She shared how she had tried to indoctrinate Andi but realized that she had to bring me into their circle because she didn’t know how to answer all of Bonny’s questions. I took a deep sigh of relief.

If and when you want the skinny, defer to a scrabble™ director or a mavin.

Did you ever play baseball while growing up? I can still close my eyes and picture myself playing 1st Base with an authentic first baseman’s’ mitt that my grandpa Abe gave me on my 10th birthday. I can see myself standing at the plate with my Louisville Slugger bat and can still feel how it felt in my hand while I stood there anticipating the next pitch to come from the pitcher. I can see us all out there on the sandlot on the corner of Northlawn & Intervale where we‘d congregate and play day after day and while away the long hot days during our summer break, with no particular place to go.
The pitcher would imitate the major league pitchers he had seen at Briggs Stadium where we sometimes sat in the bleachers (the cheap seats), broiling in the hot sun, more than 400 feet away from home plate, and critique the way the umpire called the balls and strikes.
I’d imitate Al Kaline, Ray Boone, and Charlie Maxwell, standing there at the plate, visualizing myself meeting the ball with my bat, launching it for a home run. At our sandlot that meant hitting the ball up on the roof of Dieter’s Candy Store whose two-story brick wall stood at the farthest point of center field.
It was all a matter of TIMING.

Playing Club Scrabble™ is exactly the same and different. The group of players is different. Players ranging in age from teenagers to grandmas assembled every Tuesday evening in the conference room of a local firehouse in Livonia, Michigan where I began my scrabble™ career. The director was Jerome Boyd, a huge man with a kind personality. I had never had a black friend before and the small group of a dozen and a half players came in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Besides being black, Jerome was about 5’7” tall and weighed 300+ pounds. Not that any of that matters, once we got to know each other and started playing the game, people were seen for their prowess, not for their physicality.
I brought all my bad habits and ignorance of the official rules and word list into the room. I was no different than any other newbie in that respect. Everyone there knew I had a lot to learn. Some opponents were more helpful than others. Some were very pleased that I was a greenhorn; they took full advantage of that and piled it on, glowing in their superiority. Some were kinder, permitting free challenges to me and giving me helpful hints to improve my play and strategies.
I was very intent to master this game and to become a formidable opponent. I had to abandon my original notion that I would accomplish my goal in a week or two. It became obvious that if I wanted to do this, it was going to be a process. There was no magic pill. So I developed a plan. I played against and lost to the best players who’d play with me. Every word on the board provided a learning experience; the words itself (many of which I didn’t know); where it was placed on the board for the maximum score; how it hooked onto the other words on the board; and the ingenious way my opponents always seemed to be thinking ahead to their next turn while playing this turn.

It’s A Matter Of Timing.

I had never thought about this concept before the Coronavirus. Now you can’t escape hearing the words ‘flattening the curve’ being used on every broadcasting station, thousands of times every day.
And it can be applied to SCRABBLE™ too. The scrabble™ curve may not be anywhere as urgent or deadly as the virus curve but it is real and it overwhelms many potential enthusiasts from joining clubs everywhere.
What creates the CURVE?
It all boils down to the fact that only a small percentage of players take an active, competitive posture. That leads those players to take extraordinary measures to learn more words, study and understand common patterns of word structure, and develop strategies that lead to higher scores and higher win percentages. This, in turn, makes these individuals titans compared to the newbies entering the arena. It creates a disparity between ‘THOSE IN THE KNOW’ and all the rest.
It is no different from the levels of income among the people in American society. A small percentage of 1% owns 90+% of the wealth. While it is possible for a bottom-feeder to catapult into the 1 percenters, it is extremely difficult. While that doesn’t have to stop people from trying, most give up.
Sound pretty dismal?
The brighter side of the reality is there is a HOPE/FUN factor that is out there that keeps some people engaged. Just as you can live a fun, productive and interesting life never being a one-percenter, you can be a growing thriving scrabble player without ever achieving superstar status. I’m a good example of that kind of player. I find great joy just playing; I find fulfillment in learning during almost every session; I find satisfaction in making new friends with similar interests. I play ‘JUST FOR THE SPELL OF IT’.
I’ve learned that ‘THE MORE I KNOW, THE LUCKIER I BECOME’. I’ve learned that the more word knowledge and word power I achieve the more I flatten the scrabble curve.
This pandemic that has changed our world and taught us that outside influences we never imagined can appear and alter our reality. To survive we need to be smart, play defensively, and prepare to rebound in the future. We have to do everything we can to flatten the curve.

Have you heard the phrase ‘FRESH MEAT’?
Have YOU ever been the ‘fresh meat’?
“FRESH MEAT’ is a term used by seasoned players in a scrabble™ club when they refer to the ‘newbies,’ especially those who are attending club for the first time. It really is a term of endearment. We’ve all been the ‘fresh meat’ at some time. It is a state of welcome and an initiation to the competitive world of scrabble.
There is no way to avoid being ‘fresh meat.’ It doesn’t matter how much you know or how many years you’ve been playing scrabble™ at home with family and friends. There is always that first time that you venture into the arena of a scrabble™ club to try your skills and show your stuff.
BEWARE! If you have never experienced humility . . . I can certainly guarantee that you will receive a big dose of the big ‘H’ at a scrabble™ club. They’ll greet you with warm smiles and encourage you before they begin dropping some of the strangest words on you you’ve ever seen. You’ll have no idea if they’re toying with you. On my first visit to a club, my opponents played the likes of NGWEE, CRWTH, UNMEW, AND AALII. My brain was reeling and bleeding.
When I began playing club scrabble™ weekly, I watched my seasoned opponents taking every advantage of the openings I created to play bingo after bingo, leaving me far behind in the score column. It soon became apparent to me that to have any chance to beat these mavins, I would have to learn how to play defensively. That’s not easy. Sadly, when you close the board to stop your opponent from scoring, you are also are closing the board and stopping yourself.
I also learned that you don’t leave double/double and triple/triple spots available for a mavin. But sometimes you have to do that to play your word.
I learned to use the Cs and Vs as effective stoppers. But, my opponents used them more effectively than I could, forcing me to settle for smaller words and lower scores.
THE GOOD NEWS is . . . if you keep coming back, soon there will appear a newer piece of ‘fresh meat,’ and you’ll graduate to be seen as a mavin.
And then you’ll see how far you’ve indeed come. You’ll recognize newbies making the same mistakes that you made when you were a beginner. That’s how life and learning works. When that time comes, you won’t need as many bandages.

the last time you went to a concert and realized how much you love the songs and styles of the performer? On the way out to your car you passed a very long line of people waiting to purchase the performer’s CD, but you didn’t want to spend a half-hour or more standing in a line. You thought to yourself that you can get it the next time you’re at Barnes & Noble. That was two months ago. You’re still without the CD, due to inconvenience and timing.
Remember how you wanted to learn how to play the piano and yet there was always some reason that got in your way, stopping you from taking lessons? For me, once when I finally began taking lessons, three week in my teacher had a heart attack and died. That knocked me off course.
I’ve been in the perfect place for 30 years to witness scrabble™ player after scrabble™ player talks about becoming a better player. Then, after a very enthusiastic start, many different reasons lured those players away from a purposeful, aggressive road. Most became a little better at first but they were distracted by life and remain mediocre.
Okay, all players DO NOT have to become mavins. Everyone does not have to follow through on every idea that they espouse. Yet, we all frequently GIVE UP on pursuits for ‘I CAN’T’ reasons. That is not necessary. We often sell ourselves short and throw in the towel when we are very capable to get to those goals.
Don’t permit self-doubt to rob your dreams from you. Next time when you want something and feeling yourself getting wobbly in your knees and determination, take a deep breath; take a small step back and to the left or right; then JUST DO IT; then BE ABOUT IT.

Know that YES YOU CAN. If you really want IT, you can have IT.

In the early 1990s I was trying on a number of different hats. One of my hats was that of a personal trainer. I was living in Detroit at the time and many of the people I met were connected to the automobile industry. One day I received a random call from a lady who saw my small ad in a local paper. She shared that she was a manufacturer’s rep who had had moderate success in her brief career.
In her career history, the largest contract she had ever secured was worth $50,000. Her goal for working with me as her coach was a contract worth $200K. My guidance to her followed a format supporting ‘YES I CAN’. She was amazing and did every task 150%. She believed in the process with every fiber of her being. (I worked hard to stay as positive as my client.) On day 17 I received a late afternoon phone call. Jubilation on the phone shared with me that she had just signed a contract worth $250,000. (I earned $495 and was inspired to create my online class, SCRABBLE 101.)


Do you ever wonder? Why is it that some people mysteriously know more than others?  Why is it that when you play higher rated players they always seem to get more of the ‘good stuff’ (the esses, the blanks, the X and Z and J and Q)?  How is it that when you finally get a bingo on your rack, half the time there is no place for it to play?

The Mysteries of Scrabble™.

If your honest about it and look clearly at the facts, there really isn’t any mystery at all. There are only realities.
Most higher rated players have paid their dues. No not greenbacks or bit-coin. Most higher rated players have put in the time.   Believe it or not . . . they have done their share of losing and struggling like everyone else. They were persistent enough to keep pushing through those frustrating times that we all experience.
Did you ever notice the percentage of the 100 tiles that you play when you play against others in relation to your two rankings?   The better the player the more tiles they play in a game. While newbies are playing off 2 and 3 letter words, most seasoned players are playing five, six and seven-letter words. THE MORE TILES YOU PLAY, THE MORE TILES YOU CAN DRAW.  The better chances are that the player picking the most tiles will get the lion’s share of the good stuff.
When the better players get the good stuff they don’t waste it on words that may score low counts.  They rarely play an ’S’ for less than 25+ points and almost never play a ‘BLANK’ for less than a Bingo.  I ‘ve watched many newer players spend their blank for 15, 22, or 30 points. When I ask “WHY?” they tell me that they needed it to make a play.  THAT IS WRONG!   They never thought about saving the blank until their next turn or when it could help produce a bingo.

Seasoned players know: ‘When you are taking THIS TURN ALWAYS consider what you might do on your NEXT TURN’.

Seasoned players set themselves up for their next turn by playing words to which they know the HOOKS. Do you know that besides the ’S’ being a front-hook to ‘COLD,’ the ‘A’ is also a hook that works, ‘ACOLD’? Do you know that ‘HERO’ takes an ’S’ front-hook: ‘SHERO’?
If the unknown = mysteries then scrabble™ is very mysterious. But as my many expert friends always remind me ‘THE MORE YOU KNOW, THE LUCKIER YOU BECOME’.
And that takes most of the mystery out of the game.

I meet enthusiastic scrabble™ players frequently who think they are ‘hot stuff’. They have the notion because they rarely, if ever, lose a single game. They have a false sense of how good they are because they have never played against anyone other than their family members and/or friends in their small circle. In some instances, they have been playing for years and while they have a good vocabulary, it usually tops off at about 7,000 – 10,000 words.
What about the other 165,000+ words on the OWL that they don’t know or use?
When people like these find their way into a club setting they will usually struggle to compete against the lowest-ranked club player. That’s because they think they know how to play the game.
The GOOD NEWS is that THEY or most ANYONE can become a truly GOOD player.

What would that take?

In the late 1990s, a player showed up at Helen Tieger’s club in Huntington Beach, CA. I happened to play at that club every Tuesday at noon. The player I’m remembering was very confident and he had high expectations of his abilities.  He had a history of being successful in his past endeavors. And with that said, just like others, he initially struggled like all newbies getting their scrabble™ legs.  It took him weeks to learn the jargon.  At one point he recognized that I knew some of the basic ‘tricks’ to the game and asked me to coach him.  I went to his home numerous times and played sessions of games, teaching him the strategies within the game.  He was a fast learner and a dedicated student.  Before long he began winning games at club and as his confidence grew he ventured into playing at tournaments where he began to rise in the ranks. At one point he felt that he had learned everything I had to offer.  So, he dismissed me and latched onto a high ranked player in the scrabble™ community to replace me, playing weekly sessions with him.   After a few months, he dismissed that player too and sought out Mr. 770, a remarkable champion who lives in southern California.   In 1999, his scrabble™ tournament rating grew as high as 1,776.  He boastfully declared that he would achieve the scrabble™ rating of 2,000 by the year 2000. Very few players have ever achieved that level. He continued to improve until he hit his best-ever rating after the Nation Scrabble™ Tournament in 2004 when his rating stood at 1,918.   Today his rating has backed off to 1,760, still very, very respectable, within the EXPERT range.   
In order to accomplish this kind of success he had to employ the same kind of actions taken by every athlete who has their sights on Olympic Gold:  Having a PLAN; Having a GOAL; Visualizing being in the Winners’ Circle;
And doing everything necessary to make it happen. 
With commitment and persistence, YOU might do it too.

AIM FOR THE STARS.   If you miss you may still make it to the MOON.

You can become an even better scrabble™ player by simply taking action during this time when we all have time at home without much going on in our lives.
If you had begun a study regimen in mid-March when social distancing was asked of us and you learned just a single word every day, you would now have more than 30 new words in your vocabulary.

But the past is the past and we can’t go back.

And TODAY can become the FIRST DAY and a new beginning in your quest for greater word knowledge and word power.

Allow me to make a few suggestions as to how you can build your memory and skills that will lead to your transformation.

  • Make a commitment to yourself to BEGIN as soon as you finish reading this blog.
  • Draw a circle around today’s date, April 13, 2020, on your calendar or write the date in large letters on a piece of paper and write out your intention.
  • On another paper write out a DOABLE PLAN. Avoid grandeur. Don’t plan on learning thousands of words in a month. Aim at a hundred. Aim at between 3 – 10 words a day.
  • Master The 2s. (all 107 of them). Create 26 flashcards; each with a single letter on the front side and the backside containing all the 2-Letter-Words that begin with that letter.
  • Read any book for an hour with a notebook at your side. When you read a word that is not in your normal vocabulary write it in the notebook. Add words to your list every day. If you don’t find NEW WORDS skim through the OSPD6 and choose a few. – or – refer to my WORD OF THE DAY LIST.
  • Next, do sub-anagram lists. A sub-anagram is a word made up of letters in a longer word. (Example: The Long-Word is MIGRATE. Some of the 156 you can find may include GATE, MIRE, AE, ERG, etc.)

There are many pieces one can master when preparing to become a better scrabble player. If you want my help creating your entire plan and regimen remember that I offer an online class ‘SCRABBLE™ 101’.
Call me: (949) 510-1673.

Happy Scrabbling!

Did you know that April 13 is National Scrabble™ Day? Scrabble™ is a word game that uses letter tiles to create words in an attempt to reach the highest score.  Scrabble™ founder Alfred Mosher Butts was born on April 13, 1899. In 1933, New York City architect Alfred Mosher Butts created an early version of the game we know as Scrabble™.

Scrabble™ wasn’t the original name for the word game. Alfred named his game Lexico, then changed the name to Criss-Cross Words. His friend and eventual business partner James Brunot came up with the name Scrabble™ in the late 1930s.
Scrabble™ officially went into mass production in 1948 but didn’t become popular until the board game was sold in Macy’s in 1952.

The box rules of Scrabble have been changed four-times, in 1953, 1976, 1989, and again in 1999. ( The original version of Scrabble, Lexico didn’t have a board and was played with tiles only. The game is sold in 121 countries and comes in 31 different languages.

Each hour, at least 30,000 Scrabble™ games are started.  English Scrabble has 100 tiles. The most tiles are in Italian and Portuguese Scrabble™ which both have 120 titles. Scrabble™ is used all over the world as a means of teaching English.
Scrabble™ is ranked as the second-best board game in US history, second only to Monopoly™.

It’s possible to score 1,782 points on a single word. That word is Oxyphenbutazone. To get those points competition player Benjamin Woo played it across the tops of the board, hitting three Triple Word Score Squares while also making seven crosswords downwards.

In 1998 the largest Scrabble™ game took place at Wembley Stadium. Each tile was 6 feet square. A portrait of Prince Charles was created with Scrabbl™e tiles in 2008 to honor his 60th birthday and the 60th anniversary of Scrabble™.

And Now You Know – Happy Birthday ALFRED MOSHER BUTTS

Monday, April 13 is a very special day for Scrabble lovers.
First of all, April 13 is NATIONAL SCRABBLE™ DAY. The reason for April 13th owning this title is it also Alfred Mosher Butts’ birthday.
My Monday blog will be dedicated to Mr. Butts who was born on April 13, 1899.
At one point in his life in the mid-1930s, he had excessive time on his hands like we are experiencing now. His empty days were the result of the Great Depression.
However, he found something meaningful to do during that time. He invented a word game which he called Criss-Cross. And that game evolved into the game we know today as SCRABBLE™.
If it wasn’t for Alfred Butts we might be playing chess or bridge or leap-frog.

In addition to my Monday Blog, I will post his picture on Facebook and Twitter, I will light a candle in his memory, and I will create a sub-anagram list from the letters in ‘Alfred Mosher Butts’. He has had an impact upon my life as much or greater than my parents, my family, or my scrabble™ friends.
Alfred has had a great impact on finance. Just think of the commerce that are spin-offs from scrabble™.

  • The CUSTOM SCRABBLE™ BOARD MAKERS: John Cornelias, Ossie Mair, Eugene Murray, Mike Stevens, Kieth Valentine, Michael Connelly, Samtimer. Gene Tyszka, and me to name a few.
  • The TILE MAKERS: Bob Schoenman (PROTILES) and Samtimer
  • The TILE BAG MAKERS: Mary Lou Thurman, Luise Shafritz, Dorothy Moss and many others.

At 5 PM, on April 13, 2020, Pacific Daylight Savings time lets all go out on our porch or driveway and applaud for a full minute to the honor and memory of Alfred Mosher Butts.

Wasted TIME is wasted OPPORTUNITY
Remember the days when there just wasn’t enough time to do all you wanted to accomplish? Well, if you are not working right now and practicing social distancing the tables have turned. You now have too much TIME on your hands.
While some of the things you’d like to do are out of bounds because of the restriction placed upon us, you now have an amazing opportunity.
But organize yourself. Start off by creating a thoughtful TO DO LIST,

On days when I don’t have a specific agenda, I’ll usually flip the TV on when I wake up and lazily slip into a comfortable chair and lose myself into a mindless day of endless programs and commercials. When I catch myself doing that I get up, shake it off and find some better way to use my time.
I’m not a fast reader, but I’m on my 5th book in the last 3 weeks. Two of my reads were found on my own bookshelf, purchased months ago and never read by me. The others I ordered online from Barnes & Noble.

I’ve been reviewing lists of words with HOOKS. Hoping that I’ll be able to WOW some of you at the scrabble board with hooks like these: HAIKA HALALA HALLOA HALMA HERMA HILLOA HOLLOA HOOKA HOSTA HOYA HULLOA ILKA INFANTA
Another exercise that I worked on this week was finding SUB-ANAGRAMS within the names of STATES. (A sub-anagram is a word made from the letters in a larger word. A few of the words I found within CALIFORNIA were: FILARIAN, IRONICAL, CLARION, OILCAN AIRFOIL, CARLIN, FALCON, There are at least 234 different words from 2-Letters-Long to 8-Letters-Long in ‘CALIFORNIA.’ How many can you find?

Your Knowledge Can Never Be Cancelled
THEY can take your cash, THEY can take your assets, but THEY can never take away your knowledge.
Jakub and Zuzanna Nowak received more than 25,000 zloties at their wedding and invested their small fortune in the stock market with plans to eventually buy the home of their dreams. Less than a month after their investment along came the COVID-19 pandemic and the slide in the stock market and their fortune was worth less than half of their original investment.
Kiba, Karzi and Ugyen Wangdi were successful Bhutanese restauranteurs. They owned more than 20 fast food outlets in and around the capital city of Thimphu. They began with a single location a dozen years ago and through their hard work and their investment of 2,000 Ngultrum. They expanded their small empire year by year where it is now worth 200,000 Ngultrum. And then in the matter of a few weeks, due to personal distancing, they were forced to lay off all their employees and close their doors. Their business may never recover.
Ananada learned to play scrabble™ while growing up in Thailand. He has an unquenchable thirst for learning. His primary languages are Central Thai and Lao. But he also knows English because when they play scrabble at club they use the OWL (official word list) the same as they do in North America. Despite the horrors of the world pandemic, Anananda’s vocabulary continues to grow. In fact, with all the stay at home time that is now required, he has had much more time to build his word knowledge and word power.
Everything is relative. I assume that you have a lot of time on your hands too during this time of social distancing. You may believe that you have too much idle time.  Currently, there is not much to do to protect your cash and assets but worry. Agonizing when we have no control is useless and discouraging. Instead, do the things you can do to keep your spirits elevated.
Eat properly, exercise, listen to uplifting music, read books, write to friends, check in on family and neighbors via the internet or with a phone call, and schedule a daily time to learn words to use when you return to playing scrabble™ at club or with friends.
Stay safe.

PLAGUES (Happy Passover)
With everything that’s upon us with COVID19 happening, we can empathize with the Egyptians during Biblical times. It is very stressful for all of us trying to survive through a single plague. Can you imagine going through 10 different plagues?

Scrabble™ players know all about surviving through plagues. Here are 10 of the most common scrabble™ plagues.

10 Overdrawing tiles. You just took your turn and played four tiles onto the board. When you drew your tiles, instead of 4 tiles you pulled 6 out of the bag by mistake. NOW THERE IS A PENALTY.
9 Inverting Letters.  You have the word ‘JOUST’ on your rack and a place for it from J14 – N14 on the board for more than 60 points. You were so excited that when you put it down you played ‘JUOST’ and hit your clock.    Your opponent called “CHALLENGE!”
8 Mis-tracked Tiles. While tracking tiles you made an error. You thought that all the esses and both blanks had been played so you made a play that allowed your opponent to play out bingo on the TWS line hooking an ’S’ that you thought was already played. YOU LOSE.
7 Brain Fart.   You have learned a lot while studying scrabble™ words this week.  You’ve looked at hundreds of words even though you know that when you do that you tend to confuse yourself. You thought you could remember ‘OUGUIYA’ but you look at your rack A-G-I-O-U-U-Y and you are not able to remember. YOU’RE BEFUDDLED.
6 Poor Planning.  You forgot to go to the bathroom before the game and now to have to go really bad. AND your pens have all run out of ink. You call ’DIRECTOR’. The director can give you a pencil BUT if you go to the bathroom now you have to go after your turn, before drawing new tiles AND your clock continues to run while you’re gone.  SHEESH!
5 Wasted A Blank. While you are playing first, your opening rack contains G-O-R-S-W-Z-blank. You want to play a word that can put your ‘Z’  on the DLS to earn maximum points. You recall the word ‘GROSZE’ and use your blank as an ‘E’. The ‘Z’ goes on (L8); you earn 50 points.  After the game, you look in your dictionary and discover that ‘GROSZ’ is also an acceptable word. WHO KNEW?
4 IF ONLY I had listened to Gary. You are half way through game number 2  in an 18 game tournament and you already have had at least 4 STEM racks. You had SATINE+E, SATINE +O, SATIRE+O, and TONIES+A. The problem is you never studied the stems. MISSED OPPORTUNITY.
3 Playing The Game With Missing Tiles. Not til after the game ended did you realize that there were only 93 tiles in the bag. Each player is responsible to check the equipment before the game begins. You have to own the problem. YOUR BAD.
2 You’re Not A Math Guy/Gal. You lost the game, signed the tally sheet agreeing to the accuracy of the information on the sheet and the next day learned that there were several errors. You have to learn how to add and multiply. You should verify every score and total. TOO TRUSTING.
1. THEY KEEP ADDING NEW WORDS. Somewhere there lives a word committee that is a branch of NASPA (North American Scrabble Association.) Thay are the keepers of the OWL (Official Word List). Every few years they amend the list. The players at clubs and tournaments have to keep up and learn all 175,000+ words.         LEARN, STUDY, MEMORIZE

Have you been paying attention?
Have you noticed it?
Different folks use different strokes. Different people have different sets of knowledge and therefore different vocabularies. And while that’s a fact there is still a lot of overlap, words, and concepts we have in common.
I was living just northwest of Detroit, Michigan in the late 1980s when I first began playing club scrabble™. With Detroit being a stone’s throw from Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and there being many scrabble™ clubs and tournaments in Ontario, Canada, I found myself attending many of those events.
One thing that became very clear when I played my Canadian opponents was that they used many words and expressions that were unfamiliar to me. Who knew?
Eh? Pronounced “ay”. This word is the classic term used in everyday Canadian vernacular. Used to indicate that you don’t understand something, can’t believe something is true or if you want the person to respond. Similar to “huh,” “right,” and “what?” commonly found in US vocabulary.

  • Loonie (Toonie)
    A loonie, the Canadian $1 coin, gets its name from the picture of the Canadian bird, the loon, that appears on one side of the coin. A toonie, the name for the $2 coin, gained a similar nickname to match the sound of the loonie. Spoiler alert: these loonies and toonies aren’t the same as that commonly known American childhood cartoon.
  • Two-four
    Commonly used to refer to a case of 24 beers. Don’t be surprised when a friend asks you to pick one up on the way over.
  • Toque
    Pronounced: “too-uk” or “tuke”. Derived from the Arabic language, it found its way into the Medieval French lingo in the 15th century. Canada’s French influence is prevalent in this word, which refers to a cap with a small brim, or without a brim entirely (i.e., a beanie). It’s usually worn when it’s cold or in spring … so, pretty much year-round.

Some SWAMP talk.
swamp donkey, no show, booty dew, tree shaker, bad word, no show, stfa, sewer weasel, hidden, redacted, drain the swamp, tubungawolf, hannah, kimmy, sapa,
swamp jockey, swear word, swamp thing, swamp juice, swat,  dune camel, hallaballa,
dropped pie, macungie, nsfw, swamp goblin, grollitt, palmerston north, mystery bus, swamp monster, check yourself before you shrek yourself, louisiana, marsh mule, swamp donk

Who Knew?

Some days are clearer than others . . . YOU know.  I can tell how clear I am by attempting a Sudoku puzzle or two.  When I’m really clear I can finish the puzzle without an error.  Other times I just struggle and struggle and find that I got it wrong when some number won’t work its way into place.  At those moments I then realize that my thinking is a bit fuzzy and I’d be better off watching a movie and waiting for another time to create a word exercise.

I devote frequent segments of time writing about Memory Skills.  The information I disseminate is reflective of my personal experience and information that I’ve gleaned from several print sources.
One common theme is the worry people share that as they grow older their MEMORY will wither away.  Meanwhile, I live within Laguna Woods Village, a senior community in Laguna Woods, California, where 23,000+ seniors (average age 76) are alive, alert and doing just fine.  Some of the things that these folks do to maintain their clarity include:

  • maintaining a balanced diet
  • avoiding alcohol
  • exercising
  • working their grey matter intellectually
  • using supplemental vitamins and minerals.

But they stay active and engaged.   People ask me “Is there ONE THING I can do to IMPROVE MEMORY?   My answer:  ‘NO.  There is not one thing.  There is no magical pill.  There is no silver bullet.  Maintaining your memory requires doing a wide range of actions’.  

I focus my energy on activities related to word games, word puzzles, reading, creating exercises, teaching others, communicating, writing my daily blogs, working two part-time jobs, cooking, watching documentaries,  working sudoku puzzles, and more. (WOW!)   On a clear day, I can remember and play ZELKOVA,  POGONIP,  OUGUIYA, or MESHUGA.  Ain’t life crazy?

Stockpiling is one way of looking at LEARNING. For me, it’s about accumulating words for your arsenal and mine too. Building a word armory can involve many different paths, not solely typical scrabble exercises. Yesterday I challenged my followers to use a boggle puzzle to stir their curiosity about words. You might choose to read a book. You could look for anagrams or sub-anagrams in words on street signs or billboards as you travel the city on your normal day. Sitting in a restaurant with a menu in-hand provides an amazing opportunity to focus on the words that are staring in your face. You might even play games that don’t contain letters like Sudoku. There you will enhance your skills as simple and as difficult as seeing patterns that are hiding in plain sight. You might play checkers or chess or backgammon and learn strategies than share commonalities with looking at the scrabble™ board differently, seeking the possibilities of higher scores utilizing the Hot Spots.
Opportunity for personal growth can be found everywhere.
Where do you see it?
What else could you do to build your skills?
Stockpiling for many is all about quantity. While quantity by itself may earn you a trophy for being the most proficient COLLECTOR, you could continue to lose at scrabble™ if you haven’t transformed your PILE into useable components in your memory with cues for recall.
On this website, there is a link to my WORD OF THE DAY list, Some people take a look at the list daily as a response to their curiosity. While that is better than not looking at all it is very unlikely that a mere glance will pay off in a way that helps you recall any of those words during the heat of competition.
See the WORD. Say the WORD. Write the WORD. Spell the Word aloud. Put the WORD onto a flashcard. Now, take a break for several hours. After 4 or more hours repeat the process. Then repeat the process at least once a day for a week. If you have the opportunity to play the word on a scrabble™ board, PLAY IT. ( That’s Spaced-Repetition. )

Develop your own list of WORD/s that you are learning.
Create a ‘WORD COLLAGE’ with sub-anagrams inside of STOCKPILING.

In scrabble™ play there are RULES and there are STANDARDS. Over the years the number of RULES has grown from a modest few which were printed on the inside of the top of the box that held the board, tiles, and racks. As players asked for clarification on points like ‘When Does A Players Turn End?’ To ‘Who Plays First?’ To ‘What Determines If A Word Is Acceptable?’ The creators of the game made longer and longer lists of rules so that today the Official Rule Book is a small volume. STANDARDS stand apart from the Rules. They include things like sportsmanship and decorum issues.
When a player at Club or Tournament sees something that he/she deems to be an infraction of a Rule or Standard it is customary to call aloud, “DIRECTOR”. The director assesses the situation and makes a RULING. When any player feels that their opponent has played a word that is unacceptable, that player can call “CHALLENGE”, the time clock is neutralized and either a WORD JUDGE or a designated COMPUTER will adjudicate the word(s.)
When a newbie (someone new to the Club scene) attends a meeting the director or his/her designee will usually coach the newbie regarding how the game is played at the club is different from casual settings.  Sanctioned Clubs are open to all comers by design.
The setting of a scrabble™ club and/or tournament should be comfortable, friendly, and safe to play at for all who wish to engage and compete. The Club or Tournament DIRECTOR has the responsibility to ensure decorum and standards are followed. The director is accountable for his/her sanctioning association.



Just yesterday the Governor of Georgia either lied of proved that he is an uninformed FOOL when he said he had just learned in the last 24 hours that the COVID-19 Virus spreads easily between people. That as stupid as anything I’ve ever heard anyone use as an excuse.

Do you remember POTUS calling Coronavirus a HOAX only a few weeks ago?

I realize that there are many stupid people on the planet. But what is the excuse for those southern pastors who continued to urge their parishioners to attend communal prayer sessions in spite of the dangers of congregating? Are they really that stupid and believe that they are protected by God?

So sad.

It’s not too much different for the lady who came out to Scrabble™ Club #350 and told me upfront that she had no intention of playing all those ‘silly 2-letter words’. Then there are those players who have been coming to clubs everywhere who get one of those difficult racks that happen all the time like A-A-E-I-I-L-O. They sigh, they fidget in their chair, they complain aloud. They’ve been playing for more than 10 years and never taken the time to check out the list of words that are HEAVY-WITH-VOWELS. If they had learned just 2 of the words on this rack they could have played off ‘AALII’ -or- ‘AIOLI’.

So sad.

Hey, it’s okay that those players don’t lift a finger to improve. . . but they should not protest so loudly. I JUST LEARNED doesn’t cut it anymore. Even though all states and their governors have not yet mandated that we all wear masks in public, doesn’t it behoove us to take extraordinary measures to protect ourselves and others? Don’t we all hope that others are watching our backs when we have to venture out for groceries, the mail, and the pharmacy?

Once again I offer a path to all who truly wish to become a better scrabble™ player. You get as much as you are willing to invest in your time and energy. Call me and we can review your goals: (949) 510-1673.

PSST. That ugly rack that I offered above has a total of 26 words between 2 and 5 letters long. Do you know the other 24?

Several times during my life I’ve experienced little surprises that have left me spellbound. Those times have revolved around discovering things that seemed to be known by everyone else but me.
In the early 1970s, I was fortunate to own season tickets at Pine Knob, an outdoor theater in Rochester, Michigan. I had no knowledge of the headliner that evening. When we arrived the parking lots were overfilled so I used valet parking, thinking to myself, ‘this better be good’.
Every seat was taken and we had 6th-row center. The lawn, the cheap seats, was crammed with people sitting as close as sardines in a can. When the show was about to begin, all the knowing patrons stood, lighting candles and Bic lighters while calling HARRY, HARRY, HARRY. I still had no idea who I was about to meet. Then Harry Chapin appeared with his guitar and his small troupe. A hush fell over the crowd. When Harry began to sing each of his ‘Story-Songs’, the crowd erupted to acknowledge the song and then settled in to listen. In addition to Harry’s voice, one could hear the voices of thousands singing along, parroting every word of every song.
I had never heard of Harry, his group, and couldn’t recall ever having heard a single one of his ballads. I wondered to myself what planet I was from; I wondered how I could have missed knowing this performer and his songbook.

I just completed reading ‘The Only Woman In The Room’ by Marie Benedict. I had the same kind of ‘AHA experience’. Two weeks ago, before the world closed, I was ‘just looking’ at Barnes & Noble bookstore. I have always been an admirer of Albert Einstein (except for the fact that he is said to have disliked Scrabble™). A book on display on a table near the entrance was entitled ‘The Other Einstein’ by Marie Benedict. My interest was peaked and the clerk highly recommended that I buy both books. I did.
The Other Einstein shattered my longstanding idolization of the man. I found the story enlightening and well worth the read. When I finished reading I immediately dove into the second book (not knowing what the story was about). I found myself captivated in a biography of Hedy Keisler (Hedy Lamarr). How had I never heard of this author before? Now on to her next book.
My biggest surprise, of course, was that Saturday morning in 1986 when a misplaced ad in the Southfield Eccentric Newspaper lured me to a scrabble event at the Presidential Inn in Allen Park, Michigan. It was there that I witnessed and fell head over heels into the world of competitive scrabble™.

Don’t you just love surprises?

A place of refuge or safety.
One of the best things so many of us can do these days is to stay home, away from others, by hunkering down in our sanctuary. No heavy lifting needed. No significant expenditure required. Just avoid contributing to the problem.
Some of us are more successful than others staying put. Who knew that slowing down and doing less would produce new issues. The key to curbing the anxiety and stress of being sequestered is having and doing a new set of activities to fill ones’ time.
What are you doing now that is new and different?
I’ve discovered a new-to-me favorite author, Marie Benedict, and I’ve read two of her novels. I’ve improved my sudoku skills, now being able to complete three out of four without any errors. I am following my advice to others: ‘Spaced Repetition along with a passion will produce excellent results and personal growth.
Today, I was sitting there in front of the TV, and the newscasters were reviewing the awful statistics of victims of the virus and the latest death toll.
I could feel my energy draining as the sad news was taking over my thoughts. I had to do something to change my mood. My thoughts shifted from the dead and dying to the impossible quandaries at the scrabble™ board.
One combination of letters on my rack that really perplexes me is when multiples of any single letter stare back at me: three ’A’s, three ‘I’s; three ’U’s. The first thing that happens to me is an automatic shutdown like someone pulled my plug and the energy evaporates. So, I took action and did something that I knew I had the power to do. I pulled out my OSPD6 and searched for words that would be helpful when those predictable dilemmas next occurred.
Below are some of the words I located to use in the future.

  • 3 ‘A’s: abacas; acacia; agapae; alaska, alpaca; casava; kabala, hawala, labara, pajama, palapa, panada,qabala, zanana, acapnia, adaxial, alfalfa
  • 3 ‘E’s: beebee; beezer; beweep; cheese; deeper; degree; delete; eleven, epopee, esteem; freeze; bedewed; beelike; bejewel; deseech; creeped
  • 3 ‘I’s: bikini; iridic; bimini; imidic; iritis; idiotic; ileitis; finikin; incipit; incivil, gingili; lixivia; oidioid; miniski; simioi; shiviti; rikishi; militia, silicic; vivific
  • 3 ‘O’s: bonobo; boocoo; boohoo; corozo; doowop; oology; rococo; ovolos; bogwood; boombox; boyhood; cocoons; forsook; footboy; hoosgow; octopod
  • 3 ‘U’s: muumuu; cumulus; fumulus; jugulum; tumulus; unusual; tubulous

What bugs you?

A Scrabble™ Incantation. (For Use Before Playing In A Tournament)
Face North. Outstretch arms with palms open. Speak loudly.
“I invite the all-knowing force within to spring to my aid when I rub my chin. Providing me words with immeasurable worth to win every scrabble™ tournament on Earth.”

A Scrabble™ Prayer.
“As you caused the bush to burn on Mt. Sinai,
As you caused Mana to fall from the sky in the desert,
May you cause words to appear on my rack
Leading me to a Bombastic Victory. Amen.”

The Edgar Casey Method.
Place a current publication of the OWL (Official Word List) into a pillowcase with a comfortable pillow. Sit upon this item when you are playing in any competition. The forces in the universe will direct the knowledge in the book to permeate your being via your dairy-aire and thus influencing your vision and performance.

The Peter Popoff Method
Get the ‘Miracle Spring Water,’ and drink it one week before the tournament. You will surely win the tournament. If two or more people each drink the Miracle Spring Water . . . the person who drank the most Miracle Spring Water will win the event.

An Agnostic Approach
At least, a year before any tournament, create a study plan. Use spaced repetition daily and study every skill needed to excel at the game. Play at as many clubs as possible during that year, and seek out the best players in every club to be your opponents. Stay in good health, maintaining a healthy diet, and engage in daily exercise. Be well rested when you attend the tournament.


Today is the last day of another month; tomorrow is a new beginning. We can’t do anything about the past; it’s gone, it’s over, and we can only remember it. We can do something about today and tomorrow. Let’s do it.
Much of what we do happens automatically and spontaneously. The way we get up in the morning, grooming ourselves and beginning our day. The things we usually choose for breakfast, the TV or radio station to which we listen, our other simple daily rituals.
If and when we are comfortable with routines, we often forget that we have choices. At times routines become habits that take over our lives, and change becomes so monumental that we shut the doors to other possibilities without the consideration of new paths that would be beneficial and improve our quality of life.
Most changes in our lives occur when we experience some significant emotional event: a birth, a death, a celebration, a loss, a tornado, a flood, a fire, an accident, a new relationship, an anniversary.
Every year on January 1, millions of homo-sapiens create new year resolutions, which are mostly abandoned or broken by January 4. Decisions about losing weight, smoking, exercise, and more abruptly end. We are fragile specimens.
The opportunity for new beginnings is not limited only to significant starting points. Anyone can declare any moment as a moment to change. It can occur right this minute for you or me if we choose.
Is there something that you want to change?
Is there something that you want to eliminate?
Is there something that you want to add?
Is there something that you want to learn?
Is there someplace that you want to go?
Is there something that you want to share?
Is there something that you need to say?
May I suggest that you be mindful of any change you pursue because every action usually brings along with it a reaction? This needn’t stop you, but you should know the whole story.
If you want to improve your scrabble™ game, your word knowledge, and your word power, may I humbly suggest that you consider my online class, SCRABBLE™ 101?
WARNING! When you do become significantly better at the game, many of your current scrabble friends will most likely abandon playing with you because they’ll see you as unbeatable.

Have you been staying home doing your part for social distancing? Are you experiencing a mild depression from being kept from your normal routines? Don’t allow the circumstances to get the best of you. SNAP OUT OF IT!
This new normal will most likely be the law of the land for a while. It would be seriously stupid to go out to get your jollies only to acquire the Coronavirus and put you and your loved ones at risk.
USE the TIME wisely. Pry yourself away from the TV and the doom and gloom that is being served up to us every minute of every day. Stop watching all those mindless commercials about pills, potions, automobiles and telephone services.

Read a book, try a new recipe for dinner, work on a sudoku or cross-word puzzle. Write a letter to a friend. Wish someone a happy birthday. Play a game online. Spend a little time sharpening your scrabble skills.

This too shall pass. Stay safe so that you will be one of those who is still around to move on.

Okay. Stand-up; shake your body; get those cob webs out of your head. Do a little dance; sing a little song; write a little rhyme?

Now make a list of all the things in life that you love and are thankful for. Really get into this and spend about 30 minutes.


Now look at the individual words in your list. I hope there are a few longer words like ‘APPRECIATION’ or ‘THANKFULLNESS’. Now take one of the long words (if you didn’t have a long word on your list, just choose one now).
On a separate 8.5 x 11 inch paper, turn it to landscape position and write the long word stretched across the top in big bold letters from end to end. Now beneath that word find and write other words on that page that you can make up from letters in word above. You can write the words in different sizes, at different angles, in different colors. There are as man as 777 different words just using the letters in APPRECIATION. Imagine that. Have fun. Learn something.

You’re welcome.

I like to think of myself as an Imagineer. I spend a huge slice of time every day, creating exercises with scrabble words and themes.
One of the first things I tell aspiring Scrabble™ players who want to compete with club players is to FORGET EVERYTHING YOU THINK YOU KNOW ABOUT PLAYING SCRABBLE™.
That’s because most of us established many BAD HABITS when we learned the game. No matter how good we were as ‘kitchen table players’ with family and friends, we never learned the basics of playing competitively, which would give us a chance to achieve the skills of club players.
Winning at club is like the difference between playing TUG OF WAR vs. playing HUG OF WAR. Club scrabble is competitive, and there are several pieces to the game that one must understand and master to have any chance at winning.
The first and biggest hurdle is to accept that there’s a lot for you to learn. The next hurdle is to find a teacher and mentor who knows the path to success. There are many great players out there who suck at being teachers. Avoid those players. Find a teachers’ teacher.
Having a Ph.D. in English or Literature may reflect your vast vocabulary, but it doesn’t assure you of winning at scrabble™. You must learn to appreciate and master The 2’s, Hooks, STEMs, Bingos, Tracking, Anagrams, and more.
The HOT SPOTS on the board create opportunities to earn huge scores for many simple plays. A good teacher will guide you to learn that skill.
Learning to play well is not about cramming. It is more about SPACED-REPETITION. Two 15 minute study periods each day (one mid-morning and one mid-evening) is better than cramming for 1 hour straight.
If you are like most, you will get energy from your successes. A good teacher will provide you with manageable steps toward success. There is not any way for most of us to achieve immediate success. The path to success is not a straight line. It is more like the stock market, ups, and downs. BEWARE! If you let up and walk away from the game for a week or more, you will most likely experience a slide. There is a 30% luck factor in the game. Even when your word knowledge and power are growing, you may experience a slump in your winning percentage.
Pick yourself up and keep on keeping on. That’s the way of a winner.

Have you been watching and paying attention to the many charts displayed on newscasts providing visuals of the spread of Covid-19? They are pretty dramatic as they demonstrate the dynamic range of the virus.
If we applied the same kind of charting to the growth of a vocabulary of a passionate scrabble™ player in the first year or two at clubs and tournaments, there would be a definite similarity in the charts.
Learning begets more learning. Curiosity begets finding answers. Learning to use tools efficiently allows players to learn words in ‘families of words’ rather than one word at a time. You’ll know you’re hooked when you look up at the clock on the wall, and you wonder where the last 3 hours disappeared. You’ll know you’re obsessed when you find yourself getting out of bed in the dead of night and heading to your computer to create another set of video flashcards.
I am a MAC guy. I’ve owned a computer since the early 1970s. But I’m not a programmer at all. In the early 2000s, I took full advantage of the Apple Stores, where free classes were provided to folks like me by their ‘Creatives’ related to all of their products. I went to those sessions as often as five days every week. I learned so much, and being who I am, I slanted most of what I learned toward scrabble™ projects. One of the things I learned was how to create Video Flashcards, and I continue to use those skills. Last night I awoke at 2 AM and headed to my laptop, where I created a 6-8 STEM for TONIES. I spent a little over an hour, creating about 150 slides. I slept much better after that.
When you create learning tools, you actually gain some portion of the materials as you are developing. If you are unable to make them for yourself, the next best avenue is to get a hold of the tools (from me) an use them. Don’t waste your cash and purchase tools that you will not apply. Before you buy any tools you should map out a study plan. Need assistance? I can help you. (949) 510-1673.
How much time does someone need to study to become a better player? I believe that YOU can move up in the ranks like a rocket if you dedicate 30 minutes a day in two 15 minute sessions. Experts say that it takes 21 days to create a HABIT. ‘Scrabble 101’ is a 30-day online class. One goal of the course is to help you establish a study habit in your life. Be it scrabble™ or some other venue; we’re all the better off when we continue to grow and improve.

When you join a scrabble™ club you’re very likely to find a group of individuals who are obsessed by the game. If you have an addictive personality BEWARE!  A scrabble™ addict can lose all track of time.
It was in 1988 when I played in a scrabble tournament and finished in 1st Place. I was quite proud and wanted to build a local scrabble™ club in my local community, Union Lake, Michigan. I wrote up a news release and sent it to the local papers.
A day or two after the news release was published I received a phone call at home. The call was from a Chaplin at a Pontiac, Michigan hospital. His name was Andrew Allie. Andrew didn’t hesitate to tell me that HE was the best scrabble™ player on the planet. He challenged me to a game. I asked him when. He suggested tomorrow afternoon an 2PM in the hospital cafeteria. I agreed.
I’m always early to every one of my appointments. I was there at 1:30PM. I recognized Andrew, the only one who was sitting there reading a scrabble™ dictionary. I didn’t know it right then . . . but Andrew became one of my very best friends for years to come. I set up my board and clock and with very little said between us we began to play. Andrew chuckled whenever I played a bingo or a high scoring play. I won our first game. Andrew frantically put the tiles back into the tile bag and said let’s play again. Andrew won game #2. Again, Andrew prompted. And on and on and on and at 2AM the next morning we agreed to stop but not before we agreed on our next scrabble session. I introduce Andrew to my scrabble™ club and over the years he came with me and my friends to several tournaments. Andrew and I played hundreds of games.Over the years I learned that Andrew and I weren’t an anomaly. There were countless others who played endless scrabble™ and loved it. In 1990 I ran the first of several novelty scrabble™ events that played 24 games in 24 hours. I connected each of those events to a charity, raising hundreds of dollars for Jerry’s Kids, Ronald McDonald House, and The Braille Institute.

In the early 1990s I ran the one of the first Scrabble™ Cruises to the Bahama’s on The Carnival. Later in the late 1990s I took scrabble™ players on the Mississippi Steamboat. Scrabble™ players will go everywhere and anywhere to play. To date I’ve directed more than 250 sanctioned scrabble™ tournaments. All that is currently on hold due to the Corona Virus.
One thing I know you can count on . . . as soon as the quarantine is lifted, scrabble™ players will return to clubs in droves.
You can find your most local scrabble™ club at either one of two online sights.


For a scrabble™ player, casting a spell has a totally different meaning than for the average witch in the forest. May I refer you to what may be considered the Witch’s Bible, a book entitled: Witchcraft: A Handbook of Magic Spells and Potions (Mystical Handbook) by Anastasia Greywolf.
WIKIPEDIA defines a ‘SPELL’ as An incantation, a spell, a charm, an enchantment, or a bewitchery; it is a mysterious formula intended to trigger a magical effect on a person or objects. The formula can be spoken, sung, or chanted. An incantation can also be performed during ceremonial rituals or prayers. In the world of magic, incantations are said to be performed by wizards, witches, and fairies. But you’re probably not one of the above.
But if you know me at all, you know that I’m not connecting ‘SPELL’ to anything magical. I connect “SPELL’ to learning, memorizing, and using techniques created to build word knowledge and word power. All this to the end of becoming the BEST scrabble™ player one can be.
When you achieve mastery, my version of SPELL, your opponents will be enchanted by your play without the need of any trickery. Your opponents will be unable to stop their jaws from dropping when you play TSKTSKS, followed by MIAOUED. They will fall over, bewitched by the hard-earned memory you’ve built, and your ability to recall the words in your powerful vocabulary quickly.
To learn and know (master) specialized groups of words, you’ll have to have a plan, prioritize what to learn first, then next and next again. You’ll require stick-to-it-liveness and persistence. You’d get there faster with the aid of a coach.
You could take my online class, SCRABBLE 101.
Begin right now by learning all the short words with two ‘I’s. (Two many ‘I’ s on your rack at the same time can be brutal.) It is usually better to earn a few points by playing off those ‘I’s than exchanging tiles, earning zero points. Put these words onto flashcards. You’ll wow your opponents when you play them and may even earn a challenge.
If you want to talk about my class, CALL: (949) 510-1673

The status of life today ranges from High Hope to Debilitating Fear. Our personal histories have a lot to do with where we find ourselves along that line. The actual facts of the day do not necessarily reflect our feelings and actions. Our POTUS, who regularly bemoans what he refers to as ‘fake news,’ has systematically ignored science and professed his personal unsubstantiated theories and remedies. His plan for the road to recovery have changed almost daily leaving us in a quandary. When questioned by the media, if he doesn’t like their question, he dismisses the subject as unacceptable and moves on to another reporter. He comes from the same school of individuals who believed that the world is flat and that the Sun rotates around the Earth.
I get calls from many individuals who are excited to find me and Scrabble™ Club #350 while surfing on the net. They tell me all about their history playing scrabble™ for years at home and with friends. They had never known that there were scrabble™ clubs, and they want to come out and play with us. I always respond enthusiastically with an open invitation.
When John and June arrive at club, and they appear a bit nervous, I pair them for their first game with myself or another player who can ease them comfortably into the realm of club scrabble™. Even the BEST home player has much to learn to be successful in club play. At club we use Time Clocks, we only play 1: 1, we have a set of RULES that are designed to assure a level playing field.
John and June will likely feel awkward at first, like we all do when we’re experiencing some new activity. Their ‘HIGH HOPES’ are challenged because club scrabble™ is different from the home scrabble™ version of the game. Their experience on the line from HOPE-TO-FEAR will determine whether they ever return after their first visit to the club.
Most Johns and Junes rarely return. They’ll experience their opponents’ playing words they do not know and say, “Those aren’t real words.” They are sometimes overwhelmed by having to use the clock and say, “I CAN’T remember to do that.” When their opponent plays a bingo and earns a 50 point bonus, they’ll shrink in their chairs instead of sitting up and taking notice, asking, “How do you do that?”
And then there are the Bobs and Bettys who are just the opposite. They are excited to see the success of their opponents and take every opportunity to ask questions to learn about what they are witnessing. They’ll ask, “How did you learn that word?” “Where can I learn those words?” “What should I study first?”
Where do you live between Hope and Fear? It’s your choice.

“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.”It’s truly amazing how our thoughts and beliefs can influence our personal abilities. Most people live up to and live down to their expectations of themselves.
And there you sit reading this and thinking to yourself . . . ‘I really can’t do math,’ or ‘ I really suck at spelling.’ Who else gave you those messages way back when?
Back in the summer of 1948, my parents had an opportunity to take a weekend get-away. They made arrangements for me to go to the home of my aunt and uncle and cousin Stu. I had never been away from home before. I began feeling homesick the minute they drove away. I was a very picky eater and had a long list of foods that I didn’t like. My aunt and uncle had a ‘clean the plate’ rule at their dinner table. I didn’t feel like eating at all; I felt sick to my stomach. When I pushed my plate aside, my uncle threatened me saying, “If you don’t eat the food on your plate, we’ll have to feed it to you like they do in Chicago!” I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded torturous. The next afternoon they nearly force-fed me tuna fish.
I haven’t even been able to consider eating it. And I’m okay with that. I know where that craziness comes from.
When I was a 5th Grade teacher in 1965, there was one week when our spelling lesson included those words with silent-letters. Some kids didn’t get it. I devised a crazy lesson to challenge my students. I made up a list of ten nonsense words and told the class that all the letters were silent. The first word was spelled GWRAHT and pronounced tweedle. The other nine were equally bizarre. We studied the word the same way we’d studied words in past weeks. At the end of the week, we took our final test. Most weeks, our average class score was 82%. On the week with the crazy words, the average score was 90%, and even the one boy who flunked every spelling test all year long scored 80%.
Two of the tools I used in 1965 that I continue to use today are Flash Cards (WHIZ CARDS) and Spaced-Repetition. There is no need to reinvent the wheel. When it comes to building your scrabble™ vocabulary, you’ll want to spend the most time learning and reviewing words that have the highest probability of landing on your rack.
In 1987 when I first discovered club scrabble™, I was invited to play at a club in Livonia, Michigan. I was the fresh-meat. I was the rookie. I lost game after game. I lost week after week. There were times that I wondered why I was subjecting myself to the misery of it all.
I realized that I wanted to learn how to win. Each week when I played my new friends, I learned scrabble™ jargon one word at a time. I became friends with some of the better players at the club, and they dropped hints and suggestions that I absorbed like a thirsty sponge.
At some point in the 3rd month of play, I won my first game, and I grinned from ear-to-ear.

Keep yourself safe. The BEST is yet to come.
We all have at least two choices:

  2. Throw caution to the wind and tempt fate.

For me, I still have several thousand scrabble turns remaining in my future when we get things settled, and we all return to club play. I am hoping that all of you will be there with me to butt heads and challenge one another.

I remember March 20, 2018, when I awoke feeling just fine, but when I began to sit up in bed, an enormous bulge arose in my stomach from my belly button to the top of my chest. It was scary. I felt no pain. When I stood, the bulge disappeared. I dressed and headed to my doctor. He had me lie down and get up as I did earlier, and the bulge appeared again. The doctor called it a Ventral Hernia. I marched across the hall to a surgeon’s office and scheduled a time a week away to have a corrective operation. When shit happens, we deal with it. I was sore after the surgery for about a week after that life returned to normal.

It was September 1963. I was a student at Wayne State University, pursuing a degree in Elementary Education with my sites on teaching public school. It was my first Student Teaching assignment in a 5th Grade Classroom in Berkley, Michigan. The moment I stepped into the classroom and met Ms. Miller, the classroom teacher, I knew I was in for an exciting challenge. She didn’t like me from the get-go. I had no idea why. I couldn’t do anything right in her eyes. Each day was filled with criticism and admonishment. She pushed me beyond my limits. I almost threw in the towel and quit. Mid-semester, I went to my adviser and shared my experience. I had a 3.5 point average but I expected to get a failing grade from Ms. Miller. I received a ‘D.’
For the spring term, my advisor placed me, Mr. Fine, at the BOW Elementary School in Detroit, teaching Social Studies. Can you say, “Night and Day?” Mr fine was full of suggestions and compliments. All of a sudden, I was an ‘A’ student. I found Mr. Fine to be original, enervative, and a perfect Role Model.
I earned an ‘A,’ and a few months later, I graduated and landed a job in my own 5th Grade Classroom in Oak Park, Michigan.
While teaching, I used many of the tools I had learned about in Mr. Fine’s classroom. I vowed never to be like Ms. Miller. When I met a challenging student or lesson, I simply asked myself, “What would Mr. Fine do?” It always helped.
Be Well.

We only know what we know. We don’t know what we don’t know until we search for it or someone else shows us.
That is pretty deep. Sometimes others share an idea that is not tangible, and we reject it because it doesn’t flow with our own beliefs. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t correct. When some others show us something tangible like a word we did not know, we generally will accept it and add it to our vocabulary.
The OWL (Official Word List) contains more than 175,000 words. Most people we meet randomly have vocabularies of no more than 5,000+ words. Simply, they are not interested in exploring and growing their world of words. That does not mean than all those other words don’t exist . . . but those words DO NOT apply to them.
When something changes, so does their dimension in life: taking a class, taking a new job, learning to play scrabble, or any other game. The new event has its own specialized jargon and becomes known to them and used by those persons, and then growth occurs.
Becoming more learned and able to master any field of endeavor requires taking action. That action can be as passive as listening to the words of teachers or creating a plan to read, investigate, and experiment to find out for ourselves.
When we decide to go forward on any path, we will often confront challenges that slow us down, some things that inhibit our forward progress, and force us to find alternate ways. Some of those challenges can be real-life issues related to time and money. Other times our passion may wane. On occasion, the negativity of others around our quest will dampen our spirit. To break through any of these circumstances, we will require extraordinary resolve to continue onward. You don’t have to stop because of what others say or do.
After a devastating personal loss of my firstborn child to SIDS in December 1968, my wife and I felt there was nothing more than we could lose from life. We were both teachers with a bankroll of $50 in savings. During our mourning period, feeling so helpless, we birthed an idea. We thought about establishing a private Preschool to honor the memory of our daughter Laurie. Having never been a businessman, I sat down and wrote a business plan. Without ever being fundraisers, we imagined a way to appeal to others to rally to our sides to fund our project. Having never been educational administrators, we planned every aspect of how the school would operate. Without any experience working with zoning boards, state licensing agencies, bank loan officers, commercial real estate agents, and purchasing all that is required to operate a perfect program, we somehow imagined the answers. We were able to draw other experts into our circle.
Meanwhile, you may be able to imagine all the naysayers who asked at every opportunity, “How Can You Do This?”; “You Have No Experience,”; “You’re only 26 years old. . . you can’t do that.”
In a record nine months, we were funded by the generosity of 10 friends and family. We gained approval by the State Department of Social Services; we found a location, purchased and refurbished a beautiful building to house our school, purchased and constructed all the materials, hired excellent staff, and advertised and began enrolling our student body.
People scratched their heads in disbelief.  

If you can imagine something, if you conceive it and believe it, YOU CAN DO IT.

Getting Along Without Your Memory
I came across a very valuable resource for those of you who don’t want to do the hard work necessary to hold on to the memory that you still have.
Here are a few things in Ben Goode’s book regarding ‘Useful Tasks You Can Perform Well Without Any Memory’: Forming Blood Clots, Dangling a Participle; Wondering; Breaking a Tooth; Ignoring The Doorbell; Perspiring.
Ben has given much thought to the careers that remain for those of us who are willing to let nature’s way (diminishing memory) to be our lot. Some of them are:

Vegetarian; Snake-Venom Antidote Tester; Cadaver; Fly Fisherman; Observer.

Beware of deals on the internet. Knowing that as we all will eventually begin losing our memory, we frequently will become scared and desperate. Many, many companies have developed plans and schemes to harvest our hard-earned cash with a promise for their MAGIC PILL. Some of these may have a significant effect. But who knows who’s telling the truth? Many of the offers for this pill or that pill offer a money-back guarantee if you are not satisfied. But you can be sure that they are all relying on that You’ll FORGET and never ask for your money back.
I am not advising you to dismiss all these supplements. I AM ADVISING YOU to go forward with your eyes wide open. AND supplement the supplement with a plan on maintaining your memory by using it, exercising it. Take Action.
Since my passion is scrabble™, I use word lists as my focus for maintaining my memory. I use a system call spaced-repetition to review the words I want to secure in my mind for use when I’m playing scrabble™.
I can tell you from my personal experience that if I slack off for a week or two, not doing my review exercises, some words from my memory seem to evaporate as if I never learned them at all. Think of building muscle using lifting weights. Each day while lifting, you become more durable and stronger. Stop lifting for a week or two, and your strength diminishes. Memory works like a muscle.

I offer an online class called ‘SCRABBLE 101,’ which will provide you with exercises to build your memory, related to word power and knowledge. For more info, ask me via email: This is one sure way to maintain and grow your MEMORY.

Are you okay to play? These days when I get up each morning, I flick on the TV to hear the latest on the status of the virus and new changes that limit our freedom to move around. I take a peek at the Dow. And then I put on the coffee and dive into the day.
Yesterday I spent 2 hours reading a novel, spent more than an hour writing a blog, and another half-hour posting items online. I spent about 2 hours throughout the day playing Words With Friends and Scrabble™ on the Facebook Website; I went to the market to pick up a few food items that were still left on the mostly empty shelves. I watched reruns of Blue Bloods and Law & Order for more time than I want to admit. I definitely watched Jeopardy & Wheel. And I worked on Sudoku puzzles for more than an hour.
Today I will probably do about the same.  

One of the projects I worked on yesterday was reviewing my templates for the ‘SATINE’ & ‘SATIRE’ & ‘RETINA’ WHIZ CARDS.
Having so much time on our hands . . . this is the perfect time to devote some of that time to build your word knowledge and word power. Create sets of Flash Cards for yourself -or- if you want me to create them for you, I will, for a small fee: 1 Stem for $10; 2 Stems for $18; 3 Stems for $25; 10 Stems for $50.
Order via email:
Don’t allow all this valuable time off to fritter away. Use it productively and designate some of it to improve your scrabble skills.
If you want to play scrabble with me online on Facebook, just friend me on Facebook and start a game with me. I’ll do my best to play with all of you if I can keep up with the demand.

Do you like music? Have you ever heard about Cafe Lena in Saratoga Springs, New York? They have started streaming many of their performances of outstanding musicians. LINK:

You’ll love it. You’re Welcome.

Every day, every hour, every minute we are being bombarded with information about the insidious coronavirus, about the panic around the world and about the crumbling economy.
While we have all been affected and all of our lives have been changed by factors we cannot control, we also have learned some things we CAN DO to make ourselves safer.

Let’s focus on doing those things we CAN DO.  Take safety precautions for yourself and those you care about.  DO NOT take foolish chances by challenging social distancing and making yourself vulnerable.

Make a list of things that you can do to pass the time while being quarantined.

  • It’s a great time to read a few novels, work on puzzle books, sharpen your scrabble™ skills so you’ll be a buzzsaw when you return to the club. 
  • Clean and fix-up areas in your home. 
  • Keep in touch with your loved ones and friends by phone and email.
  • DO NOT spend endless time watching the news, especially the scary reports that cause you stress.
  • Exercise at home. Go for walks but avoid social interaction with others unless you distance yourself.
  • Become a writer and journal. Tell your personal story, including light and amusing quips you can recall.
  • At times like this, it is reasonable to feel anxious and stressed. You care about others, and others care about you. Help others in any safe way you can. DO any activities you can that diminish stress like meditation, listening to music, deflecting your stress by watching TV movies, and things like Netflix.
  • Play more solitaire scrabble™ in a learning mode. Play a single rack. Find a word on your rack, PAUSE. Find a better play, PAUSE. Find an even better play.



Sometimes people like me hold a very strong core belief. If challenged by another who thinks that my opinion is wrong, I rethink my position and my reasons. However, if I still fell strongly, I take exception to my critic. That process creates a feeling within that is exceptionally uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance.

For more than 30 years, I have firmly believed that the system of STEMS is an excellent way to learn and identify high probability bingos that are so valuable when playing the game of scrabble™.
Earlier last year, I provided a class for scrabble™ players who wanted tips on how to improve their scrabble™ skills and scores. During that exchange, I touted the importance of STEMS. A STEM is a set of letters that has a high probability of occurring within 7 and 8 letter words. Sets of 6 letters along with a variable make up the 6s-to-7s. Sets of 7 letters along with a variable make up the 7s-to-8s. 

The 6-to-7 STEM with the highest probability is ‘SATINE.’ This stem with the variables A thru Z will produce 73 bingos. Players who identify and play these bingos will earn 50 points for every bingo played. (EX: SATINE + J = TAJINES)
One player who took my class heard me boast that knowing the STEMS was one of the secrets of the champions. After the class ended, she tracked her play at her local club. Months later, she complained to me that I misled her. She had never had the opportunity to play even a single SATINE STEM bingo.

My reaction was immediate. I dug my heels in and defended my assertions. I personally experience the opportunity to play STEM BINGOS almost every week. I offered to sit with her and demonstrate how to use STEMS.
If you begin with a rack like A-E-I-S-T-U-V you recognize that you possess five tiles of the SATINE STEM. Playoff or exchange the ‘U’ & ‘V’ and hope to draw an’ N’ or ‘BLANK’ to create SATINE.

If you have a rack like A-E-E-I-N-S-T, which includes SATINE but cannot remember the bingo in SATINE + E, play off the ‘E’ and hopefully draw a tile that creates a bingo which you remember. SATINE + D = DESTAIN, DETAINS, INSTEAD, NIDATES, SAINTED, SATINED, STAINED
There is nothing more self-defeating than having a rack like A-E-E-I-N-S-T and playing the word ‘STAIN,’ giving up on the STEM concept.

 JFTSOI sells WHIZ CARDS with all the STEM SETS. 1 Set / $10; 2 Sets/ $18;
3 Sets / $25; 5 Sets / $ 35; 10 Sets / $50. Prices include shh.  

Order with an email to and pay with Paypal.

And a Happy St. Paddy’s Day to ya. Sláinte means “health” in Irish and Scottish Gaelic. It is commonly used as a drinking toast in Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. SLAINTE is an acceptable word on the OWL.
SLAINTE has six anagrams:

A typical Irish toast might be: 

  • “May the best day of your past be the worst day of your future.”
  • “Always remember to forget the things that made you sad. But never forget to remember the things that made you glad.” 
  • “May you be in heaven a full half-hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”

8 Best Irish Whiskeys 

  • Locke’s
  • Wild Geese
  • Knappogue Castle
  • Tyrconnel Single Malt
  • Powers
  • Connemara
  • Midleton

I have one more thing to say on this very special day, “La Chaim”!

And there you sit behind a scrabble board. You are two plays into a game. In the last three weeks, you have been busily studying the SATINE STEM. You’ve written out the list, you put the letters onto flashcards, and you’ve devoted close to an hour every day quizzing yourself. At this time, you have ‘mastered’ about 80% of the entire STEM.
On your last rack, you had S-A-T-I-N-E + Y. From your studies, you know that SATINE + Y has no bingo, so you played off the ‘Y’ and drew an’ E.’
There is one spot on the board that will allow you to HOOK your’ S.’ Now, all you have to do is recall the bingo in SATINE + ‘E.’ You wiggle in your seat. You close your eyes and try to visualize the flashcard with the answer. You move the tiles around on your rack. It is your opponent’s turn, so you still have time to figure this out. And then you see it: ETESIAN.
You try not to look at the place on the board where you hope to play your bingo. Unless your opponent creates another place for your bingo, there’s only the one spot.
And wouldn’t you believe it? Of all the other places to play on the board, your opponent ruined your bingo spot. That sort of thing happens quite often. Suck it up. What do you do now? Some players will look for another play and possibly use 3 or 4 of their tiles. As for me, if the scores are still relatively close, I would play off an ‘E,’ keeping ‘SATINE,’ and hopefully drawing into another bingo. I’d play the ‘E’ in a place where I open a place to play a bingo.
I played my ‘E’on top of a’ T,’ creating many possible hooks over the ‘ET.’ Now I draw one tile to replace the ‘E,’ and I get a ‘D.’ SATINE + D has several bingos.

When you are playing THIS TURN, always think about the possibilities on your NEXT TURN.

The better the player, the more open they like the board. REMEMBER: If you close the board for your opponent, you are also closing the board on yourself.
Try not to create double/double or triple/triple opportunities for opponents unless you are earning a high score for yourself.
There’s a lot to think about. Make sure that you are thinking, not just reacting.

There’s more than one kind of social security. I’m talking about the variety that we experience at our local scrabble™ club. It’s a place where like-minded people who love to play scrabble™ come together and challenge one another by playing words that they learned last week to draw our challenge this week.
We all become better players because of one another. Some players rarely study; they learn one-word-at-a-time through the efforts of their opponents. Oh, the opportunities they are missing by playing so passively.
One of the things I enjoy the most from playing a wide variety of players is that every player brings their uniqueness to the game. Players have different interests, different sets of knowledge, different ways to look at things. Therefore they have unique vocabularies and are attracted to learn and retain different sets of words.
The regulars love ‘fresh meat’ (a new first-time club player). The newbie is very vulnerable for the first few sessions until they learn some of the jargon and rules. We never expect a newbie to play a bingo or win.
It was one October Wednesday at Club #350 when a newbie popped in and wanted to play. I paired her with Gretchen Cowan, who is one of our established players and a great teacher. We always want every newbie to have a good initial experience, hoping that they will return and become a regular, BUT, not even a good teacher wants to lose the game to a newbie. On her third turn, the newbie snickered and played ‘ZELKOVAS’ through an ‘O’ on the board. Gretchen had been hunched over the board, explaining hooks to the newbie and bolted upright with an awkward smile. I think Gretchen said, “Holy Underwear”!
Not knowing the word, Gretchen went into a soliloquy about phonies and challenges and HOW TO CHALLENGE. Then she called “Challenge.” The two ladies walked over to the computer, typed in ‘ZELKOVAS,’ and hit the ‘TAB’ key, and the adjudicator showed, ACCEPTABLE. Gretchen’s jaw dropped, and she shouted, “WHOOPIE DOOO, we’ve got a keeper.”
Even though I’ve never had the tiles to play ZELKOVA since that day a dozen years ago, I’ve always remembered it. That’s one way we all learn new words. The woman who played it was a Botany major.
I encourage you to take your vocabulary out to a local scrabble club and strut your stuff. Oh, the FUN that’s waiting for you.

One of the experiences that I hate when I play a set of tiles onto the board (believing that it is a ‘legal’ word) . . . when my opponent chuckles before saying, “CHALLENGE.”  

I know that there are more than 100+ words that end with the letters ‘. . . LIKE’.
WEBLIKE, NUTLIKE, JAMLIKE, HATLIKE, WOOLLIKE, are all legal words. So what is so absurd or laughable when I played ‘TOGALIKE’? Am I way too sensitive?
It turns out that while TOGALIKE is not right, GOATLIKE is totally legal.
Now I really felt foolish.

This brings me back to something that I’ve written about in the past. When one is studying large volumes of word lists, we often learn patterns while not learning every word on the list. Hence we learn that there are significant numbers of words that end with ‘LIKE,’ ‘AGE,’ ‘INGS,’ ‘CLE’; there are many words that begin with ‘NON,’ ‘PRE,’ ‘AB.’
In my opinion, if you think a combination of letters on your rack is a word, go ahead and play it. It is the responsibility of your opponent to challenge it if he/she thinks it is phony. There are so many strange words on the OWL you may be correct. Would you challenge UNMEW? YCLEPT? MOUFFLON? CWM?
Those four words are all legal. Who knew? Now you do.

Be kind to your opponents. Never belittle anyone. There’s no value in that.
With all the closures due to the coronavirus, many scrabble™ players are looking to the internet to play. There are games that you can play against the computer. You can play against live opponents on Facebook and other sites like ISC. Make sure that you play with the correct word list. Most times, you have a choice. Also, know that your online opponents may be using an open dictionary during play.

Not to make light of the severity of the coronavirus, while watching the unique genius and gearing up to meet the challenge; I’ve recognized the opportunity to borrow from what I see happening in the genius of our President.
People are willing to drive through lines to be tested for CORONAVIRUS.
Therefore, beginning next Monday, I will institute drive-through stations where Americans can be tested on such things as the 2s, Anagrams, and Image Awareness.

  • When you drive up, you will be asked to randomly choose Box 1, Box 2, or Box 3.
  • The administrator will select a question from within your Box of Choice. The 2s Box will contain all 26 letters from A through Z. The administrator will draw a letter at random and ask you to tell him/her all the 2s that contain that letter.
  • Ex: (1) If you are asked to provide the 2s with ‘D’ you’ll be expected to say ‘AD,’ ‘ED,’ ‘ID,’ ‘OD,’ ‘DA,’ ‘DE,’ and ‘DO.’ If your response is incomplete or has an error, you’ll receive a reappear notice to be retested again within the next 30 days.
  • (2) The Anagram Box will contain words from 5-Letters-Long to 7-Letters-Long. The administrator will draw a word like ‘COINS’ to which you’ll be expected to provide all four of the anagrams: ‘CIONS,’ ‘ICONS,’ ‘SCION,’ and ‘SONIC.’
  • (3) For vision awareness, you’ll be shown a picture of an animal whose name is a legal scrabble word and asked to provide that word. The image may be of a ‘NILGAU’ or a ‘MOUFLON’ or a ‘FLEHMEN.’
  • We will use the results accumulated in the first 30 days to design a more reflective RATING SYSTEM. Lessons learned from this unprecedented band of testing will hopefully stimulate the general knowledge and word power within our ranks.
  • Locations of drive-through testing will be made in critical locations in 17 States across the US and American Samoa.
  • Based on the dropping price of oil, we expect that all of you will not find it a hardship to drive out to a testing site. All sanction scrabble directors across the country applaud this stimulus challenge.  

Be well.

It’s hard to think about playing scrabble™ or do anything else other when the pandemic and the disintegration of the stock market are devouring us. But those are the cards we’ve been dealt. Consider using some of your scrabble™ skills to get yourself through these challenging days.

Create a plan. Have a well thought out strategy.
First, take a deep breath. Next, sit down and calm yourself. Create an action plan for yourself, your family, and your friends.
You have to think about yourself first because if you lose it or become ill, you’ll be hard-pressed to take care of yourself and others.

  • Understand the severity of the pandemic and DO NOT place yourself at risk whenever possible. 
  • Stay away from crowds of strangers. 
  • If you become ill, DO NOT expose others. 
  • Wash your hands frequently and sneeze into a tissue.
  • Make sure that you have enough food, water, and meds on hand to last 2 – 3 weeks. 
  • If you have to go to the market, go at night when there will be fewer people out shopping.
  • With more time at home, figure out how to play more scrabble online.
  • Spend some of your time studying. Don’t watch hour after hour of TV news (limit your watching news to an hour a day).
  • Write snail-mail letters to your family and friends. Keep it light and positive. 
  • Begin to write that book that is in you. 
  • Organize a photo album. 
  • Read a novel or six. 
  • Work sudoku puzzles. 
  • Bake some cookies. 
  • Clean out a closet.
  • Make sure your car has a full tank of gas. 
  • Eat healthy foods. 
  • Make a list of the things you should do tomorrow and then DO THEM.

Be well.

Some days are Diamonds; some days are Rocks.
Some scrabble™ games are Diamonds; some scrabble™ games are Rocks.
Diamonds are nice . . . but I wanna ROCK, especially when I’m playing scrabble™. And the only way I can prepare to ROCK is by becoming one with myself and the word power and strategies to meet every challenge.

Two tools in my bag-of-trick that may be missing from your arsenal are my students and my word study booklets. While preparing lessons for my students, I agonize over the talking points and the exercises I instruct the students to master. I envision the experiences I hope will present themselves and lessons that will be learned. While constructing my study books, I create puzzles that develop useful skills that are used to play scrabble™.

I frequently remember the teachers who inspired me and strive to imitate them by inspiring the next generation. There are so many different pieces to the puzzle that make up a scrabble mavin. The players I know each have strengths and weaknesses. To achieve MAVINHOOD, a player has to know all the pieces and mastery, as well as obtain the parts to perform.

  • The 2s ROCK.
  • Hooks ROCK.
  • Stems ROCK.
  • Anagrams ROCK.
  • Extensions ROCK.
  • Hot-Spots ROCK.
  • The Rules ROCK.
  • Consograms ROCK.
  • Mnemonics ROCK.
  • Tracking ROCKS.
  • Challenging ROCKS.
  • Posturing ROCKS.
  • You can ROCK with me whenever you’re ready.

What if you woke up tomorrow morning with the ability to recall every word you ever saw? What if when you looked at the morning paper, every word jumped off the page and into your consciousness?
Would you tell people, or would you keep it as your secret?

  • What if you then could convert every scrabble™ rack into a brilliant, high-scoring play?
  • What if you became an instant scrabble™ icon followed by gray-haired groupies and sought after by the talk-show circuit?
  • What if scrabble™ became so easy for you that you never lost a game again, and you became so bored that you never felt challenged?
  • What if no one wanted to play with you anymore because they believed you were unbeatable?
  • What if you reluctantly gave up playing scrabble and channeled your efforts into opening a Scrabble Academy?
  • What if you discovered that you weren’t an outstanding teacher, and you couldn’t teach people how to develop instant recall?
  • What if you realized that all the fame and fortune you were experiencing wasn’t worth sacrificing the thrill that is the challenge within the scrabble game?
  • What if a Genie appeared and granted you one wish to return to how things were before you woke up that fateful morning?


Last Saturday, I was one of about 100 scrabble™ players taking part in the 16th Annual Escondido SCRABBLE-THON. The purpose of the event is to raise funds for The Literacy Project at the Escondido Public Library.
I saw it as an opportunity to contribute to a charitable cause that has merit and to play my favorite game at the same time.
But I will admit that each year when I sign up to play, it is with the hope of showing-up and showing-off and Finishing in the Winners’ Circle.
Besides a lesson in Humility, I learned other valuable lessons at this year’s event that will keep me coming back in future years as long as I am able.
During the five games in the competition, I was the winner in a BLOWOUT game, winning 461 to 236. I played one game COMEBACK game in which I trailed by as many as 50+ points and ended up winning by 73 points. I played two very hard-fought, close games, winning one by 12 points and the other by 8 points.
If I could have won the final game, I had a chance to be in the Winners’ Circle. BUT I lost. I could whine right about now and tell you that my opponent drew both blanks plus three esses and most of the power tiles. And while that would be accurate, I was responsible for pulling all of those other disconnected tiles that ended up on my rack turn after turn, limiting my score.
At the moment I lost game #5, I began feeling like I was a Cup Half-Empty guy.
All morning long, before I lost that game, I was a Cup Half-Full person. Is the shift in feelings and perception that fragile and tenuous?

  • Can someone be a half-empty person while experiencing Wins?
  • Can a person be a half-full person and still Lose?
  • Does winning or losing at scrabble or anything else define our nature?
  • Which makes you feel better, Half-Full, or Half-Empty? Simply choose one.
  • It would be a sad world to live in if non-winners were doomed to walk around Half-Empty.
  • I choose to be Half-Full, regardless of winning or losing, all the time, and do my best to fill the top half of the cups of others and important projects like the Literacy Project.
  • If you’ve been a Half-Empty person, you can choose along with me to visualize yourself differently right NOW. And it’s FREE.

Today’s blog is an acknowledgment of Rency Biagan, and all the other scrabble ™ players like Rency who ‘GET’ the message I preach within my blogs. YES, YOU CAN.
(See Rency’s photo in our Photo Gallery,

I first met Rency a week or two after this past New Year. He showed up at one of the Wednesday sessions of Scrabble Club #350. He told me that he wanted to play scrabble. Sure. I always hear those words from people who wander into Club #350. However, I’ve learned from being burned so many times not to get my hopes up too high. I take it personally when a great prospective player leaves and gives up after only a session or two. Scrabble clubs require members who come regularly and players who work at becoming better by improving their skills.
In my head, I discounted Rency for a few reasons. First of all, he is a quiet, thoughtful man who doesn’t display enthusiasm in his words and mannerisms to me. Next, Rency is from the Philippines, and English is his second language (That is a considerable handicap for most players from other cultures). And he is an avid golfer, playing two or three times every week. (People who have different interests and passions find the time and commitment to learning to play scrabble™ a hindrance.)
In the first session, Rency appeared I played as his opponent in one of the games. He had never played with a clock before and was unaware of the 2-Letter word list. Despite that, he scored over 300 points and played two bingos. I sat up and took notice. I provided several hints to him that could improve his game, and I shared both the 2-Letter list and the infamous Cheat Sheet. I told Rency about my online class, ‘SCRABBLE 101’.

Shortly after that, I received an email from Rency requesting to take my class. The cost of the course is $200, and the commitment is 30 days. That usually discourages many potential students. In my opinion, the class is worth so much more than $200. We arranged a time to meet and talk about the class. When people outside of my neighborhood take the class, we begin with a conference call, and all the materials flow online.
When Rency and I met, I could tell that he was determined to take the class and improve his scrabble skills.
I ask my students to forget everything they’ve ever learned in the past about how to play scrabble™. I need them to break all there old BAD HABITS. And then we begin by studying the 2-Letter-Words. Not just studying them, but MASTERING them. The uncommitted players usually turn me off and tune me out when I have them begin with the 2’s. They think it’s a waste of their time, too elementary.
Rency followed my lead. He did everything I ask of him. He analyzed his learning style and suggested how we could restructure the schedule of the lessons to his schedule so that he could benefit to the max. I was glad to do that.
One of his other issues was TIME. At the club, we play with Chess-Clocks, and if you go over time, you lose 10 points for every minute or fraction of a minute in overtime. Bringing his awareness of this issue created an incentive to Think-Faster, Play-Faster.
During February, at club, I watched Rency improve every week. I invited him to join a group of us who were attending the Escondido Scrabble-Thon last Saturday and play in the Novice Division. He agreed. I had a sense that he would have fun and do well.

That’s a major UNDER-STATEMENT. He came, he played, he WON 1st PLACE.

I don’t know who was more excited, Rency, or me.
Rency shared with me that several of his opponents’ said that they were impressed with his knowledge and use of the 2-Letter words. (A Mavin in the making.)

People have amazing abilities.
It was 1987 when I met Theresa Maynard. She was one Granddame of Scrabble™ in Michigan. I never knew her well, but at one point, she invited me to assist her and a group of dedicated scrabble freaks to produce a tournament for the Sight Impaired in Lansing, Michigan, at a school for the blind.
At first, I thought she was kidding. But it was NO JOKE. There were several blind individuals at The School For The Blind who had been learning to play scrabble™. The tiles and the board were covered with braille. There was also print on the board and tiles so that sighted players could play with the blind.
I remember one teenage girl who was an incredible player.
Imagine this. Close your eyes. A blind player must touch the board to identify the squares, feeling for the Hot Spots, then contact the tiles on the rack and imagine a word from memory. Next, he/she would have to place the tiles on the board in the proper position, count the score, and announce the current cumulative score. My job as a helper was to record the score and take challenges. I was in awe. I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing.
The teenage girl was so talented that we encouraged her to play in a tournament against sighted players. There was a local monthly Lansing tournament in which players were grouped in divisions of 8 players according to their scrabble ratings. She played in the bottom division against all sighted players and took 1st Place. You could not call it BLIND LUCK. She was an outstanding player.
Later that same year, I attended a tournament in Independence, Ohio, where I witness another kind of miracle. There was a player named Bill, who played with a different type of handicap. Bill had quadriplegia. His brother was his aide. Bill played the game lying on a gurney on his belly, with his head and shoulders extended over one end. Bill held a pencil in his teeth and pointed to the tiles he wanted his brother to place onto the board. Bill’s brother recorded the scores. Bill was given an extra 5 minutes on his clock because of his handicap. Bill was no slouch. He finished the competition in 4th Place.

I was inspired again. Don’t sell anyone short. Don’t talk yourself down.

Think back to your first day at high school; 9th Grade; 14 years of age; in the clutches of puberty and raging hormones; feeling some awkwardness; checking yourself out in the mirror; super conscious about the zits on your face; sweating in the armpits and hoping that your antiperspirant is working; feeling the vulnerability and questioning how THEY are perceiving you. Experiencing a PUSH-ME/PULL-YOU feeling around the many attractive girls in class. Having an awareness that you[re not as tall as most of the guys, not as buff, actually a bit NERDY. Watching others in small groups like they already know one another and you standing on the sideline knowing no one. Becoming more nervous every minute wanting the bell to ring and for the class to begin.
This was my first experience around scrabble™ players. I actually thought I was going to a SINGLES EVENT as advertised in the Southfield Eccentric newspaper in the winter of 1986. I was single again and hoping to meet Ms. Right in a setting different from a Bar or a Dance. A heavy snowstorm had begun the night before and it was like a blizzard out there. I almost didn’t go once I stepped out of my apartment, standing in the parking lot, brushing the snow off my car and scraping the ice off the windows.
“As long as I’m up and dressed,” I thought to myself. I did have to drive way across town, 15 – 20 miles. I wondered if anyone else would even show up. Forty-Five minutes later I arrived at The Presidential Inn on I75 in Lincoln Park, MI. The parking lot looked pretty full and I was 30 minutes early.
Entering the lobby I saw a sign which said SCRABBLE™ with an arrow pointing to one of the ballrooms. I stamped the snow off of my boots, found the coat room and stowed my winter attire and headed toward the ballroom. There were a lot of people already there. Many of them were already playing scrabble™  in pairs of two. I looked around the room for a familiar face and saw not a one. There was something peculiar about the group. I expected to see a group of 30-40 age group. There were people from 20 – 80 in the room.
It didn’t take long for others to notice me. Many people came up toward me with warm greetings. They asked me all kinds of questions about who I was, how did I come to being here, where had I played scrabble before. Before long we all discovered that I had been misled. The editor of the paper had put this activity in the Single Column. It was not a singles event. As a matter of fact it was a scrabble playoff event to determine who should represent Michigan at the upcoming National Scrabble Tournament.

I was both disappointed and delighted. One of the organizers escorted me around and introduced me to players. I was made to feel at home and part of the community in short time. I notice so many words being played and I ask my escort, “What language are they playing in?” She laughed. She showed me the Official Word List. I was intrigued.
People I met didn’t hesitate to invite me to there local clubs. I was hooked. I wanted to know more and I wanted to get to hang with these people again. Their HUMANKINDNESS and inclusion was the first time I had ever experienced this in memory. Since that time I have always shown the same kind of acceptance and inclusion to others. Scrabble Players Always Have A Good Word For One Another.

There’s so much to learn abour the game of scrabble™ in order to become a better player.  Most scrabble™ players I know enjoy playing every opportunity they get.  The overwhelming majority rarely-to-never STUDY; they play the words that they know over and over again.
Since the average person on the street has a vocabulary of about 5,000+ words most players never get bored.  Yet, when they find themselves playing the other kind of player who drops SENARII or NGWEE or OUGUIYA onto the board they all they can do is complete that game and never play against that player again.
When I began playing at Clubs I was lucky enough to play against many WORD FREAKS who played those kind of words.  It wasn’t a turn-off for me.  It was an inspiration.  I didn’t enjoy losing game after game and week after week but I was expose to a new vocabulary that provided me a path to becoming a scrbble winner.
My WORD JOURNAl is crammed with words I learned one at a time.  I remember and can tell your stories about where and when I learned STRIGIL, OPACIFIED, and CRWTH.  BUT just writing them down in a journal is not enough to help anyone to recall them if they are on your rack.  Learning anything requires review using SPACED-REPETITION.

There was one lady who attended a group class I taught at a Scrabble™ Club.  My focus at that session was on STEMS.  Then a year or more later she approached me and complained that the STEMS never appear on her rack.  It could be so, but unlikely.  However, there’s no reason to be anti-STEMS.  That system when used properly will generate a multitude of bingoes and every expert will agree.
We receive an average of 17 turns in a game.  If you play 2 clubs each week, playing 4 games per sessionyou will play 136 turns per week and 7,072 turns per year.  It would take you more than 10 years to play every word in the OWL if you played a different word on every turn.  We all play some of the same words over and over again.  If you study you’ll learn many word that you might never play in a game.  That okay.
To become better:  Keep On Learning Words;  Learn About All The Other Parts Of The Game.  Consider the online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’.


Actually we’re all on the same side.  How can that be?  When we play against one another during the game we’re opponents.  How is that on the same side?
My experience is that we learn a very lot from one another.  You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘Scrabble Players Always Have A Good Word For One Another’.  And it’s very true.
Over the years I’ve picked up endless words that my opponents have played against me.  Fool me once with a word . . . Good For You.  Fool me twice with that same word, . .  Shame on me.
Don’t allow all the scrabble jargon played by your opponents to evaporate into the ether.  Every word played by your opponents against you is a gift.  Make a note of it on your scoresheet.  Adopt it into your vocabulary and play it against some other opponent.
I continually encourage my scrabble students to keep a notebook of words that they have learned on their own or words that have been played against them.  The only way that you will ever learn those words is by taking an action.  They will not just pop into your memory.  You have to write it down.  You have to put them onto a list.  You have to review the words you want to own.  It’s not hard.  You just have to DO IT.
Tuesday I played at a scrabble club in Huntington Beach, CA.  Before the games began, Najat Reikes, a player who happens to have a PhD in Public Health shared some tips to the group about staying healthy by practicing some simple curtesy for each other.  She suggested that we wash our hands frequently.  She asked us to always have tissues with us to catch our coughs and sneezes.  She said we should NEVER sneeze into our hands.  (Those hands go into our tile bags and germs transfer easily.)  When the games began I watch three of four people cough or sneeze into their hands, just minutes after Najat’s talk. Many of us have poor hygiene habits.
Many of us have no habits when it comes to keeping a WORD JOURNAL.  There is no ‘Magic Pill’.  We have to develop good and helpful habits.
Next time you see me share your journal with me.
We all learn from each other.  We make each other better.  While I always play to win, I want to have to play well in order to beat you.  And I’ll be cheering for you silently when you BLOW ME AWAY.

HOOKS:  One Gigantic Leap Toward Mavinhood
So what’s so special about HOOKS you ask?  One of the most frustrating and challenging parts of the game of scrabble is getting your words down onto the board.
Even the 2-Letter-Words (2LW) are important because as a player, I’m always trying to earn the most points on every turn.  Most of the 2s are made up of  1 vowel + 1 consonant.  Many of the consonants have a face value of 2-10 points.  Hence you should almost always play a 2LW with the consonant on a HOT SPOT.  For maximum points have the consonant be part of 2 words and earn double.
**Take a good look at your scrabble board.  See it as a GRID like a MAP.  The columns are A thru O (left to right) and the horizontal rows are 1 – 15 (top to bottom).  The center Star is at (H8) and is a DWS.

Ex:  The word ‘ENEMY’ in on the board vertically from (I6) to (I10).  The ‘E’ is sitting adjacent to a TLS.  Your rack is  H-I-L-M-P-U-X.  WHAT’S YOUR BEST SCORING PLAY?
If you play the 2LW ‘XU’ with the ‘X’ on the TLS at (J6) the ‘X’ will be part of two words on a single play.  (XU vertically and EX horizontally)  This play will earn 52 points.
Placing tiles with High Point Values strategicly is key to winning the game.

Another very import roll of HOOKING is all about know the letters that can HOOK onto other words, creating new legal words.  An ending ’S’ hook is the most common one that all players usually know.  BUT there are many others that are important to know.
Take the word ‘HERO’.  Yes, it takes an ’S’ at the end.  But what else?  It also takes an ’N’ at the end = HERON.
Is there any letter that can hook onto the front of HERO?  Yes, SHERO.
SHERO = a woman regarded as a hero. n.

There are many surprises like that with words.  If you take the time to arm yourself with some unfamiliar hooks you will stump your opponents and win some challenges.
What’s a front hook for ‘COLD’?   Okay, you know ’S’ + COLD = SCOLD.  BUT did you know that ‘A’ + COLD = ACOLD

WE DON’T KNOW, what we don’t know, UNTIL WE LEARN IT. . .  and there is always so much more to learn.

MNEMONICS: It’s Complicated
If you are up to understanding and using a very powerful memory tool which can empower you to identify many words you may want to learn about using MNEMONICS.
You begin with a word that is made up from high probability letters and then apply MNEMONICS and you’ll have one incredible tool.
The most valuable set of letters among the 7-Letter-Words is ‘NASTIER’.  There are 9 different bingos that can be found in this set of letters.

Now create a ‘nonsense’ phrase using each letter in that can individually join the base word, creating a new word.  That’s a mnemonic.

One prase that accompanies ‘NASTIER’ is:

There are 75 8-Letter-Long Bingos for this single mnemonic.

Years ago the scrabble mavens took the time to identify the top 200 7-Letter Words that produce the biggest bang for your buck.  The sample above is 1 of 200.
You can apply the same system to any size length of words, even 2-Letter Words.  Let’s consider the word ‘HO’  The letters that work with HO include:

A, B, D, E, F, G, H, M, N, O, P, R, S, T, W, Y.  NOW CREATE YOUR OWN MNEMONIC using only these letters.

In my opinion you most likely want to use this system with 6 to 7 or 7 to 8 letter words.
You are more apt to know more of the 3 & 4 letter words, so why bother with mnemonics for the short words.

For more information about Mnemonic Cards from JFTSOI, send me an email.  (Not for the faint of heart.)
Gary Moss

I was just like so many of you when I began playing Club Scrabble™ back in 1987. I liked the game of scrabble™, and I sorta expected just to show up at a club and show all those smarties that I was ‘good” enough to beat their pants off.
But I wasn’t! I was good enough to beat my family members and a few other friends who’d play with me every so often.
The world of Club Scrabble™ was a step above my other scrabble™ circle. There was a world of scrabble™ jargon with which I was unfamiliar. Several of the better club players had told me about STEMS and HOOKS, but I was stubborn and didn’t want to take all the time it would take to do all the studying necessary to get up to speed.
At the next club session, I was sitting there with A-E-E-i-N_S_T. I knew enough to know that I most likely had a bingo because I had a ‘SATINE’ rack. But I had forsaken learning the STEMS. I sat there, staring helplessly at my rack and moving the tiles around. I was without a clue.

When the game finally ended, I pulled out my Franklin (a hand-held device that unscrambles sets of random letters into acceptable words). The word I had missed playing was ETESIAN. That’s when I decided to learn the STEMS. There are 100 high probability 6-Letter to 7-Letter Stems. I set an initial goal to learn SATINE (the #1 stem) in 30 days.
I got into the car and drove directly to a stationery store where I bought a pack of 200 3×5 cards and some markers. I brought the supplies back home and pulled out my Franklin, and brought up the SATINE stem. There were about 70 bingos in just the one STEM. I spent the better part of 2 hours making the set of flashcards. On the front of the card was SATINE + A; on the back of that card, I listed the bingos that can be made from A-E-I-N-S-T = ENTASIA & TAENIAS.
I didn’t know either of those words. I looked up their definitions, but that didn’t help inspire me to remember them. Instead, I decided that I would simply work at remembering them by rote.
I made 26 WHIZ CARDS A – Z  (flashcards devoted to acceptable scrabble™ words), and I began to use them and learn them. I told a lot of people about my WHIZ CARDs, and I ended up selling hundreds of sets to other wannabe mavins.
By the end of the month, when I was comfortable knowing the entire set, I began work on learning the next stem: A-A-E-I-R-S-T  ‘SATIRE’.
I learned that to keep a stem in my memory. I had to review it frequently. It was about the same time I learned about the benefit of SPACED-REPETITION. I noticed that most of my smartie-pants, expert friends, would review and study all the time.
At one point, I became serious about earning a scrabble™ rating as high as 1800. It took me months and years to boost my rating from the 1400s up to the 1770s. I learned to admire the EXPERTS who maintain those high ratings. It is much more than luck. 99% of them work hard to keep their ratings up there.

AND WHEN YOU LEAST EXPECT IT, you may be infected by the scrabble bug too.
Become one of my students and take my online class, SCRABBLE™ 101. I will guide you and provide you with the exercises to grease the path from here to there. Please send me an email to enroll today:

My mom taught me how to play scrabble when I was 10 years old in 1952.  In 1992 I hosted a cable TV show in Farmington Hills, Michigan called ‘Just For The Spell Of It’.  I played a game of scrabble with a guest on each episode and we offered scrabble tips to our viewing audience.  One of my first guests was my mom.
In my oldest memories I am always bundled in sweaters and coats and mittens.  We ate lots of spaghetti, tomato soup, bologna, chocolate chip cookies and PB&J.  We sat together and watched the radio.  We visited my Baubee and Auntie Annie, & Auntie Jean (my mom’s sisters).  Mom took me to nursery school at the JCC and to the Detroit Zoo on Woodward at 10 Mile.  We’d swim at Sandy Beach or Cass Lake and grill steaks and burgers over charcoal fires.
Whenever Uncle Ben got a new car each summer we’d all pile in and  go for rides to Belle Isle & Metropolitan Beach.  We moved to Northlawn when I was 6.  Mom gave me a birthday party and invited all the boys on the block, on the roof of our house.   She took me to Noble School and packed me lunches every day.  There were always snacks after school.  Friday night dinners were special with family meetings.
Mom was always working at a job, sewing, or working for the sisterhood.  She cleaned model houses, was an office manager for a doctor, and was a school secretary for a time.  She kept the house clean, made dinners, and watched over us.  When I had a paper-route she got up with me on many of the coldest days  at 6AM and drove me around as I delivered the morning Detroit Free-Press, Times, and Detroit News.  We watched a lot of TV together: Ed Sullivan, Westinghouse Theater, The Lone Ranger, What’s My Line?, and always lunch with Soupy Sales.
Mom taught me to drive on the streets of Detroit in a ’52 stick Chevy.  She baked chocolate chip cookies, treated all my friends, and they called her mama Moss.  She didn’t approve of most of my first girlfriends.  She didn’t like Harriet, only saying that she had ‘fat ankles’.  She also didn’t approve of another girlfriend because she lived on Dexter.  She envisioned me connecting with a wealthier girl from the 7 Mile neighborhood.
I didn’t mind delivering all those newspapers but I hated going door-to-door collecting money from my customers.  She’d drive me to make sure I did the collecting.  Mom approved of my involvement with the youth group at the Beth Aaron Synagogue even when it distracted me from my school work.  She and dad became advisors to the youth group which provided perks to me so I could attend Camp CRUSY and regional conventions.
From the time I was old enough to have a job she and dad ran interference and paved the way finding work for me after school..
As I stumbled through adolescence she was on the sidelines watching and rooting.  I was an angry teenager and hit back by failing in my studies.  I didn’t have the financial resources to be a success in the circles where Mom wanted me to flourish.  I was however very successful in the youth group because I enjoy the perks that came with those the leadership roles I excelled at.  My ambition and success in life arrived along with my first serious relationship with a girl, when I was 19.  Shelly wanted a man who had a profession and steered me toward education.  Mom had known Shelly for several years and was surprised at my choice but wasn’t critical this time.
Shelly was my escape route from home.  I married two weeks before my 22 birthday and one month before beginning my first teaching job in Oak Park, Mi.
The day after our wedding Shelly and I left on our honeymoon and Mom, Dad, Joel and Karen moved to Minnesota for a job opportunity for Dad.
Mom had an incredible memory for detail.  She was very opinionated  And she could have won a ‘Gold Medal’ for being able to hold a grudge.  When she loved you . . . she really loved you;  when she felt betrayed by you or didn’t like you it was almost impossible to win her favor with her until she was damn ready to ease up on you.
Mom was a master at remembering people and their connections.  She seemed to know everybody and who they were related to.  Mom invented Jewish Geography and could tell you who lived where and where they came from.
Mom said what she though and parroted bigoted mantras she had learned over the years.  She’d deny that she was a bigot.  But she knew that certain others were less desirable and never had an opportunity to meet them for herself.  In spite of those few negative qualities she had countless admirers.  She was generous beyond a fault.  She always rooted for the underdog while being one herself.  Whenever she sold the pinafores she sewed or charged for the tailoring she provided she charged laughably cheap prices.
Mom was a natural reflection of Gracie Allen.  She’d say some of the darnedest things that would make you laugh until your sides ached.  She had her own version of playing UNO that was a hoot.  When she told a joke it was perfect up until the end when she forgot the punchline.
By the time I turned 8 I had more birthdays than MOM had.  She was a Leap-Year-Day baby, having a birthday only every 4 years.  While she had hoped to live to 100, she only made it to 96.  She had a decent quality of life until the last 2-3 months when she suffered a stroke.  Joel, Karen, and Sue looked after her in her final days along with Jewish Hospice.
Living so long is a blessing but I frequently felt so sorry for her because she outlived almost all of her contemporary friends and relatives.  New friends are great, but old friends are priceless
Mom would have celebrated her 25th birthday today (100 years old).  And when I’m sitting quietly I can still her voice and her advice, if I want it or not.
Happy Birthday Mom

I Love You

My BLOG today was inspired by a post on Facebook. It said, “You cannot raise your children the way your parents raised you. Because your parents raised you for a world that no longer exists.”
Each generation stands on the shoulders of the previous generation, reaching higher, seeing further, and knowing some degree more.
Whenever a change occurs, people like you and me choose to accept the change and take the new path or to dig our heels in and resist change. Change can be extremely uncomfortable for many people.

SCENARIO 1: You began playing club scrabble™ in 2010. You spent endless hours and days and months devoted to mastering pieces of the game of scrabble™. Along comes 2018, and the Official Word Committee announces that they have added 5,000 new words to the OWL. One minute you were comfortable with ‘WHAT WAS,’ and now you’re sorta back to SQUARE #1. (Not actually, but you have 5,000 new words to consider and integrate with your already too long list.)
SCENARIO 2: It’s the early 1990s. Scrabble players have been learning words from books and lists for the last 25 years. Some wise guy, a computer Nerd, has just created a small hand-held device that is a digital dictionary, and he has it loaded with the Scrabble™ lexicon. It is selling for about $50. Many of your friends and opponents are purchasing the device. To check if a word is acceptable, you simply type the word into the device and hit ENTER. The device revolutionizes the way scrabble players learn words. In the first year of having the tool, the average score of club players rockets up an average of 75 points per game. The player ratings increase dramatically as well. **The players who resist going with the flow plummet in the ranks.

Things will Change; You can count on it.
Will you be flexible and keep up, or will you become a dinosaur and irrelevant?
A few months ago, I met a lady who wanted to play at my Scrabble™ Club #350, but she told me flat out that she would not play those ‘SILLY’ two-letter words.
That’s ludicrous. She doesn’t understand the game at all. That’s like saying I want to play baseball, but I will not use a bat to strike anything.

I’ve been playing Club Scrabble for more than 30 years, and I still get a THRILL when I win the game. Some thrills are sweeter than others, but they all rank up there close to a 10.

  1. Beating a Newbie while teaching = 8
  2. Beating a first-time club player at Club #350 = 8
  3. Beating David Poder, Amnon Meyers, or Bruce D’Ambrosio = 10+
  4. Being down more than 50 pts. & coming back to win = 10
  5. Playing a word that I learned last week =10
  6. Playing a word that I didn’t know I knew =10+
  7. Finishing in the money at a tournament = 10
  8. Having more than 12 players show up at a club session = 10
  9. Needing a specific letter for a Bingo, playing off one tile, then drawing the tile I need.  = 10
  10. Someone telling me that my workbook has helped them = 10
  11. Teaching the fundamentals via ‘Scrabble 101’ = 10
  12. Learning a word that is NEW TO ME = 10
  13. Being a part of a winning team = 10
  14. Learning things from my students = 10
  15. Thinking about the scrabble friends I’ve cultivated = 10
  16. Buying s new pair of Scrabble Shoes = 10
  17. The anticipation of anything scrabble = 10
  18. Having a scrabble dream and waking up laughing = 10+
  19. Being greeted warmly by strangers at clubs across America = 10
  20. Promoting and Selling my Scrabble booklets = 10
  21. Experiencing an AHA in the midst of a game = 10
  22. Drawing both BLANKS in a game against a better player = 10
  23. Following my own scrabble rules without distraction = 10

You can tell from the list above why I have stuck with Scrabble for more than 30 years!

Scrabble is a Memory Game. Did you ever play the card game called CONCENTRATION? All the cards were placed in rows and columns facedown on the table. Players rotate their turns, each player turning over two cards, hoping to find two with the same number. When one gets a match, he/she takes the two cards and places them in his/her pile. When all the cards have been paired, the player with the most cards is the winner.

  1. My opponent played first. She played the word ‘CURIA,’ horizontally with the ‘C’ on (D8) for 20 points.
  2. My rack is A-E-G-I-M-R-T. I looked for a word to play. How many different words are possible from twos thru sevens? Would you believe that there are 156 different words? Hint: There are two seven-letter-words.
  3. My guess that most people will see TIME or GRIME and not look any further.
  4. Remember: Find a word . . . PAUSE. Find a better scoring word…etc. Are you able to find the seven-letter words? (MIGRATE & RAGTIME.)
  5. The M can play above or below the A in CURIA. The R can play below the A.
  6. Play RAGTIME for 66 points.
  7. If you didn’t know the 2-Letter words, AM, AR, and MA, you’d probably be stuck and lose out on a great scoring opportunity. MASTER THE 2 LETTER WORDS.


  1. My opponent played first. She played the word ‘QUITE,’ horizontally, with the ‘Q’ on (D8) for 48 points.
  2. My rack is still E-I-M-R-S-T-BLANK.
  3. I have some interesting choices. There are 1,296 words to choose from. On this rack, there are 36 Bingos (7 letter words). BUT, there is also a play for 57 points that I can make without using my BLANK. Do you know what it is?
  4. I have a 3 Letter front-extension for QUITE. (MES) After scoring 57 points for ‘MESQUITE,’ I’ll have a great leave on my rack ( I-R-T-BLANK).
  5. If I didn’t know the front extension, I could have played one of the 36 bingos:

    You know, in today’s world, it’s a fact of life, there’s no way to coast and remain at par with the competition. As a result we must continue to run all the way to the finish line. If you don’t, there will be a steady stream of others who keep passing you bye.
    Now there’s nothing wrong with kicking back and enjoying a more carefree lifestyle; just don’t fool yourself that the status you’ve achieved to this point in time will keep you perched as the king or queen of the hill well into the future. That was never the way that any of us thought of retirement.
    If the prices on things today were the same as they were in 1965, I would be a wealthy man. But as you are well aware, my 2020 new automobile costs twice as much as my 1965 new 3-bedroom home.
    If you knew every single word in the first OWL in the 1970s, there would still be thousands of words that you would have to learn to be a master.

Scenario: An interested party calls me and wants to come to the scrabble™ club. I am always thrilled when that happens. We may talk a bit on the phone or communicate via email, and I tell them some of what to expect. They usually tell me that they’re the best player in their family or the best among their friends. That’s Great! But the sad thing is that they are setting themselves up for a massive blow to their ego if they think they’ll stroll into a club and beat all of us.
Even the newest club player with basic knowledge about club play will be knockout the newbie who would be champion.
A lady called me and inquired about Club #350. She told me that she has a Ph.D. in English. She was obviously trying to impress me. She came to the club and promptly lost all four of her games on the first evening. She never returned. She most likely had a more extensive vocabulary than everyone at Club #350, but she couldn’t get her words down onto the board.
It takes TIME. It takes PERSISTENCE. You MUST KNOW the 2s, the hooks, the stems, the strategy, and the probability of drawing specific tiles.
She most likely could have become a national champion, but she had a personal need to become an immediate success. It seldom happens.
Through the years, I have lost games to 7-year-old children, to older ladies pushing 100, to players who were legally blind, to a paraplegic man who played lying face down on a bed with a pencil in his teeth to point to the tiles he wanted to play. Playing scrabble™ and losing can be very humbling. I’ve watched a blind young woman win a tournament against all sighted players.
If you choose to COAST with only the knowledge you possess, know that others who may show up as your opponents may be honing their skills today and learning a few new words with the hope of stumping you and drawing your challenge. If you don’t know all the rules of the game and your opponent does know the rules, you may lose a game on a technicality. If you are out of practice and don’t manage your time effectively, you could score enough points to win but lose points for an overtime penalty and ultimately lose the game.
If all this sounds like too much like work and not much fun, club scrabble™ may not be the paradise you imagine it to be.
Not every club player is a SHARK. When you drop in a club, you’ll be able to identify the Sharks from the Sturgeons from the Minnows. You will be welcome even if you are coasting but don’t say I didn’t warn you

What would you say if I told you that many phonies are real words? “How can that be true,” you’re asking yourself.
Well, the definition of ‘a phony’ in scrabble™ means that the word IS NOT on the OWL (Official Word List).
There are most likely millions of words used in languages around the world, yet the OWL has less-than 300,000. A word committee within the ranks of NASPA governs the list of acceptable words. The official file is modified every few years to add new jargon and sometimes eliminate items.
Thus, scrabble™ now becomes more like a MEMORY GAME. The winner is the player who can score the most points using only the acceptable words plus any phonies that go unchallenged.
PHONY is any word played that is not on the OWL. Phonies are played at times because a player simply misspells a word. Sometimes when placing a word onto the board, a player will inadvertently place the tile down incorrectly. Other times, a player may choose to BLUFF and play a phony knowingly (for the points and hoping that the play will go unchallenged). Yes, bluffing is allowed but is costly when the opponent catches you and challenges.
One EXPERT player I know plays phonies when he is behind in the score. His choice of phonies are so believable that he gets away with it time after time.
Many years ago, the word ‘DA’ was legal. Then the word committee took it off the list for more than a dozen years, and NOW it’s back and is acceptable. The common word ‘REDIAL,’ which has been on telephones for ages, was not acceptable until the early 2000s.
There are many legal words on the OWL that are from foreign languages like DHUTI, NGULTRUM, and ERUV. The grace of the WORD COMMITTEE has included these.
What do you do if your opponent plays a PHONY?  

  1. Say “HOLD” quickly (before your opponent replenishes their rack). When you say HOLD, it is like saying ‘FREEZE, HALT.’ Your opponent is on notice not to take tiles, and you have just bought some time to consider your options.
  2. Once your opponent has completed their turn by replenishing their tiles, it is too late to CHALLENGE. It is your responsibility to BE AWARE for everything that is going on in the game. You receive NO SYMPATHY if you complain, “I didn’t have enough time to CHALLENGE. HOLD is the stopper.
  3. Now that you said HOLD and your opponent is stopped, your clock is still running, and you have the opportunity to say CHALLENGE if you wish. Don’t waste your time. Look at the play; do you think it is phony?
  4. Sometimes there may be a reason to allow the phony played to remain on the board. Sometimes one of the letters in the phony will create an opportunity for you to play a word that earns you a big score.

Scenario: My rack is A-E-I-R-S-T-W, and my opponent has played a phony that places an ’N’ at (J1), on the top line between two TWS. I have recently been studying my ‘NASTIER’ mnemonic word list, and I realize my rack plus the ’N’ on the board would give me a triple/triple. So I DO NOT challenge.
I say, ‘I accept your play,’ smile my biggest Cheshire Cat smile and put down the word ‘TINWARES’ through the ’N’ for 158 points. SWEET!

Sunday 2/23/20
Last year in March, I was playing at the Escondido Scrabblethon. It is an annual charity event that benefits the LITERACY PROGRAM, hosted through the Escondido Public Library. It is great fun and draws players with a wide range of scrabble abilities from Novice through Expert. (This year’s event will be held on March 7 if you wish to participate.) At last year’s event, I met several players for the first time and encouraged them to join the Escondido Scrabble™ Club, which plays on the 2nd and 4th Saturday of each month. It is a group of about dozen players under the directorship of Jamie Covell.
One of the players whom I met and joined the club is a flourishing flower of a player. She and I have had many games throughout the past year. She becomes very annoyed-to-hostile if and when I play a phony word.
Now let me say this about that. I can’t remember a time when I have played a phony, knowingly, against an opponent. That doesn’t mean that I don’t play phonies. As a matter of fact, I have a reputation in scrabble circles for being a player who frequently plays phony words.
Why is that? I think it happens because I am always studying word lists. Here’s an example: This morning at the Escondido Club, I had an opening rack of G-L-N-O-P-S-T, and I was playing second. My opponent’s opening play contained the letter ‘A.’ I know that there are many words on the OWL that begin with the word ‘LONG,’ so I played ‘LONGPAST.’ It was challenged off the board, and I said GOOD CHALLENGE to my opponent. She was annoyed that I played a phony against her. A few plays later, I played ‘OBJET,’ knowing that it was good; she challenged again. This time I won that challenge.
During a game, both players are playing both offense and defense. Both players have the right and option to challenge their opponents’ plays, knowing that losing a challenge means losing a turn. If you choose to play a phony to bluff your opponent, you take the risk of being challenged. Players who are new to club scrabble™ and are less familiar with ‘scrabble jargon’ are definitely at a disadvantage. There are so many words that we all don’t know. Of the 170,000 + words on the OWL, the average person knows only about 5%. That amounts to only about 8,500 words. Losing challenges often spurs players to improve their word power and skills. We all usually remember the challenges we lose and try to play those same words on our future opponents.
I experience inner joy when someone challenges my play, and my word is judged to be acceptable. I work hard to learn lesser-known words like OBJET, CRWTH, NGWEE, EKPWELE, and ZENANA.
My recommendation to you is to thumb your way through the Official Scrabble™ Dictionary and slyly pick out some words that you will remember then play and stump your opponents.

I am standing at the ready to help you and others develop your skills to become the very BEST scrabble player you can be.

  • You’ll learn new and exotic words.
  • You’ll build a sharper and expanded memory.
  • You’ll WOW your friends with your new knowledge.
  • You’ll surprise yourself with your abilities.
  • You’ll fine-tune your fundamental math skills.
  • You’ll learn the basics of Probability.
  • You’ll develop a winner’s Killer Instinct.
  • You’ll unscramble racks like A-E-E-N-O-P-U.

I hope to have a one-on-one relationship with you as a teacher and student through my online class, SCRABBLE 101. It is a collection of 30 lessons that focus on all the basics of the game with exercises that will guide you to discover ways to expand your memory, expose the winning secrets of scrabble champions, and inspire you to become the BEST YOU; you can be.
The enrollment fee is $198. 30 Sessions in all. We will begin as soon as you enroll. The schedule will be tailored to your busy life. This is not a class for anyone who may be tentative about going forward. You will be expected to devote an average of 30 minutes or more each day while the course is in progress. My students have all moved up in the ranks. Several have even become EXPERTS at the highest levels, surpassing me. I promise you success if you work sincerely and passionately.
You will learn which skills are most relevant and how to prioritize the pieces of the game that will enhance your abilities and scores. You will identify the things you may have been doing wrong, and I’ll show you how to correct any weaknesses.

To enroll or find out more about SCRABBLE 101, call me (949) 510-1673.
Please send me an email:

See you in the Winner’s Circle.

It’s near the end of a game, and I’m way behind in the score. I haven’t had a good combination of tiles throughout this entire game, and now I just drew tiles and emptied the bag, and of all things, I drew the Q, and I don’t have a ‘U.’
My opponent is considering where to make his play. He is placing tiles onto the board, looking at the board, picking his tile up, and putting them someplace else, picking them up again. (The official rules allow you to place tiles and pick them up again as long as it is your turn . . . BUT the rules also say that using the board to try out your plays is not permitted. That should be done in your head.) I didn’t object and make a scene.
One of the plays he was considering, ‘AIRT,’ horizontally with the ‘A’ at (C9). When I saw that my eyes darted down at my rack and I couldn’t believe what I saw, my rack was ‘A’ ‘C’ ‘H’ ‘I’ ’N’ ‘Q’ ‘R.’ Can you figure out the potential play that I saw?
When I see something like that, it is hard to sit and wait for my opponent to hit the clock and end their turn. Ninety-eight points for me if he makes that play.
After placing it on the board, he picks it up again. He took another 3 minutes, and then he finally put ‘AIRT’ back on the board, announced the score, and hit his clock to end his turn.
I played ‘CINQ’ beginning at A8. The ‘Q’ was on the DLS and played in two directions. Everyone in the room heard him moan. Lucky for him, he went out on his next play. I lost, but it felt like a victory for me. Instead of losing by 100+, I lost by less than 25.
I’ve learned over time that when playing scrabble™, you don’t count your chickens before they hatch. More often than not, your opponent will block the spot for the play that earns you the most points. Your best offense is a good defense. Don’t provide significant opportunities to your opponent. Be stingy.
Also, when you are going first. You have the word ‘BAKE’ on your rack. Where will you place it? Will you put the ‘B’ on (E8) (F8) (G8) or (H8)?
In my opinion, the two best places to put the ‘B’ are either (E8) or (G8). On an opening play, I always try to avoid placing any vowel between the DLS, hot spots. Think ahead to what your opponent might do on their comeback play.

Rules According to Gary
Gary’s Rule #1.00 
Play each game seriously or not at all. Play every game by the rules and hold your opponents accountable to the same standards.
Gary’s Rule #1.37
There are several steps to completing your turn according to the rules:
1) place your play onto the board;
2) count the score for your play aloud and clearly announce your total score to your opponent;
3) Hit the clock which officially ends your turn;
4) Record your cumulative score (you may write the word you just played);
5) Draw tiles from the bag replenishing your rack to 7 tiles;
6) Track tiles if you so choose.
Gary’s Rule #1.41
When taking your turn, first identify a good play, then pause, now find a better move. Do all of the above in no more than 90 seconds.
Gary’s Rule #1.54
NEVER play an S for less than 25 points. NEVER play a BLANK for less than 50 points.
Gary’s Rule #1.62
Attempt to keep your rack balanced with vowels and consonants. Avoid leaving doubles remaining on your rack after a play. Try to leave yourself with tiles reflecting one of the stems you have learned.
Gary’s Rule #1.68When you draw tiles, take them out of the bag one at a time and place them face down on the table. Never OVERDRAW tiles. You don’t want to be penalized.
Gary’s Rule #1.74
Become more aware of TIME. The average turn is about 90 seconds. Learn to play faster than the average guy without becoming sloppy. Never go overtime at the end of the game.  Do your thinking and planning for your next move on your opponents’ turn.
Gary’s Rule #1.82Know All The Rules. It will take time to learn all the rules, but you’ll never be sorry that you spent the time. Take the director’s test for a small investment. Understand thoroughly how to play the game.
Gary’s Rule #1.95
Play scrabble solitaire. Play daily. Developing scrabble muscle is no different than building any other muscle. When you’re not building muscle, it is eroding. Be curious about words. Read the dictionary and word lists. Create word lists for yourself and others.
Gary’s Rule #2.09Teach someone. Find someone who has some interest in the game. Become their mentor and teacher. We often gain a greater understanding of things when we are teaching and clarifying things for others. Be a kind and empathetic teacher, and you’ll be the biggest winner.

Words with the high point values: J,  Q,  X,  Z are most valuable when playing the game.  Earlier today I played the word ‘CINQ’ A8 to D8, hooking the Q over an ‘I’ and scoring 98 points. Knowing these words will payoff.  Put them on flashcards.

Short J Words

Short Q Words

Short X Words

Short Z Words

We Shall Rebuild
Have you seen the pictures of the devastation in Australia? Have you seen photos of the floodwaters in Jackson, MS? Do you remember the Wild Fires that burned up much of the West a few short months ago? It seems as if there is no escaping the awful results of Mother Nature’s fury.
And what is it that you hear so many of the people say after their homes are washed away or burned down? “I’m going to rebuild!” “I’m not going anywhere!”
I understand their angry responses. Nobody wants to be shoved around by Mother Nature. But how do they get the strength to rebuild right there in harm’s way?

Sometimes my computer is very much like Mother Nature.
Last evening I was working away on a word-lesson project. Out of nowhere, I received a pop-up message from Google telling me that I have to reconfirm a password. I tried to delete the message. The message popped up again. After the third or fourth time, I gave in and followed the instructions. Then it prompted me to ALLOW specific permissions. I was skeptical, but I followed the directions. When I tried to resume my project, nothing worked. I felt sure that I had been scammed. I consider myself to be good at doing some things on my computer, but dealing with this kind of problem is not in my bag of skills.

I didn’t sleep well last night. I planned to head straight to the APPLE STORE in the morning, but I pictured some scammer out there picking through my electronic bank account.
I was at APPLE at 9:15 AM, even though it doesn’t open until 10 AM. I was sure that I’d be able to set up an appointment with someone at their GENIUS BAR and that I’d have to come back later today or maybe tomorrow. When the door opened, I was first, and I told my sad story to a greeter. My Genius had a student with him and used me and my issue to teach his student how to interact with me, the customer. Within 10 minutes, he resurrected my computer and even fielded a question or two about the project I have been working on. He said that I hadn’t been scammed and showed me the icon to identify Google.
One of my concerns was that I had corrupted my computer beyond repair. To make things much worse . . . I hadn’t updated and saved my work in 2 months.
If I had lost all that, it would have been like a Fire, a Flood, and a Tornado all in one.

IF THAT HAD HAPPENED, I might have just thrown in the towel, given up creating scrabble materials, and taken up ‘PAINT BY NUMBERS.’
In the past, I have lost significant quantities due to my bad practice of not backing-up files and not saving essential projects. In most of those cases, I have rebuilt projects at a great expense of time and energy. I don’t know what I would have done this time.
There may, however, be a method to my madness. When I recreate lost word lists and exercises, I relearn many words.

Have you ever seen a president? I don’t mean on TV or in a newspaper or magazine; I mean in the flesh.
I have a memory from when I was 10 or 11 years old. It was in February; I was bundled in my winter coat, wearing leggings and a hat and gloves. I had a small American flag on a stick implanted in the thick glove on my right hand. I was standing on a curb along Davison near Livernois in Detroit, Michigan, along with members of my family and hundreds of neighbors whom I didn’t know. We were all waiting patiently for the motorcade that was supposed to drive by with President Dwight David Eisenhower.
My mom had gotten us there early so that we could stand right up on the curb to get a better view. Others who came later stood behind us, three or four tiers deep. We had been waiting close to an hour when we began to hear a din of cheering from a distance on our left. The roar got louder and louder and signaled to us that IKE was coming up the road. People were chanting ‘We Like Ike.’ And then, in the blink of an eye, his car came into view. We all waved our flags frantically and joined in the cheer. And in mere seconds, his car zipped past us and drove up the street on our right. I think I saw his face in the back window of the limo, which carried him. I’m sure that he looked right at me, smiled at me, and waved to me.
I wasn’t even a Republican, except on that day. I was so proud to have been there and to have been part of that crowd, demonstrating our love and respect for the man and the office which he held.
I’ve always enjoyed those same feelings over the years, which encompassed a sense of pride and inclusion. Even when I’ve found myself at odds with the policies of our leaders, I always felt respect for our elected officials. Presidents were always greater than life figures, and for me, they always represented TRUTH and HONOR, until now.
I feel so sad and resentful that one man has grabbed power and tarnished the office with lies and deceit. I feel sick when I witness elected senators band together to protect evil for their personal gain and hope for their own reelection. The oaths taken by our public officials are supposed to make them all the better than that. Deep down, I hope and pray that truth and decency will reemerge.
Can you imagine playing scrabble™ at a club where the director makes rulings differently from the rule book and justifies his/her judgments as Directors’ Privilege?
Can you imagine a director interfering with your game by not permitting a second opinion and input from people who understand the real rules when it is evident that the adjudicator has made an error?
The authors of our constitution created 3 EQUAL branches of government with checks and balances therein to guarantee that shenanigans like the ones we have been witness to wouldn’t occur — shame on us for allowing such things to happen.
The reason for a volume of rules for playing scrabble™ is to resolve matters of contention with cool heads and fairness so that uneven handedness does not occur in the heat of a game.
If we lived lives with a set of rules more like scrabble™ rules and adjudicated them with moral conviction, we would never end up with jokers and wild cards taking control of the game. Truth and Dignity are far too valuable to turn our backs on and allow goons to hijack.
I want to be able to cheer again.

So You Say YOU KNOW THE 3s.
Did you know that there are 1,189 legal (acceptable) 3-Letter-Words?
That’s a pretty big elephant. How does one even begin eating such a humungous meal? Where should you take the first bite?
Yep! Think of this project as if you were eating a meal where everyone was cognizant of wanting ‘ZERO’ waste. We want to get to the end of the project knowing all 1,189 words.
First, we need a doable plan.
How much time should we devote to this project? A day? A week? A month?
Be realistic. Make the plan doable. Five different people will have five varied schedules.
If we opt for one month, that would mean about 300 words each week. Are you really up to that?
Let’s back step. How many of the 1,189 words do you already know? How many will you still have to learn? Maybe there is a step we need to take before we decide on the amount of time. Obtain a list of all the 3-Letter-Words and, with a highlighter, highlight the words that you know. When finished, count up the unmarked words. WOW! You knew quite a few of the words on the list.
Now you have less than 420 to learn. That means if you break those words into one month, you have to eat 105 words a week or about 17 words a day.
Is that doable for you? If not, stretch it out to two or three months. Don’t hurry the project. The goal is to KNOW all the 1,189 words at the end of the period.
May I suggest flashcards as one tool? Go out and purchase 3 x 5 cards and markers. Begin making flashcards for the words you do not yet know. Place the letters alphabetically on side #1; on the reverse side, write the answer.
Example: Side #1 = D- U-W Side #2 = WUD
Side #1 = A-B-O Side #2 = ABO & BOA & OBA
Side #1 = A-E-T Side #2 = ATE & EAT & ETA & TAE & TEA
If we have 17 words a day, you’ll make 17 flashcards for each day. Keep each set of 17 banded together.
2 or 3 times a day test yourself on the group of 17.
Look at the alphabetized side and guess the answer/s. Put the cards in two piles. (Correct & Missed) In a notebook record: Today’s Date & Number Correct.
Next: Write each word, Say each word aloud, Close your eyes and visualize the word.



  • WORDBANE n pl -S a perennial word as in the song ‘Happy Birthday.
  • WOODCHUCK situational question as in ‘Would Chuck ever play a phoney?’
  • ANOSEFORIT n pl -S a narc dog.
  • SHOEFLY n pl -lies an airplane that looks like a shoe.
  • BUTTERBALL n pl -S a team sport like rugby using a slippery buttered ball, two nets, and a spoon.
  • LUTFISK n the younger estranged brother of Carlton.
  • GLOWWORM n pl -S fish bate harvested from Chernobyl.
  • THISLITTLEPIGGY a one-word phrase used by Weight-Watchers to shame overeaters.
  • PURPLERAIN n pl -S a frequent occurrence when ink pens were in fashion.
  • POPGOESTHEWEASEL v. what happens to weasels at a smorgasbord.
  • DIEMAKER n pl -S an assassin
  • COMMONCENTS it all depends on what country you’re in.
  • MOJO n pl -OES a refill or a warm-up.
  • HAPPYHOLIDAYS I don’t know your ethnicity.
  • MATZOBALL n pl -S a dance at a sedar.
  • FOXGLOVE n pl -S something every fox wants in cold environs.
  • RUNNINGSPRINGS devices that attach to your shoes, pogo stick-like.
  • SUSPENDERS procrastinators that hold things up.
  • TRIPLE SEC a kinky sex experience.
  • DOGDAYS a hot sale at PET SMART.
  • DISASTER a beheading gone astray.

HOW SWEET IT IS. (Today is Valentine’s Day)
On any given day, you can come up with a category and dive in and come up with a list of words. Nothing is out of bounds. Be creative.
I asked google for a list of Valentine’s Words and here’s what I got:
admirer, adoration, adore, affection, affectionate, amorous, angel
balloons, be mine, beau, beloved, betrothed, bouquet, bow and arrow, box of chocolates, boyfriend
candy, card, carnation, charmed, cherish, cherub, chocolate, courting, courtship, crazy, crush, Cupid
darling, date, dear, decorate, desire, devotion, doves
embrace, enamored, endearment, envelope, Eros
fall in love, February, fiancée, flame, flirt, flowers, fondness, forget-me-nots, fourteenth, friend, friendship
gift, girlfriend, greeting, greeting card
heart, heartthrob, holiday, honey hug
like, love, lovebirds, lovesick
party, passion, pink, poem, presents
red, romance, romantic, rose
Saint Valentine, secret admirer, sentimental, smitten
St. Valentine, suitor, sweetheart, sweets
tenderness, true love, tulips
unrequited love
Valentine, Valentine’s Day
wild about, woo, wooer

Wishing you all the love you can stand.

You are going first, and your rack is E-E-H-I-N-T-W. Take 20 seconds and decide upon the word you would play
Most players might choose ‘WHITE,’ placing the ‘W’ on the DLS and earning 30 points.
How about this. When you play this turn, pause and think about the possibilities for your next turn — just saying.
How might you extend ‘WHITE’ to the TWS if you started by playing your first play with the ‘W’ on the center square?


After playing ‘WHITE’ on the first turn, I was left with ‘E’ &’ N.’ If I draw an ‘R’ or ‘D’ when I replenish my rack, I have an extension worth 36 or 39 points.
If I played the more traditional play with ‘W’ on the DLS, there are two front extensions. Do you know what they are? How about ‘BOB’ or ‘NON’? Yes, both are acceptable.
Most players don’t think this way. If you can train yourself to think differently, you’ll develop a skill that will move you up in the ranks. All it takes is practice and self-control.
I have a booklet of exercises that deal with EXTENSIONS. If this appeals to you, order the booklet from me for $12, including shh. Pay with PayPal and order from my account:

TUESDAY is an orgasmic day for scrabble players in and around Huntington Beach, California. David Poder directs a scrabble club every Tuesday at the IHOP on Beach Blvd. There are a total of 8 games in all during the two 4-game sessions. The afternoon session begins at 1 PM. On 2/11, there were 30 players present for the afternoon session. After game number 4, there is an hour break. Those players who plan on playing the evening session have dinner. Most of the others go their separate ways. The evening 4-game session begins at 6 PM. Players are not obligated to stay all day. Others come in for the evening session. Usually, there are about a dozen players for session #2.
The Cheerleader I refer to in the title of today’s offering is my good friend, Gretchen Cowan. Gretchen is a very good and highly competitive scrabble maven. Gretchen spent her professional life as a classroom teacher and has a great appreciation for learning tools. She not only uses many of my workbooks, but she demonstrates their value to other players.
I know the excellent value of my materials, but I am a passive salesman. I wouldn’t say I like getting into the faces of my potential customers.
Gretchen doesn’t hold back. As a result, I sold a pile of booklets at the Huntington Beach club.
I wish you had been there to hear Gretchen’s spiel. She demonstrated how she gets real-time value when using the exercises. She further shared how she writes her answers on a separate notebook to reuse the booklets over and over again.

There are several booklets available. Most cost $12 (including shipping). If you catch me in person, the cost is only $10. There are a few huge books, like my BACKWARDS DICTIONARY ($30 + $5 shh).

Send me an email:, and I’ll send you a list of available booklets.
I also teach the online class ‘SCRABBLE 101’ ($199).

It’s not a single physical location. It’s at Clubhouse #5 on Monday afternoons; in Escondido, California, on the 2nd and 4th Saturday mornings of each month; Phoenix, Arizona on President’s Weekend; at Clubhouse #2 on Wednesday evenings and in Santa Ana, CA. on the 3rd Thursday of each month.
My Happy Place is everywhere Scrabble™ is played. (Not limited to the locations mentioned above.)

  • My Happy Place is also on Facebook, where I play both Scrabble™ and Words With Friends. I can’t count the number of enjoyable hours I’ve spent on my computer connecting with scrabble friends.
  • My Happy Place is lost in the OWL and OSPD6 while sitting in my recliner, imagining ways to make learning words fun, and creating word puzzles and exercises.
  • My Happy Place is standing in front of a group of people and talking about scrabble™ and how it has affected my life.
  • My Happy Place is sitting in front of a Cheesecake Factory Cheesecake with a F-O-R-K and a Starbucks™ Vanilla L-A-T-T-E.
  • My Happy Place is at a BLANKHEADS gathering, with the whole day still in front of me.
  • My Happy Place is playing scrabble™ on the beach at Huntington Beach, CA.. in Washington Square Park in New York, on Hana, Maui, Hawaii, in Las Vegas, NV, or on The Mississippi Steamboat.

Where’s your Happy Place?

There Are RULES for Everything
Have you ever see the original scrabble™ game? It was indeed a ‘board game.’ It came packaged in a box along with 4 wooden racks (about 8 inches long) and 100 wooden tiles, lettered by some wood-burning process including the tile value in the lower right corner. Printed on the inside of the top of the box were the RULES. There were less than a dozen rules.
Shortly after the game got into the hands of players, the popularity of the game of scrabble™ exploded. The success had to do with the marketing prowess of James Brunot and the addictive enjoyment provided by the game itself.
And yet, the game was still far from perfect. As the masses bought the games and took them home to play with their families and friends, questions regarding situations that occurred while playing the game weren’t always addressed within the RULES printed inside the top of the box. This gave rise to ‘HOUSE RULES.’ There was no uniformity in ‘house rules’; they differed from my house to your house. And the words that were legal in the game differed too. The house dictionary became the official word list. Did you know that there is a rather broad disparity from Webster to Funk & Wagnalls to American Heritage?
The Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary was the first official word source (1978). Selchow and Righter asked Merriam-Webster Inc. to produce the dictionary using only words that appeared in five collegiate dictionaries.
Today the word source is the OWL (Official Word List) provided and overseen by the Dictionary Committee of NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association.) Merriam-Webster Inc. produces the OSPD6 (Official Scrabble Players Dictionary 6th Edition), which only includes words from the OWL, that are up to 8 letters long and does not include 150+ naughty words deemed to be unsuitable for young players. The naughty words are acceptable for play in sanctioned clubs and tournaments.

Did you know that there is a set of rules as to HOW TO COMPLETE YOUR TURN?
Did you know that there is a rule that determines whose equipment has a preference to be used when playing at a club or tournament game?
Once clubs and tournaments were established, every question that arose about procedures during the game was addressed. Each procedure, one by one, and rules were written for every circumstance. Today’s RULES make up a volume. The link below will take you to those current rules.
Beyond the rules, there are guidelines for behavior to protect the enjoyment of the players and the public.

Preparing For A Tournament
Just in case you haven’t been paying close attention . . . there are two local tournaments on the horizon in the next 60 days right here in southern CA. As of right now, I plan on taking part in and winning both of them.
A month from today, on Saturday, March 7, there is a Fundraiser for the Literacy Project at The Escondido Library. This will be the 16th annual Scrabble™-Thon, and I believe I’ve taken part in at least 10 of them. Here’s the link:
Anyone and everyone are invited to compete as an individual or as a part of a 4-person team. It is great fun, and there are endless prizes provided by local merchants.

The Next Long Beach Tournament is coming up!
This one-day local tournament is on Sunday, March 29, at the Long Beach Bridge Club. The flyer is linked below. We know it is still a while away, but if you are interested in coming, a link is below, and they will add you to the tentative list.
Looking forward to seeing you there!

Okay, so how does one prepare to play at a tournament?
Review, review, review. The 2s; The 3s; The Stems; The RULES; and thumbing through the dictionary at random.
Picking out your tournament wardrobe (comfortable underwear and shoes). Making sure you have the proper scoresheets and plenty of working pens that won’t leak ink or smear. Having a soft pillow to sit upon and a stash of munchies in case you don’t like what the hosts offer.
Make sure you have a working alarm clock for the day of the event. You don’t want to be late to the dance.

  • Plan out your breakfast. Not too much but enough, so you don’t have a growling stomach.
  • Show up with a positive attitude and a simple mantra that you can think to yourself to steady your nerves.
  • Begin today by visualizing yourself being presented with the 1st Place Winnings for your division.



I get questions!
Q. I
live in Death Valley, California, and I am looking for a local scrabble club. Where is the closest club I can attend?
A. As of right now, there is not a local club in Death Valley, CA. If you want to play face-to-face, you can drive north to Las Vegas or south to Orange County, or Escondido in California. You can play online in several formats.
Q. I live in Milan, Michigan, and my job takes me on the road to many locations across the US and Canada. Can you point out places where I can find scrabble clubs during my journeys?
A. You may have many choices for places playing scrabble. I recently took a seven-week Scrabbaticle cross-country from southern California to Saratoga Springs, New York, and back. Along the way, I played at 23 clubs and 2 tournaments. It was an incredible adventure.
One of the easiest ways to find clubs is to check the two web sites with links provided below. Both NASPA ( WGPO (see below) have online directories that list the clubs in their networks.
ADVICE: When making your plan to attend a club, always call first. Some club information provided in the directories may not be up to date. Along my trip, I sadly learned that two directors of clubs I hoped to visit had died, and their clubs no longer existed. When I did connect, the experience was terrific.

If you are in southern California, Club #350, we will welcome you warmly.


One of the recurring nightmares experienced by most scrabble™ players is the Old McDonald Rack: E-I-E-I-O-O-U. Don’t you just HATE that!

What does a player do to remedy that situation?  

  1. Exchange tiles! Which ones? How many?
  2. Playoff at least 3 or 4 on a single turn. What word can you make?
  3. Quit and walk away. Never an option.

If you are versed in the list of words that are Heavy With Vowels, you may have some luck in finding a play using several of your tiles. (If you can’t play off three or more then you should exchange, if possible.)

Below are many of the words you should learn. If there is an ‘R’ on the board, you might be able to play oorie or ourie.


I Dumps

U Dumps

Create or obtain a set of WHIZ CARDS (flashcards) for the words above. Review them often and play these words whenever you’re playing scrabble. After playing them and balancing your rack, you’ll be happy that you know them.
There is no magic pill or silver bullet.
Ask yourself what the MAMBA would do. Now get yourself some 3 x 5 cards and begin the chore of making some flashcards.
You Can Do It!

Whenever a new player shows up at the club to play scrabble™, there is initially an excitement and enthusiasm about them. They may be holding onto memories of past times when they played the game with their family and friends. And while those memories may have brought them to our club . . . we do not play the same kind of scrabble game where we become excited to find just the everyday words from the 6th Grade vocabulary used by journalists to write newspaper columns.
I am always conscientious about watching for signs that the new players do not become overwhelmed by the task at hand. There’s always volumes to be learned when we take on any new activity. When the player has a love of learning related to words and language, the work ahead can all be met as a game.
While Scrabble™ is a game that uses words, Scrabble™ is primarily a MEMORY GAME. He/She who remembers the most words have a better chance of winning.
While Scrabble™ is a game that uses words, Scrabble™ is a game of STRATEGY. He/She who understands how to connect words to one another and place words on the HOT SPOTS to earn premium scores will most likely win.
To HOOK a word to another word, one must begin by mastering the knowing of 107 legal 2-Letter-Words. Each of these words is included in the Official Word Lists (the OWL and the OSPD6). The good news is that most English speakers most likely know more than half of the 2s.

To learn the rest of the 2s and any other words, I recommend that players make or purchase WHIZ CARDS (flashcards).
One side of the card has the letters of the word in alphabetical order. The reverse side of the card has the answer.
Some new players resist the order of things. They just want to start playing the game immediately. I understand that. Play is much more FUN than work. BUT even when a newbie has vast word knowledge, they may repeatedly lose to Novice players who understand how to play the game. Most people who do not find the ability to WIN from the get-go will give up without giving the game a chance.
Many athletes who do not do their stretches and warm-ups first confront muscle strains and pulls which sideline them during the competition.
To have the best chance at winning, we must all prepare ourselves first. Learn the BASICS, and you will be better able to hook your words onto the board. Learn all of these 2s.


It’s About Time!
I remember playing Scrabble™ with family at holidays and birthday parties, and one of the things I remember most was that one game usually took the entire day. We obviously had NO time restraints. I was the impatient one. I would generally take less than a minute to take my turn, and then the next guy would think and think for more than 30 minutes before making their play. For me, the waiting was painful. I loved playing the game and having my turn. But the waiting game was miserable.
When I first discovered Scrabble™ clubs, the players used ‘sand timers.’ The timers usually took 2 or 3 minutes for the sand to run from one side to the other. Players were required to make their move before the sand ran out. It added one more step to completing your turn, and it was often awkward manipulating the timers.
In the early 1990s, most clubs had moved away from sand timers in favor of Chess Clocks. Each player began the game with 25 minutes on their clock. While a player was taking a turn, their clock was ticking down toward ZERO. A player has full control of his/her own time. A Player could use from a few seconds to a few minutes on any given turn. But if the clock wound down to ZERO, that play would lose 10 points for every minute or fraction of a minute past zero. (1 second past zero = -10 points; 1:01 past zero = -20 points).

The current digital clocks provide precise measurements of time and have replaced the older analog clocks.
The time factor in the game has eliminated those very slow players. It keeps the game moving along. To be competitive, you have to be a fast player.
At today’s clubs, games are played with two players at a board. The majority of games do not go overtime. In the average game, each player has 17 turns (that’s an average of 1.5 minutes per turn).
There is no advantage to playing so fast that you have time remaining on your clock. You don’t earn extra points for time remaining.
But when you play slowly, your opponent is doing more thinking and planning strategies on your time.
Most clubs play four games per session. That would not be practical without time restrictions. At club and tournaments, if a player goes 10 minutes overtime, the game is officially over, and that player loses even if they are ahead on points.The time is also crucial concerning two RULES: challenges and when a turn is officially ended.
CHALLENGING: When an opponent makes a play that you think is not a fair play, you have the opportunity to challenge. HOWEVER, you MUST say CHALLENGE or HOLD within 15 seconds and before the opponent draws any replacement tiles from the tile bag. (If your opponent is playing fast, say HOLD immediately.) Saying “HOLD” allows you time to think about your option to challenge or not. Your clock continues to run after you say HOLD. If you choose to CHALLENGE, simply say CHALLENGE and neutralize the clock. Once you say “CHALLANGE, “the clock is neutralized, and the word is adjudicated.
END YOUR TURN: You may put letters on the board, change your mind and reset the tiles differently Until YOU HIT THE CLOCK, WHICH ENDS YOUR TURN.
In a game where clocks are not used, there are frequent discrepancies in the matters described above.
It’s about TIME that you added a timer to your game. There are some free APPs that you can install on your telephones and digital clocks for as little as $50.

Many of us have been saddened since the day, more than a week ago, when Kobe and eight others perished in the crash of the helicopter in which they were flying. It has reawakened us to the fragile nature of life and the choices each of us has about the way we live our lives.
Kobe Bryant has been held up as a model for a life well lived to the fullest. His work ethic and a never-ending pursuit of excellence demonstrate to each of us how one man lived and won the admiration of millions.
We each have the opportunity to design our own lives in ways that serve both ourselves and the greater good no matter what our path.
Personally, I will endeavor to be my best self and strive to grow by learning, teaching, creating, and proselytizing scrabble to the multitudes.

  • Learn another word every day.
  • Explore another hook.
  • Recognize the hot spots.
  • Build your skill at tracking tiles.
  • Amass an arsenal of less common words.
  • Mentor a newer player.
  • Become a faster player without getting sloppy.
  • Learn the RULES and adhere to them.
  • Hold others accountable while being kind.
  • Read parts of the OSPD6 dictionary daily.
  • Compute your scores accurately and verify opponents.
  • Learn 3-Letter extensions for 5-Letter words.
  • Always look for the anagrams within words.
  • Become a master of balancing your rack.
  • Keep a diary of the words you learn.

And when you do all that, you’ll be a shining star, and other players will step aside when they see you coming.

Can I assume that from now going forward, the game has changed? Whoever has the most power and control can make up and change whichever rule/s he/she believes to be in their own best interest.
The adjudicator from now going forward may accept any spelling for any word when it is in the best interest of the ALL POWERFUL ONE (APO). All persons wishing to challenge words or rules, just because they are right, will have to ‘GET OVER IT.’
Living in the new order of things will be much simpler and will relieve players from their stress. Players will no longer have to learn the old way, committing all those words to memory. As the ALL POWERFUL ONE (APO) goes, so goes the adjudications. If APO says UP means DOWN and DOWN means BACON . . . so be it. Any and all actions taken by APO will be deemed ‘perfect’ and ‘beautiful’. Any person/s opposing APO will be considered to be ‘witch hunters’ and wrong.
APO gets to alter any-to-every rule at any time, anywhere. APO gets to change the definition of any word, any time, for any purpose. BLACK can mean WHITE, DAY can mean NIGHT, ‘DOING WELL’ can mean ‘PLIGHT.’ It all depends on what IS, is. TRUTH is as APO says and does.
APO’s inner-circle receives special privileges. As long as the loyal remain in goose-step with APO, they shall find favor and acceptance. The LOYAL must appear to be passionate believers at all times and be willing to lay their lives down, out of loyalty to APO. APO will call his loyalists ‘GOOD’ and ‘GREAT’ until he no longer needs them, after which he will most likely claim that he ‘NEVER MET OR KNEW THEM AT ALL.’ AND that shall be THE TRUTH.
So today, instead of studying the 2s and the STEMs, you can simply go to the beach and bury your head in the sand. No need to worry. APO has it covered. Play any word and spell it any way you want. APO will let you know if it is acceptable or not. We live in a world, according to APO.

Challenging is, at this moment, deemed to be obsolete.

Can You Spell SUPER-BOWL?
Where were you on January 15, 1967? I was in the family room of my home on Hardwoods Drive in West Bloomfield, Michigan. I was watching the very first Super Bowl. It was between the Green Bay Packards and the Kansas City Chiefs and was being played at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.
Where were you on March 18, 1973? The first officially sanctioned Scrabble tournaments in the US were spearheaded, organized, and run by Joel Skolnick in the mid-1970s. Skolnick was a recreation director for the New York City Parks and Recreation Department. He approached Selchow and Righter in late 1972, and the first tournament was open to Brooklyn residents only, commenced on March 18, 1973. The Funk and Wagnalls Collegiate Dictionary was used to rule on challenges, and the official word judge was Skolnick’s then-wife Carol. Carol’s sister, Shazzi Felstein, who would later finish in ninth place at the first North American Invitational tournament, won the first preliminary round with 1,321 points over three games. The final round took place on April 15, and Jonathan Hatch was the winner of the first official Scrabble tournament.

For more info see:

Do you want information about individual players who have competed in sanctioned competitions? You can view all my recorded stats there too. While at the site below, you can also access some of the highest-scoring games of all time and see how they were played. DON’T ALLOW THIS TO DISCOURAGE YOU.  Go to at:
Today we celebrate the best of the best and permit that spirit to encourage us to become the best that we can be in our endeavors.

An opportunity presents itself over and over again. All we have to do is see it coming and latch on. Get excited.
Today is the beginning of a new month. Thirty-one days ago at the beginning of this new decade, some people partied so hard and long on New Year’s Eve that they didn’t wake up until January 2. They also excused themselves from making resolutions because they missed the very first day of the year.
Well, if that was something that you did, here is another opportunity for a fresh starting point. Today is February 1.
Here’s HOW TO DO IT. Begin by making a Plan. Start with a declaration that you repeat out loud to yourself, as you would a MONTRA. ‘I WILL BECOME A BETTER AND BETTER SCRABBLE PLAYER EVERY DAY BY LEARNING WORDS AND USING THEM DURING PLAY AND IN MY VOCABULARY.’  

  • Make your plan SIMPLE and DOABLE.
  • Set GOALS for yourself. Measure your progress.
  • Report your progress to someone. Be accountable.
  • Don’t plan on doing so much that you’ll burn out or opt-out.
  • Learn 1 or 2 words a day, not 5 or 10, if that is too difficult.
  • List the skills you want to improve: Anagrams, Hooks, The 2s, Stems, etc.
  • Update your plan at least every month.
  • Get an Official Dictionary 6th Edition. Don’t settle for something outdated.
  • Attend one or more scrabble clubs every week.
  • Always have a notebook and pen to record the words you learn.
  • Do WORD PUZZLES frequently.
  • Play solitaire scrabble often.
  • Consider taking the online class ‘Scrabble 101‘.
  • Mentor someone.

If you live in southern California and you have Saturday, March 7 free on your schedule, plan on playing scrabble at the annual Literacy Scrabble-Thon in Escondido. You don’t have to be a great player to participate. It will be great fun. Here’s the link:

What is America’s favorite board game? I just did a google search, and our favorite game (Scrabble™) appeared as #1, followed by Monopoly, Catan, Qwirkle, and Risk. About 20 years ago Milton Bradley claimed that you’d find a scrabble™ game in one of every ten households in the US
Here are 10 of the most bizarre words played at a National Scrabble Tournament:

  • “atemoya” is a hybrid fruit initially grown in Central and South America.
  • wahine,” borrowed from the Maori language of New Zealand, refers to a Polynesian woman.
  • sthenia” is defined as a condition of abnormal strength or vitality.
  • zorilla” is Africa’s answer to the skunk, even though it’s technically a member of the weasel family.
  • jaconet” is a lightweight cotton cloth used in clothing and bandages.
  • yuga” in Hinduism is one of four epochs in the history of the universe.
  • kex” is an archaic, dialectal British term for the dry stalk of a hollow-stemmed plant, such as the cow parsnip.
  • antiweed,” “antipot,” and “antimarijuana” are all acceptable in Scrabble™ as are hundreds of other “anti” words.
  • menudo” is a spicy Mexican stew made from beef tripe.
  • quipu” is a recording device that uses knots and colored strings to represent numbers, dates, and statistics.

I highly recommend you create your personal word diary/collection of the words you learn and love to play in the game.
I’ve accumulated a long list of words over the last 30 years. Most of these words have a story that goes with it, and I usually remember who taught it to me.

It was at a tournament in Reno, Nevada that I learned the word ‘strigil.’ It was played against me by Stu Goldman. I challenged it and lost the challenge. It is a scraping instrument used by a dentist

It was nearing the end of a game when I thought I was going to beat Chuck Armstrong for the very first time. I played ‘PACIFIED,’ vertically through the ‘C,’ beginning at (A2). I drew the last 4 tiles from the bag and was ahead by 126 pts. ,’Chuck paused, thought for a moment, and played ‘OBVIATE’ horizontally, hooking the ‘O’ on top of ‘PACIFIED’ creating ‘OPACIFIED.’ That was new to me and it was his OUT play. I challenged. Whoever heard of ‘OPACIFIED’? It was acceptable; it means ‘OPAQUE.’ His play scored 134 pts, and he got 10 points from my rack.
That day I learned not to count my chickens before they hatch and the word ‘opacified.’

Last night I watched some of our newer players at club deal with a variety of racks and different situations that will occur at any time you sit down to play.
It is silly to think that you are going to have the perfect rack every time.
It is silly to think that you are going to have the rack from hell every time.
The truth is . . . you will have a wide variety of racks in every game. You have to develop some strategies as to what you will/should do in each situation. When you have a plan, you’ll remove some of the angst from the situation that has the power to beat you down.
Last night I watched and listened to newbies moan when they were plagued with too many vowels. The only thing you can do is reach into your arsenal of words that you’ve learned just for this kind of a situation, such as the 3-VOWEL-4s inia, ilia, ixia, amie, euro, eide, aeon, and more.
How about the 4-VOWEL-6s zoecia, zoaria, zouave, yautia, utopia, uremia, souari, roadie, iguana, and more.

How do you find a word list that is heavy with vowels? Call me.
How do you find a word list that is heavy with consonants? Call me.

Or search in the OSPD6.

One of the moaners has been a club player for more than a year. I wanted to ask her if she has spent any time or energy learning words like those above. I clearly remember giving her and others ‘The Cheat Sheet, ’ which has a section with words heavy with vowels.
Having a word list is not the same as knowing the words on the list. There is no ‘magic pill’ or ‘silver bullet’ to help you. You have to spend some time and energy.
Once you learn some of those words and play them in a game, you’ll understand the joy.

I’m Not Sure I Should Be Telling You This.
Here’s the thing. The ones you have to be concerned about are the two-percenters. It seems that in every group, there is only about 2% of the population who will become a MAMBA. If you’ve been listening to the tributes to Kobe Bryant this week, you have a sense of what persistence, training, devotion, and perfection look like.
While I strive to be a part of the 2% in the scrabble community, there have been many others who have joined after me and just glided past me in the ranks.
As a teacher and mentor to some of these giants, it is gratifying. But every time someone moves up in front of me, I get farther from the top of the pile.
By telling you the secrets of Scrabble Champions, I risk that you are a two %er and will go on to work your way past me too.
The MAMBA mentality for scrabble or hoops or janitorial service is the road to success, satisfaction, and recognition.


If scrabble is your game, continuously build these skills:

  1. Memorize the 2s.
  2. Learn a word every day. 
  3. Review the words you have learned.
  4. Memorize the position of the HOT SPOTS on the board.
  5. Imagine playing words on the board and count the points they score.
  6. Know the RULES of the game.
  7. Choose a Mentor and be accountable to him or her.
  8. Record your progress on graphs, charts, or lists.
  9. Learn all you can about Hooks, STEMS, Mnemonics, & Consograms.
  10. Consider taking my class, SCRABBLE 101, and see how far you can go.
  11. Call me: (949) 510-1673 email:

An Official Rule YOU Should Know
Would you believe me if I told you that one particular game at a National Scrabble Tournament, in the EXPERT DIVISION ended with the score of -14 to -6? It truly is recorded in history.
Here is how that happened. Player A drew a rack of 7 vowels on his first turn and chose to trade tiles rather than playing some dinky word. Player B had all consonants and wasn’t able to play at all, so he traded four tiles. Player A now had the BINGO STEM, S_A_T_I_R_E + J, and played ‘JARSITE.’ Player B called HOLD thought about it for a minute, then called “CHALLENGE.” The word judge approached their table, looked up ‘JARSITE,’ and said, “UNACCEPTABLE.”
Player A took his play back up from the board. Player B now has the rack D-I-I-N-O-R-T. Knowing that Player A doesn’t have a bingo, Player B is willing to try to improve his rack by trading away the ‘I’ and ‘D.’ He picked up another ‘I’ and a Blank. Player A is positive that there is a bingo on his rack and plays ‘AIRJETS’. Player B knows that the SATIRE STEM doesn’t have a bingo with ‘J.’ He confidently challenges again and announces, “I PASS, and I WIN’. Player A calls the director. It seems that Player A also didn’t know the rule that says if there are six consecutive turns of ‘0 points’, the game is over. Each player deducts the number of points on his rack from his current score.
Player A = -14; Player B = -6
Player B WINS.
What is your lowest WINNING SCORE? Do you know the RULES?

Did you know that most people alway, ALWAYS put their Socks and Shoes on the same way, every day?
Have you ever noticed that most people say, “Shoes & socks” not “Socks and shoes”? But almost all people put their socks on first, before their shoes.
Right-handed people do it differently than Left-handed people, as sure as the water when flushed swirls the opposite way down the toilet when you’re south of the equator.
Why is that? Does it matter?
When people learned that the Earth was not flat, were people going nuts? How did the multitudes handle the fact when they discovered the Earth circles the Sun . . . not that the Sun circles the Earth?
There are all these cosmic mysteries and shared discoveries that still occur and change the ways we think and see ourselves in the cosmos.
What if I were to tell you that up until now you have only been using 6.213% of your brain capacity and that you could unlock the rest? What if I told you that most of what you believe to be true is just that . . . BELIEF and not FACT. Most of us got to be this way by adhering to our habits and traditions. We believed our parents and teachers blindly and rarely challenged them or asked why. A very tiny percent (maybe 2%) of us went off on their own to discover Truth. It was and still is safer to remain a part of the group and share common beliefs. It is very lonely to be the only one that is RIGHT.
One of the things I like about scrabble™ players is that they are willing to CHALLENGE you. I like the fact that it is a diversified community. I’ve become friends with people I would have never met at B’nai Moshe Synagogue. I have Muslim friends and Christian friends and a whole lot of friends who I have no idea what they believe because it doesn’t matter one iota when we’re playing scrabble™. The current political thing that is gripping our country has caused uncomfortable ripples in the air at clubs. At my club, we’ve asked that people refrain from talking politics. Tempers on both sides are too opinionated and out of control.
We all know who’s right anyway.
And even though David thinks that he knows best how to teach you to play the game of scrabble™, I’m sure you are too wise to fall for that. If you want a boost in the ranks, you’ll call and ask me for advice and direction.
And if you’re wondering, I’m a Sock-Shoe kind of guy.

Be A Mentor
If there is just ONE single thing you could do to become a better scrabble™ player, I would advise you to find someone to teach.
If you’re a raw novice, that may sound strange to you because you have so much to learn for yourself. But you will find that while teaching your student you will have to prepare lessons and you will discover things that you need to explain. As you prepare yourself to teach, you will gain a deeper understanding of the skills and techniques required.
As I teach you and others, I become a better player myself.
As I teach you and others, I discover the areas I still have to improve and master for myself. Some of that happens for me as I piece a regimen together for you.
It’s rather magical.
As a teacher/mentor, I feel an obligation to model the behaviors which I want my students to exemplify. As a result, I develop better study habits and stay true to the study plan, which I follow.
As I teach my student about the study tools available, I rediscover tools which I used to rely upon daily that I have laid aside. I am more likely to restart using WHIZ CARD, Mnemonic Cards, Anagram Lists, and other tools as a result of showing them to my students.
If and when I want to teach a skill that isn’t my strongest suit, I reach back to my mentor or some scrabble mavin to learn from others who are in the know.
Capture the interest of others with an odd or lesser-known word like ngwee or crwth or bashlyk. Remind them of the benefits of using the brain and memory.

Pay it forward.  

One of the greatest gifts that I’ve received from the scrabble world has nothing at all to do with words. The friendships I have acquired are a result of the people I’ve met and played scrabble with.
For me, it all began because of a misplaced announcement in The Southfield Eccentric newspaper (Southfield, MI.) in February 1986. I found myself single again, and I hated trying to meet women at bars and singles’ dances. The Editor of The Southfield Eccentric put an ad for a scrabble event in the ‘Activities For Singles’ column. The event was a playoff competition for scrabble ™ players who hoped to represent Michigan at the National Scrabble Tournament in the summer of 1986.
After scraping the snow and ice off of my car and driving 20 miles through a blizzard, I arrived at the event in Allen Park, MI. After stomping the snow off my boots, I wandered into a meeting room where more than a few dozen people were already busy playing scrabble™ in twos.
It seemed really weird as the people were deeply engrossed in their games. There wasn’t much or any table talk. It didn’t feel like a singles activity. I walked around and looked at the boards (most were custom boards, and every table had a time clock). I looked at the words on the boards, and I ask one of the players what language she was playing. She laughed. Another woman who overheard my question pulled me aside and gave me the lowdown on what I had walked into.
I as hooked from the very beginning. I, too, liked scrabble™. And I was a school teacher and the former headmaster of an Elementary School.
The people were all very friendly. I didn’t understand what she meant when that woman introduced me to another player as ‘fresh meat’. I wouldn’t get the joke until the following week when I showed up to play at their local club in Livonia, MI.
That first day I met three dozen players and made three dozen friends. Then I met the players at the club. A few weeks later, I found myself traveling with small groups to local tournaments in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, and Ontario, Canada. It seemed to me that there were word freaks everywhere. It didn’t take long for me to shift from being just a player to organizing and directing clubs and tournaments. Then I met hundreds of players. More people knew me than I remembered them. To date, I’ve led over 250 sanctioned tournaments
I feel fortunate to have discovered the scrabble community. Most of them are really great people and special friends.

I frequently hear things that cause my ears to perk up and pay attention. Yesterday, sitting in my recliner in front of the TV listening to a news broadcast with my laptop in front of me (working on the creation of another workbook, ) I heard, “The difference between words and actions matter.”
The context had something to do with the impeachment trial. A point was made by one of the speakers inferring that the other guys’ actions are true to their words.
But my mind went in a whole other direction. My thoughts created the picture of players I know and have known who may have excellent vocabularies but still have one heck of a time getting their words down on the boards and not always for the best score.
When learning to play scrabble™, there is an order of things. Beginners should first get comfortable simply finding words on their rack by unscrambling the words hiding in plain sight on their racks.

EX: On the rack is ‘A’ ‘E’ ‘E’ ‘I’ ’N’ ’S’ ’T.’
How many 2s? 17
How many 3s? 37
How many 4’s? 44
How many 5s? 30
How many 6s? 9
How many 7s? 1

To get any of the words onto the board, they must hook to one of the words already on the board; or play through a letter on the board. The seven letters above with any one of these letters can create one or more bingos. (B, C, D, M, R, S, T, V) You most likely know some of these words and not all.
Next, find a place to play using the HOT SPOTS to generate a good score. Always look for bingo possibilities first. **Most novice and intermediate players look for any word and become fixated on it, not looking further. My rule is: 

  1. Find a play;
  2. Pause;
  3. Find a better play;     
  4. Pause;
  5. Find an even better placement.

While you are learning and progressing, it is essential to develop a sense of TIME. During club and tournament games, each player received 25 minutes for their entire portion of the game. After 25 minutes, you lose 10 points for every minute you are overtime, beginning with -10 at 1 second overtime — work of thinking fast. In the average game, each player takes 17 turns. That is about 1.5 minutes per turn. Don’t allow yourself to lose because you went overtime.

How many of the 138 words can you find in the set A-E-E-I-N-S-T?
Repeat this exercise with other sets of letters. A-E-I-N-R-S-T (277);
E-G-I-N-O-R-S (175)

If you’re a sports fan and watch any sport with a discerning eye, you’ve witnessed ‘MOMENTUM.’ It’s the impetus and driving force gained by the development of a process or course of events. When you or your team has momentum, you are the force to be dealt with. It can last a few minutes or through an entire game. It is an intangible item. You most likely can’t tell how you came to have it, and at any second, it may vanish and leave you looking like a mere mortal.
In some games, momentum shifts from one player or team to the other. It does so magically as if some hovering spirit has a magic wand tapping this team then that team.
Players and broadcasters have described individuals or teams that are enjoying momentum as ‘being in the zone.’ When one is ‘in the zone, ‘ everything happens perfectly with grace and ease.
I have been lucky enough to have experienced the zone on two or three occasions while playing scrabble™ tournaments. The one I’ve recounted many times was at the Killer Club in Los Angeles during their year-end championship tournament (1997). I was far from the best player in the club, but my momentum was unstoppable, and I beat players who I rarely or never have defeated before or after the event.
It felt sooooooo good. I still feel good all over just remembering the experience.
Even though we may not have the button to push to initiate momentum, we have to be prepared to exploit it when it appears. As a scrabble™ player, we prepare ourselves by learning and growing and mastering the pieces that make up the game. Momentum won’t carry you too far if you haven’t memorized the 2s or if you don’t know a thing about Stem or Anagrams.
The More you Know, the Luckier you become.

Did you know that the only word in the OSPD6 that ends with the last two letters being ‘YK’ is ‘BASHLYK’ (it’s a cloth hood)?

We all know that Proper Nouns, names of people, places, and things are unacceptable to play in the game of scrabble.
Many of those words that are the same as proper nouns, they have a second meaning. Those words are acceptable. 

abigail, bob, carol, dee, earl, frank, grant, henry, ilka, jerry, kay, lee, mae, nancy, olive, pat, ray, sue, tom, van, wally, and more.

Here’s my challenge to you. Create a complete list of all the words in the OSPD6 or the OWL that are also common
The most extensive, accurate list that I receive before February 1, via email, with the earliest time-stamp will receive my newest released booklet ‘ANIMALS.’
Send your entry in an email to

People who play scrabble at clubs and tournaments know the value of Tracking. On most score sheets provided at clubs, there is a section that shows all the tiles that are in the tile bag at the start of the game: 9-As, 2-Bs, 2-Cs, 4-Ds, etc. This is provided to players who wish to ‘track’ may conveniently do so. Tracking is the act of crossing off the letters on the tracking section that are played onto the scrabble board. Any person who does so accurately will know which letters are still unseen (either in the bag or on their opponent’s rack).
One newcomer watched me tracking at club and told me, “That’s Cheating!” Actually, it is not cheating. It is a valuable tool that helps a player determine if it is safe to play a word and the possible come-back play of their opponent.
EX: If the ‘X’ were unseen, you would not want to play a word that places an ‘A,’ ‘E,’ or ‘O’ on the right side of a TLS (triple-letter-score). Why? Because it can potentially allow your opponent to earn 50+ points if they play the ‘X’ there.

Players Rush to Use Tracking

When some people learn about Tracking and the advantage that it provides, they often rush to use that system. BUT, Tracking does not work if you haven’t tracked accurately -or- if you don’t know what to do with the information you produced.
My rule is: ‘DO NOT TRACK UNLESS YOU CAN DO SO WITH 100% ACCURACY’ Tracking looks easy, but doing so accurately while doing all the other things you need to do during the game can be very challenging.
How does one acquire the skill of Tracking? Practice! Practice! Practice! Here’s how. Place about 80 tiles randomly onto your board. Set a timer. Have a tracking sheet? (If you don’t have one, request one from me.) Start the timer and track the tiles on the board by crossing them off on the sheet one at a time. When finished, stop the timer and record the time. Circle the letters on the sheet that are not crossed off. Take the remaining tiles from the tile bag and see if they match up with the circled letters on your tracking sheet. What was your percentage of accuracy? If you have 100% accuracy and your time is no more than 2 1/2 minutes, you are ready to use Tracking. If not, DON’T. Repeat this exercise over and over again and record how you improve.
If you’re involved in a closely contested game, and it’s near the end . . . tracking can help make the difference since you should be able to figure out exactly what your opponent has on their rack. You can determine what they might play and where. You may have the ability to be a spoiler and block their best play.
This kind of information is a put-off to many casual scrabble players; they just want to play words and have fun. Nothing’s wrong with that. But if you are competitive, you’ll want to build every skill that you can.

Martin Luther King Day
Celebrate your freedom to LEARN, to READ, to SPELL, to FLOURISH.

At one time Slaves Were Prohibited to Read and Write by Law.
At other times and in other cultures Women Were & Still Are not permitter to read, go to school, drive, vote, etc., etc.,, etc.
Slavemasters understood that their social control of the slaves could not be based solely on physical coercion. Knowledge was power, and virtually all slave codes established in the United States set restrictions making it illegal to teach slaves to read or write. The statute below, passed by the state of North Carolina in 1830—1831, was fairly typical.
Whereas the teaching of slaves to read and write, has a tendency to excite dis-satisfaction in their minds, and to produce insurrection and rebellion, to the manifest injury of the citizens of this State:

Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of North Carolina, and it is hereby enacted by the authority of the same, That any free person, who shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any slave within the State to read or write, the use of figures excepted, or shall give or sell to such slave or slaves any books or pamphlets, shall be liable to indictment in any court of record in this State having jurisdiction thereof, and upon conviction, shall, at the discretion of the court, if a white man or woman, be fined not less than one hundred dollars, nor more than two hundred dollars, or imprisoned; and if a free person of color, shall be fined, imprisoned, or whipped, at the discretion of the court, not exceeding thirty nine lashes, nor less than twenty lashes.
Be it further enacted, That if any slave shall hereafter teach, or attempt to teach, any other slave to read or write, the use of figures excepted, he or she may be carried before any justice of the peace, and on conviction thereof, shall be sentenced to receive thirty nine lashes on his or her bare back.

Can You Imagine?  
It’s sorta like separating immigrant children from their parents and putting them in cages.
Just saying!

This something you may want to know more about, OR NOT! EXPERTS use MNEMONICS.
There is a SYSTEM for learning words that are called MNEMONICS. It involves beginning with a set of letters that have a high probability of showing up on your rack at the same time. The word with the highest possibility of being there among 7’s is NASTIER.
Using only the letters within the word NASTIER, there are nine different 7-Letter-Words. If you’re lucky enough to have the word ‘nastier,’ there will most likely be several words already on the board, which may have one or more letters open so you can play through them to make an 8-Letter-Word.
A mnemonic will help you identify the letters which can transform the seven into an 8.
Each (base word) like NASTIER is paired with a nonsense sentence. Each letter in the nonsense sentence, when added to the base word, will create an 8-letter-word.
The nonsense sentence that pairs with NASTIER are: ‘Horrible Wicked Fang Stump.’


And that’s all there is to it. There are seventy-four bingos from one mnemonic. That’s efficiency at it’s best.
If you think you’re up to this, contact me for more of the 200 7-to-8’s mnemonics.
If you’re creative, you can forge your own mnemonics list to help you learn any set of words.
If you do, please share.

SMORGASBORD ala Scrabble
Relating to food, a smorgasbord is a buffet with countless food choices. It is like being in heaven for a typical foodie and glutton.
I compare the smorgasbord to scrabble™ because playing to WIN requires a person to apply a little bit of this skill and be prepared with some knowledge of every aspect of the game.
When one comes to a buffet, you’ll find a large variety of foods that can provide you with a well-balanced meal. And still, there are those individuals who love one or two foods soooooooooo much that they only choose their favorites and ignore the rest. One man I know went for years only eating his favorite foods, only to end up in the hospital when his legs were paralyzed from the lack of Potassium in his body due to his poor diet. “Who Knew?” he cried.
Another person I know has a Ph.D. in English Literature and thought she’d be a natural fit with scrabble™. After several weeks of attending a local scrabble™ club and losing game after game after game, she was ready to throw in the towel and give up. I watched her play a few games and asked if I could make a suggestion. I explained that her exceptional word power and knowledge alone would not bring her victories until she learned the other skills that would permit her to get her words onto the board. She and other players with high potential never ask for guidance about playing the game. The assumption that you’ll be great at scrabble™ just because you have excelled in some other field is ludicrous.
I remember a brilliant pharmacist from Chicago who came to West Bloomfield, Michigan, to play in one of my NSA sanctioned tournaments. He attended with the expectation to win recognition in the competition. He won only 2 of the eight games he played. The loss that crushed him was to an eleven-year-old boy who was a 6th Grade elementary student. The pharmacist knew all these long technical words that don’t necessarily work on a scrabble board. The 6th grader understood how to use the Hot Spots to amass high scores. No Contest.
Thinking you know it all is a significant handicap. Assume you know nothing and ask advice from people in the know, who are good teachers.
Being a scrabble™ director does not always mean that you are a good teacher.
Being a top-rated player does not always mean you know how to teach others.
One top player I know believes that he can teach others and persuades players to permit him to be their scrabble™ mentor. He instructs his students to do things ‘his way,’ and when they stumble, he belittles them. I’ve even overheard him ask one player why he is wasting his time trying to learn this game. Don’t choose that kind of teacher.
Consider my online class, SCRABBLE 101, to boost your game skills. There is no magic pill. You’ll have to do the work. I’ll steer you in the right direction. Regularly $199, a special offer of $149 through February 14th is available Call: 949.510-1673


Do You Ever Think About How You Learn?

This morning I had an epiphany while doing a sudoku puzzle. If you’ve had a book of sudoku puzzles, you will remember that they are usually rated as Easy, Medium, Hard, Difficult, and all the way to “Will Drive You Crazy.” I recall the time I first tried solving a sudoku. It took me a while to figure out how the system worked, and at first, I wasn’t good (even on the Easy category). But I didn’t give up. I was persistent. After a few days or weeks, I had mastered the Easy level and felt very pleased with myself.

Next, I graduated to the Medium level. It was almost like starting all over again. Even though the basic concept was the same, the puzzles were more difficult because of the arrangement and inclusion and exclusion of numbers. I felt frustrated because I expected to do great from the start. I had to reach down and find patience and focus. I was reminded that becoming a Master includes doing the work. Once again I became persistent and worked at the Medium level for weeks . . . until I was able to do puzzle after puzzle quickly.

Level 3 and upward have different names in different series. But that’s what I did next.  

On days that I sat down to do a puzzle when I was tired, I noticed that I made more errors. On days when I was less patient, I made more errors. On mornings when I was alert and bushy-tailed, I could work the more challenging puzzles with ease.

Some mornings I would do puzzles to access myself before jumping into my day’s activities. Sudoku was a good barometer and predictor for me.

Scrabble study and performance are the same, and yet, at the same time, is different. There aren’t Levels as such. There are numerous skills. Persons who do not devote time to memorizing the 2-Letter-Words will have more difficulty placing and hooking words onto the words on the board. That is true of Hooks in general. EX: The word ‘VOLT’ is on the board vertically, and there is room for someone to play a word horizontally, hooking onto the end of ‘volt.’ You have several words on your rack, but you do not have an’ S’ which is the apparent hook in this instance. What other, if any, hooks does ‘volt’ take?

VOLTA, VOLTE, and VOLTI are all acceptable. 

See the value of Hooks?

That would be a Level 2 or 3 skill.

This concept applies to any and every part of your life. We don’t usually give it much or any amount of thought. Most of us live our lives on an ‘automatic pilot.’ What we GET is whatever is served up to us. There is always so much more that we can GET, DO, ACHIEVE, EARN, MASTER.

I love experiencing epiphanies.

What exactly is a well-balanced diet? Is there such a thing? Just read the writings of nutritionists, and it can make you crazy. High Carb, Low Carb, Adkins, Weight Watchers, the Grapefruit Diet. If you read the tabloids, there are most likely several diets posted in every edition. It all depends on what IS, is.
But I’m not thinking about FOOD. I’m thinking about SCRABBLE™. Is there such a thing as a well-balanced scrabble™ diet? Of course, there is. And if you talk with players with different ability levels from various parts of the country, you are bound to get diverse answers too.
When I pieced together the components of my online class, SCRABBLE™ 101, I devoted days and weeks to the process. I asked players how they learned to play the game and which skill helped them advance in the ranks. I wrote everything on 3 x 5 cards and sorted them by priorities and preferences. And slowly, a pattern emerged, which I solidified into order with an agenda and the syllabus for my class.
Learning ‘HOW TO PLAY SCRABBLE™ WELL’ is very much like building a house. It all begins with a SOLID FOUNDATION. The foundation is made up of desire, dreams, passion, commitment, attitude, and perseverance. That is why I do not teach every player who wishes to enroll in my class. I have an introductory conversation with applicants and make clear that I require a minimum of 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days. Without that agreement: No Class!
There is no way for any person can become a star scrabble™ player in 30 Days. But I can teach a motivated learner about the path to maven-hood. I provide exercises for the necessary skills that exceptional scrabble players and my students use. Those exercises, when practiced again and again over time, will fashion their pathway long after the 30 class days have ended. My students can modify the activities easily for continued growth,
In my opinion, one very important, but the most challenging task for people who have been playing scrabble™ for many years is to LEAVE OLD HABITS BEHIND. It is challenging to UNLEARN BAD HABITS than it is to learn new ways of doing things. 

This class is usually $199. YOU can enroll for the low price of $149 between today and Valentine’s Day, February 14.
(If you agree to a minimum of 30 minutes of devotion for 30 days.) Call me NOW!
Have an initial conversation with me about your scrabble™ goals.




Was that because it is MLK’s birthday?

Now is the time to expand your word knowledge and broaden your vocabulary. Now is the time to join a local scrabble™ club (like Scrabble™ Club #350) and enjoy a word community that challenges one another to become the best that they can be. Now is the time to shed any fears of not being a ‘good enough’ speller and take a courageous leap of faith by jumping right into a storm of words. Now is the time to breathe in the letters and exhale the words; this knowledge has been hiding away in the recesses of your memory.

Imagine yourself spinning stories with verbs of action, with unlimited adjective descriptors, and connecting entertaining thoughts and ideas with conjunctions. People will sit up and listen. You’ll even enjoy listening to yourself. Maybe you’ll initiate a podcast. You know you can.

I have a dream in which my scrabble™ club #350 doesn’t have enough chairs for the players who want to come through our door, and we have to move on to a larger room. I have a dream that every player at Club #350 earns one or more bingos every session throughout 2020.

Today is January 15, and it marks the release of another of my word study tools in booklet form, called ‘What A Difference An ‘A’ Makes.’ Seventy-Four pages with ten challenges on each page. I give you a word, direct you to add a specific letter to the letters in the base word and tell you how many ‘new’ words you can possibly create.

Ex: NASTIER + W (1)  

The answers are provided on the final pages. This is one skill that every scrabble player wants and needs to be on top of their game. Make learning fun with help from me, Gary Moss and Just4TheSpellOfIt. $12 includes shipping. Order via pay to the account of Pay with any credit card.

If there is one positive quality that scrabble player should possess is that they are COGNIZANT (aware, conscious).
To some, maybe most, the game of scrabble™ is a simple word game in which players find words that they make up from the letters on their rack and then place them onto the scrabble™ board, hooking them in a place where they make additional words (like a crossword puzzle).
Well, that is correct in the purest form. When competitive types take to the game, they want to demonstrate their word prowess and their strategies to amass huge scores by maximizing the points generated by employing the HOT SPOTS and BINGOS.
Casual players may turn their noses down on the term BINGO being used in a scrabble™ game. Scrabble™ MAVINS know that in scrabble™, a BINGO occurs when a player uses all 7 of the tiles from their rack on a single play (earning a 50 pt. bonus score). Highly competitive types will play 1 to 3 bingos in a game. Not too shabby. Most casual players will most likely have a bingo on their rack during a match but won’t recognize the word or understand how to play it. Those players are not COGNIZANT.
Whatever people choose to do in life, you’ll find all degrees of abilities among different individuals doing the same activities. There are OK doctors, GOOD doctors, and GREAT doctors. The same is true for accountants, teachers, bank tellers, football players, and scrabble™ players. Some of the differences can be traced to innate talent and smarts. Some of the differences can be traced to passion and preparation. Some of the differences just are!
The COGNIZANT person understands the components of the activity and can see the thing necessary to be done and achieved to become a MASTER in the field. It does not mean that he/she will attempt every possible task. But if he/she chooses to do some activity, they will jump in with their eyes wide open and have a clear understanding of what needs to be accomplished to MASTER it.

One of the most challenging times we have is just before we make a decision. Our minds bring up a lot of possibilities and ‘what ifs.’ Some of these possibilities are linked to fear-triggering repercussions, which can sometimes paralyze our actions.

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

If you are prepared, your fear will be diminished to less or nothing at all. Remember Fridays, when you were still a student. Friday was bittersweet. It was the last school day before the weekend, full of anticipation of the good times ahead on Saturday and Sunday. But Friday was also Test Day in most classrooms when teachers would assess our knowledge of all the things we were supposed to have learned that week. At the end of a week, when I had done all my homework assignments and had a clear understanding of the concepts taught, Friday was a breeze. Other times I was in a state of panic the whole day through.
When it comes to preparing myself to be a better scrabble player, there are various UPs and DOWNs too. If I attempt to take a bite too big, I have discovered that I can choke on my new crop of words. The words simply become jumbled in my minds-eye, in my memory, and when I try to draw upon them at a critical moment during a game, they sometimes fade away.
Personally, my memory holds words more securely when I learn them in small groups of 10 or 20, if they share a similar structure (all end with ‘EAU’ or ‘TION’ or ‘OLOGY’). During study periods, I’ll create the new words with tiles on my board (place them, feel them, see them). I’ll review the new set of words every day for a week or more. The reliable process that we had drilled into us as students still work. 

  1. See the word; 
  2. Say the word; 
  3. Spell the word aloud; 
  4. Write the word ten times; 
  5. Use the word in a sentence.

Spaced-Repetition. Review often. Chart your results. Expect improvement over time. Celebrate your accomplishments. Become the master of your fate.

What would you do with an amautik? With a boubou? With a chlamys?
You’d be surprised, or not, about how many words there are that you and I do not know at all.
If you enjoy learning vocabulary, you may find what I’ve been busily doing to be interesting. As the Club Director of Scrabble Club #350 in Laguna Woods, California, I have a scrabble ministry. I’ve taken it upon myself to encourage word knowledge and literacy in general. Being 77 years young, I witness my contemporaries withering away, and as an educator, I know that using your brain will keep it alive and active.
Over the years, I have developed and produced countless study aides for scrabble newbies and scrabble mavins.
Learning words and their correct spellings take different pathways for different people with varying styles of learning. Some people I talk with tell me that they CAN’T learn a word unless they know what it means.
That may be the way you’ve always learned words in the past, but if you think you CAN’T, that answer is not valid.
YOU ARE CAPABLE of doing whatever you decide you can and will do. Forget about CAN’T.
Some people focus on the patterns that create words and learn hundreds of words, not knowing what they mean at all. I’m not suggesting that there is no value in learning the meaning of words. I, too, like to know what words mean. BUT when I’m learning the entire list of words that end with the letters ‘E’ ‘A’ ‘U’ and I’m learning chateau, gateau, aboideau, aboiteau, I don’t need to clutter my brain with their meanings.
Other times when I’m creating a list of words that are things that people wear, I need to know the meanings and how the items are worn and sometimes by who.
Words like:
AMAUTIK = an Inuit women’s parka
BOUBOU = a long flowing garment
CALTHROP = a garment worn in ancient Greece
Then I put them into a booklet of scrambled word puzzles and make them available to scrabble players and the public. They look like the following:
AABDENU   =   ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
AACEHPU   =   ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
DHITU      =   ___ ___ ___ ___ ___
The answers appear at the end of the booklet:
The following booklets are scheduled for release on the following dates:

January 15 All Animals (Jumbles) $12 incl shipping
January 22 What A Difference An ‘A’ Makes (Add A Letter) $12 incl shipping
January 29 Things People Wear (Jumbles) $12 incl shipping
February 5 Plant, Trees, Shrubs (Jumbles) $12 incl shipping
Learn a few unfamiliar words and stump your opponents at the scrabble table.


  • I can almost certainly guarantee you that no matter how much you have of anything, somebody else has more.
  • I can almost certainly guarantee you that no matter how much you know, somebody else knows more.

So what’s a person to do? Don’t spend all of your time comparing yourself to others. Instead, invest your energies becoming the best you can be. Look to improve yourself, your word knowledge, your game strategy, your game skills a little bit by bit.
I’ve shared that I have played the game of competitive scrabble for more than 30 years. Some might think that I should know it all by now. But I humbly share with you that I still learn a thing or two during almost every game I play. The idea that seems the oddest to me is when my opponent plays a 3 or 4 letter word that stumps me. In 30 years, I should have learned all the 3s and 4s. But I have the same problem as you may have from time to time. Some of our word power evaporates. We must continuously review, or the things we learned long ago will mysteriously seep out through ears or some other avenue.
The good news is that there are some people in the clubs that see us as the King/Queen-Of-The-Hill. While you may see others, who know more than you, there are many others who see you as the smarty pants.
I usually warn newbies that when you become a club regular, the folks at home and your friends will see you as an expert and won’t want to play with you anymore. When you master the 2 and 3 letter words and some of the scrabble jargon, they’ll see you as a wizard.

It’s all relative. How much is a lot?

When you are trying to better yourself, it is essential to apply some measuring device so that you can tell how far you’ve come from one week or month to the next. You will genuinely amaze yourself. I promise. Create a chart or list; whichever is most appropriate.
Example: If I am trying to memorize the SATINE STEM words, I begin by creating or obtaining a set of flashcards. (Available from JFTSOI). Next, I’ll make a chart with 26 lines, A – Z. Third, I guess at the answers SATINE + A =  SATINE + B =, and I’ll record the number of correct answers. Fourth, study the flashcards for three days. Fifth, test yourself again. Record your score. See if you improved. Repeat the study and testing process until you know 90+ %. Review frequently even after you’ve mastered the list. Then set a time clock and see if you can recall the 70+ words in the SATINE STEM in under 5 minutes.
Always strive to do a little better.
As soon as you complete one goal, choose something else to work on.


Gone but Not Forgotten
At the end of each year, many TV programs devote a segment of their shows to REMEMBRANCES. We conger up fond memories of performers and celebrities we’ve enjoyed, watching, or listening to over past years.
Those memorials set my mind to work, and I reflect on scrabble players who have passed. Each person so unique, each with special talents; each personality has a different slant on life and, therefore, they have a vocabulary of their own.
No matter if they were a novice or an expert, everyone was influential in the scrabble™ community. We compete and grow only by having opponents to stand up and challenge us. We make each other better players and better people. There is no scrabble™ club or tournament if we are by ourselves alone.
We learn from each other. I began playing competitive scrabble in the late 1980s when I lived in Detroit, MI. If you are not aware, Detroit is a stone’s throw away from Windsor, Ontario, Canada (just across the Detroit River). I played at many clubs and competitions in Ontario from Windsor to London to Brantford to Mississauga to Hamilton to Toronto to Oshawa. Even though they speak English in Canada, there are a whole set of words that are uniquely Canadian. When those words are played against you, you need to stop and think before you accept or challenge. Most important, when you meet up with a word that is new to you . . . if you’re any good at all, you’ll remember it.
I have been a part of the scrabble™ community for more than 30 years. I have made hundreds of friendships and known thousands of players. Here are a few of those that I remember dearly, who are no longer with us. If there is a heaven, there’s a hell of a game going on up there.

I am remembering: Maliha Mahmood, Marta (Pat) Reed, Al DeMers, Scott Sellman, Jimmy Mattosian, Cheryl Cadieux, Helen Tieger, Penny Baker, Ossie Mair, David Gibson, Florence Laatz, Gina DuMez, Christine Larkin, Emilie Pandolfi, Ann Silver, Rita Norr, Lester Schoenbrum, John Cornelius, ANnette Tedesco, Theresa Maynard, Eunice Smith, Dorothy Brown, Rosetta Brooks, Gertrude Adcox, Robert Peters, Joyce Palmer, Alfred Butts, Geraldine Wenk, Cecile Betts, Gwen Bishop, Mary Lou Thurman, Chester Collins, Edna Miller, Stu Goldman, Frank Lee, Ralph Crosby, Louisa Arnold, Herb Falk and Hank Kanashiki, to name a few.




The Tango is a dance designed for two people. Tango is a partner and social dance that originated in the 1880s along the Río de la Plata, the natural border between Argentina and Uruguay. It was born in the impoverished port areas of these countries, where natives mixed with slaves and European immigrant populations.

When Scrabble™ originated in the 1930s, it’s inventor Alfred Mosher Butts envisioned it as a game to be played by 2 to 4 players and hence provided four racks with each packaged game set. Butts did not have any official word list in mind, and therefore players relied upon their preferred home dictionary to serve as their word source.

In 1952 James Brunot licensed Selchow & Righter, a game maker, to produce the Scrabble™ Brand Word Game. Through the years, the game had a succession of owners, including Coleco, Milton Bradley, Mattel, and Hasbro. It wasn’t until 1978 that Selchow & Righter formed the NSA (National Scrabble™ Association), which promoted local clubs and competitions throughout North America, then eventually an annual Nation Scrabble™ Tournament.

When playing under NSA rules, an official game is between two players. Each player has the opportunity to make offensive and defensive plays to determine their own fate. With that said, in the quiet of my own home, I’ve played solitaire scrabble as a pastime and a study experience, learning words and calculating strategies for future 1:1 competitions.

*When more than two players are participating on one board, the order of play is clockwise, whichever player’s turn comes after the weakest player, that player usually goes on to WIN.

In today’s Scrabble™ world, the owner of the brand is HASBRO™, and the organization that holds a license to use the name SCRABBLE™ is NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association) owned by Chris Cree of Dallas, TX.

WAITING ROOMS/Patients/Patience
Sitting in a waiting room in a hospital in Las Vegas, NV. About 6 hours away from my home and place of work. It’s my second time here in the last six weeks. I’m here to support my son Martin who has been trying to resolve his blocked arteries with a stint procedure but running into a series of obstacles that make his life frustrating. When people have problems and see a path to address and repair things, we want it all handled yesterday; if not yesterday, we certainly want things dealt with today so that we can get back to living life. But the nature of somethings requires scheduling appointments, being prepped, having your body cooperate by having your clotting factor at proper levels before they’ll proceed. It all makes sense, but it is still frustrating when some technicality halts the process, and you are dismissed until some future time when they’ll try all over again.
The waiting is a crazy time. The mind and emotional toll keep churning and building; the patient is trapped in purgatory.
The patient’s Potassium was too low, and surgery would be too risky to do under this condition. So, postponed again until sometime next week.
Sitting at a table at a scrabble™ club in anywhere, USA. I’ve just played a turn and replenished my tiles. I’m already looking at my tiles and the board anticipating my next turn. My opponent’s clock is running, and he’s computing his next move. I can see his eyes darting left and right, up and down the board in search of a perfect play. He’s looking for a place to score as many points as possible; he’s looking carefully so that he doesn’t create a ‘sweet spot’ for me as a result of his play. If he has a bingo, he’s searching for a place where it can connect with a hook.
I’m playing a waiting game while he thinks. That’s OK because his clock is running. I imagine where he might play since that will determine the place for my next move. I review all the possibilities right now and will consider other plays once he makes his move and hits the clock.
Patience is a part of everything and, therefore, an essential skill for all of us to master. Patience will serve you well when controlled, and your opponent doesn’t have that skill. You could work it to your advantage by frustrating others, getting into their heads, which in turn will cost them their concentration, which may translate into lower scores.
Did you know that sitting taller and higher in your chair can intimidate your opponent? Some players talk with you before the game begins and tell you all about their recent WIN, so you might imagine that they’re better than you. Yes, some scrabblers™ do play mind games, hoping it will sway the actual game.
Don’t fall for that. Be prepared.

The Perfect Storm
Scrabble™ is a lot like the weather, both unpredictable and, at the same time, logical and compliant to the ways of nature. Even before many of the new technologies became available to current day weather meteorologists, The Farmers’ Almanac has been providing weather forecasts since 1818. It relied heavily on averages and cycles that had been observed and recorded.
The meteorologists on TV seem to be very passionate about their field. Most are very excited and animated as they move about and display pictures, maps, and graphs to us while they explain the Highs and Lows and the jet stream. Frequently they give me too much information. All I want to know is if I’ll have nice enough weather to enjoy a day at the beach or if I should take my umbrella with me to the market.
When I have a basic idea about the weather to expect today, I can navigate through my day quite nicely, be it sun or rain or snow. I’ll get by.
Weather is a lot like scrabble™, both unpredictable due to the luck factor, but at the same time logical and compliant regarding the Rules and Official Word List. Since its origin in the 1930s, many serious competitive players have dissected the game, analyzed its components, and devised strategies to assist wannabe mavins in gaining expertise if they applied time and energy to enhance their performance. Understanding probability, using Tracking, understanding the commonality of words, using Stems, understanding scoring, using Hot Spots, and more provides hints and guidelines to the average player, providing a pathway to becoming a truly exceptional player.
The game has been played by and enjoyed by millions of families across America and around the world. It has been enjoyed by former President Dwight David Eisenhower and by Escondido, CA. Player Soranun Booppanon.
Jump in, if you will.


I Had A DREAM Last Night
I have been having a wealth of dreams lately. It could be related to the sleeping aid I’ve been taking and/or the scrabble activities I’ve been pursuing. I find that I sleep really great when I fall asleep in my recliner in front of the TV. But that takes the edge off of my exhaustion and when it becomes bedtime I lay down for 20 minutes and then I become wide awake at midnight. That isn’t very good on the days when I have to get up at 6:15 AM to get ready to be at work by 7 AM. Oh well, that should be the worst of my problems.
Now the dream. There’s a subway train filled with people crammed in there shoulder-to-shoulder. They’re not people; each person is actually a word. The train is moving very quickly and the passengers (words) are standing and swaying, trying very hard to keep their balance and from bumping into each other.  All of a sudden, the train begins to slow down, approaching another station. One of the words is heard muttering to another standing next to her and leaning on her, “Oh no. Gary must be making another list and all those new words are coming onboard. We’re going to have to squish ourselves together even tighter.” (Luckily I had forgotten some of the words in my memory and those words got off the train.)
That reminds me of a nightmare shared by Bruce D’Ambrosio. He shared it with me several years ago. He was dreaming about a close, competitive game in a significant tournament. It was near the end of the game and only a few tiles remained in the bag. Whatever he picked from the bag would surely determine whether he would win or lose the game, including 1st Place in that tournament. He needed to draw 4 tiles. The three tiles on his rack were ‘R” S’ and’ T.’ He reached into the bag and pulled his four tiles one at a time and placed them onto his rack. The first was an ‘A,’ than an ‘I,’ next an ‘E.’ He paused and took a deep breath. He realized he had ‘SATIRE’ and any letter, but ‘Q’ ‘O’ ‘U’ ‘X’ ‘Y’ & ‘Z’ would create a bingo combination and win the game. He took another deep breath, reached his hand into the bag, and came out with an exclamation mark.
He awoke, screaming.

We scrabble players are pretty weird at times. The same things that we are obsessed with and give us joy during our waking hours often plague us through the night. There have been countless times I’ve dragged myself out of a comfortable, warm bed and headed for my dictionary or computer to check the spelling of some words I’ve dreamt. Many of the ideas for my blogs come to me during sleep. If I don’t get up and write down the idea, it will often vanish with the morning light.
At times when I’m doing the most, deep into some projects like writing a booklet, I look forward to falling asleep, anticipating new ideas to come to me.




According to my dictionary, retirement is: ‘the action or fact of leaving one’s job and ceasing to work.’ In my humble opinion, ceasing, work-like activities is dangerous for ones’ well-being and health. Many people have shared that they admire my way of life because I’ve sort of been bumming around since I was in my mid-to-late forties. While that is a fact, it didn’t always seem so great at various times. Circumstances dictated my decisions, and if you look closely at my life and the things I’ve done through the last 30 years, I’ve never really stopped working at all.

I may have been retired once for an entire week or two until I couldn’t stand it anymore. I hated being unproductive. There was way too much leisure time to fill with fun and meaningful activities. I can hear one of my followers shouting, “But you play endless games of scrabble every day.” Yes, but I don’t consider all of that goofing-off. I treat it like a professional athlete who continues training during the offseason. My head is always swimming with ideas all day, every day of lists to be made and booklets to be written. And oh, don’t forget the amount of time I spend reading the dictionary and writing blogs and recording podcasts.

But you’re correct. I have turned work into play and play into work. Along the way, I have and still do other ‘WORK’ to bring in a few ‘shekels’ so that I can afford and enjoy a few nice dinners, travel to a few scrabble tournaments, and live in a comfortable community. These days I work about 15 hours a week for the HOA and about 10 hours a week for a local Bridge Club. In the past, after being the headmaster of my own private school for 20 years, I’ve been a landlord, an investor, a salesman, a census taker, a substitute teacher, a promoter, a personal growth facilitator, a writer, a publisher, a T-Shirt designer, a webmaster, and a personal adviser if I recollect clearly.

Imagine, all that while being officially retired.

Growing up

Published, Little Old Me
Many of the things I write and speak about relate to being the best we can be. Many times our visions of our possibilities go well beyond the things we have achieved so far. There have been times for me when I’ve found the courage to push the envelope, and I became something more than I had been to that point.
It was 2001 when I was massaging my writing techniques. The substance of my work was a book of poetry in which I was trying to capture and share the neighborhood and times when I was growing up on Northlawn in Detroit, Michigan, in the late 1940s and early 1950s.
I had already written a dozen or more pieces. Two of my good friends at a local scrabble club were Bob Peters and Paul Trachtenberg of Fountain Valley, CA. They were both poets. Bob was a retired professor from UCI, Irvine, and had also proffered at Wayne State University in Detroit, where I had grown up. During a shared lunch, I sheepishly told my friends about my poems. Bob invited me to share my work. After I read two or three of my poems, Bob told me he liked my poems and asked if I would like him to polish them up. I was flattered and didn’t hesitate to take him up on his offer.
A week later, Bob called me to tell me he was finished. When I came to pick them up at his home, he asked if I would like to publish my work. I was overwhelmed. “Of course,” I responded, “but I do not know how to do that.” Then with Bob’s guidance, I submitted several poems for consideration to PEARL, a local monthly publication.
A few months later, I received a letter from PEARL announcing that two of my poems would be published in their Summer 2002 issue. They also invited me to read my poetry at a public reading at a theater in Long Beach, CA. WOW!
My dad loved writing. He was always writing poems and song lyrics and plays. My grandpa was also a writer who, at one point, wrote items published in the Toledo Blade newspaper. I felt proud and validated to be a part of that legacy.
You, too, can push your envelope and pursue your interests and passions.
Below is one of the poems that was published in PEARL 2002. It is my reflection of a time when I was about 11 years old, living under my dad’s roof on Northlawn (1953). My dad was a ‘milkman’ at the time.

Summer. My eleventh year.
My dad’s eleventh job, this
time as a milkman. I was his
“hopper.” At dawn, washing
my face, brushing my teeth,

pulling on a T-shirt in a fog-
like dream, tiptoeing down
the creaky stairs so as not
to disturb sleeping neighbors.
Stepping into the cold dew
of morning, feeling a shiver
in my bones, standing by Dad,
holding on to a sidebar as we
drove empty roads to the dairy,
Dad chanting his daily prayers
by rote, with the mournful tunes
of rabbis. A small band of
milkmen sign for their consignment,
load their trucks with milk, and
large blocks of ice which they
stab with sharp picks into chunks
which they spread over the
bottled milk, preserving it for
waiting customers. Planning
the route, scheduling prompt
deliveries, allowing time for

a breakfast break, I tasted two
delicious eggs over easy and
home fried potatoes.
Driving into other neighborhoods
with their distinct smells, sure that
we delivered the proper order to the
proper home: bottles of white, chocolate,
and butter milk, orange juice, cottage
cheese, sour cream, eggs, and butter.
Collecting money from some, while
others kept up running accounts.
When day crept in, my hunger pangs

signaled break time. After icing down
the remaining milk in the now steamy

milk truck we headed for the crowded
Lyndon and Greenlawn diner, with

its familiar aroma that set the saliva
running. And the world was good.

It was about five months ago, August 1st or 2nd, and I was feeling pretty tired, and my 77th birthday (August 20) was closing in on me at record speed. I had an awareness that my degree of personal energy had been diminishing in small increments. At work, I’ve developed a compatible friendship with a co-worker, Derek. At slow times we shared non-work related stories. One day I told Derek about an idea I’d been considering taking an extended road trip and that I didn’t know if I would make that trip even a year or two from now. Derek was a great listener and reflected the things that he heard me saying.
You know how it is when you get an idea that is a bit over-the-edge. We look for agreement from people we admire and trust. And not only was Derek encouraging me, but he also gave my adventure a name: 77 Sunset Trip.
Perfect, I thought. I didn’t waste a minute; I informed my wife; I told my boss I’d be away for seven weeks; I planned to leave on Saturday, August 24; I found a substitute to work my dealing job with the bridge club, and I packed my car and my suitcase. I moved some money around to finance my journey and made a few calls to create my agenda for the first several days.
I left on August 24. My first destination was to play in Escondido, CA. Did I share that during my trip, I planned to visit a string of scrabble clubs, scrabble tournaments, and family? I was driving alone in my 2008 Toyota Yaris, going east on a northern route and returning on a southern route back to the West. After Escondido, the next stops were several clubs in Las Vegas, NV, then north to Salt Lake City, UT. Both visits were great; I was welcomed warmly. But after Salt Lake, my planning was incomplete and too sketchy. My original plan was to attend a club near Denver next, but my timing to stop near Denver didn’t work for me, and I became anxious, then sad, then negative. I spent the better part of a day imagining excuses and projecting that the rest of the trip was going to be a bust. I was really doing a negative number on myself.
Then I started doing that self-talk thing with the Devil on one shoulder, whispering into my right ear and some Angel whispering the opposite into the other ear. Meanwhile, I was driving through the Rockies on secondary roads and loving it.
It took some doing for me to let go of all of those excuses and allow myself to discover the joy all around me. The DINOSAUR NATIONAL MONUMENT was the spot where I recommitted myself to continue east. And am I glad I did!
Once I got out of my own way, I visited 23 scrabble clubs. I played in two scrabble tournaments, visited more than two dozen old friends, stayed with my daughters in Ypsilanti, MI, and Pontiac, MI. In Cleveland, I stayed with my sister and my brother in Saratoga Springs, NY. I spent three Days in Niagra Falls, two days in Nashville, and a night in Muel Shoe, TX. I drove a total of 7,000 miles there and back with stops in Stratford, ON., Canada. Memphis, TN, and The Grande Canyon. I walked the River Walk at Niagra and played Black Jack in Laughlin and Las Vegas, NV. All the while, I played more than 150 games of scrabble. I spent two days meeting and playing with the public at Uncommon Grounds Coffee House in Saratoga Springs, NY.
How do your EXCUSES get in your way? Do they side-track you from having adventures?
Please get rid of them and claim the fun and adventure you deserve. And play more scrabble.

Do YOU Hear Opportunity Knocking?
Generally, people can solve problems. We learn techniques in problem-solving from the time we begin to attend school, even preschool. Some of our problem solving occurs during using trial and error while building with blocks, driving a car down the road, or getting a date with a partner. Other learning comes about by reading, participating in exercises, and listening to lectures.

One vital skill that we never are taught in traditional schools or even from loving family members is how to recognize an opportunity. Most of us learn to be protectivecautious and avoid risky behaviors.

It was September 1968; I was a 28-year-old 5th Grade teacher earning $5,000/yr, and my wife and I had our first child. It was pretty clear that we would never get rich doing what we were doing. We followed a life plan, similar to most of our friends.

In December 1968, our three-month-old daughter unexpectedly died of SIDS. Our life changed in a matter of an evening. The pain of the loss was excruciating. The vacuum in our lives set us reeling. The value of everything lost its meaning.

We felt like there was nothing left to lose.

It’s in that kind of emotional tumult that there was a possibility of opportunity. During the mourning period we were bombarded by people talking to us, at us, and with us. We were both trained and certified teachers with a strong desire to work with children. I spoke a thought out loud about the possibility of us creating a private school. The talk expanded in my imagination and then in the next moment I was writing business plans and creating outlines out of my imagination. The conversation filled a part of the void each day. At first, there wasn’t any reality to the talk, but when one repeats an idea often enough, it can develop a life of its own. And so without ever having been enrolled in a single business class and with a total of $50 in my Teacher Credit Union bank account, I wrote a persuasive business plan. I urged a realtor to help me search out a location for my enterprise and wrote a script for my wife to solicit funds from our wealthier friends and relatives who might invest in this dream.

We jumped through more hoops everyday than others with similar plans would face in months to years of planning. Many laughed at us or just humored us by listening. It looked like an ‘impossible dream’.

 From day #1, it took us only three months to write the Business Plan, secure promises from 10 investors, make an application to the Michigan State Department of Social Services and The Michigan State Board of Education. Nine months and 23 days later, we opened Bloomfield Nursery School and Kindergarten on a 5-acre parcel of land in a building licensed for a student body of up to 60 children.

In the years to come, the school and auxiliary programs went on to serve over 10,000 children, employ more than 200 teachers and caregivers, and earn many thousands of dollars. Even the current mayor of Detroit, Mi (Mike Duggan), was once a camp counselor on my staff.

All of that happened simply because we believed the opportunity was there, and we willed it into existence with our daring intentions.

I learned first-hand all about the power of opportunity and intention.  

Whatever possibilities you may see for yourself within the coming year are definitely within your grasp too. Right now. What better time than at the beginning of a New Year? If you’re moved to do something and want a good listener . . . Let’s Talk. (949) 510-1673.

Just Saying!

If you haven’t ever read one of my brother Joel’s pieces (a review of the year just passed), you’re in for an amazing treat.  Can you say, “Attention to details”?
Enjoy the genius, frankness,and opinions of my favorite brother,          Joel Moss.WEDNESDAY
How do you look at things? Do you have a preferred perspective? Are you more focused on how things begin or how they end?
If you play scrabble, frequently work with words; in my opinion, you MUST look at both ends of words to develop a significant advantage over your opponents.
A while back, I considered ‘strange’ (unusual ) ways that words end. The thing that made a ‘strange ending’ in my study was the infrequency of words ending with a particular letter or set of letters.
Do you know that there is only one word on the OWL that ends with ‘….YK’?
The answer is ‘BASHLYK.’
Do you know that there is only one word on the OWL that ends with ‘….IH’?
The answer is ‘SHANTIH.’
Now some others will tell you that it is silly to rely on this kind of information when the odds are so slim that you’ll ever be able to play those words. But I’m not telling you to spend 99% of your time in this endeavor. But how about spending 1% or 2% of your time learning a few of these unusual oddities?
How about the two words that end with ‘…NQ’
How about the six words that end with ‘…HK
How about the words that end with ‘…YU’
Have you ever been a snooper, looker, detective, peeper? – or – a pryer, meddler, gumshoer, operative?
Put on your ‘deerstalker,’ take out your magnifying glass and the largest print OWL or OSPD6, and begin your hunt. Identify those words where there is only a limited number that end with the same letter pattern. Write them down if you hope to remember them. If you have an interest in them, put them onto flashcards and review these words from time to time.
If you want to make the job a lot easier, you can always order either ‘STRANGE ENDINGS’ – or- my ‘BACKWARD DICTIONARY,’ which is a complete list of 2-Letter-Long to 8-Letter-Long legal scrabble words alphabetized from right-to-left.
Inquire at or (949) 510-1673.