Fun? Sure, it comes from respect

harderWant to have some fun scrabbling? Then respect your opponent. She/he is all you’ve got. I like open board, for it always invites possibilities, and makes the outcome (or the game) become more unpredictable—fun! But as in any game, in scrabble we also have to know when to attack and when to defend—or else we’re going to miss the art of playing. So there are times when we’ve just got to do some blocking—doing defence, to prevent something from happening (or at least to make it less likely to happen).

Red had just made BYE here. Now this sure looked fishy (see the diagram).

(1375) Blue: 268 +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ (1433) Red: 2442 - blocking wajib(Tiles left in the bag: 26 — Tiles left to note: SSS ??)

Both players had bingos (QUIRTED vs PEBBLING), and kept trading punches ever since. That is why the scoring is close—neither player could free her/himself away from the other. And all of sudden, Red came up with this. Scoring a ‘silly’ eight pointer and leaving out one of the eight most targeted squares for her opponent who—alas, happened not to have either an S or a blank whatsoever. Coincidence? I don’t think so. Look at her rating. For all I know, no player around 1500 takes a fancy to relying their moves merely on blissful wild dreams. This must have been one calculated risk by Red.

This move seriously, as well as humorously, indicated that Red had an S. But if that was so, then why didn’t she just make do with a simple move like H1: xxxxS—hooking the JOINT and enjoying that TWS? Why all the risk (H12: BYE) with this TWS instead?

With three S’s and two blanks still up, the very daring move told me that Red had (at the very least) three of those five on her rack already (or else she would’ve never dreamed of a stunt like this), presumably two S’s and one blank—ready to set off a dynamite. With 28 tiles still in the bag (that’s before she came up with BYE), my dear opponent gambled that I had neither of the other two (either the S or the blank), and hoped that even if I had a blank, then I would have to sacrifice it (forfeiting a bingo) for using this very hotspot she gives me.

And this three-out-of-five also explains why she didn’t make H1: xxxxS in the first place. Red had such a good rack (again, presumably with three aces/wildcards), but somehow had to sacrifice a blank (or maybe two S’s) herself if she wanted to make a move from H1:. And she concluded that that’s not a good enough move with a rack like hers. She wanted a bingo, or anything worth no less than a 50-pointer.

By the way, my own stand here was not bad, by all means. With 1H: ENWRAP (40+), I had nothing to worry about my own scoring. But out of respect to my opponent, I had to assume that she would make a bingo on her next move, scoring some crazy points using that spot in dispute (yes, that score booster). And if that was the case, then the next two moves (one by each player) would surely deplete the bag (of tiles) real quick—making my chance to regain the lead (which presumably would’ve been taken over) diminish. So, since I could not use that spot myself, I had to block it (or at least made it much less flexible to use).

It’s obvious that either I12: BANE or BARN was not a good enough block. So I came up with G12: EARN instead. With J and Z already down, there would be no 15E: JINS or ZINS lurking.

*****

I only saved this position (I don’t have the whole game), because I find this very interesting. It tells much about the players, about their game, about scrabble being much-much more than just a game of luck as the Tile Faery says.

I don’t remember what Red’s answer to that EARN was, only that it’s not a bingo—and surely not before thinking for quite some time. I also don’t remember what my next move was. The real truth is, I don’t even remember who won this game. It just doesn’t matter. Not anymore. All I know is that Red—with all the best she can muster, has enriched me with enjoyment. One intriguing game. Something I could not have earned without her support.

Thank you, Red. Whoever you are.

*****

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