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Apr 8, 2010

Play proper Scrabble while you still can

The very notion of Scrabble Trickster, a new version of Scrabble where proper nouns are allowed, does make one nostalgic for traditional Scrabble. Why not celebrate the game that hasn't changed since 1938 tonight?

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Scrabble lovers the world over have their K-N-I-C-K-E-R-S (18 points) in a twist over an announcement that proper nouns will be admitted into the game.

And look, fair enough. If you’ve just spent a year memorising all the two- and three-letter words in the dictionary (people do this, the proof), then the idea that some “normal person” with a regular New Idea habit could come in and trounce you with Jay-Z is scandalous.

Well, actually, the story’s a beat-up. Proper nouns will only be permitted in a spin-off game called Scrabble Trickster created for the UK market by Mattel.  This bastardised Scrabble will also encourage players to steal letters from each other, so it’s hardly the gentle intellect-pitting game of old.

But the story has certainly fired up Scrabble nerds (honestly, is there a group more self-righteous than competitive Scrabble players?). And there’s nothing more fun than seeing pedants purple with rage.

“We got about 2000 new words in the last dictionary. We don’t really need these other words,” said Lower Hutt Scrabble Club president Glenyss Buchanan in The Dominion Post. “What’s next; foreign words, acronyms and abbreviations?” wonders Richard Gottlieb. Etc.

But the very notion of Scrabble Trickster does make one nostalgic for the stodgy, stickler Scrabble of old. Why not celebrate the game that hasn’t changed since 1938 tonight. Play it on Facebook. Head to the local pub for a game. Or become a Scrabble defender, join a local club near you for tournaments.

And if Scrabble seems a bit too squeaky clean, then I swear by dirty word Scrabble — just start with your mind in the gutter and let the game degenerate — no proper nouns required.

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