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December 30th, 2008
02:08 am
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Scrabble brainteaser, and Legend of Hero: 021
On Christmas, kadyg and I travelled down to my parents' house. One of our presents to them was a Scrabble board*. We ended up playing a game to break it in.

On my first turn, I had a handful of 1-point letters -- including an "S". I made a Hail Mary play for the 50-point bonus you score when you use up all your tiles -- dropping the S on the end of an existing word, and building a seven-letter word that also used the S. (The board position was such that the S could have been in any position in my seven-letter word.)

My word was TREANTS. My parents, not being Dungeons & Dragons geeks with a love for sentient plants, immediately challenged. We discovered that we didn't have a Scrabble dictionary handy. It wasn't in the regular dictionary we managed to dig up, so we reached a quick deal: If I took it back and played something else, I could redo my turn rather than lose it.

Not wanting to give up the quick 50-point boost, I furiously anagrammed, and finally tried the same tactic again, dropping down TARTENS. ("Oh, come on, that's misspelled!" Kady immediately protested. "No, I'm not going for the things Scotsmen wear," I replied. "I'm conjugating the verb that describes when something becomes more sour." I got challenged anyway.) As this was my second try, it was ruled that if this wasn't in the dictionary either, that was it for my turn. Sadly, the arbiters of official English didn't approve of my cruftipose verbizulation.

Esprit d'escalier being what it is, it wasn't until next morning that I realized I could have thrown down a legitimate seven-letter word, immune to challenge -- even with only a moderately sized standard dictionary at hand. Facepalming ensued.

Can you tell me what word I should have played with those seven letters?**

The answer may or may not be in the new installment of Legend of Hero over at ttustories. You should go read it and find out! It also may or may not resolve the incredible cliffhanger in the previous episode. You should go read it and find out! Either way, further updates will continue to follow the M/W/F schedule.

For the record: We're catching up on a character we haven't seen in a while, so you may also want to check Wastes: I and Wastes: II for context.

--
* Technically, Super Scrabble, but I'm considering that a subset of the larger "Scrabble" genre.
** No, none of them were blanks.

Current Location: ~/computer_desk
Current Mood: deviousdevious
Current Music: David Nelson Band, "Long Gone Sam"
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(21 comments | Leave a comment)

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From:baxil
Date:December 30th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
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Interesting trivia: the Internet Anagram Server, which I'm sure is what you used (partially because it was my source too) claims that the word found below is the only correct answer. The official Scrabble online dictionary (linked elsethread) claims there's another answer, which is to be found in approximately one dictionary dating from two generations ago yet is still Scrabble-legal. It's in comments below, but feel free to give this patently unfair extra-credit puzzle a shot before reading on!
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From:momentrabbit
Date:December 30th, 2008 12:02 pm (UTC)
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'Natters'?
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From:baxil
Date:December 30th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
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We have a winner!

I did get one more shot at redemption. I was going to build SLATTERN off of someone else's L the next turn ... but then someone else used the L. Cosi é la vita.
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From:natetg
Date:December 30th, 2008 02:01 pm (UTC)
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Even if Spiro T Agnew (or William Safire) used it, I wasn't sure that it was really a word...
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From:baxil
Date:December 30th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
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Scrabble has some pooped-up, arbitrary definitions of what counts. According to the official Scrabble dictionary, RATTENS would have been legal, even though it's archaic slang not used for two generations and isn't in any modern dictionary I can find. Yet TREANTS doesn't count. QWERTY is legit (and one of the few Q-without-U words), but DVORAK is a proper name and isn't.

(And "Verbizulation" ought to be a word. That would be worth bank on a triple word score.)

I don't have the patience for the sort of ridiculous memorization it would take to play Scrabble at a truly competitive level. I look at it the same way I do spelling bees.
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From:gerzgerz
Date:December 30th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
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Hee, you're good enough to give me a run for my money! ;) Of course, one of the most useful skills in Scrabble is the ability to bluff with a straight face. "You mean you've never heard of VERBATES? It means to talk, especially a monologue or speech. It's the same root as 'verb' and 'verbatim'." It helps when there's a rule that if you challenge and lose, you lose your turn - makes people unwilling to challenge unless they're really positive.

(is elynne, posting on her WoW RP account. Aheh.)
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From:baxil
Date:December 30th, 2008 11:51 pm (UTC)
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Scrabble would be a lot more awesome if the official rules said that legality of words was decided by popular vote.

And if tile trading and word collaboration were allowed.

... Might be time for some house rules.
From:antwondotcom
Date:December 31st, 2008 03:46 am (UTC)
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Heh - if I wanted a pastime that was a function of bluffing, I'd go back to trying my hand at poker. :) For me, that's far and away the least desirable element of the game. If folks insist upon having some sort of formal challenge system, at least go with the middle-of-the-road compromise used at many tournaments: unlimited challenges, but with an N-point penalty against the challenger for every challenged word that turns out to be valid.

Us, we just have house rules where we play with (a) an open dictionary and (b) a strict 25-minutes-per-player timer. The former effectively eliminates bluffs, as your opponent is more than able to manually look up a dicey word and challenge after the fact; the latter rewards good word knowledge so you're not just trawling around for hours, looking for the One True Anagram that you just know is buried in there somewhere.
From:antwondotcom
Date:December 31st, 2008 03:55 am (UTC)
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Agreement that the Scrabble dictionary appears to be cracktastically arbitrary from time to time. In the OSPD3, CAKEWALK is a real, honest-to-gosh word... but RACEWALK isn't? The decidedly archaic INTERNE is valid... but not INTERNET? The hell?

Still, we prefer to have it around as our Official Word Source of Record, however spotty. Ealasaid and I are otherwise both far too competitive for our own goods, turning the game into a bitter war between her supposed 17th century poetry words and my alleged techie terms.
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From:baxil
Date:December 31st, 2008 06:19 pm (UTC)
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The cakewalk is a lie!
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From:quen_elf
Date:January 1st, 2009 11:05 pm (UTC)
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Well, personally, I know what a cakewalk is, but 'racewalk', wtf? never heard of it. :) So I'm with the dictionary there.

Overall though I agree. I think using dictionaries is pretty annoying, more because of the stupid words they include than the ones they don't. I played against my mum some days ago and we settled differences amicably :) I won, again.

(and yes, I worked out NATTERS, woohoo.)
From:antwondotcom
Date:January 2nd, 2009 08:14 am (UTC)
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Hey, racewalking has been an event in the Olympics for the last 100+ years. It's not like I'm exactly plumbing the depths of obscurity on that one. :)
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From:quen_elf
Date:January 3rd, 2009 01:13 am (UTC)
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So that's what it is? That's not just, like, a walking race, they had to verb it? Huh. You learn something new every day.

I don't think I ever watched an olympic event so it remains obscure to me. :) But I had heard about walking races.
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From:packbat
Date:December 30th, 2008 03:05 pm (UTC)
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NATTERS, of course. I probably wouldn't have seen it under the pressure of a game, of course.
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From:gerzgerz
Date:December 30th, 2008 06:04 pm (UTC)
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Commenting without looking at other comments: if placement of the T or S don't matter, there's NATTERS. Can't think of any others offhand, so now I look at other comments!
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From:kinkyturtle
Date:December 30th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
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I too have, before reading the other comments, independently arrived at the answer "NATTERS".
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From:roaminrob
Date:December 30th, 2008 11:18 pm (UTC)
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Ugh. Scrabble. :-(

The best I could've done would have been to look for an 'l' to attach to, for "slattern".

I have no idea how I know that word, since I had no idea what it means. I've looked it up, and now I'm really curious how I happen to know it.
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From:keithsdragons
Date:December 31st, 2008 02:02 am (UTC)
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Natter -s: to chatter

Took us three minutes to come up with it. :) My Mom and I just got Snatch-It... a bit more head-to-head than Scrabble.

http://www.amazon.com/US-Games-Snatch-Word-Game/dp/1572815175/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=toys-and-games&qid=1230688871&sr=8-1

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From:keithsdragons
Date:December 31st, 2008 02:06 am (UTC)
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We have some friends over, so watching us all around the table with scrabble tiles trying to figure it out reminded me inevitably of the 'infinite number of monkeys on typewriters with an infinite amount of time...'

Luckily it didn't take us forever.
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From:baxil
Date:December 31st, 2008 06:23 pm (UTC)
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I am told that it's hypnotic to watch me play Scrabble. As the game continues -- especially if it's not my turn -- I am constantly physically rearranging my tiles, visually building anagrams, pushing letters off to the side and fiddling with others, regrouping them as board conditions change.

I appear to be lucky in this regard. Having fellow players who find it endearing rather than annoying, I mean.
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