The brand spanking new Official Scrabble Players Dictionary Fifth Edition was released Aug. 11 and being the word nerd that I am, I hadda have it. Since I developed a medical condition years ago that my optometrist informed me goes by the clinical term “old eyes,” I got the massive large print version.
And I do mean massive. That sucker is 2 inches thick and if you were to WHOP (to strike forcefully) somebody on their dome with it, you’d probably be charged with Assault With An Educational Weapon.
A whopping 5,000 new words were added to the book including BROMANCE (a close nonsexual relationship between men), FRENEMY (one who pretends to be a friend, but is actually an enemy) and GEOCACHE (a treasure-hunting sport where hikers use GPS equipment to find hidden collections of trinkets).
GEOCACHE was the word voted in (a first) by Scrabble fans. Personally, I wanted RAIDERNESS (a way to gauge how awesome someone is by how much or how little they love the Oakland Raiders), but evidently I was outvoted.
The National Scrabble Champion was also crowned last week. I was pleased to see that during the championship game, one of my favorite unusual words, TROOZ (close-fitting tartan trousers), was played.
When I was in the fourth grade, I kept acing all my weekly spelling tests so my teacher had me make my own spelling tests from the dictionary. I remember coming across naughty words and giggling.
That won’t happen with the new dictionary because of a controversy that raged in the Scrabble world a number of years ago.
A woman was playing who was a survivor of the Holocaust and her opponent put down the word JEW. She was stunned to discover that it was acceptable . . . as a verb. The controversy arose as there were some who felt a word is a word, offensive or not, while others felt that Scrabble is a family game and those words should be excluded.
Of course that begs the question, who decides what is offensive? Well, in this case, the answer was toy/game giant Hasbro, which has a receipt for the rights to the game.
The compromise was that the regular Scrabble dictionary would not include offensive terms, but that an Official Tournament and Club Word List be generated that includes all acceptable words, but no definitions.
I think that was a good compromise, but personally I feel that, in the context of the game, a word is a word. If I was playing a child, I wouldn’t play the F-bomb, but against adults I would and have even though I do not use that word when speaking (even watching the Raiders).
I started the Fairfield Scrabble Club in 2007 and we began meeting in the Fairfield Civic Center library (6 p.m. the first Tuesday of each month) then changed our name to the Fairfield-Suisun Scrabble Club when the branch opened in Suisun City in 2008 (6 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month). We just like to have fun.
At the inaugural meeting of the Suisun City Club, I walked around and checked out the boards during games and one being used by two players, Bill and Suzy, had the words PORN, LEWD and NUDE on it. I jokingly asked them to please keep it PG-13.
We keep it light in my club, but of course everyone wants to win. I wouldn’t want to play against someone who isn’t trying their best to beat me.
I remember playing Monopoly years ago with my wife and her sister and when one of them landed on Boardwalk with a hotel, they said, “It’s OK, you don’t have to pay me.” I was incredulous. I went all Herm Edwards (ex-New York Jets coach) on them: “You play to win the game. Hello? You don’t play it to just play it!”
What I love about Scrabble is that it encourages creativity, tests and exercises your brain, and yet has a bit of luck involved as well. I mean, a great vocabulary is useless with seven “I’s” on your rack.
The game has a way of bringing me back down to earth when I get a little too big for my TROOZ.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at firstname.lastname@example.org.