Tuesday 6 April 2010

Official Scrabble loses to Collins Scramble Allwords

Games for a child
I think I have been playing Scrabble for about 32 years, my uncle has just returned from the UK and he brought us a few board games, Scrabble and Monopoly.
Thankfully, I lived in a home where my parents had a sense of fun, whilst my mother sometimes wanted me to revise my schoolwork, what I learnt in class was enough to get me a good examination result – I am glad they exhibited a keen interest in a lively childhood than many typical Nigerian parents afforded their children.
I do remember that my mother spent her salary raise given in the Udoji review on buying my first bicycle.
The Scrabble lifestyle
In any case, Scrabble became the social ice-breaker, you made friends through battles on the board, in school competitions you won prizes and even played for money.
I am sorry to say, it was not designed for the dyslexic, you had to be able to spell right and if you didn’t, you hoped that your opponent(s) were unaware and you took away the spoils with high scores.
Obscure words, smart placings, multiple words on premium squares and everyone wanted to take you on to serve you a whopping defeat only for you to triumph.
The rules are clear, some house rules too like – timed turns, tiles placed on board must form part of the word for that turn, reusable blanks – anything to give the game a bit of excitement.
The matured player always played within the extents of the dictionary used to adjudge the words spelt out on board, in many cases it was the Chambers’ Twentieth Century English dictionary until we got hold of the Original Scrabble Words where two-letter word plays might just have you storming off in a tirade of four-letter expletives with the confirmation of the four-letter word – lost – as your gift.
No rules for fools
Rules are there for a purpose, any game without rules is a riot, a barbarian’s orgy, a lascivious bounty of reckless abandon to which there can be no restraint.
The news today [1] should have arrived 5 days earlier on April the first when Mattel the copyright holder of Scrabble announced a rules change which was not tactical or functional but just a typical lapse to invite stupidity into the pretence of being erudite, to "introduce an element of popular culture into the game", they said with vacuous glee.
Proper nouns would be allowed – this would include names of places, people, companies or brands – whilst it is not a free for all since it would be restricted to a Collins dictionary word list; woe betide the place, person, company or brand who has not seen the business and competitive opportunity of being able to brag about being a new Scrabble word.
Brand your game
Honestly, that rule change creates another game that could better be distinguished as Scramble as the fashion victims with their trousers halfway down their legs jive with Burberry as chavs, drinking Courvoisier with their LV caps and Gucci teeth wearing a mix-and-match of Crocs on one foot and Jimmy Choo’s on the other – all legitimate words of Scramble.
Only Scramble can best describe this change as a sense of chaos, disorder, the lack of rules and a riot of meaningless jumbles of letter arrangements that would be comfortable in, well, the game Scramble.
To call this game Scrabble would be sacrilegious to the extreme, tantamount to having the players of a typical game of football carry the ball with hands into the net and being able to score in any net for your team – ditch the goalkeepers, they are useless.
Maybe chess might also consider a rule chance, pawns can move in any direction regardless of where they are on the board and the king does no have to bother about being in check.
There is a wisdom that followed the time-honoured rules of Scrabble, just as constutions do not get changed on a whim – those rules have stood the test of time.
Just imagine how cross I would be because my village Ijesha-Ijebu does not appear in Collins Scramble Allwords and Walsall where I was born does, the hyphen is immaterial was we flip the board in unsettled dispute and depart in disgust.
Your name is not in the book of …
There might be the case for discrimination for including certain names and not others because they are Anglophile but Sinophile, Arabic, Asian or African names receive no prominence in the new hegemony of games, gamesmanship and an incipient preponderance of inferiority over those not blessed to be counted amongst the chosen,
No book will be big enough to contain all legitimate names in the whole wide world just because some smart chap thought that was a market for idiots to play Scrabble rather than their consoles.
For once, I wish I were a lawyer; I would be at the forefront of a class action suit and sue the pants off Mattel for this inane insight of faddism that leaves a majority of the global community that is their market place out of the exclusive Collins Scramble Allwords – Oh! Deliver us from this travesty.
I will be back on the matter, I am not finished yet.
* Since Scramble seems to be taken, a synonym might well do like scamper, scuffle or scurry but NOT Scrabble.

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