Wednesday, January 19, 2005

You could say it all started with montaigne at the Internet Scrabble® Club, and so I suppose I can dedicate this blog to him.

"These board games, you play", he asked, "are they Adult board games?" There was a particular emphasis on the word Adult.

"If you're talking about Strip Scrabble®, the answer is no!" was my smartass reply.

But actually, why not? I am an adult, after all. And it could be a good way to persuade my husband to play Scrabble®, a game he normally detests. Especially if winner takes all...

So, how can you play a tantalising game of strip, and still get an enjoyable game of Scrabble®? And, if you play your tiles right, some après-Scrabble® too?

Let's start with the object of the game: to make words that score a lot of points. Clearly, if you're not scoring well, the clothes have to go.

I thought a target word score would be good. Decide your own target before play starts. Currently, mine is 20, and I keep looking for a better-scoring word until I start running out of time. If you play a word that scores less than your target, remove an item of clothing. Every time I now play a word scoring under 20, I think about this. (Good thing my opponents can't see me chortling naughtily.)

Montaigne says No. The lower scoring player in a round forfeits an item of clothing. I can see how his mind is working. There are about sixteen rounds in a game. Few people wear sixteen items of clothing at any one time, especially in the summer. And he's a very good player. So if you're planning to play Montaigne, be warned. Wear everything you have. Borrow clothes if you have to.

Now, two letters that are worth far more than their face values are the S (score 1) and the Blank (score 0). This too is something that Montaigne brought to my attention. (You see, he really does deserve a blog all to himself.)

For those trying desperately to hang onto their clothes, it works like this. Most words take an S as a plural. If you can make a word with an S, you can stick it onto almost any word on the board, and score the points for the word you just made, plus the word you added to, because you a made a new word which is plural.

The Blank can be any letter you like, and if you have one, your chances of using up all seven playing tiles in one word and getting a 50 point bonus shoot through the roof.

So, if you play a word containing one of these letters, it really should exceed the target word score. Shall we say 10 for an S and 15 for a blank? Fail to meet this bonus, and you forfeit TWO items of clothing. THREE if you scored the lowest in the round too.

The most important words, of course, are those that use all seven of your tiles. This is called a Bingo in Scrabble® jargon, and earns you a bonus 50 points as well as the value of the word score. In family scrabble, these are a fluke. However, if you watch good players, they play one or two or more in every game. This tells me that the words are always there in the racks, you just have to find them.

So, if you play a Bingo, you get to put all your clothes back on again. Ha ha for your opponent! If your Bingo scores over 100, hmmm... shall we make the opponent strip entirely? I'll leave this up to you. Montaigne would like to choose the piece of clothing you forfeit. Same thing, I suppose.

Hmmm. My opponent yesterday scored 176 for UNHEROIC. Played it across two triple word scores, as I recall. Hmm. I guess that leaves me... well, I'll leave that to your imagination.

If you score over 50 in a word play, without a bingo, this probably deserves recognition as good play. Put on one item of clothing.

The main object here is to score, and score well. Reward good play and strip the trappings away from the imposters who cannot spell.

Ah, imposters. Let's add some challenge rules. Sometimes an opponent puts down a word that is just plain wrong. It doesn't exist. It's spelt badly. Or whatever. You challenge this word, and if your suspicions are correct, your opponent takes back that word and loses his or her turn.

In this version ... Hah! Well done! You get my drift exactly. In this version of Scrabble®, if your suspicions are correct, an item of clothing goes too. And if you're wrong, and it's a real word, start unbuttoning something yourself, baby...

I think that about sums it up. With all this great internet Scrabble® around, you may as well make live games more ...attractive, shall we say? All I have to do now is buy some decent Scrabble® equipment, maybe one of those Deluxe sets with the rotating board, some sexy underwear, and hmmm ... how many words can I make using all the letters AEINRST...?

(SCRABBLE® is a registered trademark. All intellectual property rights in and to the game are owned in the U.S.A. by Hasbro Inc., in Canada by Hasbro Canada Inc. and throughout the rest of the world by J.W. Spear & Sons Ltd. of Maidenhead SL6 4UB, England, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc. Mattel and Spear are not affiliated with Hasbro or Hasbro Canada.)