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Extreme Scrabble

June 30th, 2005 (10:09 pm)
current mood: delighted

When Cynthia & I play Scrabble, we play with a rule that any word that's constructed by normal English rules is valid. Our classic example was "spinefree" (what Dogbert would advertise if he had a temp shop). Tonight Cynthia puppy-eyed me into accepting "voked" ("voke" would be the root word for "evoke" and "invoke"), on a triple letter word score, for 39 points. So I realized I could start putting prefixes onto it. I tried to save up to play three prefixes at once, so that I could reach another triple letter score, but I just couldn't get it, and finally played "readvoked" ("advoke", from "advocare", as "evoke" is from "evocare", would mean "call to", or "summon", so "readvoke" would mean "summon again"), for 19 points. Cynthia quickly turned it into "unreadvoked" ("has not been summoned again"), on the triple, for 60 points. We soon were in a race to add a suffix; I got it first: "unreadvokedness" ("the property of not having been summoned again"), on the other triple, for 69 points. (It should've been 75, but I had to use a blank.)

First time I've ever seen one word span one entire side of the board. :-)


Posted by: Jane Waks (msmemory)
Posted at: July 1st, 2005 03:33 am (UTC)

I thought we were extreme: we allow any real word in any real language (French, Latin, but not Tengwar).

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: July 1st, 2005 10:22 am (UTC)
Kids silly nose

I actually think of the house rule as "the unwaxy rule" which was the seminal instance; I think spinefree came after. It's fun to play, *and* it sends Scrabble purists into fits.

Posted by: Who, me? (metageek)
Posted at: July 1st, 2005 01:48 pm (UTC)
Rule comparisons

How does that work out? Do you have problems with the letter frequencies being different?

Our rule is based on how my family generally plays--except, when I was a kid, we never actually expressed the rule. So, when I started playing with Cynthia, I was, unconciously, playing with "any word is OK if it makes sense". When I played "unwaxy", and we wound up having to talk it over, we settled on the version above. When I mentioned to my dad, he liked it; but, the next time we played at their house, my parents were surprised by the implications. So, at their house, the house rule is more restrictive: prefixes and suffixes that make sense are valid even if the resulting word isn't in the dictionary; compound words are not, under the theory that a newly coined compound word has to be hyphenated.

Really, the basis of our rule is descriptivism: if English is the language that English speakers understand, then any word that any English speaker should understand is valid English. I realized a few days ago that this makes for an interesting clash with Scrabble: Scrabble is based on prescriptivist spelling, but we've thrown in descriptivist vocabulary.

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: July 1st, 2005 02:02 pm (UTC)
Re: Rule comparisons

under the theory that a newly coined compound word has to be hyphenated.

Actually, I'm very suspicious of new compound words. I don't think they come under the "unwaxy" rule. For example, "spinefree" really should be "spine-free" but if we're being really liberal, like last night, I wouldn't contest it.

What are some of the other items from last night so your loyal readers can make comparison?

Posted by: Justin du Coeur (jducoeur)
Posted at: July 4th, 2005 08:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Rule comparisons

We don't really take it seriously enough to worry about the letter frequency issue. It tends to be pretty opportunistic, arising largely from the fact that our vocabularies are pretty polyglot, even by conventional English standards -- both of us are very comfortable with the English tendency to mix foreign words in freely. We simply formalized that, rather than worrying about whether, eg, "putz" is de-facto English or not.

The really interesting issue comes with words from Russian and other non-Roman alphabets. (Or, for that matter, Old English.) The house rule is, "best transliteration to Romanji". Since neither of us plays shark-style anyway, leaving it to individual best judgement works fine...

Posted by: C. Virtue (cvirtue)
Posted at: July 1st, 2005 11:03 am (UTC)
Bird Brain

It was on a triple word score -- the middle one on the right edge of the board.

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