Monday, September 30, 2013

An Introduction to Scrabble Terminology

This post will introduce two oft-used Scrabble terms: "phoneys" and "bingos". For readers who thirst for more, Word Buff has an entertaining Scrabble glossary.

A phoney is a non-valid word, i.e. a word which does not exist in the dictionary being used for a given Scrabble game.

Lately I have been playing more Scrabble online than on a physical board. The online games are set up so that every word is checked against a dictionary, making it impossible to play phoneys.

In general this setting suits us best, but I miss the fun that would often ensue in a physical game when someone played a phoney and tried to convince the rest of us that it was a valid word. This was especially fun with Priyanka, who made up sentences to make her phoneys seem more convincing. Two examples from a game last year:
Agraze. As in, the hills are agraze with cows.
"Zanshir" is a middle eastern beverage. You know Omar Khayyam's famous lines: "I sat beneath the olive bough / Zanshir in my hand."
Efforts as good as these probably deserve more points than real words.

A bingo is a word which uses up all seven letters on the rack and earns 50 bonus points.

The two people I play most often are both slightly better than me. They know all the two-letter words and most of the threes, rarely waste a blank for a play of less than 50 points, and structure their game strategy around the formation of bingos. When playing against them, it is rare to have a game with less than two bingos.

But games like the one which finished today are rarer still: my opponent and I made four bingos in five consecutive plays ‒ an occurrence sufficiently unusual and satisfying (at least for my level) that I deemed it worth posting about.

The bingos were RECOuRSE (77 points), DOUBLiNG (72 points), RESIGNER (72 points) and EMENDATE (86 points).


Priyanka said...

Reading your blog after ages, and here I am face to face with blatant defamation! By which I mean, I most definitely did not make up Zanshir. By which I mean, it wasn't I who did that. Right? Right?

Priyanka said...

Nevertheless, I shall someday do a Shakespeare and introduce agraze (and pawrange, and benippled) into the language (and by default every Scrabble board, so take THAT).

Sroyon said...

Of course it was you, I clearly remember. The only two other people playing that game were me and Somdev, and neither of us are capable of such lowdown tricks.

What's pawrange?