As part of a general plan to get involved with new things and new people (whilst keeping the old people!), and also to work on my list of games that I want to play this year, I went along to the local Scrabble club last night. I'd checked with the organiser and knew to expect retired ladies, but it was still a bit of a surprise. After all, I don't hang out with retired ladies very much. I felt out of place not having a hearing aid, but I was made to feel very welcome and was pretty comfortable with the situation. The club runs two streams of games - tournament players with proper rules, and social players who are allowed to look in the dictionary. I hadn't played for 15 years so the social players were the right group for me. Although almost all games played at clubs are two player, we had an odd number so I was allocated to play with D & L (not their real names).
The first game was hard work - I started and had crap letters, so the best word I could make was AUK. D made BUG across that, leaving us with very little opportunity to expand. We struggled to get out to the sides of the board - after all, it is as much a game about blocking as making words, so there is no incentive to loosen up a constrained game. It became obvious that L was the strongest player in the game, and she ran away with the win. I did watch and learn again how the game works. We started another game, but just as I had UNUSUAL on my rack the organiser came along and told us it was time for a cup of tea.
I had a good chat to the organiser who told me how despite the game being female dominated, the champion players are men about my age. Presumably with more experience than me. And some kids are are just geniuses. But she was also impressed that I had found UNUSUAL, saying that 7 letter anagrams was not typical of a social player. So maybe when I'm into it more I will move up into the tournament group. When we got back after tea the organiser told me that there was nowhere on the board to play UNUSUAL, so to keep the social players synchronised with the tournament players we'd dump that game and I could play mano a mano against D.
That was a much freer game, and I was desperate to be able to played ORIENTED and PANTHERS in subsequent turns. Couldn't do it, and couldn't find an alternative either. Aargh. But I pulled away from D and kept my lead even when she played MOGGIES for 84 points. The final score was 400 to me and 287 or so to D, which she described as a thrashing.
Overall, a very good experience. I like Scrabble, and it's nice to find people who take it seriously. They might look like little old ladies, but they play a hard game. Now, if only I could teach them Gipf.