Crafty wordsmanship, gift of gab not required for garrulous game

It’s official: Words With Friends has taken over my life.

This is highly inconvenient considering how much I still have to get done before break.

It’s gotten so bad that I actually considered deleting the app from my phone, but I didn’t. Instead, I settled for turning off the feature that allows me to receive notifications every single time someone makes a move in any of the 17 games I’m currently involved in. That didn’t last long, either. I swear I’m starting to see those little yellow tiles in my sleep.

There’s nothing quite like the feeling you get after placing your tiles on the board just right so that they hit a triple letter score and a triple word score at the same time. And if you happen to be lucky or skilled enough to put a Q, a Z or a J on that triple letter score, look out.

WWF has also completely changed and revamped my vocabulary – probably not in a good way. I can now successfully use qi, xi, za, ai, jo and a plethora of other two-letter words no one’s ever heard of to bail myself out when I have no other options. Never mind that I have no idea what those words mean.

The problem with WWF, however, is that being an English major gives me no advantage whatsoever. Everyone is on equal footing. There’s no penalty for playing invalid words, so someone can conceivably sit there and try hundreds of different ludicrous letter combinations before finally striking gold with an 83-point winner.

In a recent matchup against my 17-year-old cousin, he managed to throw together the words “clew” and “taj” to beat me by four points. Miffed, I looked them up to double check the validity only to find that a clew, in fact, is the lower part of a sail and a taj is a tall, conical cap worn by Muslims.

I’d be willing to bet he had no idea what a clew or a taj was until he started throwing random letters around the vicinity of that triple word score.

I thought I had made peace with that until just now, actually, because my Word document just reopened the case by stigmatizing taj with the telltale red underline. WWF simply doesn’t play by the rules.

But I really can’t complain; I’ve started using some pretty ridiculous letter combinations myself. It’s at the point where I actually get mad at the game when it doesn’t accept the absurd words I try to come up with.

If you have the urge to try out “weeno,” “dolla,” or “garhat,” don’t waste your time. I’ve already tried. And failed.

Mark my words: WWF is going to either revolutionize or destroy the Scrabble industry. No one who has ever played WWF will be able to pick up a traditional Scrabble board and play it the same way ever again. At least I know I won’t be able to. Scrabble might not even be around for much longer.

Years from now, you’re going to see  the guys on American Pickers  unearthing Scrabble boards from the wreckage of some old guy’s garage and paying him hundreds of dollars for it. They’re going to become collector’s items – the stuff of legends.

You think that sounds bad? Don’t even get me started on Hanging With Friends.

CHRISTINE PEFFER

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