Weekend Word Wrap: SCRABBLE

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I turned on the TV the other day and they were showing Rosemary's Baby. It was right at that part where the Scrabble letters help a very young and beauteous Mia Farrow figure out what's going on in that OTHER apartment in the Dakota. It got me wondering: who the heck invented Scrabble, anyway?

Turns out, had the Great Depression never happened, the board game we love so much (1 out of every 3 homes in America owns it) might never have been invented.

In the early 1930s, unemployed architect, Alfred Mosher Butts from Poughkeepsie, New York, decided he'd invent a board game. (Perhaps he was bored being out of work?)

amb.jpegButts studied crossword puzzles, which were popular at the time, and games like Anagrams, but(ts) got his best idea when he took a detailed survey from the front page of The New York Times. By tallying up the frequency with which each letter appeared, he was able to determine how many As, Bs, Cs, and so on, he'd include in the game.

Scrabble-assoc.com says:

Established game manufacturers were unanimous in rejecting Butts' invention for commercial development. Then Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur who became enamored of the concept. Together, they made some refinements on rules and design and, most importantly, came up with the name "SCRABBLE," a real word which means "to grope frantically."

So what was it called before Scrabble? Whelp, first it went by the name Lexiko (Greek for "lexicon"), and then later, Criss Cross Words. After doing all that exhilarating research for you, I decided to look up some Scrabble records. Here are a couple that made my jaw drop:

  • Highest opening move score — BEZIQUE (a card game resembling pinochle ) for 124 points by Sam Kantimathi of California.
  • Highest score for a single move "“ CAZIQUES (West Indian Chiefs) for 392 points, by Karl Khoshnaw of Manchester, UK.

So what's the best word you've ever played in Scrabble? We'd love to hear some of your rarities or top scorers. Or even funny stories about words you tried to play but were called on.

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October 6, 2006 - 5:04am
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