Book Features
Oct 23, 2006, 02:00

Scrabble reached some kind of geek-ass hipster apex in the early part of this new millennium. Contributing to this plague: internet Scrabble software, ESPN televising Scrabble competitions, the publication of Word Freak, by Stephen Fatsis, and even a couple of feature length documentaries about players of the board game. Like any aging punk rocker who'd lost his ‘scene,' I was constantly on the prowl for a new addiction. Scrabble was having its day in the sun at the time and I was more than eager to jump on the bandwagon.

After fucking around with inferior on-line word games like Wordox, I did a Googly search for Scrabble. I started by loading wordbiz.exe from the internet Scrabble club (ISC), onto my dinosaur of a computer. It kept conflicting with other programs and causing my hard drive to shut down, but what little of it I saw, I was totally fucking hooked! Instant scoring, adjustable timing, playing with fuckers from all over the world, immediate word challenges. The program was very attractive and it allowed me anonymity and the ability to cheat. I got really high scores, by checking words on instant anagram software, and the Hasbro on-line dictionary. Sure, I might have felt a little shame about the unscrupulous nature of my play, but who fucking cares, I was winning!

After beating the shit out of everyone on-line, I had the confidence, and word knowledge to play live. The cheating had actually strengthened my false vocabulary. Like most Scrabble assholes, I knew how to spell a word, and the fact that it was legitimate, but I had no clue what most of these things meant. Some distant friend of a friend was a member of the American Scrabble Association, and told me about a local tournament. After wiping the floor with his brain a half dozen times, I applied to the ASA, and signed up for the tourney. I wanna make some fucking money playing this shitty game!











8:30 AM, fuck, coffee spilling all over my jeans, driving to bumfuck Bloomington, MN for the godless nerd fest that is a Scrabble competition. People are setting up their customized boards, all lazy susanned up, and decked out with pro tiles. Someone has the wood carved tiles commonly found in home games, and there's a big scramble to find an extra set of pro tiles. You can't use those kinds of tiles—fucking cheaters feel the grooves, and are able to pull out the X's and J's. I'm playing in division 5—Unrated—899 ranked and below. It's my first tournament. I don't study word lists, but I wanna experience this total antisocial idiot savant soiree. “C'mon already let's fucking go!!! I didn't come here for my goddamned health you cretins… Let's fucking play!!!”

Match 1 — Sondra Dustbin









I meet my first opponent. She's from Saint Cloud, MN. She looks like someone's great aunt. She talks in a clipped, heavy Swedish/Minnesota accent. Well this is going to be quaint, and nice. I sit back, ready for the kill. She starts off with FLEE for 14pts. I counter with MOA for 17—Hah! Take that. Then she fucking bingos—Whammo, out comes LEARNER for 70 pts. Okay fuck she bingoed early in the game… that's cool… I have a blank… I'm gonna bingo back soon. I have BINDERS on my rack… just nowhere to fucking put it. After a few more plays, she comes out with STOLIDER—What the fuck, that's got to be bogus. I challenge. We go to the computer, “Allowed—STOLIDER”—fuck fuck fuck!!! I begin to hate her. Two moves later, she pulls out SEQUOIA, not even a blank for that bingo… fuck you, I hate you!!!! Two moves later she throws down, TRITONS. Fuck you fuck you fuck you fuck you. I look at this evil little woman, “So what are you doing playing in this division? You should be two divisions higher.” “Oh no,” she counters, “I'm a definitely supposed to be playing in this division.” I can't believe how much of a fucking ass beating this woman has just dished out to me. Final score: 321 to 521. I'm 0/1 and my margin is -200. Fuck you Sondra Dustbin, may you rot in hell!!! Needless to say I am not fond of this player.

I'm up at the boards to see how people are doing. “Sondra Dustbin, she's totally playing beneath her ranking,” I say. “She should be fucking shot.”

Match 2 — Ricky McKnaught









I'm totally on edge now; that fucking woman has made me depressed, and uncertain. If I were only playing poker you'd call me on tilt. I face off against this young guy, and a few people have already warned me about him. “He's good,” they tell me, “Fuck him,” I think. He starts off with UNHIRES. “Fuck you” I challenge. “Disallowed—UNHIRES.” Ha, take that fucker!!! I bingo early on with ENTAILS, feeling good. When he plays DISASTER, my mind is reeling, I second guess my own name, what the fuck… I think that word must have two e's in it…. I challenge. “Allowed—DISASTER” What the fuck am I thinking? The rest of the game is pretty tight. We're within 20 pts of each other the whole time. Then I see that this kid really wants to win. He wants to win so bad, that he uses up a lot of time trying to bingo, and he can't. In fact he uses up 4 minutes past his allotted 25 minutes. This means we take 40 pts off of his total. I win!!! If he had played within his time, he would have won. But he fucked up. I do a victory dance, and wave my scorecard in his face. Final score: 312 to 331. I'm now 1/1 and my margin is -181. The kid ain't happy about losing, but he takes it like a trooper. I like this guy.

Looking over the rest of the matches I remark to another player, “You notice that fucking Sondra Dustbin keeps beating people by over 200 pts? I think she's a ringer.” Silence.

Match 3 — Kapri Presley









Yeah, nice lady but she didn't know her fucking 2 and 3 letter words, so she was fucked! She tried for a bingo by hooking GENUINE over an E, and I challenge GE—“Disallowed.” Fuck you. Get that shit off my board. I block any future bingos. And even bingo with EERIEST. I challenge a few more bogus two-letter words she attempts, and easily trounce this nice housewife from Madison, WI. Final score: 195 to 379. I'm now 2/1, and my margin is now +3. Fuck yeah!!! I have a positive margin. I don't know what that means but I like it. What a very nice lady.


After complaining to anyone within earshot that that fucking Sondra Dustbin should be hobbled and disqualified, I go over to the Mall of America to eat some shitty MSG riddled Japanese food. Holy fuck there are all these creepy little mallrat skate kids standing in line to see Bam fucking Margera. I quickly walk to the exit. Oh shit, there is thousands of them all along the railings and balconies. Some awful band named Atticus is playing. It's like Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, Only starring Avril Lavigne and her posse. Ick!

Match 4 — Janine Gristle









Evil. Not as evil as that fucking Swedish troll… but evil nonetheless. Her third play is FONDLED, and she takes a major lead. Laughing in my face, and giving me the “We're number 1” sign. Fuck you! Near the end, I'm playing shakily, holding onto a blank desperate for a catch up bingo. Bam, I play LOBSTER, with only 3 tiles left in the bag. Our scores our close, so fucking close: 303 to 304. Then she comes out with MAZES for like 53 fucking points and I pull out the Q with no fucking place in hell to play it. I HATE YOU, YOU BITCH! Final score is 318 to 380. I'm now 2/2, and my fucking margin is -59. I hate you!

Match 5 — Johnny Headlock









Dude, didn't I see you in that Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band at The Cabooze last Friday? Nice guy. Came up from rural Wisconsin with his wife to play in the tournament. Never played on-line or with anybody else other than his wife. Needless to say the guy had no clue when it came to 2 and 3 letter words. Something about Wisconsin players and bogus 2 word connectors. I challenge the guy approximately 5 times, each time on bullshit words like PU, or AF. After time he bingos with WOOSIER. I on the other hand bingo twice with STEAMED, and RECANTS. I clobber him. Final score: 272 to 421. Nice guy, I wish him well. My standing is now 3/2, and my margin is Yay!!! +90.

Match 6 — Rutger Bland









A creepy Indiana fogy. Had a custom made board with his favorite color, and “Grandpa of the year” stamped on it. Kept pushing dried apricots at me, and bored me to tears with stories of traffic statistics. Whatever old man, let's just play!!! His second play, bingos with LEANING. Fuck you. He says, "Oh geeze, that never happens to me… getting pretty lucky I guess.” Yeah whatever fucker, just let me think. He's ahead most of the game… but I got a blank, and I'm getting a little desperate to bingo on this fucker. The board is so fucking tight. I break out in flop sweat. I make a completely stupid move and take a wild stab at a bingo—BELLTONE. Of course the bastard challenges, and it's bogus. Fuck, fuck, fuck. I play BIN, and then on the next move connect an E onto the end of it, to bingo with STOOLIE. Now it's a close game 316 to 326. But I can just not make enough points to overtake this wretched bastard. I make another futile attempt placing an N on the board to try to get the points from TINROOF. Fucker challenges me, and it's off. I lose, and tears begin to stream. The fucker offers none of his old man tissues he has jammed up his sleeve. Final score: 322 to 332. I'm now 3/3 with +80. Go back to fucking South Bend asshole.

Match 7 — Burt Winker









Final match of the day, my head hurts like a motherfucker. I wanna puke. I don't want to lose anymore. My opponent seems like a nice guy. He's from Wisconsin. I brighten up. My second move I bingo with SIDING. It's a runaway game after that. I win with a good spread and it's an easily relaxed game. Final score: 300 to 345. I leave for the day at 4/3, and a margin of + 125.

I arrive home that day, and find that my National Scrabble Association membership card has come in the mail. After this tournament I will be rated, and will have my standings posted on line. Whoopee fucking doo.


I wake up in a pool of sweat. I don't wanna go back there. I don't want them to be mean to me anymore. Mommy, no!!!!

Match 8 — Sofia Fist









Meet my first opponent of the day, a nice girl, she's got pretty eyes. But fuck that, let's play, cause I want your fucking head on a stick! She's good, she only lost 2 games the previous day, but I have a total fucking letter grudge against the world. My fourth play, I bingo with BUGGING, that sets me 70 points ahead of her, and she never recovers. I get lucky drawing good fucking tiles. She can't bingo. Easy win for me, 299 to 408. I'm now at 5/3 and + 234. Sweet gal, hope to play her again.

Match 9 — Eliza Wooferwillow









Another sweet housewife. She's from some fucking place like Edina, MN. I don't know, and I don't care… let's just fucking get this shit on. The game goes along for a while pretty even, we're within ten pts of each other. Her 5th play in, she lays down TEACHES for 77 pts. Fuck you, lady. Blammo, I lay down GOALIES for 63. Her end game was worse, especially after I play QUOD for 42 pts, and lay all my tiles down at the end with JOULES. I win: 328 to 359. This puts me at 6/3, and a margin of +265. Fuck yeah!!! I'm gonna win the rest of these fucking games, and actually leave here with some of that goddamn prize money.

Match 10 — Dominique Mustachiopistachio









A hard game against a tight, wee bastard. He starts the game off laying down motherfucking SUBDUED. Cocksucker! Picked up both blanks first thing, and bingos with them. I fucking hate you! I counter back with STRANGE. Fuck you, and the goddamn horse you rode in on! This winds up being the tightest game of the whole tournament for me. It comes down to my last play. My remaining tiles are RI. I need to make 7 pts to tie him, and 8 pts to beat him. I can only see RIF on the board, and that shit only gives me 6 pts. Fuck, fuck, fuck! I hate this. I wanna go home! The timer's winding down, fuck! I hang my head in defeat and play RIF, and lose by one fucking pt. 384 to 385. Cocksucking motherfucker!!! It's a good thing I'm not competitive or this fucking board would be in the air and stuck to your goddamned face! After it's all over he shows me where I could have played IRK for 7 pts. The bastard's rubbing my nose in it. I'll get you! I'm now 6/4, and +264. Well, I just have to win these last two games.

Match 11 — Cherry Hooperlinkerterwilliker









Okay. She's a housewife. Good for me. She's from Wisconsin. Excellent. She's a good fucking player. FUCK. We're neck and neck the entire game. She bingos with SWINGERS. I bingo with TROWELS. It comes down to another fucking, nerve wracking end game where she ekes the game out by 3 fucking pts!!! 338 to 341. Goddammit!!! Fuck! Shit! 3 fucking pts! Not fair, I stamp my feet. I hate you, Cherry, I scream. I'm now 6/5 and +261

We all mill around for the final game placement. This is the last game, and it is up to the judges to decide who you will play against. They determine the player that is closest to you in score, and margin.

Match 12 — Cherry Hooperlinkerterwilliker









So we meet again! Okay. Fuck you, I want blood. Let's dance goddammit! I play VAIN. And then she starts out with a fucking bingo FURRIEST, through the I in VAIN. I'm seething, and am knocked off balance into a world of hate and misplaced one-letter off anagrams. Even though I never bingo, it's another fucking close game: 328 to 335. Fuck you all, I hate everyone in the world. I want to kill myself. FUCK YOU ALL!!! I finish 6/6 and a margin of +254. I have no idea if this is good, but these assholes give me their pity and tell me it's very good for my first tournament. Fuck you, I need no one's pity!

What's the use? I'm a total loser. FUCK. Once again, I must reiterate. FUCK.










They have the award ceremony. I place 8th out of 16 players in my division. They give prizes to players 6-9. I draw a tile to see what my prize is. It's a stupid fucking puzzle book of Scrabble plays and strategy. Fuck, I don't want that because I'm never playing this goddamned game ever again!

Ricky McKnaught takes 2nd place, and that evil witch Sondra Dustbin wins the grand prize. I scowl, and storm out the door vowing never to associate with any one of these fucking people ever again. As I'm pushing the door open, I grab a flyer for the fall tourney, and skulk off.


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