Few people are better suited to share the tale than Williams, who was a driving force behind the creation of the World Scrabble Championship and assisted in the transition of the game from living rooms to ESPN. John D. Williams’ Word Nerd: Dispatches from the Games, Grammar, and Geek Underground is a lighthearted look at the fascinating, quirky, and sometimes violent world of competitive SCRABBLE.
- The only moment you hope the NSA is listening is when you’re playing Scrabble:
The National Scrabble Associations was in charge of overseeing hundreds of official Scrabble word finder leagues, scheduling competitions and keeping track of player scores, as well as supporting the game in general. The Official Competition and Club Word List—the terms considered fair play in the game—was perhaps its most obvious task. The NSA is also known as the North American Scrabble Players Association.
- At a Scrabble game, everybody knows what an umiaq is!
Words like “umiaq” (an Eskimo canoe) and “qiviut” aren’t helpful in everyday speech, but they’re incredibly useful on the Scrabble board. Furthermore, certain terms can have alternative spellings, which makes them much more important to a professional athlete. Williams mentions the term “rei” in Word Nerd, which is defined as “the much more indefensible word in the game. “An incorrect English type for a former Portuguese coin,” it says.
- The production of vocabulary has been more difficult thanks to Facebook:
As Williams notes, a phrase takes a long time to become a word. It starts with “reading and marking,” in which dictionary editors comb through a variety of magazines and articles, from The New Yorker to Citizens. They’re on the lookout for “healthy descriptions of terms in meaning.” Found new words, accents, and spellings of old words are inserted into a citation database. Once a word has received ample use, it is considered by dictionary editors.
- Words are purged:
Hasbro’s CEO capitulated after the Anti-Defamation League charged the firm of “playing games of bigotry” and required the dictionary to be removed. However, removing words isn’t as simple as it seems. After all, what is a slur? Aside from the apparent, lexicographers clarified that for decades, terms like “Jesuit” and “papist” were considered slurs. Similarly, a word like “welsh” has “the same meaning as the verb “Jew.”
- It’s a mixed bag when it comes to Hollywood:
Martha Stewart, who mentioned that she had a huge amount of time to develop her Scrabble game while in jail, is a confirmed Scrabble fan. Jimmy Kimmel has won fundraising competitions and annually welcomes the National School Scrabble Championships winners onto his programmed, where he competes against them as well tv.
- Tournaments of Scrabble are a serious enterprise:
The National Scrabble Championship had risen from 32 players to over 800 by 2004, when the game reached its pinnacle. With such rapid development, there will be some oddballs, from the champion who performs tai chi in rounds to the experts who mock the “lesser” athletes for “playing up.” A jail prisoner once wrote to the National Scrabble Association, requesting an Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary.
- All was destroyed by the Internet:
Top players have spent decades carefully compiling lists of unfamiliar but useful words and learning, if not memorizing, the Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary. To succeed at the highest level, creating lists was a crucial tactic. Creating a list was as simple as googling “words that end in ck” and reading the answers. This angered the game’s most ardent fans. Apps exacerbated the issue.