Thursday, April 07, 2016

F is for family scrabble

"So you won't allow 'hi'?"

"Nope." I'm clear on this.

"What about 'hello'?"

"Umm... yeah, maybe. I guess that's ok."

"'Hello' is ok, but 'hi' is not?"



"I don't know... because... 'hi' is not um... a real word?"

*Stink eye from the brother-sister duo directed straight at me*

But wait, I'm getting a little ahead of myself.

As my friends will vouch with exasperated sighs, I have made it my life's mission to make as many people move to the eastern part of Singapore as possible. The last victim to my 'eastward ho' spell was my sister-in-law. When she was a teacher, she used to live in the west closer to her school, but it meant that she was on the other side of the island. Too far away for us to hang out regularly. But with her new job being in the city, she has finally gravitated east, and practically lives in the next building from us.

This means that we can all hang out as a family a lot more. (Lucky Viv... grrr... I wish my sister lived in the same city as me! But no, she had to go and pick the US of A, the farthest possible country from Singapore. Double grrr! Anyway, counting the blessings... counting the blessings...) Starting this year, we have embarked on Saturday-family-Scrabble-with-homemade-pizza nights. My mom-in-law is here too, and she's also an enthusiastic participant, making it a perfect set of four players.

Not the one to stay behind, Xena tries her hardest to "help" in whatever way she can, namely the following:

1. Setting up the Scrabble board on the table, including keeping aside 7 tiles for each player, so that when we walk into the room, everyone can clearly see what tiles the others have

2. Sitting in one of the player's laps, looking at his/her tiles and proclaiming loudly, "Q 10... A 1..." and so on, leading to frantic yells from the owner of said lap to make her stop talking

3. Making short 3-letter or 4-letter words on the rack in front of her and reading them out loudly, again leading to frantic yells from the owner of said lap to make her stop talking

4. Writing the scores in her sometimes extremely illegible handwriting

Most of the time, it's Viv who wins, not because he's particularly good at English (especially not when pitted against his ex-English-teacher sister), but because he's just really really lucky. You can bet that every time we play, he's going to land up with all the big guns like Z, Q and X, and opportunities to place them on triple letter words which are part of triple word rows, giving him scores like 72 at one shot. Grrr...

Of course, we have the occasional arguments, such as the one I started the post with. I know that online versions of the game, such as 'Words with Friends' allow anything and everything (ae, bi, ex and what not) and it really bothers me. These days, you can't even say "Ok, if it exists in the dictionary, then we will allow it." because most online dictionaries are also very open-minded and 'progressive' now. Sheesh. Most of the time, it's me vs. the bro-sis duo. Mom-in-law cleverly takes a neutral stance. She also gets her share of 'Nooooos' from us, but for other things. Sample these:

Mom-in-law - Pass. I have nothing.
Sis-in-law - Pshaw! I'm sure you have something. Try harder.
Mom-in-law (turning all her tiles to face sis-in-law) - Here, see?
All of us - NOOOOOooooooo don't do that!!!!

Mom-in-law (after her turn and the turn of the person after her) - Hey, can I change my word??
Us - Nooooooooooo!

Sometimes, to drown my sorrows, especially when I have letters such as A, I, E, E, A, O, A (why does it happens to me with such an alarming frequency?), I sigh and shrug and then we open a bottle of Moscato to move things along faster. And then things get a little more entertaining.

Me - Hey, is 'yip' a word?
Sis-in-law - Yeah, I think so. Like dogs yip, you know...
Me - Okay good. I know it's a surname, but wasn't sure if it was a word. But yeah, dogs yip.

Viv - Would you allow 'peso'?
Sis-in-law and me (unsure) - Errr...
Viv - How come you'd allow 'dollar' and 'pound', but not 'peso'?

Xena - *giggles*
Rest of us - *GIGGLES*
One of us - "Why are we giggling?"
Rest of us - "No idea!"

The games often go quite late into the night, but when it's Xena's bedtime, she just sits on my lap, facing me and hugs me to sleep, after which I transfer her to her bed. And then we play and yawn and play and yawn until one of us says, "Khatam karo yaar..."

Growing up, I don't remember ever playing anything as a family. My dad would play chess with me, my mom would play Ludo with me, and my sister would play badminton with me. But all of us never really played anything together as a family. I'm glad that at least in adulthood, the family (at least whoever is here at the moment) can play something together.

I can't wait for Xena to join us. In the capacity of a player, I mean. Sitting on her own chair, with her own set of tiles.

Totally kicking Viv's ass.


Jeffrey Scott said...

Some great family anecdotes with the scrabble game. Love it.

Bubblegum.... said...

Planning to purchase one set :p

Art said...

Wow.. I love family games too.. when I visit my parents we play chowka bhaara.. its played with cowry shells and can take hours to finish...

It's one of the ancient board games... you can check out the rules in wiki...
I don't know what it's called in other languages.

Most of the people from the southern part of India would know this game by this name...

Arun said...

"...because most online dictionaries are also very open-minded" -- there is an official Scrabble dictionary.

After all, there is a World Scrabble Championship, and so there has to be a dictionary to govern play.

Arun said...

And of course, I got the link to the dictionary wrong:

Sayesha said...

Thank you. :)

How's it going? :D

I just read the wiki page. Head is reeling. :P

And I get this scrabble dictionary allows words like 'qi' and 'xi'! :/