The Scrabble Nazi

My mom was an absolute shark about Scrabble; she was very good at it, and she played to win. She was clever and quick and always found the best ways to reap the biggest scores. I wish I had a dime for every “Bingo” she made (using all seven letters, which garners you 50 extra points), and then got more points for playing it on a triple word score!

Anyone who has ever played Scrabble with my mother has had the pants beaten off them more than once, including me.

I learned a lot about strategy from her. Scrabble is exciting and a little bit dangerous; that is, you can’t worry about hurting someone’s feelings. You’ve got to play with a bit of blood in your eye; you watch for the weak spots in your opponent and play to that weakness.

Mom had one Scrabble partner who always played defensively; it drove her nuts. If you play that way, you miss opportunities. Playing Scrabble with my mother was both nervy, challenging and filled with landmines. You really had to be on your toes with her. She liked a player who took risks. She loved the competition;  it made her even more sharp.

Scrabble is a heady combination of risk, daring, mental agility and just plain nerve. But Mom would always take the risk, even if she had drawn all vowels. She would somehow make it work and win. I’d say in all the years I played with her, I won about 20% of the time. The rest of the time she absolutely ran over me.

Anyone who ever beat my mother in a game of Scrabble went home sweaty, shaking and reaching for a bottle of wine. What they didn’t know was that Mom was sharpening her wits for the next game, vowing that she would beat them the next time.

I have Mom’s old Scrabble game; the cover held together with elastic bands. Many of the tiles are worn soft around the edges, and there are still pencil-and-paper lists of games past. Some days I lift off the lid and swear I can smell all those years of victory.

Well played, Mom.