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ZA

Cover Design by Chloe Annetts
I have just re-read the “Online Scrabble” blog entry I wrote back in May. To reiterate here, I stopped playing with the daughter of a friend who lives in Italy because she was scoring 400 points plus each game and, though she is smart, no one is that smart. So I asked her if she was using tools of some sort to find words and she replied that she was. It was no fun to be beaten in this way, especially as she hadn’t disclaimed her reliance on these tools, which I considered dishonest.

But now I have a different problem. I am still playing with my old high school friend and, for the most part, enjoying our games. But every once in a while, she puts down a word that I can’t find in any dictionary, or an abbreviation, or a slang word, and she beats me consistently with these small non-words. As a writer, I am always searching for an interesting word, one that means something, the longer the better.

“What is ZA?” I asked her on the phone one day.
“As in piz-za.”
“So slang is now permitted? Abbreviations?”
“Yes.”
“I guess I am a Scrabble purist. It doesn’t bother you to put down a slice of a word?”
“No. I put down a word and if the electronic dictionary accepts it, fine. If not, not, I’ll find something else. I never spend more than a minute or two as I am playing with several people.”

This surprised me. My friend is an avid, thoughtful reader. In fact, she is one of my readers. What explains her game strategy?

“Do you think she is playing only for points?” I asked my husband, a very competitive Scrabble player.
“She’s probably playing just to relax,” he said.
“Well so do I. But I am not going to change my game.”
“You’ll keep losing,” he said.
“So be it. I’m a writer. Words matter.”
“Consider a small word or two once in a while,” he said. “It will give you an edge.”
“I don’t want an edge,” I said.

Then one night, late at night, tired and frustrated, my resistance faltered. I used ZA, and won. It didn’t make me happy. The word “downy” made me happy.



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