Up until today, you might have been forgiven for not knowing that Tanner Glass had agreed to play Scrabble with PITB. The challenge had made its way around the Twitterverse and the Blogosphere, but it hadn’t yet escaped to a larger audience. If you weren’t online, you probably wouldn’t have known. But now, the mainstream media’s got the story. Now it’s news. It’s true. Yesterday, both Jason Botchford of The Province and Ian Walker of the Vancouver Sun offered up stories on the Tanner Glass Scrabble challenge. Let us examine them together:
Botchford was the first to weigh in. In his piece, he recaps what has happened so far, then delivers this delightful bit of reconnaissance: Glass isn’t that experienced. So he’s doing what any good Dartmouth alum might do–he’s studying:
Now, Glass doesn’t like to lose much and herein lies the rub. While Mooney has been playing regularly for five years, Glass had only played about 15 times before this year when he started what he calls a heated word rivalry with Aaron Rome, on the road.
“I played very little before this year,” Glass said. “I played a bit in Rochester with this kid Pete Aston, he was good, and his girlfriend, they were both really good. Never played (as a kid). I’m no Scrabble whiz by any means.”
What does he do about it?
“I’ve been researching a lot,” he said. “Words that are seven letters or less.”
I think the big scoop here is that I overestimated Glass’s Scrabbling experience, but don’t think that means I’ll be taking him lightly. According to Botchford, he still hates to lose, and that’s gotta count for something. Plus, he’s a fourth-line winger: if he can’t finesse me, he might wear me down with physical play. I should wear shin pads in case he tries to kick me under the table.
Anyway, for chuckles, I recommend checking out the unique comments on Botchford’s article. They’re all over the place. Some are supportive of me (“Mooney will crush him… He is so smart it’s not even funny”); some are skeptical of me and supportive of Glass (“quite frankly, how smart can a guy be who blogs about a sports team? GO GLASS”); some are hilariously spiteful (“kudos to glass for not backing down to these clowns”); and some are just hilarious (“Tanner should call that bookworm Kyle Wellwood to get all smart and stuff”).
The instances of vitriol surprised me. I’m interested in the allegiance some Canucks fans have to their players–an allegiance that makes them view any challenger, even one as innocuous as a Scrabble opponent–as pure evil. Thanks to this sociological trend, some people have decided I’m some sort of monomaniacal nerd in need of a good smackdown.
Ian Walker (who is very cool) didn’t help to dispel it either. Walker’s article treads similar ground to Botchford, bringing the reader up to speed, and explaining Glass’s limited experience as a Scrabbler, but it’s a very different article, especially because Walker interviewed me. He also closes one major mystery: up until now, I was uncertain who it was that finally convinced Glass to play us. It turns out it was his sister, with whom we connected through Twitter not too long ago:
One thing led to another and … Glass’s sister soon got involved.
“She saw it on Twitter and I guess the Pass it to Bulis guys and her got to talking online so she called me up asking if I was interested,” said the affable Glass, 27. “It’s amazing in this day and age. You can’t say anything without someone getting wind of it. It really is the world wide web.”
Let’s just establish upfront that Glass’s super-nice sister found us, we didn’t go looking for her. PITB would never invade a player’s personal life like that.
Anyhow, Walker’s article goes a little more in-depth into who PITB is, and also delivers the half-truth that I play a game of online Scrabble every day. Only on average. I play online a couple times of week, but when I do play, it’s usually four or five speed games in a row. I still play much, much more than Glass, and it will probably be apparent. Walker:
Glass, on the other hand, can count on his fingers and toes how many times he’s played the game before this season — and then he would still have digits left over to wiggle his little piggies and scratch his nose.
“He doesn’t have a chance,” boasted Mooney, who is one major paper away from receiving a Masters in English. “I lose friends because I’m so good. I may not be a stickler for rules — he can use the three-letter variety — but I’m going to crush him.”
This is funny stuff. While I admit these are real quotes, I was chuckling as I said them. Unfortunately, they do nothing to dispel the notion that I’m some sort of monomaniacal nerd–the black Artie Ziff.
One other thing to add here: the quote about the three-letter words is a bit off. What I meant was that I probably won’t be a jerk and play an overly technical game, full of three-letter words I know are legal but could never hope to define (like CWM, or RHO). That would be dickish.
That said, here’s a quick tip for people trying to expand their word list, like Tanner. Most bingos (words that use all the tiles in your rack) also include one tile already on the board, so they’re actually eight-letter words. You could never know all the words in the English language that are eight letters or less. Instead, just memorize all the words you can spell with the letters in LATRINE and one additional letter. These letters are the most common seven in the game.
Better yet, forget about the big words, and memorize the much shorter list of legal two and three-letter words. The more consistent points are in small, rare words. For example: RAT is worth three points on its own. CWM, on the other hand, is worth 10. When you play serious Scrabblers, they beat you with little words, not big ones. In that respect, they play a bit like the Montreal Canadiens.
Anyhow. Thanks to Jason Botchford and Ian Walker for taking an interest in our Scrabble game, and thanks again to everyone who’s helped turn this from a little thing to a big thing. We’ll keep you posted.
Pass it to Bulis is the hockey blog that knows who needs the puck. Without spaces, it's also our e-mail address. Have stuff to say? We want to hear from you. Talk to us at passittobulis [at] gmail.com.