What is Scrabble?

Scrabble is essentially a word game which can be played by 2-4 players at a given time on a board which comprises a grid of squares in a 15 X 15 format. The squares are assigned different scoring attributes. There are 100 tiles to draw from and players must draw 7 tiles initially and maintain the same number on their racks till they are exhausted. Each tile has a point value attached to it. If all 7 tiles are used in a word an additional 50 points is added to the players score. The goal is to win by scoring more than your opponent. Scrabble is now increasingly played competitively across several countries on the globe and in several languages.

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Showing posts with label Mark Nyman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mark Nyman. Show all posts

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Mark Nyman's Interview with Gerry Carter

I briefly got to meet Mark Nyman when he came down for this years Capgemini International Scrabble Tournament. Aside from being a legend of the game he is a fantastic human being too. Here is a must read interview that Mark Nyman gave to Gerry Carter as featured on the Scrabble International group on facebook:

The Mark Nyman Interview

Gerry: Mark, can you please tell us what are your top three achievements in the game of Scrabble?
Mark: World Champion (once), World Runner-up (twice), UK National Champion (4 times)
GC: What is the favorite move you have ever played and when and where did you play it? What is your highest score, and word in tournament play and practice?
MN: Favourite move probably NY interlocking with MAN in the crucial game of the 1993 World Championship final in New York's Plaza Hotel - appropriate even if it took someone else to point out after that I'd spelt my name! MUTAGENIC (through UT) in the same final was a little better but I lost that game! Highest score I think was 841 in the 'high score' days - it was briefly in the Guinness Book of Records but I half wished it wasn't as they gave my name as Mark Hyman! Highest word CONQUEST on a triple-triple for 302; I once played EXCRETED as a 9-timer in the London League - I received a certificate for it saying "Mark Nyman Excreted 203"!
(Gerry: High score days means when the game was played with the aim of getting high scores over several games, not match play as it is now. This led to conniving with an opponent to leave things like triple-triple lanes open).
GC: What is your favorite method for learning vocabulary?
MN: It changes from year to year but generally pretty random to avoid getting too bored. Most recently I've been learning 3's and derivatives, then 4's and derivatives. I much prefer learning the longer words but the 3's, 4's and 5's are more important just because they're more likely to come up. One thing I would say is you have to be in the right frame of mind to study - there's no point in forcing yourself to if you're not in the mood as you probably won't remember anything.
GC: What would you like to achieve in the game that you have yet to accomplish?
MN: It would be nice to win another 3 World Championships to overtake Nigel - more realistically to start running him close regularly would be good - not quite ready yet but aiming to be by Alchemist Cup. Just as interested in giving back these days - I'm due to start a Women's Prison Scrabble Club next week and would love to be a 'Scrabble Prison Pioneer'.
GC: What advice would you give to new players starting in the game?
MN: Read my 'Scrabble Secrets' book!! It will improve your game - I received an email the other day from Stephen Fry's sister Jo saying they both loved it - there's a plug if ever there was one! Also for the younger players, slow down a bit and definitely don't be too cocky - enjoy it and be a good loser!!
GC: What benefits do you think playing Scrabble has brought to other areas of your life?
MN: Apart from winning a few quid, it has allowed me to travel the world, visit amazing places, meet some wonderful people and make some fantastic friends.
GC: When you go to an important tournament what are the key things that you try to do before the tournament and during it?
MN: Lots of word study before if I have the time. I try to relax during an event (beers, sauna, sunbathe, swim and suchlike) but almost invariably do more panic word study - I look forward to the day when I feel I've done enough study before a major event but don't think that will ever happen!
GC: Who or what was your inspiration for playing Scrabble, when did you start and at what age?
MN: My lovely Dad Les - he was a good player - I joined him in the London Scrabble League in 1980 when I was 14.
(Gerry: I met Mark’s dad once…yes, he was a lovely man who told me how Mark took to the game).
GC: Is there something that you think could be improved about the way the game is organized?
MN: I think event organization is getting better and better. There's definitely something missing about the Schools' Scrabble set up in the UK and in lots of other countries - maybe there should be more liaison with the Thais and Nigerians who know what they’re doing on the schools front. It would also be good to persuade more of the online players to play face to face tournaments - I hope the 'tablet tournament' initiative will convert some.
(Gerry: Tablet Scrabble is a big feature of Scrabble International and its founders Austin Shin and David Eldar).
GC: Mark, you have been at the top or near the top of the Scrabble tree for three decades and more. What is the secret of your staying power? When would you say you were at the peak of your powers?
MN: I think an innate anagramming ability, competitive edge and genuine love of the game - most of the time! I guess I was at my peak in the 90's - my best ever World Championship performance I think was ironically when I came 5th in 1997. Results definitely dipped when my kids came along in the noughties - not their fault but your priorities do change. Now they are older and would far rather spend their time with their friends than their parents, I don't feel so bad about devoting more time to Scrabble again - maybe the best is yet to come....
GC: Is there a change in the rules or in the makeup of the game that would make it better?
MN: Give Nigel an 8 game handicap.
(Gerry: WESPA take note!!)
GC: What is your favorite way of practicing?
MN: On the toilet! I hardly play at all between events but intend to start using AEROLITH - anagramming programs are fun especially when you can compare how you're doing against top players.
(Gerry:On the toilet?!? Gives a whole new meaning to the term vowel dump…or should that be bowel dump?)
GC: Have you ever thought about quitting Scrabble?
MN: Loads of times!!
(Gerry: Mark has gone AWOL from the Scrabble scene on several occasions. Those who have waited for him for the start of the day or individual rounds might also say that he goes missing, even temporarily, in tournaments…sorry Mark)
GC: Please give me some personal details about your life such as where you live, your marital status, children and your job.
MN: I live in Knutsford, Cheshire - about 40 minutes South West of Manchester. I'm happily single again, have 2 brilliant kids - Max is 13 and Kizzy 12 who have no interest whatsoever in Scrabble. I played Max once - he played VELOCITY on a triple-triple on his 3rd move for 194 (with a little help from his mum) - he retired on top at the age of 7! My dearest wish is for my kids to be QPR (Gerry: Queen's Park Rangers, an English football team) supporters but for some reason Max prefers Manchester City - I live in hope that he'll see sense one day! I have worked as a TV Producer and had several sales roles. I'm a freelance writer these days - much happier being my own boss.
(Gerry: In addition,Mark was well known as a behind the scenes and sometimes front man on Channel 4’s Countdown TV show in its earlier days. The show became one of the most loved programs on UK television and has seen many Scrabble players take part over the years).
GC: Do you play any other games apart from Scrabble?
MN: Old age has put an end to 5-a-side-football and squash, but I still like the odd game of badminton and ping pong.
GC: If you could wish for one "superpower" to give you an advantage in Scrabble what would it be?
MN: To have Nigel's 'don't care' attitude to Scrabble - I think more than his word knowledge it's his biggest advantage over everyone - but if I didn't care I wouldn't be me, and I'd rather be me.
(Gerry: I think that is an excellent point. I have tried and failed to be so detached from the outcome of games, too.
GC: Who is the toughest opponent you have faced and why?
MN: Harvey Freeman (the 'Supreme Countdown Champion') - the greatest natural ‘anagrammer’ I have ever met.
GC: Can you tell us how many tournaments you have won and what prize money you have achieved? And what is your favorite tournament in the calendar?
MN: I don't keep track - I used to win lots of UK events - Masters about 8 times. Probably won on average £1K/year for each of the 37 years I've played. Favourite event is Thailand's King's Cup - when I first went in 1990 it blew my mind - the people are so lovely and the kids so enthusiastic. If you can cut yourself off from the constant karaoke and general background noise, you'll have a fantastic time - I used to go every year and won it in 1991 and 1999 - I hope to return this year for the first time since my kids came along in 2004.
(Gerry: And you will be most welcome in Bangkok where you are legendary. I met Mark for the first time there in 1992 while competing in the amateur section. I asked him what I had to do to get good at the game. He took the time to treat my question seriously and essentially said “play the best players” something I have never forgotten and something I took to heart!)
GC: If there is one thing you could wish for in connection with Scrabble what would it be?
MN: To be instrumental in getting it into the UK School Curriculum.
GC: What is your biggest mistake or regret when playing this game?
MN: Lots of mistakes - recently I missed playing EUREKA - a non-eureka moment. No regrets - they're all 'meant to be'.
(Gerry: It’s a great word. Newbies might like to research its front hook that creates a word of the same meaning, I believe).
GC: Who is the person you most admire in Scrabble?
MN: Amnuay - RIP.
(Gerry: You, me both, Mark. Mark is referring to Amnuay Ploysaenngam the founder of the Thailand Crossword Game Association who died in April of last year. If a greater innovator or promoter ever comes along I would like to meet him or her).
GC: Who would you say are the top five players that you have ever faced - and why? What is the most memorable game you have ever played and what happened to make it that way?
Nigel Richards (unflappable), Adam Logan (genius), Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (best ever English as second language player), Brian Cappeletto (anagram ability), David Boys (wildly creative - our games were like the 'Gunfight at the OK Corral'!). Most memorable game was the 4th in the 1993 World Final against Joel Wapnick - 2-1 down and 174 down I won by 7 with the help of the NY/MAN move - don't think I've ever won from a bigger deficit before or since. The chances of that happening at such a critical time were so minuscule that it's a major reason why I now believe in fate. One of my racks in the final was GOODSEX - I was told recently that a couple were caught having sex underneath our playing table the night before the final so maybe that had something to do with it!!
(Gerry: Wicked! Having also played all those players myself many times I would have to agree. When I saw Mark take on the then 16 year old Pakorn in the final of the Thailand Championships in 1992 I was awestruck. I was already hooked on the game but seeing their knowledge and abilities inspired me immensely. Just two years later I was playing my first game against Mark in the US nationals in Los Angeles – he won!).
GC: Some people have a love hate relationship with Scrabble. How would you describe your relationship with the game?
MN: It's like supporting QPR - it's a cruel mistress, but underneath it all I love it really and think I always will - it's like a marriage but, unlike most marriages, the passion goes on and on!
Gerry: And that, my friend, is why my own book on Scrabble that should be out in a year or two will be called “My Wicked Mistress”! For me it was rather like supporting (the old) THFC!
Mark, thank you so much for those brilliant, amusing and perceptive answers. You are an inspiration and a legend.
Mark: Thank you, Gerry, and see you soon.


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Different Words Same Meaning

Citolas, Citoles, Cithrens, Citherns, Cithers, Citterns - A Guitar
Waivode, Waiwode, Woiwode, Voivode - An army leader
Cagouls, Cagoules, Kagouls, Kagoules, Kagools - An anorak
Eulachan, Eulachon, Oulachon, Oulakan, Oolakan, Ulikon - A candlefish
Kiester, Keister, Hurdies, Patootie - The Buttocks
Didakei, didakai, Diddicoy, Didicoi, Didicoy - A Tinker
Cabala, Cabbala, Kabala, Kabbala, Kabbalah, Qabala, Qabalah - a Jewish doctrine
Yoghurt, Yaourt, Yogurt, Yoghourt - A type of curd
Narwal, Narwhal, Narwhale - An Arctic aquatic mammal
Lekythus, Lecythus, Lekythos - An ancient oil Jar
Germen, Germain, Germaine, Germin - Something that serves as an origin
Filemot, Philomot, Philamot - A dull brown shade
keblah, Kibla, Kiblah, Qibla - The direction muslims face while praying
Litchi, Lichi, Lychee, Lichee - A fruit
Poursue, Pursue, Persue, Poursew Pursew - To follow
Pummelo, Shaddock, Pompelo - A citrus fruit
Repreeve, Reprive, Repryve - To delay
Baklava, Baklawa, Baclava - A middle eastern desert
Nilgai, Nilgau, Nilghai, Nilghau, Nylghai, Nylghau - a large antelope
Cassina, Cassene, Cassine, Cassena - an evergreen tree
Narghile, Narghily, Nargile, Nargileh, Nargily - a hookah
Dirdam, Dirdum, Durdum - uproar
Shechita, Shehitah, Shehita - krosher killing of animals
Mezuzot, Mezuzoth, Mezuzah, Mezuza - a Jewish scroll

Combo Words of Two Words that are Good Both Ways

Bedrail - Railbed
Dovering - Ringdove
Hangover - Overhang
Turnover - Overturn
Runover - Overrun
Roadside - Sideroad
Outburn - Burnout
Woodworm - Wormwood
Linecut - Cutline
Outpass - Passout
Outspeak - Speakout
Comedown - Downcome
Upclose - Closeup
Outback - Backout
Pinhead - Headpin
Mateship - Shipmate
Cutover - Overcut
Upstart - Startup
Outshoot - Shootout
Overwing - Wingover
Fantail - Tailfan

Common Words with Not so common Anagrams

Tailors - Oralist, Rialtos, Sliotar
Almonds - Dolmans
Mustard - Durmast
Stadium - Dumaist
Romance - Cremona
Cauldron - Crunodal
Acolyte - Cotylae
Cilantro - Contrail
Decagon - Congaed
Ethical - Alethic
Strongly - Strongyl
Ungrazed - Gazunder
Expires - Prexies
Detangle - Danegelt
Teardown - Danewort
Erasions - Sensoria
Innovate - Venation
Inundate - Antidune
Invocate - Conative
Antidote - Tetanoid
Liaises - Silesia
Coalise - Celosia
Isotherm - Moithers
Heroism - Moreish
Sedation - Astonied
Marries - Simarre
Tsunami - Manitus, Santimu
Cheerio - Echoier

Those Handy Pyramid Words!

Pyramid words are words which start at 2 letters but can be extended to 7 letters and beyond. For example take the word loofahs, we start with lo, next we get to loo, followed by loof, loofa, loofah and loofahs. Thus by knowing loofahs we get to know a total of 6 words. Other examples include:
Abasers, Amenders, Amusers, Barbers, Bingers, Chained,
Chiasmal, Daledhs, Divests, Erasers, Fasties, Godsons, Hookahs, Jambees, Jamboks, Kaingas, Kinases, Lapsers, Maliced, Mentors, Nursery, Parkiest, Poleyns, Reeders, Reposes, Singers, Skaters,Tapetis, Teasers, Ureases, and Woosells.

There are some reverse pyramid words too. Take the word drooped for example, we start with ed, then ped, then oped, then ooped, rooped and finally drooped.Other examples include:
Aemules, Afeared, Borates, Cleared, Demures, Escapes, Glaired, Hamates, Lemures, Mananas, Penates, Retapes, Scraped, Testates, Upreach, Vacates, Whooped, Yslaked and Zananas.

6500 New Words Added to CSW