Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Read This: Competitive Scrabble’s dictionary throwdown

Photo: Wikimedia by ShashankSharma2511
Photo: Wikimedia by ShashankSharma2511

Every Scrabble player knows the tense irritation when another player challenges their word. After all, it’s clearly not just a game; it’s an overall evaluation of the quality of your vocabulary, spelling ability, and dictionary memorization skills. And it’s much more complicated than that, too. A new article for The New Yorker by Charles Bethea, “The Battle Over Scrabble’s Dictionaries,” takes us into the wild world of tournament Scrabble, where players enter the arena like this:

Lipe strode toward the stage alongside one of the two other Americans who’d flown eight thousand miles, paying their own way, to play Scrabble in a windowless room. Jay Z’s “Empire State Of Mind” blared from the speakers and images of the Statue Of Liberty flashed on a screen beside the stage as thousands of Thai schoolchildren cheered.

Bethea tells of the various Scrabble dictionaries available to players and the feud to make just one the standard word list. It’s an exciting battle of geography, lexicons, and players shunning one another.

“The word list arguments have been going on for maybe twenty years now, almost entirely in a repetitive, pointless circle,” said Geoff Thevenot, a copy editor from Chicago who is currently the twelfth-best Collins player in North America.


Thankfully though, Bethea says the 20-something-year-old feud may finally be coming to a close. In the last five years, OSW, or Official Scrabble Words, players have finally been allowed to play tournaments on North American soil.

[Via The New Yorker]

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