Fate, Chance, And Scrabble

Like any game, Scrabble has rules.

The board setup is always the same, with valuable spots predetermined. Before every game, there’s a fixed number of each letter and each letter has a pre-assigned value. I’m allowed to hold no more than seven letters during each turn and I must select new tiles from a bag without looking at them first. The words I try to play must conform to the basic rules of the English language.

Of course, the words I make are dependent upon what I’ve done on previous turns and what my opponents have come up with. No move is made without previous moves affecting it. As far as strategy is concerned, I often count on my opponents to mess up, either due to oversights or a lack of skill.

Sometimes I pull better letters than at other times, but my success is always dependent upon the situation and my ability to form high-scoring words more frequently than others.

Equal distribution of resources is impossible; in fact, the game derives its variety from one player acquiring a disproportionate amount of valuable letters and putting them to good use for himself.

There are some unfortunate realities that often arise. Some people get all vowels on their rack on a regular basis; they have no chance from the beginning and there’s no real explanation for this, although we often consider such sad saps “unlucky.”

In truth, for every person who’s lucky enough to get “QUIZ” on a triple-word score, there are thousands more pulling a “Q” on their final turn, with no available “U” to attach it to. Yesterday’s winner soon becomes a loser today.

If we look at the larger picture, it’s clear that we’re all approaching the same board, and are bound by the rules set before us, but our experience with the game (our success or failure) is unique to us.

We’re free only to the extent that we are forced to work with what the game gives us, and with what we bring to the table. So much of our game-playing is limited by things over which we have little or no control.

Ultimately, some big questions must be asked. Who devised this game? (I mean, beyond the creative folks at Hasbro). And why are we playing it in the first place?

3 thoughts on “Fate, Chance, And Scrabble

  1. Margo Snoad August 3, 2011 / 8:28 am

    Why we play Scrabble:
    It is an entertainment.
    It keeps our mind sharp.
    We want to beat your butt.
    Love, Mom


  2. Denise August 3, 2011 / 11:07 am

    Chuck, You play because it’s in your genes…..Nouna


  3. Michele Maros August 3, 2011 / 2:37 pm

    Are these two missing the point?


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