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shadows of echoes of memories of songs
My favourite waste of time
For the last couple of weeks the second-greatest threat to my work-related productivity (after my own natural tendency towards inertia) has been e-scrabble. Delighted though I was with the Travel Scrabble set that addedentry and I bought on impulse in a late-opening Borders so that we could play on the train home, I'm even more delighted with an implementation of the game that only requires an email account, a web browser, and a willing friend or three. It doesn't matter if you take a long time to play, and you can't lose letters down the back of the seat.

There are one or two small issues with it, though to be fair most of them are already addressed in the e-scrabble FAQ and will apparently be fixed in the next release. It's surprisingly (perhaps because so arbitrarily) frustrating that you can't see how many letters remain in the bag unless it's your turn; and no matter what I do I can't get the word-check function to accept any word, from AT to ZOA, though other people seem to have had no problem. Fortunately, the excellent Collins site offers a free word lookup which not only checks your word for Scrabble acceptability (rendering more or less unnecessary wordlists such as Mattel's list of 2-letter words) but also gives definitions from several dictionaries (including the EIF that is the Texting Dictionary). It's amusing to see how many words are declared "valid for play in Scrabble" yet offer no definition; but nobody thought Scrabble was about meanings, did they? (The words are presumably all in Chambers, famous for its amusing definitions.)

The other main annoyance that many people have noted is the inability to shuffle your letters. It's amazing how much harder this makes it, for me at least; it's almost enough to make me go and learn the l33t w3b sk1llz required to write a separate letter-shuffler. Almost. Of course, you can always cheat with an anagram solver, but that takes all the fun out of it.


In an attempt to keep my brain shuffling letters inbetween games of e-scrabble, I'm also trying to learn to do cryptic crosswords. Chambers help out here again, providing a selection of crosswords to solve online; after a week of extremely intermittent struggling with the most recent one I've managed a pitiful 16 clues. No hints, or there will be cross words indeed!
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(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: February 9th, 2005 11:58 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Only a pawn in their game.

You mean, something like the "Post a challenge" thing in the top right-hand corner of the home page?
(Deleted comment)
j4 From: j4 Date: February 9th, 2005 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Idiot wind, blowing like a circle around my skull

It works in Lynx? That's got to be painful!
setting_sun From: setting_sun Date: February 9th, 2005 12:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
On a similar note, you should try although it is fiendishly addictive.
j4 From: j4 Date: February 9th, 2005 12:28 pm (UTC) (Link)
Ooo, it's Boggle! Thank you! That's ace!
setting_sun From: setting_sun Date: February 9th, 2005 12:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
I don't get to play it as much as I used to unfortunately, but I got my mum and brothers hooked on it and soon no-one will be safe!
senji From: senji Date: February 9th, 2005 01:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
geekette8 From: geekette8 Date: February 9th, 2005 01:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
IME the way to learn cryptic crosswords is to get someone to explain clues and answers to you, which you may think counts as "hinting" but I think counts more as "teaching the rules" :-)

You may (or may not) also find rec.puzzles.crosswords helps in this regard, as people quite often post and say "Apparently X is the solution to Clue Y, can anyone explain?".

There are so many conventions and "tricks" and whatnot that it can be almost impossible to figure out on your own!
j4 From: j4 Date: February 9th, 2005 02:57 pm (UTC) (Link)
I usually understand the answers when I see them these days, unless they're really obscure and/or they use some data that I just didn't know... it's making the mental leap to get from clue to answer that I have trouble with. So I guess what I need is not so much learning as practice.

Thanks for the r.p.c pointer though -- looks interesting though I don't know if I'd dare actually post there for fear of being shouted at for being stupid!
(Deleted comment)
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: February 9th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, we're hooked on that. I've given up playing imc at anything though, since I can never beat him... ;-)
imc From: imc Date: February 10th, 2005 04:04 pm (UTC) (Link)
I can't remember the last time you played, actually.

Backgammon depends mainly on the dice, so it wouldn't surprise me if that one evened out at 50%. I think it's only Pente in which I win a lot.
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: February 10th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC) (Link)
You can't remember the last time I played with you.
imc From: imc Date: February 10th, 2005 05:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
True, but I haven't noticed it on your screen recently and the id(s) that you used when playing with me haven't been touched since 2002. :-p
hoshuteki From: hoshuteki Date: February 9th, 2005 02:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've gone off e-Scrabble a little after playing a couple of games with verlaine. Don't make that mistake. Anyway, in "real" Scrabble, there's no way to know exactly how many letters are left in the bag (unless you count them). Still, it would be nice sometimes...
j4 From: j4 Date: February 9th, 2005 02:59 pm (UTC) (Link)
Scrabble against verlaine is great; it proves to me that it really is the playing that counts, because I've no chance of winning. :-) He plays a great game though!

And yes, true, in real Scrabble you don't know exactly how many letters remain; but you can always just give the bag a bit of a poke or a shake -- you can't even do that on e-Scrabble.
burkesworks From: burkesworks Date: February 9th, 2005 05:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Happy to give him (or yourself, or anyone else) a game anytime; though I say it myself I'm not the worst scrabble player, or for that matter solver of cryptic crosswords, in the world. Tell me more about e-Scrabble!
bopeepsheep From: bopeepsheep Date: February 9th, 2005 04:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
But it doesn't take too long to glance at a board and work out how many Es are out and if all the Us have gone, etc etc. Does this e-Scrabble not work the same way, or is it just the 'will I only get 3 tiles this turn?' bit that is the problem?
From: (Anonymous) Date: February 10th, 2005 12:27 pm (UTC) (Link)

Scrabble online

Have you tried Quadplex?


All you need to register is an email address, & you get real time scrabble with the ability to shuffle your tiles around... It even tells you how many tiles are left.

(Apologies in advance for spreading more productivity-sappers ;-))

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