A week into the Great Scrabble Freeze-Out of 2014, I’m left to contemplate my beginnings. It all started in the Dominican Republic back in January 2013. Then again, the game took root far earlier than that. There has always been Scrabble.
The Scrabble I play now, or did until a week ago, is the Facebook incarnation pimped via some Hasbro app. Jeff Wallach turned me on to this smartphone-enabled version of the game during a media junket to Casa de Campo, in the DR. I noticed what he was playing on his phone. When I inquired, there was a guarded, secret-society, “Can you handle the truth?” aspect to his responses. I guess I was deemed worthy enough. I’ve played some 350 games vs. Jeff and a dozen different opponents since.
Scrabble has always been with us, of course. We’ve all played it through the years, perhaps introduced to the game by parents, as I was. This wasn’t any rudimentary Candyland-type diversion, or some lame exercise sexed up by three-dimensional playing surfaces (The Game of Life), or anything requiring physical skill (Jenga), or something reliant on wellsprings of trivial knowledge.
Scrabble was and remains utterly singular and vital: strategic word-smithing in the language soup we all slurp.
This essay was long time in coming. I write it now because the mobile app that enables smartphone Scrabble has been unable to connect with Facebook for almost a week. Web alerts tell us developers are on the case. Until they solve the problem, short of going on the laptop and playing there (a place I do NOT wish to go), I’m stymied — and so are my half-dozen current opponents. I texted one yesterday: “Life has so little meaning without Scrabble.”
“I feel rudderless,” he responded. Immediately.