Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Weird Words with Friends by Leah St. James

A few months ago, Jannine wrote about playing Sudoku and how it wasn’t until she tackled it from a standpoint of logic that she was able to play and enjoy. It also helped her organize her thoughts for her marketing plan!

I also am a voracious Sudoku player (sans the marketing plan, of course.... Plus there’s only so far my brain will follow the “logic” path!).

I like playing Sudoku because it’s low tech. You need the puzzle (book or newspaper), a  pencil or pen, and some light. (And your brain.) I’ve always avoided online games because I didn’t want to get caught up in yet another “thing” that keeps me attached to a screen.

But that all changed during my vacation to North Carolina back in September. My vacation buddy (my oldest, closest friend for more than a couple decades), was playing Words with Friends (FB’s version of Scrabble) and said, “You should try it. I think you’ll really enjoy it!”

(Edit for correction:  I'm told the game IS Scrabble...that's how much I don't know about online games. But I still like the "weird" play on words! Now back to the matter at hand.)

She knows me well. It has become my latest obsession.

Like Jannine, it took me a bit to understand how to be successful. Basically it boils down to putting the highest point letters in odd/bizarre combinations that no one who is fluent in English would come up with  on his/her own.

I discovered this fact not playing with my friend, but with the computer! (She suggested I try it because there is a “teacher” who can suggest ways you could have improved your score.)

The “teacher” will give you feedback on every word you play.

The best is:  Incredible! I couldn’t do any better!
(It’s amazing how you can feel appreciated by a machine. And, it’s amazing how some of the shortest words can score the highest points!)

The next level down is:  Superb! The best word is only a few points better.
I’m usually happy with that, and sometimes I’ll smack myself on the head when I realize I missed an easy extra couple of points.

At the next level down
Good work. But there is some room for improvement – is where it starts getting ridiculous. I mean, take a look at one of my plays.

My word was JUNTA. I was impressed with myself considering my letters were: J-N-T-A-E-K-E. Plus there was a Q in play and I  had no U!

Here's what "Teacher" came up with:

JAUK??? ... Seriously???
What the $#&@(*! is "JAUK"?

(For the curious among you, it is an intransitive verb of Scottish origin meaning to dally or dawdle. Now you know.)

Anyway, "Teacher" scored 31 points on that word no one ever heard of, while I scored a measly 14 on a perfectly respectable word (JUNTA). And I still prefer mine.

Moving on... when you have really failed, “Teacher” will say:   
OK, I guess. But how about this word?

Uh....no, I had NOT thought of that word actually. In fact, I've never seen, read or heard of that word. Ever. Are you sure it's a word, Teacher? It looks more like a grunt to me! 
Half the time when I score big, I’m just picking letters at random and trying them out! I have no idea (1) that they’re words or (2) what they might mean!

But I am having fun. Sometimes I get a chuckle. Like look at this grouping of the tiles I had to play.

I was singing Old McDonald Had a Farm in my head for a whole day. (You’re welcome.)

Some other interesting words you might note:  

ADZ:  I mean, would you ever have known that ‘ADZ’ is a word much less ‘ADZES’? (Adz: a  variant of  the more common "adze"--duh!--which is a cutting tool.) 

CAF: According to Mirriam-Webster, it stands for "Cost and Freight" which is NOT supposed to be an allowable word because abbreviations are not permitted! No fair! 

And how about CHIAO? (I'm too tired to even look.)

I finally printed out a list of words with Q but without a U.

You might see why I’ve decided to rename the game WEIRD WORDS WITH FRIENDS.

If you haven’t yet, give it a try. You’ll exponentially expand your vocabulary of words that no one else would ever know!


When not scouring her brain for words with X, J and Q, Leah attempts to write fiction with romance and suspense. Learn more at her website, LeahStJames.com. Occasionally she retweets poetry on Twitter or posts recipes she’ll never actually try on Pinterest. Happy November!


Margo Hoornstra said...

What a fun post. I've heard of Words With Friends, but never played it before. Might be fun to try. Where do you 'find' your friends, though? I got hooked on Candy Crush for a while then went to Spider Solitaire. Then one day out of the blue, my iPad informed me I had 3 and a half hour of screen time that day. Yikes!!! With not a lot to show for it, so I deleted both games. For now. I did not know there were soooo many words with Q and no U. Thanks for the interesting lesson. Plus, I'm sure you hold your own with your teacher there. Whatever it takes to keep the old brain cells hopping. Right?

Jannine Gallant said...

FYI the local paper stopped including Sudoku. It pissed me off. I called and complained to a robo-recording. Nothing happened. (Sigh) This sounds like a really fun time suck. I can't let myself get started, or I'll never get anything done! I did know adz but not most of the other ones. I expect to see some strange words in your Christmas story, Leah. I'll be looking for them!

Brenda Whiteside said...

Oh my gosh. I could never play this game. I've come to know myself as one who does not play games. I'll go for a card came if it's with a few friends and I can yak and not pay attention. I might sit down to a game of monopoly or some other lighthearted endeavor. I don't want to think too hard and I would never play a game solo. So...glad you have fun with it!

Leah St. James said...

Margo, so far I'm only playing with that one friend (plus the computer every now and then), but we have about six games going at once. That's my limit! I don't want to get too intense...just have fun! I know I can look like a dunce with her and not feel like one. :-)

Leah St. James said...

Jannine, I'm going to start saving my Sudokus and mail them to you! That's lousy! I only play the Scrabble game a few minutes in the morning and a few at night. I did have a marathon Sudoku session over the weekend while "watching" football with TPM/hubby and Son No. 1. :-)

Leah St. James said...

I never thought I'd like it either, Brenda. I started playing only because my friend urged me to give it a try. I love cards, too! TPM/Hubby and I used to play every week with friends...before we moved away. (Need to find some new card-playing friends!)

Rolynn Anderson said...

I'm not one to play online games...never really got started. Don't even know what a play station is...as well.I can't figure out where I'd find the time. But I do believe these games are good for one's mind. You're developing a big brain, Leah. I'm sure of it!

Leah St. James said...

Sometimes I feel my brain actually kick in, Rolynn! I typically spend my days reacting instantly to one crisis/fire or another, but it's not usually something that requires a lot of thought, just fast action. I rarely have the opportunity to do strategic planning. These puzzles/games really are good brain exercises. If I stop having fun, I won't miss the screen time though. :-)

Vonnie Davis said...

All I could think of as I read your post was...but...but...but...my time won't allow me to do this. I've things to write and a puppy to walk and more things to write (I've got 3 manuscripts open for edits and continuation and a critique I'm doing for another author AND a document I'm developing the framework for a series on. I...I...doona ha' the time, ye ken. And, yeah, I'm wrapping up a Scottish romance. Looks fun, though, but it made me nervous just reading about it. LOL

Leah St. James said...

It helps me wind down after a long, stressful day at my job, Vonnie. My brain is useless for writing by then anyway. But it can easily evolve into a time suck! :-)

Andrea Downing said...

I wind down with3 fairly quick word games each evening: bonza, Red Herring, and 7 words. I feel they keep the brain cells going. This one sounds like it might take too long but I’ll have a look. Interesting list Leah— thanks for broadening my vocabulary

remullins said...

Fun. I've never played Words with Friends. I did get stuck on Free Rice. In this game, for each right answer, sponsors donate 10 grains of rice through the World Food Program to help end hunger.

Leah St. James said...

You can play as long or as little as you like. I do tend to keep playing once I start. :-) And I rarely remember any of those weird words!

Leah St. James said...

That's cool, Robin! I'll check it out. And BTW I found out it is online Scrabble, not Words with Friends. That shows how much I know! Lol!

Diane Burton said...

I love word games. I'm not a numbers person and number logic is not my skill so Sudoku isn't something I enjoy. Card games (Solitaire & its many variations) and mah jong are a lot of fun. Too many games & I don't get any writing done. LOL