Scrabble – It’s all fun until someone loses an I. Yes, people still play Scrabble and it’s awesome. It’s also a great way for children to learn and have fun at the same time.
Scrabble is already played in a lot of libraries around Ireland but should be in all of them. Coming towards the end of the year, most households will probably drag out the Scrabble board followed by Monopoly for the obligatory board game over the Christmas holidays but Scrabble should be a game you always have ready to open and play all year around. I would even go as far as saying the Scrabble board should have its own little table and always be set up. This is also handy if the game is taking longer than usual, you can leave it and return the next evening.
As a child, (and if truth be told even still at the age of 40+) I have a dreadful memory and have never been able to rote learn. This, as we know, is the key to success throughout your journey in the Irish education system so I was screwed. Luckily, my mother realised this but also knew I was really competitive and loved games. So this began my love of Scrabble.
My Mam and I regularly played Scrabble, we always had a dictionary to check words and certainly played a few times per week. Games were slow and laborious taking a couple of hours but always great fun. Scrabble also helps your math skill with double and triple scoring tiles and whole words and then keeping track of the overall score. As your skills develop you will keep track of the big tiles that still haven’t been played and you start building your strategic game. Lovely to play CON on the board and the next move hook a word with an I in front of CON. The permutations and combinations are really intriguing in Scrabble, to recognise patterns and good combinations of tiles are one of the keys to success. This skill of pattern recognition is so useful in building kids problem solving skills.
Scrabble is sold in 121 countries and is available in 29 languages; approximately 150 million sets have been sold worldwide. It is available As Gaeilge, in Braille, in large format for visually impaired and can be played on most electronic devices and even with your friends on Facebook. Worldwide, most countries use the Collins Official Scrabble Words to verify words, rather than being a dictionary with words explained it is purely just a list but it’s great when you visit other clubs (or even countries) to be using the same word source. There is even a family friendly version of the word list which takes out all the naughty words. This is what libraries and schools would normally use.
I consider myself a serious player of Scrabble at this stage, I’ve been involved with my local club for years (there are dozens of clubs in the country, most meet regularly in libraries) and play in a couple of large events per year. I’ve also taken part in a few 24 hour marathons raising funds for local charity. I just love the game, the endless possibilities (lots of backgammon and chess players also play Scrabble), meeting new friends, learning new words and just having great fun, all thanks to my Mam introducing me to Scrabble. In lots of countries, Scrabble is played in schools, something we have yet to develop in Ireland but it would be great if it was played. It’s also a great game for people to play in the library, I think every library should have a couple of boards that people can check out and use on the premises. I know a few libraries in Ireland have board games on offer but Scrabble & chess should be the minimum on offer everywhere.
If you are interested in joining a club, check the list below or send me a message if you would like pointers on setting up a club in your locality.
At the end of the day, Scrabble is a great fun way for children to learn and develop their literacy skills. Who knows, we might even have a World Champion in our midst. Check www.scrabbleireland.org for more info on playing Scrabble in Ireland.
John the Captain Ryan