Filed Under:

Quit Playing Games With Scrabble!

Play associated audio

Meg Wolitzer is the author of a book for young readers, The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman, about kids who meet at a Scrabble tournament.

Did you hear the news? The letter G went missing during the last draw of a game at the World Scrabble Championship in Warsaw, and nothing will ever be the same. A player from Thailand insisted that his British opponent be strip-searched in order to find that rogue consonant. But the authorities refused.

So what's going on here? Is Scrabble becoming like every other major sport? Is my favorite game headed for a kind of word-related, Barry Bonds/Lance Armstrong future?

Because frankly, that's a future I don't want to live in. I first started playing Scrabble when I was a kid. My mother and I would take our old maroon set to the beach and make our simple, sweet words. I still have it, and there are all these oil spots on the cover from an ancient tube of Bain de Soleil. We didn't know from anything back then! We didn't know that there were Q words in Scrabble that didn't take a U, or that AA was good, and FE was an ironclad option. We proudly made words like "friend." Or "hat."

But maybe a new precedent has been set and Scrabble players are going to start accusing each other of all sorts of things. Like ... they'll say their opponents are wearing special lenses — the kind they used to sell in the back of Archie comics, that allow you to see under a woman's dress. Or, in this case, right into the word rack of your opponent.

All players will have to take mandatory urine tests.

Dictionaries, after they've been thumbed through, will be checked for trace elements of a special lexicographical steroid.

Coaches will be fired.

Countries will trade players.

Timers will have to be studied to make sure that one player's side doesn't move ahead slowly, while the other player's side doesn't race ahead like the meter of a corrupt New York cabbie.

The undersides of all tables will be checked to make sure there isn't any gum there to which a letter could conveniently adhere ... like a G.

People will make millions. It's all going to explode.

I know this isn't the first time there have been accusations of cheating in a game where you don't have to wear gym shorts or a cup. But this incident has certainly gotten the most attention. And I fear that it's not only Scrabble that's going to change.

Look out, pick-up sticks: You're not safe either.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


From Trembling Teacher To Seasoned Mentor: How Tim Gunn Made It Work

Gunn, the mentor to young designers on Project Runway, has been a teacher and educator for decades. But he spent his childhood "absolutely hating, hating, hating, hating school," he says.

How Do We Get To Love At 'First Bite'?

It's the season of food, and British food writer Bee Wilson has a book on how our food tastes are formed. NPR's Scott Simon speaks with her about her new book, "First Bite: How We Learn to Eat."

Osceola At The 50-Yard Line

The Seminole Tribe of Florida works with Florida State University to ensure it that its football team accurately presents Seminole traditions and imagery.

Reviving Payoff For Prediction – Of Terrorism Risk

Could an electronic market where people bet on the likelihood of attacks deter terrorism? NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Stephen Carter about the potential for a terror prediction market.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.