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Things We Saw Today: Grave of The Dedicated Scrabble Player


When Paul G. Lind of Portland passed away, his friends commemorated the Master Scrabble player with a custom tombstone spelling out the traits he was most admired for.

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Scrabble Will Officially Add a Word Based on Popular Opinion, What Could Go Wrong?

It better not be ew, Internet.

We'd all love to add words to the official Scrabble Dictionary—especially when you're mid-game and frustrated that J-A-W-X-I-N-G-S isn't a word because you'd get SO MANY POINTS! Hasbro's been holding a bracket-style competition (because March), and they're down to the final four. The winner will become an official word.

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Researcher Wants Scrabble to Change Its Letter Values

75 years ago Alfred Butts invented Scrabble, the most perfect and elegant word game ever created. He assigned each tile in the game a value based on how often it appeared on the front page of the New York Times, but the English language has changed a lot since 1938. Now, a researcher named Joshua Lewis wants Scrabble to update the value of its tiles. People have suggested scoring changes in the past, but Lewis took the initiative and wrote a piece of software that changed the values in the game. I like your gumption, Lewis.

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Player Caught Hiding Blank Tiles at Scrabble National Championships

The National Scrabble Association does not condone cheating. Also, the National Scrabble Association exists. One of the United States' top young Scrabble talents was caught hiding blank tiles, and subsequently ejected, at the game's national championship tournament in Florida. The executive director of the National Scrabble Association, John D. Williams, Jr.,  has said that this is the first recorded incident of cheating at a national tournament. What a shame.

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Play Popular Word Game Scrabble on Your Wall For a Paltry $12,000

Today in "Things Which Cost A Lot When Greatly Enlarged And Put On Your Wall," is this Scrabble board from Hammacher Schlemmer. Covering a whopping 49 square feet, the ad copy claims that there are only nine of these boards in existence, made by artist John Kahn, which perhaps justify the $12,000 price tag. The board itself is an exact replica of the smaller, table-top version and uses magnetic letters on a steel board for play. Oh, and it's claimed to be the largest Scrabble board in the world, to boot. While certain to turn some heads, it's probably best that you talk over the purchase of this colossal game board any loved ones you cohabitate with lest you find "I-M L-E-A-V-I-N-G Y-O-U" spelled out one morning. Triple word score.

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Study: Q is the Worst Letter in Scrabble or Words With Friends, S the Best

While Scrabble has been around for years, the popularity of the Facebook-based game Words With Friends has sparked a new round of interest in the game. Though for most, either game functions solely as a means to make you feel like your four-year English degree was a waste, or to destroy friendships, Andrew C. Thomas was more interested in a statistical analysis of the game. Using millions of simulated games, his work sheds new light on strategies to play the game, and on how letter tiles can be more than they seem.

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Geekolinks: 9/24

D. melanogaster, D. melanogaster, Wherefore Art Thou, D. melanogaster?

Back when I was in AP Biology, we had a lab experiment that involved breeding Drosophila melanogaster for traits. After explaining the months-long fruit fly plague that had swept his classroom the last time he had tried doing the lab with real D. melanogaster, our teacher showed us the web-based simulation that we would be using this year. So, I've never actually spent much time around fruit flies that didn't involve swatting them. But that doesn't mean I don't know how important they are to geneticists! D. melanogaster are well suited to the study of hereditary traits for a great number of reasons, including their fecundity (18 points in Scrabble), short life cycle, and easily determined gender, not to mention that they are extremely easy and cheap to care for. They also have only four chromosomes (pictured above, because I wanted to find a relevant picture that didn't give me the willies). Drosophila researchers are in an uproar, however, over a taxonomic change that may rename the species.

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“Scrabble Rule Change” Overblown: Proper Nouns Will NOT Invade the Classic Game

I'm a fairly serious competitive Scrabble player (no, really), which is why I was seriously freaked out to read this morning that Mattel was changing the rules of the game for the first time in 62 years to allow proper nouns like "Jay-Z" and "Shakira" as playable words. The story has been enthusiastically picked up by British media outlets, including The Telegraph, the Daily Mail, and BBC News.

This would be a nightmare for a number of reasons, not least of which would be deciding which nouns are "proper": Which brands, celebrities, and acronyms are "big" enough that they warrant dictionary entries? Does "TomKat," for Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes' annoyingly portmanteaued relationship, work? Is "Bennifer" still valid even though Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez have since broken up? All of which raises another point: Scrabble as we know it would become really dumb.

Fortunately, we got in touch with a Mattel rep, and he confirmed that the rumors of a Scrabble rule change making the rounds in the British press are wildly overblown.

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