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Miss Manners by Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin

Beat Scrabble Opponent at Her Own Game

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I know in this current pandemic, there are pressing issues to discuss; however, I would appreciate your feedback on this board game question.

My sweet, loving wife and I have begun to play Scrabble together, but now we are in disagreement on fair play. Apparently, she has become quite good at Words With Friends, a smartphone app similar to Scrabble, which I frequently see her playing while I read or watch a movie.

Here is our conflict:

In Scrabble, my loving wife will play two-letter words in crossword style to generate several words for triple-word points, and when I challenge her on their meaning, she doesn’t know or can’t explain their context. She defers to the Scrabble dictionary online.

She is usually correct: For example, did you know TA is a saying of gratitude, and BA is a name for the eternal soul in Egyptian mythology?

She didn’t, either. But she got the bonus points, and I lost a turn by challenging.

Words With Friends has no requirement for knowing the meaning of words you play, but I think respectable Scrabble players should know the words they play. That way, they learn and build their vocabulary, too!

My wife (she probably now loves me a bit less) now refuses to play with me because I think it’s a reasonable request to know the meaning of words you use.

GENTLE READER: Are you certain there are issues more “pressing” than preserving your marriage during these difficult times? Like what?

Besides, your once-loving wife IS building her vocabulary because you keep challenging those words, thus requiring her to look them up. Not much comfort for you, Miss Manners dares say.

In the interest of marital peace, she suggests that you build your own vocabulary -- faster. Online, you can find a list of two-letter words. Learn them in order to use them yourself, and to know when to issue a challenge.

Or persuade your wife to play chess with you.