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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.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I come from a very traditional family that hosts large gatherings and events regularly. They insist on having a guest book at these events. There is no room in these books for anything other than the attendees’ names.

I understand their usefulness for events that do not have invitations, but otherwise find them cumbersome and think they become clutter. When I get married, I would prefer not to have one. Am I committing an etiquette faux pas?

GENTLE READER: Such books are most useful at funerals, when the family is not in a position to keep track of who attended.

Otherwise, it is hosts, not guests, who love them. Miss Manners can only admire guests who are adroit at producing clever remarks or drawings on the spot, as she is not among them.

And your family is not even asking for that. Unless they are teenagers posting open invitations when their parents are out of town, they should already have the names and addresses -- and acceptances -- of their guests, so there seems little point in these books, except as souvenirs.

But etiquette takes no position on the question. Your relatives are not wrong to maintain such books, and you will not be wrong to omit one.

(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)