Feb 21


Jan 30

100 Tiles -

A glimpse at a local Scrabble club in America.

Jan 29

Day 2 of POSC13

This is a continuation from my previous post.

On the second day of the tournament, I was able to watch some matches from Round 12 and 13. In a tourney with 14 rounds, these were in the home stretch. After 11 games each, the players know how they rank against their peers.


During the short break, I actually saw someone review his list of all playable 2, 3, and 4 letter words. Curiously, his list is from 2007.


When the Round 13 match-ups were announced, I knew immediately that I needed to watch the one with Orak Suma (8th place in the World Youth Scrabble 2010/11) and the current first placer, Ferdinand Lucas.


Above is a photo of Lucas checking the rankings while waiting for the 13th round.

I was standing on the other side of a cordon behind Lucas. So most of my (hazy, grainy) photos will be from his side.

When the match began, Orak had to lose a turn because he had to exchange 2 of his tiles. Lucas began the attack with a brilliant first move bingo by playing SEMEION on 8B. Take note that the first play gets a Double Word Score so his first play got him 74 points.


Orak played a (M)IR on D8 for 5. Lucas responds with a GJU (25) parallel play. on F7.


Orak then played his first bingo, 11A ANDIRON (66) with D8 MIRI (6) for a total of 72.


Lucas played C7 V(E)X (26). Then, Orak decides to play A9 FL(A)NNER*. I saw both of the player smile at each other, and just as I guessed, Lucas raised his hand to challenge the word. 


As expected, FL(A)NNER* was ruled as a phoney. Orak missed a turn and Lucas recorded in his scoresheet that Orak has the F, L, N, N, E, & R tiles in his rack. That’s the price you pay for playing a phoney!

A few turns later, Lucas played his 2nd bingo, 15A (R)ACEMOID. 


Orak, being unfamiliar with the word, raised his hand to challenge. And Zyzzyva confirmed that (R)ACEMOID is an acceptable Scrabble word scoring. If you’re curious, RACEMOID is an adjective defined as “pertaining to a raceme (an indefinite arrangement of flowers on a main stalk)”. 

Lucas’ 6th word played was a parallel play of OYEZ (Another new word for the day!) in 13F. After each player’s 6th turn, the score stands at 318 (Lucas) to 128 (Orak). Orak needed some brilliant plays with some bingoes to catch up.

On his 8th turn, Lucas played M7 F(A)GOTTI for 34. (Nope, it’s not a slang for homosexual. It’s actually a bassoon, a wind instrument). The score wa 392 to 179, in favor of Lucas.

At this point, I noticed a difference in play style between Suma and Lucas. Whenever Orak got new tiles, he’d shuffle the tiles a lot. In contrast, Lucas just lay them in his rack and by whatever brilliance, he instantly found those high-scoring words!

On the 9th turn, Lucas played O4 EREC(T)IVE on the T of AWAIT. This was another unusual word for Orak (because isn’t it supposed to be ELECTIVE?) so he challenged the word.

And Zyzzyva once again sided with Lucas! This is his 3rd bingo of the game. He scores 68 for the word which brought his total to 460 against Orak’s 212. 

For his 13th turn, Lucas had S, R, D, U, I, & A in his rack. I did a quick Zyzzyva search and I found a lone annagram, SUDARIA which he can play parallel to GOAL in 2K. Putting SUDARIA in 1E would get him a bingo plus the Triple Word Score bonus. That’s 83 plus 4 for AG.

But Lucas opted to play DUARS in 4D for 19 points. The game ended after the players’ 14 turn when Lucas emptied his rack with a 3B AI. Orak revelead that he had 4 letters (R, E, N, & T) in his rack which gave him a 6 point penalty.

Lucas won the game 530 against Orak’s 329.

Before the start of the 14th round, Lucas was declared the winner in the Adult Division so he was asked to sit out the last round of the tournament.

Orak went on to top the Youth Division

Watching my first Scrabble tourney was both fun and educational. The experience made me believe that we can have more competitive Scrabble players in the Philippines. Playing Scrabble teaches analytical and mathematical skills. I think if we can push for more Scrabble clubs and competitions in schools, we can train more students to be competitive Scrabble players. As a country that boasts our English speaking prowess, we are lagging behind Thailand. Pakorn Nemitrmansuk, a Thai, is currently 4th in the World Scrabble Ratings. Letting a health and competitive Scrabble community bloom will definitely do wonders for us.

Jan 27

Philippine Open Scrabble Championship 2013

Last week, I learned that the United Scrabble Association will conduct a tournament over the weekend. I’ve never seen a Scrabble tournament in person so I decided to check it out.


The tournament was held in Farmers Plaza, Cubao. This is an important tournament because this will be one of the bases for the new ranking for the Scrabble players in the country. In addition to this, the winners will receive cash prizes and trophies.

According to the initial announcement, there are slots for 100 participants. When I arrived in the morning of the first day of the tourney, I saw 32 tables but 2 of them are vacant so that brings the total of competitors to 60. I’m not sure if the registration fee of 350 pesos was a hindrance to reaching 100 players.


Since I’ve never been to an official Scrabble competition before, I was actually surprised by the composition of players.


There were kids.

(Fun Fact #1: There’s actually a World Youth Scrabble Championship for players below 18 years old. In the 2012 WYSC, we sent a delegation of 7 players that competed against 79 other players from countries like Australia, the Czek Republic, Malaysia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Singapore, Thailand, Trinidad & Tobago, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States).

And there were kids at heart.


There were students from various public (e.g. Taguig National High School) and private schools (e.g. Regis Maria School). I even saw some players from UP Diliman and Lyceum. There were also participants from Baguio (e.g. the Baguio Benguet Scrabble Club’s president, Dutchman Huub Luyk).

Although Scrabble is not so popular in our country, and the venue is a bit obscure, the event still had its share of spectators.


So how does the tournament go? The tournament is played over 14 rounds. This means that all players have 14 matches in the span of 2 days. Each match is composed of 2 players competing for the best score. The ranking for the day will be based on the Win-Lose tally of each player and on the cumulative winning margin (i.e. the spread) of each of their matches. Below is the standing that I saw during the second day of the tilt.


Matches last between 20 to 50 minutes. With a chess timer for tracking, each player is given 25 minutes to beat their opponent on a head-to-head battle.


Another rule (that I’ve seen broken several times) to remember is that in an official Scrabble match, the tile bag should be held at eye level when drawing letters.


Another key component of competitive Scrabble is the challenge. When a player’s turn has ended, his/her opponent may challenge any word/s formed during that play. The player/s raise their hand/s so that an adjudicator may approach them.


The tournament officials then searches for the contested word via either an official tournament Scrabble Word list (we used the Collins 2012 Words) or a computer program called Zyzzyva (Fun Fact #2: This is a playable word in Scrabble).


If, like in the right-hand picture, the word isn’t playable (i.e. a phoney), then the player returns the tiles to his/her rack, loses the turn, and scores zero. Otherwise, the tiles stay and the one who challenged the word played will be one to lose a turn.


In the photo above, the guy in blue played THREWN. His opponent realizes that this is a phoney so he challenged the word. The adjudicator ruled that the word is unacceptable, because obviously the word should’ve been THREW. The guy in blue can’t believe he committed such a blunder. Eventually, it cost him the game. He lost, 391 to 334.

While watching with the other spectators, I was able to chat with a Scrabble coach and local club organizer, Rey Mandani. He was supposed to compete but he arrived late so he was seating the current round out.


I learned from Sir Rey that barangay councils are the usual sponsors for clubs and many of these councils let them use their barangay halls and covered courts for Scrabble tournaments. In fact, the Philippine Open Scrabble Championship is sponsored by a local government unit - the office of the Vice Mayor of Quezon City.

He introduced me to some of his players in their local club in Commonwealth. One of them started playing Scrabble when he was just 7 years old (or was it 4, I can’t remember). Sir Rey has been helping kids in his neighborhood to get into competitive Scrabble.

He mentioned that he has also developed modules for teachers to teach Scrabble in school. Unfortunately, according to him, it’s hard to sustain a Scrabble club in schools because there are no teachers or advisers who are interested in sustaining these groups. (Hhhmm. Maybe I can pitch Scrabble to some people I know who are in the education sector).

I also learned from him that the Philippines hosted the World Youth Scrabble Championship back in 2010. That was the same year that the first Filipino got into the top 10 ranking. Mohammad Suma (or Orak, as they call him) placed 8th in 2010 and also in 2011. He’s the boy drawing tiles in the picture below.


I was able to watch this match and Orak was the real deal. His first play was a (R)AVIOLIS. It’s a bingo (i.e. used up all 7 tiles) that he connected to his opponents’ BERG.


One of the things I learned from watching Orak is the importance of tile tracking. Each player has their own score sheet and they also use this to keep track of the letters used so far in the game. They cross out each letter that comes out so they’ll have a good idea of the letters that are either on the rack of the opponent or inside the bag. This is crucial knowledge for planning which tiles to save for a later play.


Orak won this match, 448 to 375. He eventually moved up to 4th in the standings during the second day of the match.

In my next post, I’ll feature a match between Orak and the top player in the standings, Ferdinand Lucas.

The Rizal Library Board Game Day

Last Friday, Ateneo de Manila’s Rizal Library and the Gaming Library held a board game day in Ateneo’s Matteo Ricci Study Hall.


The event was attended by more than 200 students from the Loyola Schools and the Ateneo School of Medicine and Public Health.


As far as I know, this is the first event of its kind in Ateneo. This is a great way of introducing the modern board gaming hobby to a wider audience. Thanks to student volunteers, especially those from the Book Bench (who spent some time learning the games beforehand so they can teach them during the event), the attendees had a blast with the games.


The students were introduced to the hobby of modern designer board games with the likes of (clockwise): my favorite co-op game Pandemic, the dexterity game Toc Toc Woodsman Ticket to Ride, and always fun dice game King of Tokyo.


,The other games played by the students also include (clockwise): the Timeline series, the War of the Ring, Dominion, and 7 Wonders.

It’s great that the Rizal Library welcomed the idea of hosting a board game day in Ateneo. With the games’ potential for teaching critical analytical skills and for bringing people together, the Rizal Library is a natural partner for the Gaming Library. Kudos to Rizal Library for being more innovative and open to ideas  and for having a strong social media presence. Congratulations also to the Book Bench, the new student arm of the Rizal Library. And of course, congratulations as well to my friends at the Gaming Library for this successful event.

Disclaimer: The all the photos used are from the Rizal Library’s Facebook page.

Jan 17

Anonymous said: words that end with eta


5-letters: ACETA, PIETA, THETA




9-letters: ANCHOVETA

10-letters: TUFTAFFETA

Scrabble in the Philippines

For quite some time, I’ve been surfing the Internet for local Scrabble clubs that I can join. Luckily, I found a group on Facebook that is currently reviving the Scrabble scene in the country. I stumbled upon the SCRABBLE Philippines group last night while I was doing my random searches online. I also found out that there’s a new governing body for Scrabble activities in the country - the United Scrabble Association Of The Philippines. They are also hosting the Philippine Open Scrabble Tournament next week.

Initially, I wanted to join the tournament but I realized that I will be competing against some pretty competitive players who have spent years playing and memorizing word lists so I opted to just watch and see first hand how a competitive Scrabble tournament is ran.

This discovery may well be the inspiration that I need to take this hobby more seriously. Time to get back to the lists!

Feb 03

Back from Hiatus

It’s been months since I last played Scrabble or even attempted to study my word lists. Consequently, I haven’t been posting anything here. But in the unlikeliest time and place, I’m able to find inspiration to go back to Scrabbling. But I seem to have lost all the knowledge, however little, that I had about words and anagramming. So please indulge me as I once again take on the role of the scrabblenoob.

Jun 07


I haven’t been doing much playing lately. It’s been months since I last played Facebook Scrabble. The only game I’ve played for the past month is a few unfinished games on my friend’s iPad. I think I was even about to lose one game to him. But since there is much lull time in my work, I was able to finally go through the whole SATINE cards after almost a month. Currently, I’m in the process of making the SATIRE flash cards. I just hope I could start picking up the momentum soon. And I hope I could still commit to making mnemonics for the 2s-to-make-3s.

May 17

2011 Collins Official Scrabble Words

So the latest version was released on May 9, 2011. And wow, 3000 new words! I don’t care much for the hoopla about slang words getting in the Scrabble lexicon.


From The Digital World

The new words from the field of computing include WIKI, BLOOK (a book serialised on a blog roll), BADWARE, FANSITE, WEBZINE and DARKNET, while the already valid BLOG is now accompanied by SPLOG and VLOG. New verbs from the world of computing include, PHARM, SCROBBLE, FACEBOOK, and MYSPACE.

From Overseas

As far as arrivals from overseas go, the star of the show is undoubtedly QIN, a kind of Chinese zither, which according to computer simulation is likely to become one of the most played words in Scrabble, alongside the already allowed QI (one’s life force). Japanese gives us WAGYU, a breed of beef cattle, and KOGAL, a young woman noted for her busy social life and purchase of expensive designer clothing. New words from Indian cookery include KEEMA, a kind of minced beef, ALU (or ALOO), a potato and GOBI, a cauliflower. Previously many Scrabble players would have been caught out by attempting to play such words familiar to them from their local Indian takeaway menu. Kenya contributes BENGA, a kind of popular music, while the increasing role of Islam in world affairs is reflected in many new words relating to that religion: UMMA, UMRA, FIQH, MEDRESA, IBADAH, SHAHID, TASBIH, NIKAH.

A New U-less Q-word!

Although it’s nice to have another U-less Q word, players may well find that FIQH refused to make frequent appearances on the board because of the low probability of having the QFH together and the fact that the over-familiarity with QI may cause a superior FIQH play to be overlooked.

Straight from the Street

Those who pride themselves on being up to date with the word on the street will be pleased to know that the Scrabble lexicon now includes THANG, INNIT, NANG, PUNAANY, BREDREN, BIACH, BLINGY, GRRL (or GRRRL) and several words for various kinds of drug: TIK, GAK, TINA.

Finally Allowed…

Those who in the past may have fallen foul of certain well-known ‘phoneys’ – words which seem entirely reasonable but which are not in fact acceptable according to the official list – will rejoice to learn that it will now be acceptable to play AIRGUN, HEATWAVE, PUSHBIKE, INBOX, TWIGLET, STRIM and CATFLAP.

[via Harper Collins]

Last week, I saw tweets, wall posts, and blog posts complaining how this recent batch of new words is desecrating the game. I guess those who said that are purists who would rather play the usual words than see the game expand to more modern and more inclusive words. I think that for a language to remain useful, it has to be relevant. This is especially the case of a word game like Scrabble. With more international players joining competitions, it’s important the game’s lexicon also reflect the culture of those playing it. I’m not saying that we should make all foreign words allowable in Scrabble. We should still adhere to the rule that the words to be added in the Scrabble lexicon should be found in at least one of the source dictionaries.

In addition, I think the addition of new words also offer greater strategic depth to the game. I refer particularly to the addition of more U-less Q-words and words with consonant clusters.

I know there’s a lot of flaming being done in the net because of this recent expansion of the lexicon. But I guess people should remember that this lexicon is only applicable for SOWPODS at the mean time. So for Americans and Canadians, hold your horses, your OSPD is still sacred!