The Scrabble dictionary is full of odd words that seem poised to give players excellent triple word scores. Often, these words are archaic forms or thrown in to make two-letter combos more exciting. Part of the game of Scrabble, in competitive play, is memorizing which words are allowed in tournaments. That’s why Scrabble winners aren’t the ones with the biggest working vocabularies but those that put their vocabularies to work.
In celebration of Nigel Richards’s winning the 2012 Nation Scrabble Championship (pictured above), Judith Thurman composed this poem, which recalls Lewis Carrol’s “Jabberwocky.” Words in all capitals were used in the 2011 championship game. The poem might help you remember which words are tournament-legal (but watch out, they might not be in your regular Scrabble dictionary).
’Twas DONKO and the URANITES
Did HOH and WILGA as they played;
The TIRLS, the BAWD, the BEES, the WISE,
The NEMNEDZOOIDs all arrayed.
Gather ye IXIA while ye may.By VUG and QINTAR OMNIFIED,
A Scrabble champ UNCOPES, REGRANTS,
And LAZOES points with keen perusal
Of a rack where no word’s usual.
(Who has ever heard of SURAL?
Worn a POTAE in the plural?
NY(ED) a stranger in a pub?
It may not work in a N.Y. club,
But U.K. rules give greater leeway:
Spelling depends on where you are NE.)
Gather ye IXIA while ye may.