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You will win, but people will hate you

Conrad Bassett-Bouchard smiles after he won the title at the National Scrabble Championships, Wednesday, Aug. 13, 2014, in Buffalo, N.Y. He led for most of the match, winning by a score of 477-350. (AP Photo/Gary Wiepert)

Scrabble is the only board game I still play. Not to brag, but the fact is, I usually win. Until, this week when my daughter beat me by two points. It was quite a shock.

Which is why I perked up when I heard on the radio about the tournament to determine who is the world’s best Scrabble player.

It turned out to be Conrad Bassett-Bouchard of Portland who was more than happy to share his secret practice regimen, “It would be me sitting at my computer and doing a program called “Zyzzyva.”

He uses an program called Zyzzyva, Z-Y-Z-Z-Y-V-A, named for the last word in the dictionary. A zyzzyva is a type of South American weevil, but no one cares about that.

Zyzzyva’s sole purpose is to help you create real words out of jumbled letters. You enter any series of letters, and it lists all the possible Scrabble words.

And you know how often he practices? “Every day of the year, always,” he says.

Which is how he learned words like florigen, trooz, and contuse – which were all played in the championship game.

So I downloaded this thing, and I learned the same letters that spell HEATING can also spell gahnite. G-A-H-N-I-T-E. Which is a green mineral made of zinc and aluminum.

Or that to get rid of a Y an R and a K, I could find a free E and spell YERK. Which means to beat vigorously.
And I also realized, I was learning words whose only function would be to make everybody want to yerk the hell out of me.

So I’ve decided to keep the app, because it did cost me 99 cents, but under no circumstances will I use those silly words. Unless I find myself about to lose to that kid again.

I’m pretty sure I can still run faster than she can.

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