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What’s going on here then?

Julia Mahony tries to get a word in edgeways at the Masterton Scrabble Club.

They’re a wordy bunch at the Masterton Scrabble Club, firing letters worth a little and a lot on to the boards.

Each Wednesday, a group of about 10 people meets in the room at the rear of the Trust House Memorial Stadium, where players get into pairs and play three games of one-on-one Scrabble between 1pm-4pm.

Last week, words on the boards included ‘henge’, ‘boing’ ‘zex’ [a tool for cutting roof slate], ‘yales’ [mythical beasts] and ‘dunk’.

Boards are rotating, although seasoned players can read upside down, club founder Sue McRae said. She made the drawstring bags used to hold letter tiles, as well as a cloth letter collector [“a borrowed idea”], used by inserting the board into a pocket.

The ‘word authority’ used by Scrabble clubs in New Zealand is the Collins Official Scrabble Words 2019, and many of the Masterton club players – who travel from all over Wairarapa – use Scrabble apps on their smart phones.

New players are encouraged to start off by learning short words and after a few months, should know the 130 or so two-letter words.

“Some of the weirdest words are currency units, such as the manat of Azerbaijan,” McRae said. Unusual two-letter words include ‘zo’ which is a Himalayan cross between a yak and a cow, and ‘qi’, the Chinese life force.

According to printed hand-outs at the club, the letter ‘S’ and blank tiles are considered the most valuable for making bonus words. S is good for hooking on to the end of words for a higher score, whereas a blank should yield a bonus word.

Most ‘kitchen table’ players aim for 250 points in Scrabble, while joining a club should soon have players exceeding 300, with experienced players averaging over 350.

Player Dianne Dowding revealed she “was absolutely hopeless” when she started playing but has since learnt many new words.

“I enjoy proving a word exists,” she said. “But I also enjoy the company of the club.”

For Lynelle Ellis, Scrabble became a favourite game while on holiday and the club has become an extension of that enjoyment.

“We did a lot of caravanning and played Scrabble during trips,” she said.

Added McRae: “We are quite a noisy group – we have lots of laughs.”

Indeed, there was great merriment when one player made two ‘bodily function’ words on one board.

“As long as they’re in the dictionary, rude words are allowed,” McRae confirmed.

Word lovers who enjoy a touch of fun should give this club a whirl.

Contact Sue McRae 027 449 0601.

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