Last weekend, we spent time in the mountain town of San Sebastian. It’s only two hours from the beach town we live in, but it feels very different, the weather, the plants, and the old buildings some of which are from the 1600’s.
You need just about as much stuff for a three day stay in a different house as you’d need for a month. We brought along a couple of games with us. the only thing we forgot to bring was the Scrabble board. “Necessity is the mother of invention,” so since we had the tiles and the tile racks we decided to play without the board.
Turns out Scrabble was better without a board. The board creates plays that focus on getting more points and it imposes a boundary, the board’s edge, beyond which you can’t play.
We played for points, but only the points from each tile. And we only stopped playing in any direction when we came to the table’s edge.
The scores are about half what they’d be when using a board. But the word plays are more interesting without using a board.
It reminded me of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu competitions, sort of.
In one form, points are given for different positions and changes of positions. The competitor with most points wins. This makes it in a competitor’s interest to rack up points and possibly stall once they’re ahead, instead of focusing on winning a “fight.”
The other, older format has no points. You can only win by submitting the other person. No submission, it’s a draw. It’s more real (it’s a self-defense system after all), more fun to do, and more interesting to watch if there’s an audience.
We discovered that playing Scrabble without a board is actually more fun, takes less time, and encourages using better words. So we’re now going boardless.