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"Addicted" = 14 Points

February 24, 2011 - Phyllis Sigal
You know you are addicted to Words With Friends when you are driving along and see a billboard with the word, GULF. As in gasoline. And all you see is G=4, U=2, L=2 and F=4. As in points.

Words With Friends, you see, is a smart phone game very similar to Scrabble that my son Leland introduced me to early this year.

GULF, is a 12-point word. Put that on a triple word square, and viola! — 36 points. Not bad! And I do pretty much have every letter's score memorized.

Of course there are worse things to be addicted to. This addiction at least builds brain cells instead of depleting them.

(I just this moment beat a co-worker for the second time in two days ... as I write this. And I'm well on my way to beating Leland for the third time in six days.)

Research has shown that playing word and number games and doing crossword puzzles keeps your brain in gear. And with a family history of dementia, that certainly can't hurt.

And along with keeping my brain tuned up, I'm learning new words. Who knew that WAME (a 10-pointer!) was a word? (Those Ws and Ms are great ... as are Vs, Qs, Js and Xs.) Or AVA? Or GRUTCH? And I'm keeping a list of Q words that don't need a U. And words with no vowels. And words with all vowels.

I woke up this morning around 3:30 a.m. and happened to notice it was my turn in one of the four games going on in my life. So I played. Crazy, right?

My heart skips a beat when I hear the little "chime" alerting me to the fact that one of my Words partners just played his or her turn. Did they take that spot I was counting on? Did they play a word to give me a new opportunity for big points?

Some games can go on for days ... others can be wrapped up in a few hours.

Just after Leland got me going on this game, I played for seven hours in the car on the way home from New York City. My husband was happy; it kept my eyes off the road and off his driving!

I lost the first few games to Leland — until I got the hang of it. Then I was on a roll; I won 10 in a row, with him and with a couple of former co-workers.

And it's almost a revelation when you find out someone is a Words With Friends fiend.

A friend of mine was at my house in January, and she heard that all-too-familiar chime.

"What! You play Words With Friends, too!" she exclaimed! We've been playing since. She's yet to beat me, however!

WWF is part luck — you've got to get good letters; and part skill — you've got to know what to do with the letters once you get them; and lots of fun.

There are some words you have to be careful with, too, I've discovered. I played the word "TORRID," and then had the perfect place for a high-scoring "KISS," but relinquished a few points to play another word so as not to embarrass myself. I told Leland this story, and he said, "Yea, I know!" He had a good word the other day, he said, but noted, "I can't play THAT word with my mother!"

But there is nothing to compare to the excitement of watching a word rack up the points. I was playing just after dinner last night — (I draw the line at playing during dinner; I put the phone away and try to ignore the chime) — and I placed a word with a Q.

The Q (10 points) was on a triple letter square.

The word was on a triple word square.

I waited with baited breath as the little wheel spun to give me my point count.

One hundred and five! 105! For one word! I practically jumped out of my seat! I racked up 416 in that game for a 416-206 win. Not my personal best, but pretty good, nonetheless.

Words With Friends. My latest addiction — building brain cells one letter at a time.

OK, who's ready to take me on?

Can you spell CONQUEST? (By the way, that would be 22 points. ...)

Oh, and did I say "well on my way to beating Leland"? There goes that happy little chime indicating that the game's over, and I won. Again.

Can you spell COCKY? (17 points.)


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