Sunday, August 13, 2017

"Dad says there are more than

three thousand letters in the Japanese alphabet, which could pose a problem. There are only twenty-six letters in the English alphabet, and I get into enough trouble with them as it is.”
~ Rin Chupeco,
The Girl from the Well   

I walk the Avalon beach every morning, and the other day I noticed some small squares in the sand, and, thinking they were mini tiles, I picked them up.  I did not notice until I brushed the sand off of them that they were old scrabble tiles, and I did not realize what they spelled until I pulled them out of my pocket today.  Of course, I have to wonder how they stayed together, so to speak, in the tides, but I just thought, what a wonderful find.  It does not take much to make my morning out there!  I am already overwhelmed by the sky and sea.
This got me thinking about simple letters.  I watch grown people in the shop going through a box of block letters.
Trying to spell out that special word...you just need the right...
Of course, today words are morphing into letters...U know?
                                                    
This did get me thinking about letters and words, and Scrabble came to my mind.  I never knew the history of Scrabble, but it dates to the 1930s and an unemployed architect, a victim of the Depression.

Alfred Butts studied games, and he realized word games had no scoring motif.  "Attempting to combine the thrill of chance and skill, Butts entwined the elements of anagrams and the classic crossword puzzle into a scoring word game first called LEXIKO. This was then refined during the early 1930s and 1940s to become CRISS CROSS WORDS. It’s been suggested that he also drew on a story he’d read as a child, Edgar Allan Poe’s "The Gold-Bug", in which a pirate’s treasured map is decoded by matching symbols to letters based on how often they appear in the English language. Either way, the upshot was to limit the role of chance and allow knowledge and strategy to play a part, resulting in a blend that’s crucial to Scrabble’s enduring popularity."

Butts studied the front page of The New York Times to make his calculations for the letter distribution in the game. This skilled, cryptographic analysis of our language formed the basis of the original tile distribution, which has remained constant through almost three generations and billions of games.

His guinea pig was his wife Nina who, in a twist that would seem scandalous today, had been his schoolteacher growing up. Was it her fault that Butts always claimed to be a terrible speller? Invariably, Mrs Butts beat him at his own game, reportedly once playing the word ‘quixotic’ across two triple-word scores, notching up close to 300 points in a single turn.

Nevertheless, established game manufacturers unanimously slammed the door on Butts' invention. It was only when Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, that the concept became a commercial reality.

Together they refined the rules and design and then, most importantly, came up with the name SCRABBLE - a word defined as 'to grasp, collect, or hold on to something'; and a word that truly captured the essence of this remarkable concept. And so the SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game was trademarked in 1948.

Brunot rented a small, red, abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut. Along with some friends, they turned out 12 games an hour, stamping letters on wooden tiles one at a time. Only later were boards, boxes, and tiles made elsewhere and sent to the factory for assembly and shipping. In 1949 they made 2,400 sets and lost $450. 

Then in the early 1950s, the president of MACY'S discovered the game while on vacation and ordered some for his store. Within a year, the SCRABBLE game was a 'must-have' hit, to the point that SCRABBLE games were being rationed to stores around the country!
From 1952 through 1989, the game went through several owners, and it finally was purchased by Hasbro on 1986.  The 1950s games were marketed by Selchow & Righter.  Then in 1986 the company was bought by Coleco.  When Coleco went under, Hasbro, owner of Milton Bradley, bought Scrabble and Parcheesi.

There is a National Scrabble Day!
So, now you know those scrambled letters went through a lot to get to game night...and now to your ipad or iPhone!  But...pre digital Scrabble...

Everyone must know by now that the aim of Scrabble is to gain the moral high ground, the loser being the first player to slam the board shut and upset all the letters over the floor.
Craig Brown




1 comment:

Sherri Mitchell said...

Great find and a great post! What are the odds that you find those letters spelling that out on the beach of the same name...WOW that is so NEAT!!! I love it!