Ethical quandary while playing SCRABBLE

Hypothetical situation–not really, but we always start that way, don’t we?

Let’s say you’ve got this friend. He’s really depressed. I’m not talking just a mild case of the the blues that you me and you are subject to now and then, but we can make into a song and sing 'em out again…sing 'em out again…Ta Ta Dum, Ta Ta Ta Ta Dum Dum

:smack: Sorry, I broke into a song thread there…phew… All better now. Thanks :smiley:

Anyways, this is a real case of the Blue Meanies :frowning: , like so bad he’s been in the hospital. After some heavy medication and finally ECT (yeah, they do do it, and guess what, apparently IT WORKS-- Zap over and check it out), this guy is finally starting to come around.

So, you go to the hospital for a visit. Now this guy is your friend, but not a really close friend. He’s more like a neighbor you say hello to and occasionally invite over to watch TV, play a game of cards, ect… (I mean E-T-C) :stuck_out_tongue: . He’s always been a bit, shall we say off. Harmless, however.

At the hospital, there’s not a lot to do, but one thing they have is SCRABBLE. So you play. Game starts OK. But this guy’s moving a little slowly, you know, the synapses aren’t packing their usual punch, so he’s falling behind a bit. You don’t want to take advantage of him, or set him back while he’s on the mend, so, of course, you overlook some triple letter score chances and double word scores and so on, just to keep it close.

But then it lands on you.:eek: Your letters line up on your little tray and make, yes, seven letters of an 8-letter word. I swear, I didn’t even rearrange the tiles. They just fell like that when I put them on the tray. It was the first 7 letters of INTREPID.

Now, I’ve been playing this damn game for nigh on many a year, and NEVER, I repeat NEVER have I managed to lay down all 7 tiles in one pop. I came close once, with AQUAVELD, but the damn ~dictionary~ didn’t have it in it. (Webster, pfffft, what does HE know??)

But there, in the visitors lounge of the psychiatric ward, I had reached the unreachable, caught the snipe, found SCRABBLE Shangri la.

A quick scan of the board, and YES! I had my D. It was perfect. The gods were smiling. :slight_smile:

But were they smiling with me, or at me? :wink:

My morbidly depressed opponent and neighbor was already 20 or so points behind. If I play INTREPID he will be slaughtered. There’s little hope of climbing out of that hole, even if you’ve got all your screws cinched down with a teeth grinding. His rattle every time he turns head.

So, what would you have done:

Go for the glory and grab this once in a lifetime opportunity for a SCRABBLE play par excellence, about which you could brag for the rest of your life;

or let it pass, and, in anonymity, know in your heart of hearts you did your small part by doing no harm to this poor, vulnerable, fragile person who desperately needs something–anything–positive to come his way?
(Reading over this again, I see that QUANDARY would be another kick ass SCRABBLE word)

It depends on the person. You know you got it and there is not all that more to it (your not the type to brag, are you).

Ohhhh…tough call. It really would depend on the person, but if he/she seemed to be doing OK at the time, I’d lay it down. If they were in a state of weeping “I can’t do anything right and my life is down the shitter”, I might put down “cat” and move on.


You know, while I was reading the OP (incidentally, I enjoy your style of prose) I thought of something really clever to say but I’ll be damned if I know where it went. Anyway, I would just look at it like this-- The guy sounds like he’s at the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps you could pass up this once in a lifetime opportunity for the sake of… No, don’t do that. I mean, would a moderate Scrabble victory- which he would probably doubt, imagining you went easy on him anyway- really pick him up that much? Here’s what you do. Lay that thing down and claim your just victory. Be a very gracious winner. Let him share in your victory. Do the traditional high-class thing and say something like “Well, looks like I’m buying!..” That way, you get to enjoy your greatest Scrabble moment and give him something to look forward to upon being discharged. (Besides, if you ignore the letters lining themselves up for you, you’re pretty much flicking Fate in the ear. Why would you want to do that?) :wink:

I’ve been in the hospital in extremely bad shape with depression, but I’m also from a family of rabid and skilled Scrabble players, notably my mother, grandmother, and aunt. Let me ask a couple of questions first.[ul]
[li]How often do you play scrabble with this person?[/li][li]Who usually wins?[/li][li]How competetive does he think you are?[/li][li]How competetive is he?[/li][/ul]
If I were playing scrabble against my mother (or aunt or grandmother) and she gave up a 7-letter word to make me feel better, it’d make me feel worse. I’d be convinced I’d frightened my mother and have an effect roughly akin to hearing her call the undertaker. I’d also feel guilty for scaring her, negative emotions would feed on each other, and general bad things would ensue. On the other hand, I have hardly ever beaten my mother at scrabble. If I were playing one of my brothers, or anyone else, as I think about it, and he did the same thing, I’d probably feel almost as bad, but this time with a bigger emphasis on pathetic. Then again, like the rest of my family, I’m very competetive and am not used to people going easy on me.

Excuse me. I am trying to see the other side. If I were you, I would have used the 7 letter word, made a comment about dumb luck, and suggested a rematch.

I like p@cific@812’s comment about buying a round. I can remember feeling like I’d never get out and wondering if anyone would associate with me afterwords.

** Crepitus Fremitus**, please give your friend the good wishes of someone who’s been there, and thank you for standing by him.


My friends . . . well, I’d probably slaughter my best friends, because they would do the same to me . . .

Normally, though, I’d probably just let it pass.

Really, it woud depend on the person, though.

BTW, I think it’s cool you visited this guy. I know people who wouldn’t.

I’m with cjhoworth.
If it were me, and I thought somebody who came to see me was losing to me out of pity ( and I think he might figure it out) it would make me a lot more depressed. Come to think of it, if I were in a mental hospital, and somebody came to see me and treated me just the way he would a person in the “real” world-attempting to beat the pants off me- I’d be reassured.

Unless you have reason to think winning would really mean something special to him, I say the best thing you can do for a mental patient is treat them like a person. Don’t condscend to him. If he’s intelligent, he’ll know.

If you are playing the visiting room of the mental ward do you really need to keep score? Just play the game and pass the time with him.

You know you had the word. What were you going to photograph the board and then scan the image in a put it on your homepage? Maybe make it your Christmas Card this year?

I wouldn’t play it and I would set him up for good scores by playing near the triple word scores. (but not on them) But that’s just me.

ZETTE: He couldn’t play “cat”, he only had the letters INTREPI. :smiley:

I’d’ve played the seven. I’d’ve asked my opponent first, though, you know, to break the ice. You don’t want to rub their faces in it when you get one of those miraculous combinations, but you can’t just ignore it, either.

CREPITUS: So, I couldn’t help notice that you’re losing.

NEIGHBOR: Um…yeah.

CREP: So, is, um, losing this game going to put you over the edge or anything, or are you okay if I kick your ass?

N: (scenario A) Let’s just play a friendly game. I’m not exactly firing on all cylinders. Have I told you how much your visiting means to me?

CREP: (scenario A) Um, yeah, okay. I didn’t have any eight letter words or anything. I was just asking.

N: (scenario B) Well, we’re keeping score, so you go ahead and play the best game you can.

CREP: (scenario B) Woo hoo! Read 'em and weep, nut job!

Perhaps “nut job” isn’t entirely appropriate for the setting?..

I’ve a similar story to tell. My brother, now clean & sober, had bottomed out and landed in detox for several hellish weeks about 5 years ago. He claims he remembers little from his early days there but the one thing that sticks in his mind is a ping-pong game we had in the recreation area.

This was after he’d weathered the worst of the DTs but while he was still visibly shaky and the night bunnies were still lurking around every corner. I could tell he was bored out of his mind and I really couldn’t think of anything to say to him that wouldn’t sound either patronizing or recriminatory so I challenged him to a game. I was surprised that he accepted since I’d always beaten him when we were kids but, in retrospect, I think we were both relieved to focus on something else for awhile.

Needless to say, I clobbered him. I’d intended to go easy on him but the old sibling rivalry reared its ugly head and I couldn’t let my younger brother beat me. Visiting hours were over shortly after the game and I went home feeling guilty as hell. What I’d failed to take into account, however, was my brother’s startlingly high stubborn-asshole quotient. He now had a purpose. I found out later that he spent most of the rest of his free time there practicing with other patients or bouncing the ball against the wall.

Near the end of his stay, he challenged me to a rematch and kicked my ass in straight sets. I’m not saying I’m fully responsible for helping him to get through a horrible period in his life but I like to think I helped by bringing a little normalcy into an otherwise fucked up situation.

Sheesh, after preview, this reads like some kind of sappy after-school special. Heck, we don’t even play ping-pong anymore. Nowadays, I prefer to beat him in Gran Tourismo. :wink:

When I play SCRABBLE I have several different levels. If I were to be playing, say, my niece when she’s 9 I wont play to my full capacity. That is I wont make it so that she has no chance at triple word score or letter score. So basically I’d stop thinking several moves ahead. And if someone was slightly incapacitated I’d do the same. Not because I want to let them win, or even give them a chance but … Well it’s like baseball. If you’re up by 10 runs you don’t go stealing bases, it’s bad form. But if you hit the home run, well that’s the way the game works. So play that word.
That being said 7 or 8 letter words aren’t all that rare. You can play certain letters down so that you have a better chance of getting big words with your remining letters. Back when I used to play my Grandmother a lot I’d get one every other game. But I had my strategy set to high when I played her.
Plus it’s INTREPID, it’s not like you’ve got INTUMESCE. (played off the IN, and yes I looked it up.)

As a rabid scrabble player and someone who’s spent time at the local PHF (psychiatric health facility, pronounced ‘puff’), what I would have done if I were you, the visitor, is to play to the best of my ability. Sure, be sportsmanlike and point out that it’s the first time ever you’ve gotten a seven. But act normal.

As myself and a few other ‘alumni’ are prone to point out: “We’re nuts, we’re not stupid.” :slight_smile:

Tough one. I jsut played Scrabble last night, and personally, I’m a bitch about it. If I notice someone’s setting themselves up for a bigger word (like, they put “Hey” down one turn, so they can place a T on top and build from that gaining more points), I do what I can to screw them up. And I will waste tripple word scores to prevent my opponents from using them. But typically, most of my words are along the lines of “Cat” anyway, so…But, I win quite a fair share of the time. I’m cutthroat, especially when the people I’m playing against are my intellectual superiors. It makes me happy to beat them.
But in this situation, “intellectual superior” isn’t my oponent. The fact you were giving them the high point spaces was nice enough, but you were still winning. I would have gone with the seven letters, and in the next game, tried a little harder to lose. Unfortunately, it also depends on how competative your opponent is. I dated this girl who was VERY competative, and if I lost deliberately, she got even more pissed. So, in that situation, go for it. If you play with them on a regular basis, they know you’re tactics, and should expect for you to do something like that. Or, if you always play to lose, they’ll know you suck, and be suprised you could ever think of something like Intrepid, and be a little happy for you.

Or they’ll bite you. But you know this guy better than me, so I’ll let you take that risk.

This thread made me want to play a couple games with my Grandmother. Grrr, I had a real nice 7 letter word buy no place to put it TRI?ODS. And with an S too, I nashed my teeth quite a bit hoping I was missing something but no, not only couldn’t I play it but I had to opt for a mere 10 or so point the board was so tight, sigh.

Once upon a time, 2-trip words using seven letters. (Filled in above and below stuff on the edge.)

Rules are now imposed on my play. No seven letters. I have to let one round go once something is placed on an edge before I can take a triple. No african animals or scientific terms. (“Oryx” and “Apogee” were the final straws.)

Seven letters are quite easy to come by, I usually have at least two opportunities/game (which I can’t use).

Egad Osiris, do you realize how many words you can make with those???

Good idea. I think most people wouldn’t feel that bad about it, since – let’s face reality – scrabbling out takes luck, in addition to skill.

But I agree with those who say it depends on the person.

Hey, maybe the guy was trying to let you win. :wink:

Bad board ftg, bad board. But some deity smiled upon me as the game I just finished I got to use all 7 letters 3 times, FIGHTERS, DIVISION (which was a beauty cause I also got TAXI) and D?NGERS.

All of which does relate to the OP. My Grandma is 88, and while she doesn’t have altzeimers, she’s not all there so I creamed her 199 to 531. And I can’t say I felt a moment of doubt or guilt in the matter. I haven’t lost to her in … 6 years.

Kinda makes me sound bab huh? Well in my defence she has always professed that she could care less about games and only does it because I make her (it’s a good game for memory exercise). And more importantly when I was a tot of 5 and 6 she would be the one beating me mercilessly. This 65 year old woman (who did crosswords like the wind) let no point go untaken with her first gandchild. Remember that Clavin and Hobbes when they’re playing SCRABBLE? I was Calvin. (All SCRABBLE players know that BE is not worth 2 points however, granted the B could be blank, but still, for shame Waterson)

A non-decision for me.

What good could come of crushing this guy at scrabble? Other than making yourself the Scrabble King of the Psychiatric Ward?

I don’t buy the argument that he would see what you’re doing if you go easy on him, especially in the situation described. He can’t see your (unplayed) tiles.

Sorry, reading most of the responses, IMHO this is typical of “winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing” kind of world we now live in.

I’m with K364. You know you had it, where’s the victory in actually playing it? You can tell all your friends that you had it, anyway

Using all of your tiles in one play isn’t that rare. If it has been for you in the past, maybe you’ve improved recently. Like ftg mentioned, in a two-player game it isn’t unusual to have 7-letter words in your rack at least once a game, even if they can’t always be played, and a playable situation maybe every other game or so.

Enjoy the experience in your head, and let your friend win this time. You can wait, and beat him at SCRABBLE when he gets out of the hospital.