Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Dinosaur tracks

I got sucked into playing Scrabulous on facebook but I didn't know there were cheaters out there. I found out when I kept seeing messages about not using word finders. I didn't see word finder as an option in the preferences for Scrabulous so I kept looking and . . . nothing. Went to my old friend Google and came up with several sites that offer a computer generated word finder for Scrabble players. I figured out how to work it and then realized that was how the people who beat me so badly did it; they cheated. I'm a good player because I've been playing since I was a child, but the idea that there was a way to cheat completely shocked me. I didn't think it was possible. It's like sitting down to a game of chess with someone you think is on your level and find out you've been playing against a chess master, or worse yet a computer. What's the point?

A woman I played last night asked me if I was using a word finder and I was surprised, to say the least. No, I am a good player. I looked at her stats and she is good, too, but with all the messages about word finders I can see why she might be suspicious. Scrabble is part brains and a big part luck because if you get lousy tiles (all vowels or all consonants) it can ruin your game. I can see where a word finder might help there, but I play the tiles I'm dealt and do the best with what I have. Every once in a while I'll exchange some tiles, but not often. I hate losing a turn. I guess that makes me a dinosaur. I do wish, however, that there was a way to tell if someone is using a word finder before you pick your partner. I'd have to say that someone with a high score, a really high score, is probably using it, although there are times when the tiles fall just right and your opponent leaves you wonderful openings, so ... it's still all a crap shoot.

In a world of computers and pirates everywhere looking to get ahead any way they can, it's inevitable that it will infiltrate even the hallowed boards and tiles of Scrabble. It's a shame really because it doesn't help you think better. I'd say it's the reverse and using a computer generated word finder is the best way to speed brain atrophy, but I'm a dinosaur about such things. I like computers. They have made my life easier and more enjoyable on so many levels, but they are also the devil's tool in some ways. As in life, there will always be rain -- or snow -- when you least expect or want it.

That is all. Disperse.

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