Zaleski: A good book and Scrabble for COVID days

Zaleski: A good book and Scrabble for COVID days

Scrabble, the venerable crossword game, has become a go-to diversion for my wife, Sandi, and me. Fans for years, we have become really good at it. We play every day, sometimes two games a day. We’ve learned obscure words. We see constructions on the board we might not have seen when we played casually with friends. We’ve sharpened strategies to optimize word point tallies. Our competitive gap has narrowed. Our play is so good that in the last two weeks our scores tied twice. That is uncommon. We now are in a zone where nearly every game is decided by only a few points, often fewer than 10. Occasionally one of us wins by blowout. A few days ago, Sandi scored the ultimate blowout: In an opening gambit, she used all seven letters for an automatic 50 points, plus a double word score for her word, another 22. From the outset, she was 72 points ahead. No way could I catch up. I had never seen a seven-letter, double word power play like that. She was quite pleased with herself. I, the alleged wordsmith in the family, was appropriately chastened. “Where the Crawdads Sing” (G.P. Putnam’s Sons 2018) is the first novel by Delia Owens, an extraordinarily gifted writer. A zoologist with a PhD in animal behavior, her previous award-winning books were nonfiction works on wildlife and ecology. Her first venture into fiction incorporates her deep knowledge of the natural world, in particular the marshes, swamps and woodlands of North Carolina ...
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