By Maureen Smith

As we get older we need all the teasers we can come up with to keep those brain cells generating.  My husband and I actually race to see who will start the day’s crossword puzzle.  One starts it and the other adds to it  — and so it goes through the day.   On good days we actually complete the challenge.

However, the biggest and most enjoyable challenge for me is computer Scrabble.  I have now been playing for years with a dear friend in Florida.  There are many Scrabble sites available that can be found by Googling, but the one I know and love is Pixie Pit.

The Pixie Pit website was created in May 1998 and requires a $12 annual subscription fee.  Many Scrabble sites can be accessed free, but I really like the Pixie Pit format.  It can be played in 13 languages and you can check your words in seven dictionaries with a single click.  I guarantee your vocabulary will increase and you will discover words you don’t know, such as Q words that don’t require the “u” like qat, qanat and qwerty.  You can even find the pronunciation, definition and origin of these words with another click.  Other words like jo, nu, noh, mewl, zed come in handy.  I won’t profess that these words have become part of my daily conversations, but they are in the dictionary.  In fact my partner and I have agreed to use only  words that are in all the dictionaries.  After a while I start hoping something is a word so I can use my tiles.  Now why couldn’t “chud” be a word? It would make a perfectly good word.  How did Webster miss this?  There is even a word finder, but my friend and I choose not to use this aid.

There are two-player, three-player and four-player games as well as a super Scrabble game that uses a larger board with the corners being quad instead of triple squares.  When you start your game, you choose one of 150 rooms to play in with names like “Oddballs Corner,” “Up all Night,” “Scrabbled Brains” and my favorite, “Your Word Against Mine.”  As I wrote this, 13,246 games were in progress.

Besides the advantage of taxing one’s brain, Scrabble can bring people together and is a wonderful way to keep in touch with loved ones, friends and family wherever they may be living in the world.  Pixie Pit will even find a willing player for you if you can’t entice a friend or family member to join you in a game.

When a game is set up, each player can have a name of choice.  Since my friend and I are also tennis lovers, we enjoy using names like Chris, Martina, Monica and Steffi.   We have come up with many fun names in the six-plus years we have been Scrabbling.

Once you are hooked, you might like to explore the world of extreme Scrabble, I suggest watching the movie documentary, Word Wars.  This takes the game of Scrabble to a whole other unimaginable level.

So, if you are looking for an exciting way to keep up with friends and family in faraway places or challenge those right in your home, while at the same time keeping your mind sharp, I highly recommend computer Scrabble.  Begin by Googling Pixie Pit Scrabble and trying one of the practice games.  Be careful. It’s addictive.

When Maureen isn’t  playing scrabble she can be found at the Assistance League of the Chesapeake where she volunteers.  She can be reached at. [email protected]


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