We get our seven tiles. The board laced with squares of green, blues and reds lies in front. The rules prop up the board, and our chest of vocabulary stands ready. The objective? To be the player with the highest score at the end of the game. As in challenges in life, everything stands in front of us. How do we confront them?
We don't get to choose our tiles. But getting seven tiles with one point does not mean we can get a maximum of mere seven points. Using the same set of tiles, we can get up to the seventies, or eighties with knowledge of the rules, the depth of our vocabulary and the clever use of the tiles lying on the board. Our achievement is not limited to what's thrown at us, or within our reach. With knowledge, acute observation and an agile mind, one plus one can always be greater than two.
Image by Vanessa Pike-Russell via Flickr
However, if we keep hitting a brick wall matching our tiles to our arsenal of vocabularies, we can always opt for a tiles exchange. It is akin to changing jobs, moving house, migrating to a foreign country, or starting another relationship. We won't know what we will get - we might jump with joy, or we might pinch ourselves and ask "Why bother?", or we might even pull our hair and yell in regrets and frustration. But one thing is certain: we will miss a turn, and the opponents will be given a chance to increase their lead on us, or cut short our leads. The transition is always a risk, and it needs to be managed with the appropriate mentality and attitude.
But is it a risk worth taking? We can never be sure.
The option to exchange is always a comfort to have. At times when we do find ourselves facing dead ends, it's a breather. And the path of life should never lead to a dead end. Take a step away from the dead ends, and a myriad of options are always available.
While tiles of single point might not go far in Scrabble, we shouldn't be smug when we get the ten-pointers either. For they are only valuable when they are placed on the board. If they remain in our rack when one of the opponents has emptied their rack, it's a double blow to us. So knowing when to play the high value tiles is important. We must seize the moment. If we decide to let go of the opportunity that presents itself, the next one might never arrive. It's not always easy and at times, for the sake of avoiding an eventual heart break, we might have to settle for second best, for the best might not exist - if that is the case, while we think we are settling for second best, we are actually choosing the best. As in life, we'll never know.
Luck - in my opinion is the most advantageous aspect to have playing Scrabble. We can have the widest vocabulary in the world, but if we don't have the right tiles, and there is no place to put our tiles on the board, it is worthless. We always need a little bit of luck. But Scrabble is not just a game about vocabulary.
We approach a game of Scrabble like we approach the challenges of life - with a right strategy and plenty of patience. Want to play an open game? Put every word perpendicular to the words on the board. Want to play it tight? Stack the tiles on top of another word on the board. Stronger opponent? Play it safe. Weaker opponent? Be adventurous, but be cautious still. Lagging behind? Try to keep pace, the right tiles could appear at the right time in our rack and on the board. Leading? It's never too cautious to keep a watchful eye. The right strategy needs to be coupled with patience. During execution of the strategy, patience will keep the unwanted emotions in check and maintain a cool head under any situation in a challenge.
And as in life, we don't always play to win in Scrabble ... err ... Actually, in that sense, Scrabble is nothing like life. And we only tell ourselves we play for the sake of learning and winning is not important when the other guy is leading by 100+ points and there are only less than 6 tiles left.