What if?

Published: Friday, April 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005 at 11:04 p.m.
Ever done something and wondered what if I did it this way?
Hollywood often asks the same question. Arnold Schwarzenegger made his name in the "what if" movie, "Terminator." The recent flick, "Sliding Doors" with Gwyneth Paltrow, did the same.
Both movies deal with how the future changes if you did something different in the past. Unlike movies, in Scrabble you cannot retreat into the past and change your previous play.
The nagging obsession of Scrabble aficionados as well as beginners is "what if I put the wrong word down?"
Here is an example. You have the tiles AEGILNV on your rack. You find the bingo LEAVING . After you play, you see the word VEALING and wonder if it was a legal play (yes, it means to prepare a calf to make veal) because it would have given you 14 additional points.
No one wants to leave points on the board, but you just did because you had no routine to follow in order to get the most out of your play.
"What if"' can drive you crazy. But only if you let it. Try these simple techniques to minimize your anguish.
Don't play a word until you shuffle your rack at least once. This provides an opportunity to spot alternative words.
Once you decide on a word, check for the bonus point spaces, double- and triple-letter as well as double- and triple-word.
Consider if the tiles left behind on your rack will benefit or hurt you. If you leave all vowels or consonants, you could be sacrificing future points for a present play.
Ask yourself, "Does this play set my opponent up with an opportunity near a bonus point space?" Gaining 20 points, if it means giving 30 to your opponent, is not a good strategy.
Careful planning leads to fewer errors. In a game of skill and wits, be a winner. Let the loser second-guess you. Remember, only in the movies or in the innocent magic minds of small children can you go back in time and change something to make the future better.
Forethought short-circuits the agony of wondering "what if."
  • GAINESVILLE CLUB: Cathy O'Sickey, 3-0, 415; Brenda Dede, 3-0, 366; Geeke Lossing, 2-1, 384; Matt Treagor, 2-1, 383; Marie Gier, 2-1, 372; Joyce Burrows, 2-1, 348; Guerry Smith, 2-1, 334; high series, O'Sickey, 1,246; high game, Lossing, 490; high play, Lossing, 94 (staring).
  • LAKE AREA CLUB: Geeke Lossing, 2-0, 386; Irene Van Sise, 2-1, 351; Faith Smith, 2-1, 319; high series, Van Sise, 1,052; high game, Lossing, 446; high play, Lossing, 89 (waiters).
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