The Book of the Week is “Word Freak” by Stefan Fatsis, published in 2001. This ebook is the personal account of a journalist turned tournament player of Scrabble. He recounts the history of the word game and his own experiences playing competitively for money against the best-rated Scrabblers in the world. He names them and elaborates on the backgrounds of some of them.
The owners of Scrabble’s intellectual property rights, sponsor big tournaments, but the prize money amounts to only thousands of dollars. There are also numerous small tournaments around the United States. The top participants in the top division do almost nothing but prepare for and play in tournaments; studying words and analyzing games for hours every day. A few are poverty-stricken and have health problems.
By 2000, Fatsis had achieved an “expert” rating of more than 1600– but it took him months. Many people scoff at the combinations of letters put on the board that are Scrabble-acceptable only– on the official list of tournament play. For, the players need not know the words’ definitions. And yes, players can bluff with non-words, while opponents can challenge those plays off the board.
Read the book to learn the culture of Scrabble tournament players.