Simple pleasures . . .

The Internet Scrabble Club offers a basic board and clunky action, but the game works well online

I’ve been beaten at Scrabble by my beloved, consistently, since we took our maiden adventure together across Canada on the Canadian Pacific railway, back in 1981. We’ve played on a variety of boards, though the travel game with corner feet in each tile has survived intact through those forty years. Some day, perhaps, when we’re really settled, we’ll invest in a beautiful, ultra-tactile board in a handsome box, with jarring-resistant borders for each tile to nestle in, as our neighbours play on, but just at the moment we don’t have the space to accommodate such luxury.

We’ve sought out Scrabble for online play, and practised on Lexulous, which is a kind of foreshortened Scrabble board with a rather arcane dictionary, and frankly it’s not very good. Unfortunately, though some board games (for example, Ticket to Ride, the game we colloquially call The Train Game) have been exquisitely and precisely translated into an online presence, the classic Scrabble has not. For whatever reason, the licence seems to have been sold to philistines who’ve managed to contaminate simple game play with endless bells and whistles that interfere with the simple pleasure of achieving a good score. It’s not even worth placing a link to this site, and I suspect that most Scrabble enthusiasts would be delighted to see its demise.

But a couple days ago, interrogating Google yet again for a simple, professional-feeling online Scrabble experience, I came upon the Internet Scrabble Club which does manage to achieve a clean-looking board and reasonable game play suitable for both laptop and iPad. We played a trial game yesterday, and the result was very nearly a dead heat (I may be improving!).

So we’ll likely be back to play through the ISC, from time to time on a rainy and drizzly afternoon in front of the fire, because a workable online game both keeps the score (a running tally) and incorporates its own dictionary which will reject proffered words without penalty. Just the way we like it. As simple as that.

Simple pleasures seem to be more rarified these days. Everything’s marketised. You can’t turn around for being bombarded with ads. Of course this is a grumpy old man’s perspective, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. So while we yet can, we can applaud things that retain their intrinsic value without trying to enhance the experience, or sell us something.

The lily is pretty enough, really, without gilding it, isn’t it?

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