Monday, August 18, 2008

Anagrams ... a 'better' definition ...?

In the section "Word games ..." in my last post, I tried to describe the game of anagrams as I was taught it by my father.

[I really hadn't intended to get into a detailed description of the game, but you know me. I take after my mother, who I once heard described as one who writes with the enthusiasm, zeal, and excess of laundry detergent gone mad!]

I confused Whalechaser utterly. Her comment on my post was, "I cannot count the hours I spent playing Scrabble ... but your rules sound like they were modified ... did you actually change the words after they were placed, by rearranging the letters (as in an anagram) ... ...?"

Since Whale made her comment, I have w/racked my brain trying to remember what, exACTly, our 'house rules' were! In addition, I have consulted various Wiki sources, and have come up with the following ... ... ...

Let's go first with one of my dictionary's definitions of 'anagram' ... ... ready?

A game in which words are formed by rearranging the letters of other words or by rearranging letters taken (as from a stack of cards or blocks) at random.

The phrase "as from a stack of cards" kind of leaves me at a loss. I don't know what to say about that one! We NEVER played anagrams with cards!!

Anagrams, the 'art' of rearranging letters in phrases or even sentences, goes back many hundreds of years! A really "fun" history of the word can be found here. Take your time and enjoy, OK?

Now, if you want to just read more about the game itself, go here. The one really intriguing (in my mind) statement that stands out is this: "The game has never been standardized and there exist a great many varieties of sets and rules."

Suggested numbers of tiles per letter also vary, as can be seen in this link. (By the way, I sure hope that all of your collective imaginations are working overtime here! I would dearly love to see a set of anagram tiles (not Boggle, Scrabble, or any other derivative!) available for purchase by the general public.

[But would 'JQ Public' be interested in purchasing same? Ah, now that is another subject entirely, isn't it? In this day of quick fixes and alternative choices, I would suggest not. More's the pity!]

All right. Here we go. The rules for 'anagrams', as my dad taught me a gazillion years ago. Ready? You need:

#1 ... A set of letter tiles ... each tile is on its own, with no specific numeric value other than its individual standing as an independent letter.

#2 ... A large container to hold all of the tiles ... it should have a lid so that the tiles can be sufficiently 'shaken up' preparatory to the start of each game.

#3 ... A flat playing surface.

Beginning the game ... ...

Each player 'draws' one tile from the large container (or 'pot') and places it face up on the flat surface. The player with the tile that has a letter which appears earliest in the alphabet goes first.

If he can form a word by playing his tile, he does so. If he cannot, his tile goes into a 'pool' in the middle of the table, face up. Immediately upon 'discarding' his tile into the pool, he 'draws' (sight unseen) another tile from the pot and awaits his next turn.

Each player in turn, moving clockwise around the table, must decide whether or not he can use his tile to form (or even change) a word. If he cannot, the tile gets added to the pool and he draws another.

The first word formed would often be by the third person to 'play', altho a first word could be formed by 'a' ("I" not allowed, as it is a capital letter).

[I've had some time to think about this now, and I can remember games where three or more player rotations have gone by with not a single word being formed and all of these consonants are sitting out there, face up, in the middle of the table just waiting for a vowel to join a couple of them together.]

Continuing the game ... ...

The goal is to form (I think we usually played to seven) as many words as have been previously agreed upon and then the game would end. (First person to reach that goal, of course, is the winner.) But, in between that first produced word and the final one the action is fast and furious, with brain cells working overtime -- particularly in the area of creative evolution.

While another person might be struggling to figure out whether or not he will be able to use his tile, YOU should be concentrating mightily on yours, those still face up in the pool, and any words that have already been made.

[Please ignore or negate entirely paragraphs four, five, and six of the "Word games ..." section in the previous post. They are incorrect and will only lead to confusion. I had allowed myself, yet once again, to get sidetracked from the original intention of the post and wrote something without giving it my full attention.]

Paragraph seven, which talks about 'stealing' words, among other things, is 'dead on' for accuracy. Focus on that one.

OK. Let's do a couple of 'pretend' scenarios. A couple or three rotations have gone by, and there are a bunch of consonants out there in the pool, just waiting to be snatched up by the first person to draw a tile that has a vowel on it. Each previous player, in his turn, has had to place his tile face up in the middle and draw another.

Bingo! One of the players draws one. He'll have to keep his excitement to himself, however, because you can only play when it's your turn.

Then it's his turn. He wraps one or two consonants around his vowel to make a word and draws another tile. It's still his turn because he has played the drawn tile. Another vowel! My goodness!! And so he continues drawing and playing until he can play no more. Before surrendering his last drawn tile to the pool, tho, he gives all of the words that he has formed one last final check to make sure that none of the letters already in the pool can be added to his words to form new ones.

While you can always change one (or more) of your own words, when it's your turn, it is eminently more satisfying to 'steal' one from one of your opponents, wouldn't you agree?

[A tile in the middle of the table could always be used to form a new word, but that player could not then immediately draw and continue to play unless he could play the tile that he had drawn initially. And, once said player has contributed his drawn tile into the pool, his turn is over.]

I don't mind telling you, folks, that my mouth is absolutely SAlivating to have a game of anagrams! Do I have any takers?

And, "Yes, Whale, we actually DID change the words after they were placed, by rearranging the letters, as in an 'anagram'." Because, after all, the game was 'anagrams'.

Twas my fault in the written explanation, not yours in the understanding, Whale.


Tammy said...

I see through Yahoo and other web places (don't know the techical term for them lol) that one can play games online with friends. Too bad there isn't one for your Anagrams game. :)

Meant to say in your last post, that your mom & dad's missing letter tiles is a disappointment. I'm sure it definitely was to you!!

Probably our most "treasured" game we have is Monty's chess set that comes from Pakistan.

Goldenrod said...

Tammy, there are 'games' for EVeryone, including 'anagrammatics'!

Truly, I have no interest in participating in ANY of these ... they are timed, and extremely impersonal.

Thank you for your concern about the missing tiles. It would have meant a great deal to me to have found them. They were made of wood, not plastic, and are still around today ... somewhere.

I should have included in one or the other of these posts a comment about Butch, who is perhaps the greatest 'word game' player I have ever known.

In re your most 'treasured' game? Hang on to the set, Tammy. I gave my Mexican set away some years back to a fellow taxicab driver.

(By the way, I could NEVER be even remotely considered a chess player. I could -- maybe -- give you a halfway decent game or two, up to a point -- but then I wanted my attention to go elsewhere!)