It’s Just not Scrabble

In news that marks a significant step towards the future predicted in the brilliant, hopefully not-too-prescient movie Idiocracy, Mattel has announced that Scrabble is to undergo a rule change that would allow the use of proper nouns.

Popcrunch have got the statement from Mattel, in which the change is described as “an exciting new twist” and I can already imagine Scrabble purists everywhere fretting about the implications. I wouldn’t be surprised if this leads to a schism in the Scrabble world, with some players simply refusing to embrace the new rules.

My relationship with Scrabble goes back to my time in China. I had a standing arrangement with my friend Mark for a weekly game and one of my fondest memories from my time there is an afternoon we spent playing in the tea garden of a Buddhist temple in Chengdu.

However, in the interest of uncharacteristically embracing the new, here’s a short list of some South African proper nouns and their respective Scrabble scores:

Zuma: 15 points

Zille: 14 points

Lekota: 10 points

Malema: 10 points

Nzimande: 20 points (plus 50  point bonus for using all 7 letters in your rack).

To put it in perspective, “Malema” earns you the same score as “fools”, while “Zille” is the same as “whining”.


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