Friday, 16 September 2011

麻將 - Mahjong

With my recent interest in traditional word-games it dawned on me that, as a family, we are more numerically inclined.  Having said this there has been a pocket of interest amongst the younger members of the household in Scrabble but still numbers are our "thing".  Anne and I started a discussion the other day about Mahjong and how as students we used to play with another couple we knew.  This is traditional Mahjong, not the version that is often created on computer games which is some pair matching exercise.  So after a brief search on 'tinternet, checking the veracity and authenticity of the vendor, we purchased a set.  It has yet to arrive but as I was in the mood for kick starting the economy, I invested in one of Mr Jobs' Apps for the iPad.  I nice little example of the game with a full explanation of the scoring, something I was struggling to remember.  So I dived into my first game.  It came back pretty quickly but the AIs were thrashing me relentlessly.  After a few hands I was over 3500 points down.  Pretty impressive, overshadowed only by the next achievement, a 7500 point win in a single game.  I think I'll quit whilst I'm ahead.

Thursday, 15 September 2011


Recently I was introduced by Dave to Scrabble on my iPhone.  I am really enjoying it.  So much so that I have hooked in (or been hooked) by 2 other pals.  Scrabble is a great little game and is usually played around a board with a dictionary at hand to help resolve any disputed words.  The iPhone app, works like sending a text message, you take your move and then in effect your opponent has 10 days to take theirs.

I know there are serious scrabble players out there but its fun to jumble the words and look for a high scoring opportunity and just play casually. Playing on the iPhone, or on the computer via Facebook and Words with Friends does provide a little dilemma however.  I hadn't realised how many aids (for that read 'cheats') there are for helping solve your particular puzzle.  There are some fascinating little apps, Scrabulizer being one such site that one of my pals pointed me to.  All interesting sites but totally defeating the objective of playing the game. So other than occasionally browsing the "Q without U" words list and acceptable 2 letter words list I avoid these sites when taking my move.

What they have provided after taking my move is knowledge that there are many strategic options within Scrabble that I hadn't really considered.  Access to the triple word square and leaving vowels next to a triple letter square (vulnerable to high scoring J's Q's and Z's) is far more important than getting a big word for example.  I must admit though I have occasionally played a word to see if it was real, the app helpfully points out if you are mistaken - is that cheating?
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