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Teenagers Play SCRABBLE in the HHS Library

A good vocabulary and the ability to spell are essential elements of success in a classroom and needed ingredients for a high SAT/ACT score. One way increase a person's word power is to read more and write more. Those are tried and true methods. Another is to play word games such as SCRABBLE.

The Huntington High School library is the latest "in" spot to play SCRABBLE. Students flock to the main library study area to complete written assignments, use textbooks, work on projects and conduct research. "We wanted to come up with something for them to do when they finished their work," said Patricia Dillon, the high school librarian.

The "something" the library "came up with" is SCRABBLE, the tried-and-true American board game. "What better to support the high school vocabulary initiative than to have SCRABBLE games available?" Mrs. Dillon said. The library acquired two game sets.

"We just put them on the tables with dictionaries and the kids start playing," Mrs. Dillon said. "They are so great about keeping the sets together."

The story behind SCRABBLE is an interesting one. "During the Great Depression, an out-of-work architect named Alfred Mosher Butts decided to invent a board game," according to the SCRABBLE website. "He did some market research and concluded that games fall into three categories: number games, such as dice and bingo; move games, such as chess and checkers; and word games, such as anagrams. Mr. Butts wanted to create a game that combined the vocabulary skills of crossword puzzles and anagrams, with the additional element of chance. The game was originally named Lexico, but Mr. Butts eventually decided to call the game "Criss-Cross Words."

Mr. Butts wasn't through with his creation just yet. "He studied the front page of The New York Times to calculate how often each of the 26 letters of the English language was used. He discovered that vowels appear far more often than consonants, with E being the most frequently used vowel. After figuring out frequency of use, Mr. Butts assigned different point values to each letter and decided how many of each letter would be included in the game. The letter S posed a problem. While it's frequently used, Mr. Butts decided to include only four S's in the game, hoping to limit the use of plurals. After all, he didn't want the game to be too easy! Mr. Butts got it just right. His basic cryptographic analysis of our language and his original tile distribution has remained valid for almost three generations and for billions of games played."

Mr. Butts' early attempts to market his game to manufacturers fell flat. But, he kept at it. "He and his partner, game-loving entrepreneur James Brunot, refined the rules and design of the game, and renamed it SCRABBLE," states the company website. The Huntington High School students now playing the game in the library are happy Mr. Butts' was a persistent fellow.

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