W.P. Kinsella is a bit of a logophile. In laymen terms, he’s a ‘word’ guy.
As a long-time Scrabble player, he knows a few words that most people wouldn’t even dare to pronounce. And as an internationally-known writer, well, he knows how to string those words together; his novel Shoeless Joe, captured the hearts of readers and was the premise of the Kevin Costner film Field of Dreams.
But it’s not his love of words that keeps Kinsella playing Scrabble.
“I am very competitive,” he says, keeping his eyes on the playing board in front of him.
He’s one of the founding members of the Hope Scrabble Club, which began about three weeks ago. On Wednesday night, when they met at the Grace Baptist Church in Hope, they had a small but solid turnout of five players. Because of the odd number, the other founding member, Pat Daws, ended up playing two simultaneous games: one board sits on a lazy Susan between her and Kinsella, and on another board she plays with newcomer Marion Beck.
Both Daws and Kinsella have a lot of experience with Scrabble clubs. In 1998, Kinsella started a group in Chilliwack, which Daws joined in 2000. But a few years later, Kinsella moved to Yale, and last year, Daws got married and moved to Hope.
Both of them have kept up the drive into Chilliwack, once a week. But it became clear recently that a club in Hope would make more sense.
Now, they’re hoping for more players to come out and give it a try. Eight is a good turnout, Kinsella says, but they can go on with more or less.
For Beck’s first night out, it was a good one.
Placing the seven-letter word ‘striped,’ on the board, and in the process making the words ‘bis’ and ‘had,’ she used all her tiles and scored an impressive bingo, with 76 points.
While this was her first night out, she’s been playing at home for 40 years. And when it comes to Scrabble, the more you play, the better you get.
“I don’t study very much,” he says, “but a lot of people do.”
It’s good to know the words that end in ‘ic’ and to have a handle on three-letter words, he says.
But more important than practice, winning is impossible if the tiles don’t pan out. And there’s no way to control that.
“You play according to what the tiles offer you,” he says.
“The tile gods,” Daws adds.
The Scrabble Club isn’t the only outlet for players like Daws and Kinsella. Both play online, with dozens of games going at the same time on sites like the Internet Scrabble Club.
It’s a bit of an addiction, they admit.
A friend once told Daws that if she were to start Scrabble Anonymous, she’d end up anagramming the letters of ‘anonymous.’
A word, when mixed anagrammed, could make the words: anonyms, yamuns, anomy, mayos, moony, mynas and sunny, to name a few.
To find out more about the club, which meets every Wednesday at Free Grace at 7 p.m., phone 604-819-1614.