Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon, Episode Five

Leave a comment

1. I have noticed an interesting pattern. Today is the third consecutive Sunday that the weather has been absolutely gorgeous despite having been less than satisfactory previously. Yesterday, it was dreary and cold and cloudy with flurries in the morning. I am in favor of snow, but ‘round these parts, early March is supposed to be springtime. I would have enjoyed the snow anyway if there had been very much of it or if it had actually stayed on the ground, but that wasn’t what happened. It wasn’t pretty or fun; it was just interesting, and anything good about it was outweighed by the annoyance of the cold. But when I woke up this morning, it was a bit warmer, and the clouds had mostly dissipated. They’re totally gone now, and the sky is blue. The view out my window isn’t nearly as pretty as it would be if there were leaves on the trees, but it still is quite nice. The birds are singing and the pale green grass reminds me of the fields of Settlers of Catan. Spellcheck tells me that Catan isn’t a real word. Silly spellcheck.

2. Just for the record, I would like to say that the people with whom I go to church are awesome people.

typos3. I really hate it when I catch typos in things I’ve already posted online. Fortunately, wordpress allows me to go back and edit things after I’ve posted them, and I frequently do post things before proofreading them, and then spend significant amounts of time making sure there aren’t any grammatical errors or typos. I didn’t do that for the one I posted last night, and now I notice that there are several mistakes. I could go back and fix them, but I have an inexplicable personal rule against editing something I posted online more than a couple hours ago. Either I have to break that rule, or those mistakes will stay there, tormenting me for all time. Actually, there’s another option. I could pretend that I did it on purpose and that it’s a game. Any grammar Nazis reading this are thereby invited to go back to my previous post (The one about the song Bohemian Rhapsody), make a list of the mistakes, and then put that list in the comments for this post. I don’t know how many there are, and you might catch some that I’ve missed every time I’ve looked. I kind of expect that nobody will actually participate in this game, but if anybody does, whoever finds the most mistakes wins. Sorry, there’s no prize, unless the satisfaction of grammatical superiority is its own reward.

Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed4. As of now, at 1:37 in the afternoon, the song going through my head is Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed. We did not sing this hymn at church today, nor did I sing it in the car on the way back. But since it’s a Lenten hymn, it is entirely appropriate for today anyway.

5. It’s a little weird how often people tell me I’m smart. While it’s true that my IQ is above average and my grades aren’t bad, it’s also true that I have difficulties telling my right from my left and am frequently too stupid to go inside when it rains. I think that the truth of the matter is just that I have a number of friends and acquaintances who are more aware of my strong points than my idiotic idiosyncrasies. But I guess I let that get to my head a little bit, because I’m kind of in the habit of considering myself to be unusually intelligent. I hope I’m not a conceited know-it-all. I don’t think I am, but that probably is one of those things that people can’t accurately judge about themselves.

6. I really hate it when I make one stupid move that loses the game. I was even thinking the right move while I did the stupid move. It was just so obvious that I was supposed to take the knight with my queen, because that knight wasn’t even protected, but instead I stupidly moved my king out of the knight’s check, and because of that, I lost my rook a couple moves later. Now I’m going to be annoyed at myself for this for the rest of the day.

chess game7. Well, that was an interesting game. And by “interesting” I mean “black really made some serious blunders there”, except that “black really made some serious blunders there” isn’t an adjective, so it doesn’t fit into the context very well. I have decided that if I was black, I would have played Nc6 in that situation. Alternatively, Be7 would have also prevented immediate checkmate. But black obviously didn’t notice either of those possibilities, because he moved his queen to a useless place and I checkmated with Qd8 in the next move. I also won the next two games, and they were both better games in the sense that no really bad mistakes were made, and so I earned those wins.

(EDIT: Not Nc6, duh. Stupid Self. It would have to be Be7.)

8. I am truly excited about the final paper I’m going to write for my postmodernism class. It’s going to be called “και ο λογος σαρξ εγενετο: Postmodernism vs. Logocentrism”. (The only problem is that I obviously want to say theological stuff in it, and I know that’s really not what the professor is looking for.) But first, I have to get through midterms. And before that, (right now, in fact) I have to do my math homework for the next two days.

Princess Bride9. A disturbing has just happened to me. I have just realized that there is a plot hole in The Princess Bride. (Inconceivable!) Two, actually, although they’re so closely related that I think they count as the same one. First, when Fezzik finds Inigo Montoya, he tells him about Vizzini’s death and the six-fingered man. It’s likely that Fezzik found Vizzini’s dead body, but how in the name of Galoompa did he find out about the six-fingered man? He never saw Count Rugen. I suppose we could imagine that they somehow crossed paths, but that doesn’t solve the second plot hole. When Prince Humperdinck turns on the torture machine and Inigo and Fezzik hear Westley’s scream, they know it’s “the man in black” because they know that his true love is marrying another. But how do they know that Princess Buttercup is his true love? They never found out who he was or why he was following them. It would have made sense for them to assume that Prince Humperdinck had sent “the man in black”.

10. Someone just followed me on tumblr who posts some really inappropriate things. I know this because, whenever someone new follows me, I always take a moment to look at their page, but that is definitely a page I won’t ever visit again. In fact, I clicked “ignore”, which is equivalent to denying the existence of this person; now I couldn’t find his page even if I looked for it. Although I am somewhat creeped out that this person followed me, I am also kind of amused, because now he’s going to be seeing Bible verses and hymn verses and quotations from Lutheran theologians on his dashboard.

11. Now that it’s gotten dark, it’s getting cold, and I feel like I ought to close my window. But I love having my window open. This is indeed a conundrum, and I do not know how to solve it. But I do know how to spell conundrum, and that, in my opinion, is an impressive feat.

Yes, I do look for every oppurtunity to make Matrix references. I ought to start looking for every oppurtunity to make Inception references, because that's an awesome movie, too.

Yes, I do look for every oppurtunity to post this image. I ought to choose a corresponding Inception image, because that’s an awesome movie, too.

12. Right now, I’m kind of having a hard time making myself do my homework and stuff. It seems like it would be a lot more entertaining to pace my room and think random thoughts about interesting things. I ought to learn several different languages and think random thoughts in different languages so that my brain can practice worthwhile things while I’m thinking random thoughts. Either that, or I need to learn how to think it a code based upon numbers. I think that it ought to be possible to convert every kind of idea into a simple mathematical expression or formula, and that this would increase the efficiency of every form of communication as well as simplifying the learning process, regardless of subject matter. Of course, the aesthetic and artistic quality of language still has value, and, as an English major, I shouldn’t dismiss it as impractical. The ideal balance would probably be to use language as a means of communication, but to use a mathematically coded thought process. Of course, then there would be a translation process involved every time I had to communicate thoughts, but I feel like that’s already the way things work in my life. This translation process would actually be easier if my thought code was mathematically based, rather than being whatever it is now. I’m really not sure what kind of code my brain uses now, but it’s very odd. I think it has multiple layers of coding, because sometimes I have some random images or numbers or emotions or phrases running around in my brain that I can’t readily connect to anything, but I have the sense that they are somehow related to reality or something akin to reality. Speaking of which, there’s something that begins with 2-1-5 in the first column that’s really important. I just can’t remember what it is, but there’s a word that has an O-I in the middle. Okay, Self, that’s enough of that. Now go do what you’re supposed to be doing right now. Whatever that is. Um, it has an A in it, and it’s yellow and light blue. Oh, yeah, calculus. Wait, no, I forgot! There’s that purple thing I have to do first!

Is it time for another Princess Bride reference now?

Is it time for another Princess Bride reference now?

13. Don’t you hate it when you start to watch an online video without intending to watch another one, but the background music is so annoying that you have to watch something better to keep from getting the wrong music stuck in your head?

14. I eagerly look forward to the coffee I shall drink tomorrow morning. Indeed, coffee is a great and wondrous thing.

This isn't from a game I played, but this is the same website. This image has become very familiar to me recently.

This isn’t from a game I played, but this is the same website. This image has become very familiar to me recently.

15. It’s getting late, which means that within a few hours, I’ll be playing Settlers of Catan.  I mean going to sleep. Because obviously, I’m not going to stay awake  until two in the morning sitting on my bed playing Settlers of Catan online. That’s not the kind of thing I would ever do. Well, actually, it is. In my life lately, there has been a very fine line between playing Settlers of Catan online and sleeping, so who knows which one will end up taking precedence tonight. (See the earlier remark about my idiocy)

Advertisements

Help! My Brain’s Being Weird Again!

2 Comments

From my tumblr page

From my tumblr page

This morning, I had something else in mind to write about today; in fact, I had started it and already had almost six hundred words written and the rest planned out in my head. But then I had to leave it behind and go to class, and while I was in class, I changed my mind about what I wanted to say to the internet today. When I say that I changed my mind, I don’t just mean that I altered my plans; I mean that my mind literally started behaving in a different way. That different way was quite odd.

Me doing my homework this morning

Me doing my homework this morning

For example,  when the professor introduced the terminology of “spacelike”, “timelike”, and “lightlike” intervals, I almost started laughing because that sounded so much to me like the modified language known as Newspeak from the novel 1984 by George Orwell, which I am currently reading. It occurred to me that, even if I were to point out this hilarious connection that my brain had made, nobody else would have understood why I was greatly amused. I can’t even explain now in writing what it was that was so funny, because the humor of the situation depended upon a unique combination of facts: A) the observer, me, was taking a course in relativity in time and space, B) the observer, me, was currently in the middle of the said novel 1984, C) the observer, me, was particularly interested in Orwell’s predictions of the linguistic future of dystopian humanity because that is the kind of thing that interests said observer, D) the observer, me, already had enough of an understanding of the concept being discussed in class to be able to pay attention while simultaneously making random and irrelevant mental connections,  E) the observer, me, had a sense of humor of just the right type to be entertained by that particular kind of thought, and F) the observer, me, was in a kind of strange mood that involved thinking very random thoughts and finding them very hilarious.

The new and revolutionary kind of graphing paper that my professor had us use in class today

The new and revolutionary kind of graphing paper that my professor had us use in class today

Another one of these random thoughts that had occurred to me only moments before was inspired by a new kind of graph paper that the professor had just shown us how to use. One benefit of this kind of graph paper is that it makes it significantly simpler to draw a two-observer space-time diagram, which is what we’ve been doing in class for the last few days. The other benefit is that this kind of graph paper just looks awesome, and it makes me feel very clever. Apparently, on a subconscious level, I believe that knowing how to use fancy graph paper is proof of extreme cleverness. As the logical and intellectual part of my brain did math and stuff and used the graph paper to draw graphs, the part of my brain that detects awesomeness came up with an awesome idea. You see, the point of two-observer space-time diagrams is that an observer who is moving relative to the coordinate framework has a different set of coordinates because this observer sees space and time differently. As it so happens, because space and time are weird, this coordinate system is shaped differently. The faster the second observer is moving, the closer the x-axis and time-axis will be to each other. I understand the relativistic principals behind that, and I agree that the physics and math are interesting, but, to me, the sight of a graph distorted by the principle of relativity has implications that go beyond physics and beyond the nature of the universe itself. The question that was implied to me was this: could you play scrabble and chess on a two-observer relativistic board?

This is a normal chess board, so this picture isn't particularly relevant here.

This is a normal chess board, so this picture isn’t particularly relevant here.

Needless to say, this idea revolutionized the way I thought of time, space, physics, math, relativity, and life as I know it. While everyone around me marveled at the usefulness of this type of graph paper and the interestingness of relativity, I pondered the ways in which board games could be changed to use such a board. I immediately gave up on the idea of playing scrabble that way; scrabble isn’t a relativistic game. I could explain what I mean, but it would take a lot of words and require a very detailed analysis of the differences and similarities between chess and scrabble and how this relates to Einstein and physics. So I won’t explain what I mean right now, but maybe that would make a good blog post for another day. For now, it suffices to say that scrabble cannot be played relativistically, but chess presumably could. The board would be more complex and would resemble the new kind of graph paper pictured above. From each player’s perspective, the other player’s pieces would move differently. For example, to me, my pawns would be moving forward, but to my brother, they would be moving diagonally. (I say “my brother” rather than “my opponent” because I am fairly certain that my brother is the only person I know who would be interested in playing Two-Observer Relativistic Space-Time Chess with me.)I didn’t work out all of the details and rules of this variant of chess, but I’m pretty sure it could be done. It would just take a good deal of math and even more nerdiness.

This is the kind of space-time graphing we've been doing.

This is the kind of space-time graphing we’ve been doing.

As all of these thoughts rushed through my brain faster than the speed of light, my professor was using two-observer space-time graphs to show why nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. You see, the faster something is moving relative to the perpendicular coordinate system,  the closer together the x-axis and time-axis of its own coordinate system are. (I am tempted to go off on a lengthy tangent explaining why this is and what this means in terms of relativity, but again, I must refrain from doing so if I want to finish this blog post at some point today. If I could post my entire brain onto the internet, I probably would, but I can’t.) If something travels at the speed of light, its x-axis and time-axis are actually the same line, which is the 45 degree angle bisecting the 90 degree angle formed by the x-axis and the time-axis in a regular perpendicular coordinate system. The point of all of the above is this: if you were to go faster than the speed of light, time would go backwards and causality would be reversed. Of course, I already knew that; that’s what everyone tells you on a regular basis if you’re like me and have a habit of repeatedly asking physics professors why nothing can travel faster than the speed of light. (This is, in fact, why certain professors told me to take this class.) But still, it’s cool to see it proved on a graph.

Here's a somewhat simpler and easier-to-read space-time graph.

Here’s a somewhat simpler and easier-to-read space-time graph.

But here’s the thing. I still don’t fully accept the idea that it’s definitely impossible for time to go backwards and for causality to be reversed. I can see on the graph what that would entail. It would mean that time and space would be reversed. Apparently, that idea is supposed to be utter nonsense, but I see some sense in it. I once wanted to write a science fiction story in which there was an alien species who experienced time and space as being reversed. These aliens would be able to travel through time in any direction and would be able to change direction and speed through time at will, but in space, they would only be able to move in one direction at a constant speed. After thinking it through, I came to the conclusion that, to us, these aliens would seem to suddenly appear and disappear as their paths in space and time meet and depart from ours. I hadn’t quite figured out what the plot of this story would be, but it would definitely be awesome. I basically abandoned this idea when my father informed me that Kurt Vonnegut had done something very similar in Slaughterhouse Five. I then became angry at Kurt Vonnegut for traveling in time to steal my idea, and I proceeded to add a section in a story I was writing which claimed that time and space are reversed in the set of dimensions that we know as hyperspace.  The point is that it isn’t necessarily total nonsense to image a situation in which time and space would be reversed. It’s just very, very weird and very, very awesome.

All of the ideas listed in the last five paragraphs actually occurred within the space of just a couple minutes, and in the meantime, I was listening to my professor, doing math, learning about relativity, making profound psychological observations about the connection between my handwriting and my current state of mind, and mentally sorting through all of these thoughts and trying to arrange them into greater and awesomer observations about life, the universe, and everything.

I did not interrupt the class to share these thoughts, because I wasn’t sure which of them, if any, made sense, and because I would have had to say them all at the same time, which would have been impossible. Even now as I type this out, I’m on the third page, although I’m single-spacing and using a somewhat small font. And I left out all the bits about the math and the non-relativity of scrabble and the rules of my new kind of chess and the exact details of my psychological analysis of my own handwriting. If I had included all of those things, plus all of the information from this class which is necessarily involved in this stream of consciousness, who knows how long this blog post would be. It certainly would be too long for me to say all that stuff in the middle of class. Besides, my brain works better when my mouth is idle and my hands are busy than when my mouth is at work. So I kept my mouth shut and thought stuff instead. In fact, when the professor asked me a rhetorical question moments later, the only word that managed to escape from the web of thoughts in my head and find its way to my mouth was the word, “What?” Such is the extent of my articulateness when I’m thinking stuff.

And my professors wonder why I don’t talk more in class.

Random Thoughts on a Sunday Afternoon

2 Comments

There is no particular reason for this picture to be here, but I like it.

1. One of the coolest things about having a car is that it’s a lot of fun driving home (or rather, back to campus) from church. I don’t know why that would be more fun than driving any other time, but it totally is.

This is how it ended

2. On the website where I play correspondence chess, there’s this one person that I’ve been playing repeatedly for practically the whole time I’ve been using that website, and I’ve almost always beaten him. I don’t know why, because according to his rating, he’s considerably better than me. This last time, I thought for sure I’d lose because I made some stupid mistakes very early in the game that led to him preventing me from castling, taking my rook on a8 for free, and gaining a couple pawns. Somehow, I won anyway. I’m not entirely sure how I managed to do that; it must be because I’m clever.

3. Sometimes I have a weird nagging fear that I’m wrong about what day of the week it is. Today was one of those days. On the way to church, I couldn’t shake the feeling that it wasn’t really Sunday, so I was glad to see other cars at the church. Just as I was about to pull into the parking lot, I saw a squirrel in the middle of the road. It noticed me at the same time, and was so startled that it jumped several feet straight up, then landed right in front of me again. I had to slow down practically to a stop in order to avoid hitting it, especially because it was so stupid that it still took several seconds to decide to run away. But this story ends happily, because the squirrel survived, and because it was a Sunday, just as I had thought.

4. My hair is insanely curly today. I like it when my hair is insanely curly.

5. Some people may think that I put too much lemon juice in my lemonade. I say I’m supposed to use lots of lemon juice; it’s called lemonade, not waterade. The only reason I use any water at all is that my parents taught me how to make lemonade, and they said it should have water in it. Since I am a very good daughter and always do exactly what my parents tell me, (I can hear my family members rolling their eyes as they read this) I continue to put at least a little water in my lemonade.

6. When I was little, I thought that the part of the Confession that says “…But I am heartily sorry for them and sincerely repent of them…” said ‘hardly sorry’ and I was very confused. It was quite a revelation when I learned how to read and saw what it really said. The moral of this story is that learning how to read is awesome.

This is actually the view from the window of my dorm room last summer. I can’t get a picture from my current window that does the view justice.

7. The view from my window is really incredible. I can see quite a lot of the city. Birmingham is beautiful; it has forests and hills and skyscrapers and city lights, and they’re all visible from this little glass-covered hole in my bedroom wall.  Windows are a pretty brilliant idea. I know they aren’t exactly a recent invention, but I still think that they deserve acknowledgement as one of the cleverest human achievements of all time.

8. If there was really any such thing as the fashion police, I expect that they would come to arrest me today. In my defense, I like these socks and I like this skirt and I like this shirt, which is a common link between them, and thus, they go together. Although it’s true that I’m simultaneously wearing horizontal stripes, diagonal stripes, and a floral print, I don’t think that’s really the important point here. The important point is that I’m wearing awesome clothes today. I have such style and class.

9. I am vaguely aware of the fact that if anybody else was to walk into my dorm room and look around, they would inevitably come to the conclusion that I am weird. I suppose it’s already a little strange that the top of my desk is completely hidden under stacks of books, (which are piled on top of a finished jigsaw puzzle) a chess board, and various papers and notebooks. What’s a little odder, though, is that one of my walls has nine pieces of notebook paper taped to it, all of which are covered in letters and numbers. Two of them are about chess games, but the other seven are all records of random stuff written in forms of notation that I had to invent myself.

10. I hate my internet connection. It will hardly ever stay online for long enough for me to actually do stuff. I’m really sick and tired of losing chess and scrabble games just because I keep losing my internet connection. I suppose that those technically aren’t the most important things I do with the internet, but they definitely are the most time-sensitive things. So far today, I’ve won a couple games by playing well and have lost quite a lot of games by losing my internet connection. If there was a list of the most frustrating situations in the universe, unreliable internet connections would be pretty close to the top.

11. Last night, it occurred to me to wonder what would happen if I soaked bits of marshmallows in the paprika water in which I had previously baked apple slices. There’s only one way to find out. They’ve been soaking for half a day now, and I think it’ll soon be time to take a look at them and see if anything interesting happened. If not, I can always microwave them, because microwaving marshmallows is always interesting.

12. I remember the last time I was bored. It was April 12, 2007.

13. Once upon a time, I had a dream in which my brother challenged me to figure out a system of 26-variable calculus in order to convert language into mathematical equations. (Incidentally, as bizarre as that sounds, it really is the kind of thing that my brother and I would think about doing) Even though it was only a dream, I took that challenge seriously, and I am annoyed by the fact that I still don’t know how one would go about doing that.

14. ‘Tis raining, which is odd considering that it was a beautiful, sunny, summery day just a few minutes ago. But actually, this is a very nice summer rain, and I bet it won’t last for long anyway. I’m just really glad that I decided not to leave my car windows open a crack. Oh, what d’ya know, it just stopped raining. That was quick. Alabama weather is weird.

Here is a random picture from last summer that shows the cat messing up the scrabble game my sister and I were playing. It’s automatically a cute picture since it has both my cute cat and my cute sister in it.

15. My vocabulary really is sadly deficient.  For the last couple weeks, I’ve been keeping track of all the words I can find that I don’t know, and the list is outrageously long. Every morning, I write all the new additions to the list on little slips of paper and put them in a box with the others, and then, at intervals throughout the day, I take a few words out of the box, guess what they mean, and look up their definitions. If I was right about what it is, I make a mark on the slip of paper before it goes back in the box; I can take it out once it has five marks.  I’m starting to think I should be using a bigger box for this.

16. Someday, relatively soon, I will be an adult and will no longer live in a college dorm, and I’ll have my own kitchen and be able to cook my own food and will have a well-balanced and nutritious diet. I am looking forward to that very much. Nonetheless, I am currently quite content with the fact that my diet lately has consisted mainly of chocolate oatmeal, peanut butter jelly sandwiches, yogurt, microwaved s’mores, and excessive quantities of ice cream and milkshakes.

17. Great camaduka, that’s a weird-looking cloud.

Fun Things To Do With a Car

2 Comments

Five weeks ago today, I got my first car. Her name is Guinevere Saturn and we’re good friends; she’s very awesome. The reasons I need a car are mostly boring not-little-kid things like getting a job off campus and contracting college courses off campus, but I’m also enjoying having my own car for some very childish and immature reasons.

1. As I have seen my parents do, I keep a notebook where I record every time I buy gasoline. Unlike my parents, I call this notebook ‘captain’s log’ and label the column for the date ‘stardate’. I am not quite geeky enough to know or care how to actually convert the date into the Star Trek stardate equivalent, so I just use the actual date, but it still makes my life awesomer to have a captain’s log for my car.

2. Driving on the interstate is like playing chess. Since I only go forward, obviously I’m a pawn. Lane changes are therefore captures. When I reach the end of the board (and get off at the correct exit) that means I’m a queen. When I reach my final destination, that means I won.

3. (To be truthful, I haven’t actually done this one, but I always think about doing it.) When I park my car, I say “Sit.” Then, after getting out of my car and starting to walk away, I turn around, point at the car, and say, “Stay.” If anybody else sees and looks at me funny, I inform them that my car is very obedient and well-trained.

4. Ten miles an hour is warp one, twenty miles an hour is warp two, thirty miles an hour is warp three, forty miles an hour is warp four…

5. I’ve alluded to this idea in a previous blog post, and I still haven’t done it, but I will. I’m going to get a cardboard box and use it to make a fake flux capacitor for my car. I will then frequently find reasons to say, “If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits 88 miles per hour…” And sometimes I’ll complain about how hard it is to find enough plutonium to generate 1.21 gigawatts.

6. Another rule for interstate driving: Exit ramps are portals to another set of dimensions.

Strategy

Leave a comment

This is what happens when I play chess with my brother and he’s playing white. Except not really.

I learned how to play both chess and scrabble when I was little, but in both cases, I didn’t play a lot and I didn’t really bother to learn anything about the strategy until a few years ago. My interest in acquiring skill in strategy games has been fueled in part by sibling rivalry. I discovered I like scrabble when I noticed that I almost invariably win when playing with family members. Since taking up internet scrabble, I have come to the discouraging realization that I’m actually not so great, but I guess that’s not so terrible since I’m actually comparing myself to a few unusual individuals who take scrabble even more seriously than I do. When it comes to chess, I tend to lose to my brother, but it is very important to me that at some point, that changes.  I’m better at scrabble than I am at chess, which is probably because I’ve always loved to read and write, so I’m used to thinking about words. However, despite what certain people have insisted, scrabble isn’t really all about vocabulary and spelling. (If it was, I’d be really horrible at it) It also isn’t purely a game of luck. There is definitely such a thing as scrabble strategy, even if it is a bit different from chess strategy.

This is what it looks like when I play against myself and cheat

I don’t really mean things like trying to get your biggest scoring letters on double-letter or triple-letter spaces, or putting your word up against another word so that you spell some additional little words. Those things are pretty obvious; calling that strategy would be like saying that it’s strategical in chess not to put your queen on a certain square if your opponent already has a piece aimed there. The real strategy of scrabble involves things like knowing when it’s beneficial to play a long word that will open up lots of possible moves and when it’s to your advantage to keep the game position closed, or knowing when you’d better stay away from the triple word score space because you’ll be dead if your opponent manages to use it. Since you can’t see your opponent’s tiles, a lot of the strategy in scrabble involves guesswork, estimation, and a sense of which risky move is least dangerous. In that way, it’s very different from chess, where you can see exactly what your opponent is working with, and if you can’t see what he’s planning, that’s your fault. That’s one of the main differences between the two games; scrabble does have an element of chance that isn’t there in chess.

Of course, the biggest differences between scrabble and chess are the differences in the boards and the pieces themselves. Scrabble is simpler than chess because everything moves in the same way, that is, in straight lines. Diagonals are irrelevant. Essentially, every move is like a rook move. Also, chess games start at the edges and move into the center, while scrabble starts in the center and expands outward. Therefore, in chess you want to control the center of the board, and in scrabble you want to control the spaces around the edge. Another spatial difference is that in scrabble, both players have the same access to the same squares. Neither player has more control over any certain part of the board than the opponent does, and that is very obviously not true in chess.

I was really, really proud of this at the time

Related to the spatial differences between the two games is the fact that the chronology of the position in a scrabble game and chess game are opposite. The scrabble board fills up and becomes more cluttered as the game proceeds, whereas a chess position becomes simpler and less crowded towards the end of the game. The pieces you’re playing with are the pieces on the board, and it’s the ones off the board that are used up and out of the game. In scrabble, you’re playing with the pieces that are in your hand. Once a piece is set on the board, it’s done moving and it’s there for good. There’s nothing that either player can do about it, even if it’s blocking good moves for both of them. Towards the end of the game, it’s hard to find good moves because there aren’t a lot of places left to put them. In the very end, all of the pieces (or all but a couple) are on the board. In chess, it’s at the beginning of the game when all of the pieces are on the board and most of them are blocking each other’s paths.

Some of the basic strategical ideas in chess and scrabble are the same, though. You have the advantage if you can restrict and block your opponent but retain freedom of movement for yourself. (Of course, that goal is accomplished in very different ways, because, as previously mentioned, scrabble allows either player to make any move in any part of the board) In both games, you have to rethink and revise your strategic plans depending upon what pieces you have. (Although, in chess, your opponent knows what pieces you have, and in scrabble, he doesn’t) Both chess and scrabble require you to pay attention to your defensive and your offensive choices. Sometimes, you have to make a decision about whether to attack or defend, and sometimes, you can manage to do both with one move.  In either game, there are stupid moves and good moves, and then there are the really clever moves that practically clinch the game even if they happen pretty early. The fun of playing and the enjoyment of winning come from those moments when you do something greatly awesome and you realize that your brain totally has things under control.