For many, Scrabble is merely a board game. For others it is an intellectual pilgrimage. In this book, Stefan Fatsis, journalist and self-confessed word freak, goes in search of the people for whom Scrabble is life and affords us a glimpse into the extraordinary world of the brilliant geeks and misfit savants who populate the highest ranks of the game.
Or so it says here.
I know. It’s about Scrabble. It’s a damn good read too. Much better than you might expect from the exceptionally mediocre publishers blurb.
And, yes, it really does have something to do with chess. Fatis’ book is littered with references to our game. Aside from the one on page 296 that goes
Almost all of the greatest chess players were afflicted with various neuroses, breakdowns and mental illnesses
without any supporting evidence or further investigation, the allusions to chess make an already interesting book even more fascinating.
It’s been a couple of months since I watched Word Wars - a documentary that came after Word Freak - but I don’t remember it making any explicit mention of chess. Even so, I think you’ll find it hard to watch without finding that the portrayal of the Scrabble tournament circuit and players rather reminds you of us and what we do. It’s an hour and twenty minutes long, but the film - and the book that inspired the film - are very much worthy of your time.