Third Annual Scrabble Tournament set for Feb. 24

Gold Pan Grannies invite the public to participate and help the Steven Lewis Foundation

Time to sign up for the Gold Pan Grannies Scrabble tournament.

Time to sign up for the Gold Pan Grannies Scrabble tournament.

Never a group to rest on their laurels, the Gold Pan Grannies are again gearing up for their third Annual Gold Pan Grannies Scrabble Tournament, Feb. 24 in St. John’s Community Hall, 465 Kinchant St. with doors opening at 1 p.m.

This year they have refined their tournament rules, with each player only playing three, one-on-one games.

“The trophy will be awarded to the highest total score of all three games,” organizer Grannie Olive Walsh said.

For the past three years, this tournament has kicked off the Gold Pan Grannie’s fundraising.

Each year, they raise money for the Stephen Lewis Foundation’s Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign, which supports grandmothers in Africa who are raising children orphaned by HIV/AIDS.

Through sales of Kazuri Jewelry, plants at the Farmers’ Market, shortbread sales at Christmas time, handmade (by Quesnel Grannies) grannie angels and of course the Scrabble Tournament.

“Our philosophy is we provide a tangible item or service for the money we raise,” Walsh said.

The total money raised so far is $6,784.

Scrabble has been around since the depression in the 1930s, when an unemployed architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, decided to invent a board game. After studying the front page of the New York Times, Butts calculated how often each of the 26 letters of the English language was used, thus giving him the foundation for the game we play today. However, it wasn’t until the president of Macy’s Department Store (or so the legend goes) discovered the game on vacation and ordered some for his store. Within a year everyone “had to have one.”

Scrabble is now manufactured in 30 languages. Hasbro owns and makes the English and Spanish version, while Mattel makes and owns the rest. The languages include Arabic, Czech, Greek, Slovenian and Turkish as well as many more, with varying number of tiles depending on the frequency of letter use in any given language.

For example the English version contains 100 letter tiles while the Afrikaans editions uses 102 tiles with no tiles for Z or X, as they are used so infrequently in the language. Allowances are made for various aspects of different languages to accommodate the individual alphabets.

However, no matter where or what language you play the game, Scrabble is fun and although some take the competitive nature of the game more seriously than others, Walsh was firm their tournament is meant to be a fun, social afternoon during the dreariest time of the year.

But that’s not to say challenges aren’t taken seriously.

“We have the fourth edition of the Scrabble dictionary to settle disputes,” she said.

They also have copies of Scrabble rules on hand just in case someone isn’t familiar with that aspect.

Never played Scrabble before? Again, Olive would be happy to play you a game to familiarize with the rules. She also said there’s drop-in Scrabble at the Seniors’ Centre, Thursdays at 1 p.m., which is a great opportunity to gain a little experience or to brush up on your skills.

“And if you’re really looking to be at the top of your game and want to exercise your Scrabble muscle you can always go online,” she added.

With only 40 spots available in the tournament, register early so as to not be disappointed. It costs $20 to play which can be paid at the door, but Walsh asked people to pre-register so they know how many to expect. Register by calling Walsh at 250-747-3547.

Light refreshments included, along with several door prizes.