Friday, April 20, 2012

Words With…Friends?

by Mike Cheloha

Yes! I had purchased the incredible iPhone! It was far superior to my previous phone and had the ability to download numerous entertaining apps. Deciding which game to purchase with it, I downloaded the free-to-play “Words With Friends” to see if it was something worth buying. It’s basically a glorified version of Scrabble, which you can play online with friends. After a few test games I decided it was indeed a good game for me, and purchasing it would prevent ads randomly popping up in the middle of the game.

“Ding!” My phone informed me that someone wanted to challenge me. “Words” has a feature that makes it possible to see who has the game installed on their phone. I opened it up and discovered that it was my brother, Willie, who was away at college, wanting to find out who could spell better. He started it off with “LOUT.” It was a simple word that only managed him six points. I was more of a “points man” myself and decided to throw down “LAYER,” which hit a double-word tile and gave me sixteen points. I lead the game for now, but I knew it was only the start.
As the battle altered back and forth, I stayed ahead and it seemed the game would end with me winning by a close lead. But then he played an earth quaking 142-point “NOSEDIVE” that combined a triple-word, double word, and triple-letter tile.

I staggered. I felt my victory was fading away. Searching desperately I jumbled through my letters and finally managed to snag a word that I didn’t even know existed, using my trusty Webster’s dictionary that I opened in a tab on my computer.

“Mike Cheloha played QAID for 102 points,” the message said. It wasn’t enough to equal Willie’s 142-point move, but it was enough to get me back in the lead.
I thought then that the victory would surely be in my grasp. I didn’t expect any more curveballs from Willie. I had a forty-point lead, and knew that only about fifteen tiles remained. I skimmed the board looking at which letters had been used, to see if there was even a possible chance that he could catch back up.

Uh, oh. Some of the major tiles had yet to be played. I looked again at my letters, seeing what my arsenal of possibilities could be. All consonants. Not a single vowel was in my little rack of letters, not even a “y”, sometimes considered a vowel. But only a vowel could save me now. I didn’t know what to do! Should I try to find a word I could add letters to, or should I shuffle out all my old tiles for new ones? I feared that would result in a wasted turn. “Ding!” Willie had played his move, and tied up the game with the word “IS.”
Yes! I knew that this would be victory!  “IS” would definitely help me now. Without hesitation I played the word “KISSED,” using up my K, S, and D, and taking an E from the “LAYER” I played at the start of the game.  Willie could “kiss” his chances good-bye because I now had a fifty-point lead, and only a mere handful of tiles remained between sweet, sweet victory and me.

Suddenly a message came through the in-game chat box. “I have nothing but vowels left. I swear you have to be cheating somehow.” I didn’t want to reply. I knew that if I did I would spurt out something I would regret. But the temptation was too great.
“You’re losing to your younger brother,” I retorted. It wasn’t amazingly hurtful, but I knew what I said was now engraved in stone. My brother is like an elephant, he will never forget my comment, and I know eventually I’m going to get trampled. He played his last move, and the game ended.

Although the score said differently, I didn’t win. I had won the fight but the war was not over. When we meet in person, I’m as good as dead. “Words With Friends” was starting to look like “Words With Enemies.” I envisioned a broken iPhone in the future. (Sigh) Don’t you just love family?

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