Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Challenge

Clive Prentiss walked into his local library. He was a mystery writer by profession, and intended to set his next novel in Hawaii. Since he'd never been to Hawaii, he needed to do some research..

Between the entrance to the library building and the entrance to the library itself was a FOYER. In one corner of the foyer was a large Community Message Board, where people and organizations could post advertisements for their events.

Clive always made a point of checking that board each time he visited the library, to see if there was some new event in town worth attending.

He strolled over there now. His eyes passed over a variety of announcements.  His PERUSAL came to an end when he saw a large poster with Scrabble® tiles scattered all over it and the following text:

Tri-City Scrabble® Tournament.
$50,000 prize fund to be distributed between top-10 finishers
Tournament dates: August 1 - 7, 2017

Clive's eyes narrowed. August 1... the tournament was a whole year away.

Clive stood in front of the poster, arms folded, COGITATING.

It was true he hadn't played Scrabble for over twenty years - since he was a kid, in fact. But he had a large vocabulary and was an excellent speller.

And he had a year to increase his vocabulary and start playing again.

A couple of hours here and there every week for 52 weeks, and he'd have a good chance of coming in to some easy money next August.

Clive continued into the library, trotted up the stairs to the third floor and found the travel section. He chose several books on Hawaii at random from the shelf, and then, on a whim, stopped by the Information Desk.

"Do you have any books on playing Scrabble®?" he asked the librarian.


The librarian rose and led him UNERRINGLY to a shelf that had a couple of books - Word Freak and Word Nerd.  

Clive's lips quirked. Not very glamorous names for Scrabble® players. Rather PEJORATIVE, in fact. Not the way to get the average games player to seek to learn the game.. a title like Word Birds would have been better...but he was DIGRESSING.  Offering prizes of $50,000 in a local tournament was another excellent way to get people interested in Scrabble®!

"Do you know about our Scrabble® Club?" the librarian asked, watching him as he took the two books and added them to the stack he held in the crook of his arm.

"No, when is that?" Clive asked.

"They meet every Wednesday. Downstairs in the Winter Conference Room. 6 pm."

"Thank you for telling me," Clive said. "Are they the ones sponsoring that $50,000 Scrabble® tournament?"

 "No, I think it's one of the organizations from one of the bigger cities. This group only has about five players. But I'm sure they'd be happy to have you."

"I'll go to their next meeting," Clive assured her. "Thanks again."

As Clive walked back down the steps to the first floor, he thought about the Scrabble® club. Only five members? Was it even worth going to? Well, he would need to play somebody to find out his present skill level compared with other people who played - he may as well stop by.

Clive stopped at the Community Bulletin Board once more. He'd often seen a poster advertising a Scrabble® club, but all it had promised was "fun people" and he'd always had better things to do.

Now that the profit motive was introduced, his interest was PIQUED.

Clive's lips QUIRKED. So, okay, money was his primary motive, but he was  a competitive soul, and as a writer and reader he knew the importance of a strong vocabulary. So this would be a win-win situation.

He'd definitely attend the next week's meeting. After all, probably each member of the club would be attending that $50,000 tournament next year, so this would give him an insight into the competition.

Clive drove home by way of a McDonald's drive through. Once home, he settled in his living room chair with a hot fudge sundae in one hand and Word Freak in the other, and began to read.