Bingo! So Much for Family Game Night

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My husband accused me of cheating last night. But I had laid down a perfectly legal move, called a BINGO, in my very first move of our family game night Super Scrabble match. It involved using up all of my letters at once—in my case ARTISANS—for which I received fifty extra points. It was all downhill from there.

It was our fourth grader’s idea to have a family game night, like the kind you see in Milton Bradley commercials or in regional parenting magazines under the headline, “Families Who Play Together, Stay Together.”

So, after dinner, he and his brother brought down several boxes of games, including Dominoes (the game, not the pizza), Monopoly, and Trouble. But Scrabble turned out to be the real trouble. And no, I didn’t cheat.

We split into two teams: Chris and Dad, Nick and Mom. I promised to ditch my Scrabulous/Lexulous rules, agreeing that it’s unfair that I play the online version of Scrabble every day with fellow authors and journalists. We are word people, after all, so it’s not fair. Then my husband trash-talked me, and the game began.

After a Rocks, Paper, Scissors shoot-out between the team representatives, both of whom have school today, Team Dad, a.k.a. “The Thunder Bolts,” made their first move: HAVE for something like twelve points.

I looked over our letters. “Oh boy,” I mumbled. I looked at my fourth grader considering sparing him the BINGO. But then I remembered the trash-talking from my husband, the IT guy who would love nothing more than to take down an author, especially one who blogs about him on occasion. One by one I placed the letters down on the board, A-R-T-I-S-A-N-BLANK (for S). Then I announced, “Bingo!” on behalf of our team, “The Cellos.”

They all looked at me as though I’d been hit in the head and thought I was playing a different game.

“What’s a Bingo?” my husband asked.

“It’s when you place all your tiles down in one play,” I explained. Then, sensing descent, I grabbed the Scrabble rules page and pointed to the line about BINGO. “It’s an extra fifty points.”

My husband’s shoulders slumped. Chris fired up his Nintendo DS. Nick beamed.

For much of the game, we were neck-and-neck—if it weren’t for the fifty BINGO points. But then we kept getting double word scores and triple letters scores for high-numbered letters. I had to get out the dictionary to prove that XI is a word before I laid it down for 18 points.

My husband stared at the board and sighed. “What’s the score?” he asked reluctantly.

“We’ve got a 150 point lead,” I answered. Chris cheered; he’d scored high in his Pokemon game. So much for Family Game Night.

After more than an hour of being trounced, my husband surrendered. He and Chris disappeared.

“Isn’t the loser supposed to clean up?” I asked Nick as we poured our tiles back into the bag.

“Not a sore loser,” he replied. And then we all went off to read on our own.

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