Word of the day: Conviction!

English is a funny language. Sometimes a particular word can either be positive or negative depending on the context or usage. One such word is conviction. A person with conviction is someone with firmly held beliefs or opinions. On the other hand, a person with conviction in their record is someone who is found guilty by a jury of peers! Below is an attempt to use the word both ways in a single sentence.
Lacking in conviction and honesty the fraudster went on a crime spree that eventually resulted in his conviction! πŸ™

Grand Master Lessons!

In the past few years chess engines have gotten so much better that it’s now well-nigh impossible for even top-level human grand masters (GM) to beat the most advanced chess engines. Processing power, AI and quick risk calculation all combine to make it a much more difficult job to take on the machines and emerge victorious. Having played Grand Master rated computer opponent in Scrabble I can now understand, to some extent, the frustration and empathize with the feelings of experts who get crushed by computer overlords. Below is my experience playing GM rated computer opponent in Scrabble.
1) My win loss ratio hovers between 1:6 and 1:7. Meaning, on an average I win once for every 7 or 8 games I play against the computer grand master. I am glad I am just an enthusiast playing for fun and not an expert playing for a living πŸ˜€
2) It’s been a very humbling experience, at times even humiliating 😒 when the virtual opponent goes on double-digit game winning spree, for sure. It’s like taking on a very powerful and talented opponent with instant access to the best resources πŸ™ The idea is to test oneself against the best and savor the occasional victory πŸ‘
3) I am not sure if the alphabet tiles for a player get selected randomly as it should be. Too many times I have ended up with all 7 tiles being vowels or all 7 tiles being consonants making me wonder if the intent is to load the dice even more against the humans intentionally. πŸ€”
4) Even when the opportunity presents itself to use all 7 tiles (and get 50 bonus points for that) the value of the tiles themselves are minimal reducing the benefits of 2/3 letter/word multipliers. In the left picture of this post, in one of the games, I managed to hit two 3 x Word multipliers (effectively 9 x word value) with the word ‘ORIENTAL’. Apart from the fact I had to use one blank piece (which can be used as substitute for any alphabet that fits a word) which does not have any value the rest of the tiles also had minimal value. Even if couple of tiles had more than minimal value the final outcome (right picture) might have been different πŸ€”
5) The computer opponent (of Grand Master rating) plays quite a negative game πŸ‘Žin the sense it’s always on the lookout for drying up opportunity for opponent to place on a value multiplier square. Maybe an extension of “Best defense wins championship” thinking on the board

Most times, when I am playing or the player/teams I support are playing, I believe that the player/team that plays better wins and the losing side just have to take it on the chin and get back stronger. There are times though when the virtual opponent sneaks in a high scoring word at the end and wins after trailing the entire game and leaving me shaking my head πŸ€¦β€β™€οΈin disbelief and mutter a word that rhymes with itch but starts with a ‘b’ 😑 No sexism there though, if the virtual opponent had been Joey instead of Zoey I probably would mutter a word that rhymes with dastard but starts with a ‘b’ πŸ˜‚. Actually dastard wouldn’t be a bad choice either. πŸ˜…

Bottom line: Biggest lesson learned is “It ain’t over till the petite lady stings!” πŸ˜ŠπŸ™

Paradise Lost!

Playing Scrabble against a Grand Master rated computer opponent, after couple of consecutive wins I tried to make it a hat trick. At one point trailing 264-309 I found the perfect opportunity to take the lead when I hit the jackpot! Or, should I say I found paradise? 😊 With the word “paradise” I hit both the TWs (Triple Word score) at the right top. The result: I got 158 points (12 * 3 * 3 + 50) to zoom to 422 and take a handy 110+ point lead! Generally the computer blocks opportunities to score big by somehow finding words to place in squares with point multipliers. The reason I got an opportunity this time was because the computer struck the dagger first by playing “soulmate” and scoring a 50+ point word in its previous turn! We were both trading haymakers rest of the game. Things appeared to be going swimmingly for me as my score reached 487 with 5 pieces remaining for me to play and I had a 80+ lead till right before computer’s last turn (as it turned out). Astonishingly the computer not only managed to strike a dagger it managed to twist it for good. Using all the 7 pieces it had left it scored 83+ points to take the game 491-487. The win was also aided by the fact computer got credit for all the points in the 5 pieces I still had left to play. Another high scoring thriller turned into a heartbreaker. Such is a game and such is life! 😭 How did I feel afterwards? What I felt must have been akin to what Smokin’ Joe Frazier might have felt after his “Thrilla in Manila” battle with Muhammad Ali! Battered and bruised, fighting a bigger and more fancied opponent, an opponent with a bigger reach (in Scrabble terms more expansive dictionary) as Smokin’ Joe was getting ready to fight the last round his corner threw in the towel as both his eyes were shut with the blows taken earlier in the fight and he had been fighting practically blind the earlier rounds (He did not have vision in one eye in his fighting career, in this fight the other eye was swollen and shut with the blows taken). A practical move that ultimately might not have been needed! If Joe had been allowed to fight the last round he would have won the fight as Ali collapsed with exhaustion as he as he got up from his stool ready to fight the last round. Did not matter. Joe’s corner had already thrown in the towel. 😒
Yes, like Joe, I felt a bit robbed πŸ‘Žand it felt like “Paradise Lost!”. Would be poetic justice if I could the word “paradise” again in another game and win. That would make it my own version of “Paradise Regained!”. πŸ˜ƒ
Sorry, John Milton ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Milton ) , did not mean to appropriate your work in any way and you can rest assured the chance my version of “Paradise Regained!” working out is slim to none! 😊
Life lesson: Results may not always match effort, expectation or seem fair. Doesn’t matter if one is able to get up with determination to fight after being down. πŸ‘πŸ™

(Un)fun words of the day: Beerier, Sorptive, Vivat!

Let’s take a look at the meaning of words of the day.
beerier: 1. smelling or tasting of beer. 2. given to drinking beer
sorptive: 1. The process of sorbing 2. The state of being sorbed [Back-formation from absorption and adsorption.]
vivat: A cry wishing someone long life and prosperity

I am not going to try to use beerier, sorptive or vivat in a sentence. Those words are not part of my regular vocabulary and will not make for interesting read. A story is more interesting though! Here we go!
What is life without a challenge? Dull and uninteresting, right? That was my thinking when I decided to take on grandmaster rated computer opponent in Scrabble word game. How has the experience been? I have been getting schooled pretty much every game πŸ˜ƒ Good old fashioned country ass whooping would be a fair and more colorful description. πŸ˜‚ Akin to a chess enthusiast playing a chess grandmaster. Let’s take a look at one of the games (picture attached to the post). It started promisingly when I started with a 50+ score for the word, ralline (which means of, relating to, or resembling the rails), a word I was not aware of but tried in desperate way to start strong and apply pressure. How did the computer respond? With back to back 50+ scores playing the words “wargamer” and “ukuleles”, sending me staggering back. The coup de grace came when the computer played “yatching” for a triple word score with a 50 point bonus thrown in for all using 7 seven letters in a turn. Against lesser rated opponents one or two 50 point bonus scores and final score of over 300 is good enough for a win by a comfortable margin. Playing against the grandmaster it’s just good for a crushing defeat. Some games after scoring over 400 I have found myself losing by over 100 points! Overall it’s been a humbling and learning experience for sure. In one game finding myself trailing by quite a bit spotted an opportunity to play the eff word. No luck, the word used to express a wide range of emotions was not recognized by the game even though it’s a valid word and supposed to be a Scrabble word πŸ‘Ž WTHeck doesn’t pack the same power as WTF. Sounds unfun, eh? Sorry, mate, we are out of luck there too. 😑 Unfun may be a valid word in urban dictionary, meaning lack of fun, but it’s not a valid scrabble word.

With just a lone win and dozens of losses to show why do I still play against grandmaster rated computer opponent? That’s a valid question as it seems like a lost cause. Few reasons. Playing against stronger opponent is a way to measure one’s level, improve and stay humble. It’s just a game and unlike real life where at times all may appear to be lost when one’s words may get twisted, one’s intentions may be doubted, one’s actions may be questioned. By people who should know better. For no good reason. In real life perception and emotions reign supreme, right or wrong. Life still goes on. πŸ‘ You play hard but fair, you win some, you lose some. There is something to be said about losing with dignity. Nothing is lost if dignity stays intact IMHO. That’s a great life lesson and worth learning πŸ™

Words of the day: Jo, Ka, Ki, Qi, Xi, Za!

Today’s theme is 2-letter words with emphasis on Scrabble word game. Six words, not very verbose! The words of the day are Jo, Ka, Ki, Qi, Xi, Za!

Without further ado let’s start with dictionary meaning of the words. In alphabetic order below are the words and their meaning.

Jo: sweetheart, dear. Often used in addressing a person

Ka: (in ancient Egypt) the supposed spiritual part of an individual human being or God, which survived (with the soul) after death and could reside in a statue of the person.

Ki: A term indicating intrinsic energy; usually associated with martial art – karate, judo, aikido, etc – practitioners who consider ki important to performing at the highest level.

Qi: the circulating life force whose existence and properties are the basis of much Chinese philosophy and medicine.

Xi: the fourteenth letter of the Greek alphabet. In astronomy the fourteenth star in a specified constellation

Za: short for pizza

No post is complete without a story though πŸ˜ƒ

In recent times I have been playing Scrabble on my tablet with virtual opponents. Why virtual opponents? They are always ready to play and there is no risk of offending them inadvertently unlike humans who can get emotional at times and react strongly, justified or not. There is no risk of pissing off virtual opponents πŸ˜„

The advantage of using above words is that it’s easier to use high scoring Scrabble letters like J, K, Q, X, Z (due to relatively lesser # of words in the dictionary with those letters) for words on the board as they just need a supporting vowel already on the board. Also, there is less dependency on other supporting letters that may be needed generally. For example, every word other than “Qi” that I know with letter “q” needs the letter “u”. A strategically placed high score letter like Q and Z can also yield high-yielding dividends if they are placed on double or triple word or letter squares! However, it can also be a double-edged sword. Let me explain. When I first started playing, I noticed that the virtual opponents were not using the above 2-letter words much and I was getting away with high scoring words easily. After I played the virtual characters more often, I noticed lessons of previously played games were absorbed and used against me 😑 While working hard to create high scoring position for difficult letters the virtual opponent would swoop in to play words to block my high scoring opportunity. So, a square with letter ‘a’ on it and a triple-word square available above or to the left would turn into a high scoring “Za” for the virtual opponent leaving me shaking my head in frustration. 😑 Hard to imagine a slice of pizza leaving a bad taste but that’s how it feels when that happens 😭 Even in that there is a life lesson learned. In real life there are times when one does all the hard work only to find someone else take the credit. As in life, so in game! There are opportunities to learn life lessons anywhere, anytime, any occasion! πŸ‘

Learning while playing!

It’s been another turbulent week for the world. Seeing people leave everything behind for safety has been distressing to watch. Such is human conflict that it affects the most vulnerable the most. Hopefully there will be a peaceful resolution soon and the damage can be limited to what it is at this time. On to something light to lift up the spirits.

It’s amazing that one can learn in the most unexpected places. I was playing scrabble online with a virtual opponent, Freya! For those interested Freya is a mythical Asgardian appearing in American comic books published by Marvel Comics, based on the Norse deity of the same name. Within the context of the stories, Freya is the Asgardian goddess of fertility. She appears as a supporting character of Thor. The game started and Freya played the word CUE. It was a miscue as the pieces I had gave me an opportunity for a bonus. Guess what the word was that I played? OLIGARCH! Got a 50 point bonus for using all seven letters in one try. I am thinking oligarchs still have high value on a scrabble board at least. The game progressed and virtual opponent Freya pushed her luck when she snucked in a Y after OLIGARCH. Too bad for Freya because by then the bite of sanctions had started to sink in and the value of OLIGARCHY had already started depreciating πŸ˜‰ Game mirrors life at times and reflects current reality. Norse character Freya/Freyja is supposed to be in charge of love, fertility, battle, and death and this is one battle she lost. The lesson: Betting on a oligarch may work once but in the long run betting on oligarchy is risky! πŸ™

Not a bad life lesson to learn playing a word game, eh 😊

Scrabble word game online

After couple of weeks of wordle and absurdle mania earlier this year got back to playing good old word game Scrabble. Tried playing other human/s online few times but the games were taking too long and instead of a quick fix I was looking for it turned out to be a multiple days affair at times. Then I switched to playing virtual characters on a tablet. It’s been an interesting experience. Big benefit with playing virtual characters is that the virtual opponent plays fast. You don’t have to keep waiting for minutes, hours (or days at times) unlike humans who play the game squeezed between their other regular activities. Which is understandable but kinda frustrating if you want to be done fast. Sometimes when the virtual opponent doesn’t play a word within a minute or two I just close and reopen the game which has a triggering effect of opponent playing a word. Virtual character names are interesting. Don’t know if it’s because I started playing around the year-end Holidays last year but the opponent names are either Nordic or Holidays themed names. Some of the names I remember are Santa, Rudolph, Gingerbread, Freya, Hera, Thor, Odin, Loki, Merlin, Grumpy, Boreas. There is some artificial intelligence built in for these virtual characters. They take advantage of human hard work by either going for plurals or seizing opportunities to scoring high with a tile placed on multiple letter or word squares. Kinda like a boss taking credit for subordinates hard work πŸ˜‰ But their intelligence is limited in that they don’t appear to learn from earlier playing experience playing the same opponent. For example I have couple of short words for high value but hard to find word letters Q and Z that are my go to words. For both Q and Z it’s a 2-letter word and when I land those letters I look for opportunity to strategically place them in letter or word multiple squares for maximizing scoring potential. The Q word does not require the letter U. In my play never seen a virtual opponent play those words. Probably those words are not there in their word dictionary. Who cares, humans have to take advantage of every opportunity πŸ˜„ Other interesting observation is that most times when I google by starting “Is XYZ” one of the autocomplete suggestions near the top is “Is XYZ a scrabble word”. Makes me wonder if google is making a guess using the phrasing or other folks have already googled that question before 😊 Other benefit of playing virtually is that whenever I am at a place that may involve waiting (oil change, urgent care etc) my attitude has changed to “Take your own time” instead of the irritation of boredom I used to feel before. Don’t know if something else will capture my fancy but playing Scrabble online against virtual opponents sure has been an interesting experience! What more could a hard snacking, socially not so active, word and puzzles loving person ask for? 🀣

Words of the day: Chortle and Wordle

After a long time back with words of the day. Today’s words are chortle and wordle!

Why those words? No reason, just rhyme! πŸ˜ƒ

Chortle is a safe choice as the word already exists in the dictionary, wordle is a bold choice as I decided to go into predictive mode. Assuming it’s going to be added to the dictionary based on its popularity.

Let’s start with the meaning of the words.

verb : laugh in a breathy, gleeful way; chuckle.
noun : a breathy, gleeful laugh.

noun (likely) : a daily word game

Nothing better than a story and using new words in sentences as examples for illustration.

Wordle origin has a nice personal touch. Was created by Josh Wardle, a software engineer in Brooklyn, for his partner who loved word games. A friend sent a link to the game about a month ago and being a word enthusiast with a love for puzzles and games gave it a try. Liked it, after couple of words decided to use the “cheat words” or “seed words” approach to save the effort of thinking what first word/s to use as guesses. First choice of cheat words were “iotas” and “nerdy”. Words chosen to cover the vowels and consonants most commonly found in words and also as a nod to software nerds. Later settled on “adieu” and “story” as first two guesses. This approach increases the possibility of finding letters likely to be in the word of the day. But it also means correct guess in least attempts will be 3 unless the puzzle word is one of the cheat words. Found the one word a day limit a bit restrictive and tried “absurdle” for a few days as it had no restrictions on words/day or # of attempts/word. After a few days seemed that the second (and subsequent) bites tasted the same and feeling sated stopped playing after 2 weeks. Nowadays when I have the urge to play word games prefer to play good old Scrabble online against virtual competitors with interesting names! But that’s a story for another time πŸ™‚

I find it mildly amusing that people who play wordle like to post on social media daily how they performed with the word of the day. In recognition of that I would want “Irresistible urge to try word puzzle and post on social media” added as a meaning for wordle when it gets added to the dictionary πŸ˜‰ I can hear chortles greeting this suggestion πŸ˜„

Words of the day: Coruscating, Corrupting, Charlatan

Let’s start with dictionary definition of the words coruscating, corrupting and charlatan.

coruscating : adjective
1) flashing; sparkling
2) severely critical; scathing.

corrupting : verb
1) cause to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain
2) change or debase by making errors or unintentional alterations

charlatan : noun
1) a pretender to medical skill : quack
2) one making usually showy pretenses to knowledge or ability : fraud, faker.

Fun is using the words in sentences. Below is my humble attempt

His supporters came from far and wide hoping to witness coruscating brilliance, they left convinced he was just a charlatan with corrupting influence. Sigh! πŸ˜’πŸ™