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 😉 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! 🙏

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 😉 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 😄 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? 🤣