Member-supported news for Southern California
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Support for KPCC comes from:

Word nerd: insider sheds light on the cult of SCRABBLE

New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015.  Nigel Richards, a 48-year-old New Zealander who was crowned the champion of Francophone Scrabble on July 20, doesn't speak a word of French. Bushy-bearded, bespectacled Richards is already a celebrity in the English version of Scrabble, winning its world championship in 2007 and again in 2011.  AFP PHOTO / JOHN THYS        (Photo credit should read JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images)
JOHN THYS/AFP/Getty Images
New Zealand's Nigel Richards competes in a category of the Francophone Scrabble World Championships in Louvain-La-Neuve on July 21, 2015.

Strategy. Precision. Obsession. For SCRABBLE enthusiasts, playing can evoke these words, and not just to score points.

Strategy. Precision. Obsession. For SCRABBLE enthusiasts, playing can evoke these words, and not just to score points. Since its birth in the 1930s, the tiny tiles have helped shaped the way we view language, and even raised questions about ethnic slurs and “dirty words.”

In his memoir, “Word Nerd," former executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association, John D. Williams Jr., writes about what it was like to experience the game’s role in Hollywood, the digital age, and stories from what he describes as the “Geek Underground.” He was also the national spokesman for SCRABBLE and mediated between the brand and countless devoted players.

What are your thoughts on the SCRABBLE obsession? What cultural impact do you think SCRABBLE has had on language?

Guest:

John D. Williams Jr., author of “Word Nerd: Dispatches from the Games, Grammar, and Geek Underground” (Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2015) and former executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association

Stay Connected