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Sisters enjoy the intensity and challenge in a good game of Scrabble

scrabbleCan you imagine the euphoria of a one-move checkmate? Well, technically, that’s impossible. But in many other games, tests and competitions, an opening move to put your opponent into a position of certain defeat can cause E-C-S-T-A-S-Y.

Sister Mary Beth Klingel

Sister Mary Beth Klingel remembers enjoying that R-O-U-S-I-N-G success once when she was the first player in a game of Scrabble. She spelled J-E-W-E-L-R-Y. Wow, that’s 19 points for the word, doubled because it’s the first word of the game, and 50 bonus points for using all seven tiles! Eighty-eight points on the first play! Checkmate!

“The key to winning is getting a good combination of letters and finding high-point places on the board to lay out a word. I have had some really good games over the years and some terrible games,” Sister Mary Beth said.

Many Sisters of Providence enjoy playing Scrabble, which celebrated its 65th anniversary in January. The iconic word game is available in 121 countries and in 29 languages. It is played in 1 out of 3 U.S. households.

If you are one of the millons who play, you know that the scrambled tiles on your letter tray often look A-B-Y-S-M-A-L. How many times have you tried to nestle an “s” or an “a” or an “e” into a corner to connect two words, only to find out one wasn’t right, much to your C-H-A-G-R-I-N?

Sister Mary Ann Lechner

Sister Mary Ann Lechner

“I am intrigued by any word challenges; crossword puzzles, word scrambles, word finds. Learning new words has always been satisfying to me. Many years ago, someone told me that we should learn at least one new word a day. I have not done that, but I think developing one’s vocabulary is important,” said Sister Mary Ann Lechner.

Of course, seven-letter words are rare. If you don’t have the right combination tiles, you will not T-R-I-U-M-P-H.

“I enjoy playing with others who are challenging opponents. I don’t recall what my best word might have been, but I think it was with a “q” on a triple-word score, or perhaps even a double triple-word score by attaching it to a letter already on the board,” Sister Donna Butler said.

Seven letters of your own attached to an existing letter on the board? That would be P-A-R-A-D-I-S-E!

Sister Marilyn Therese Lipps

Sister Marilyn Therese Lipps

“It’s a game where each new game provides different words, none ever repeated even in a new game. It is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G in that way. I like creating words just for the enjoyment of it. I am not in it for competition. That would take the joy out of it for me,” said Sister Marilyn Therese Lipps.

But competitive forces do come into playfor some of the sisters.

Sister Donna: “I’m pretty good at it. I win my fair share.”

Sister Mary Ann: “I admit I have won many games; however, that depends on with whom I am playing. I have played with some exceptionally good players.”

Sister Mary Beth: “I have to admit I love the competition and I must confess I am a sore loser. It is a challenge to have all vowels or consonants on your tray.”

Sister Donna Butler

Sister Donna Butler

Not surprisingly, some of these teachers used spelling games when they were teachers, too.

Are you a master Scrabble player? Do you enjoy the M-A-D-N-E-S-S of sifting through your brain for just the right combination? What is the best word you ever made? Have you ever played any of the Internet Scrabble-like games? Maybe you could challenge one of your favorite sisters to an Internet game.


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Dave Cox

Dave Cox was media relations manager for the Sisters of Providence for many years. Prior to his work with the sisters, he spent over 30 years in newspaper newsrooms.

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  1. Sister Laurine Haley on September 13, 2013 at 3:56 pm

    S. Mary Ann & I have been playing scrabble together for over 30 years. We’re both very competetive! Ask either of us how we happened to start playing together–you may find it quite interesting. Try it!! S. Laurine

  2. Linda Drummy on May 19, 2016 at 9:03 am

    My niece and I enjoy Super Scrabble! It has twice as many tiles, a bigger board and the corners have quadruple word possibilities plus some quadruple letter option scattered around. We haven’t played for awhile but we are competitive!

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