An evening with @gulfscrabble

The UAE Scrabble Club has been around for 21 years now, having been founded in 1990 (incidentally the year I moved to the UAE I think). Surprising then, that I hadn’t heard of it until I joined Twitter and realized a man in front of whom I regularly had epiphanies, belonged to such a fine group of people.


I’d always had the misfortune of missing out on board games events/tweetups that Nikhil Soneja (the epiphany man, who can be found here), but I got lucky this time. There was going to be a Scrabble meet at Wild Peeta, and naturally, I had to go!

The games were in full swing by the time I showed up. If you’re a casual Scrabbler, you will be thrown into a whole new world altogether. The game is serious, people are in it to win. It’s a game of strategy, a game of cool wits and quick thinking. Each player has 25 minutes each and they hit the timers with a sense of urgency.

Scrabble? Poof. We play in the minor league. This is the big deal, right here.



Since I didn’t get a good shot of the organizer, you’ll have to content yourself with a shot of Nikhil being a tile strategist

I played with Shruti, who also took photographs for a timelapse (as you might have noticed in the photo gallery), and she won, 308-285 (she won with a final play of ZOO, getting her 24 points!). We learned a lot. For example, ‘za’, ‘ug’ and ‘wo’ are accepted words in the Scrabble lexicon. 25 minutes time is given to each player. Tile tracking is important for planning a strategy. Zarf is an awesome iPhone/iPod/iPad app for Scrabble enthusiasts. This website ( is where serious Scrabblers and enthusiasts should register to play.

But here’s the thing: they’re all very friendly. I sat around different tables, asking questions that probably make anyone roll their eyes internally and wonder why noobs like me were wandering around… but they were friendly, answered all my questions and didn’t make me feel like a Scrabble virgin (even though I’ve been playing for about 15 years). So it’s definitely a place for people who play Scrabble casually too. I had this boy wonder (I should’ve got his name but didn’t) who kept peppering our play with random comments: “Plastids? That’s a good word.” or, “Who played that word? It’s good”.

I’m going back for another round.


To join the UAE Scrabble Club, visit their Facebook page, Twitter account, and Google Groups page.


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