Tag Archives: Calvin and Hobbes

Calvin! Hobbes! Scrabble!

The first thing to note about this is that it’s impossible.

The total point value of the tiles in a Scrabble set is 187. For the maximum possible score when making this play, assume that he completed six words of fifteen letters. Then he’s getting points from ninety tiles, for a maximum of 177 points before  multipliers.

For a score of 957, the average tile would have to be counted 5.4 times, meaning about 54 points for a Z or a Q, or 5 or 6 for a vowel. The specific six letters he placed  are all doubled (from the double word score) and used twice (because they’re each in a different word as well). So each of those letters counts at least three times. The specific letter on the double word score box counts four times, and if one of the Z,Q,F,M,G,B is on a double or triple letter score then it counts six or nine times. But there are no other bonuses. So the maximum mathematically possible score from placing six consecutive letters one of which is on a double word score is 9*(10) + 4*(10) + 3*(8+8+5+5) + 1*(5+4+… you know what, this is way less than 957.

Far be it from me to suggest that Calvin was cheating. They must have been using a different ruleset. There’s a commonly used house rule that if you lengthen a word, you get any bonuses from any letter in that word. (As opposed to just the bonuses underneath the letters you played.) This rule is wrong and messes up the game, but a lot of people play with it and it does allow for Calvin’s score.

Here’s a possible board configuration immediately before his turn. (You might want to refer at a blank board to see where the bonus squares are.)

If it helps, the first word played was "Leo."

The words played on Calvin’s turn are:

Antibionicities: You know how, if you have multiple bionic limbs you might say you have more than one bionicity? This is the opposite of that. Also, three triple word scores. (1+1+1+2+3+1+1+1+1+3+1+2+1+1+1)*3*3*3=567 points.

Qasidah: Before the Q, this was a food. With the Q, it’s a type of lyric poetry. (10+1+1+1+2+1+4)*2*2=80 points.

Unflakelikely: In a manner not resembling a flake. (1+1+4+1+1+10+1+1+1+5+1+1+8)*2*2=144 points.

Nonglistening: Only capable of hearing things that don’t include the letter G. Wait, that was something else. (1+1+1+2+3+1+1+1+3+1+1+1+2)*2*2=76 points.

Tom: The cat, not the name. Neither Calvin nor I would ever stoop so low as to use a proper noun. (1+1+3)*2 = 10 points.

Pize: This word is really cool. The actual definition is just “a pox or a pest,” but it was primarily used as a curse word. Kind of like “A pox on Insert Thing Here,” but more obscure and archaic. Oh, and as a verb it means to strike someone. 3+0+10+3=16 points.

Zqfmgb: A worm found in New Guinea. (10+10+4+3+2+3)*2=64 points.

(And yes elemental symbols count. And “Ec” counts just as much as com or org, thank you very much. And “nn” counts because Unix programs aren’t proper nouns. And so on and so forth.)

64+567+80+144+76+16+10=957 points.

Hobbes apparently played a word with “all the Xes and Js,” which is weird because a Scrabble set only contains one of each. From this I conclude that they played with tiles from more than just the one set. That happened to my family’s set years ago, so it’s not like that’s impossible. Also there is no X or J on this board outside of the word for female former judges. And I did hold myself to the regulation number of blanks.

(Also: nucleoplasm, be, zygomorphic. It should be possible that they were all played for the right number of points given the rules as I stated them.)

It is very likely that I made at least one mistake. If anyone finds one, I’ll make the correction and sing the Very Sorry Song in your honor. And by “sing” I mean “post, over a text-only medium.”

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