Battleship Lexicon

Yesterday, in the annals of our regular games of Lexicon, was a red letter day. Not one, but two ten-letter words. This is the highest to which one can aspire in Lexicon, and, frankly, it makes Channel 4’s Countdown and all its mere nine-letter words look somewhat lacking 🙂

First one was mine, although I spotted it only after I had already put out half my letters. If I had shuffled the cards a little longer maybe I would have got there. But as it was, my word TRICOLOURS was, alas,  as anglers would call it, ‘the one that got away’.

Shana was more alert and managed to blow me out of the water in the final game of the evening, by coming up with BATTLESHIP. Yes, she did use what we sometimes call the Joker to stand for one of the T’s, but it was a cracker of a word to end on.

Note to self: Must hide that Joker card…

Huer Missus

For as long as we can remember (though do bear in mind that often I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast the same day 🙂  ) Shana and I have been playing each other at Scrabble and, more recently, Lexicon.

The trouble with playing too intensively though, is that sometimes you can sort of go blank, albeit temporarily.

I blame all those notorious two-letter words that Scrabblers find essential. Poor Shana was left scratching her head a few weeks ago, agonising over whether one particular word was permitted. She even spelled it out to see if that might help.

“S-O. No I’m not sure. I’ll have to look it up.”

“Of course it’s allowed,” I said.  “It’s ‘So’, the well known conjunction, as in the sentence ‘I didn’t score enough points, so I lost the game’.”

“Oh, that ‘so’,” said Shana. “Sorry. Forgot.”

“Easily done,” I said, pencilling a quick note on the back of the scoresheet for future reference.

The other major problem with word games is that sometimes you want to look something up, either for an exact definition, or for its interesting etymology. And it’s so easy to get sidetracked and end up reading the dictionary instead.

Sometimes though, that’s when you discover fascinating words. Like tonight’s Word of the Evening: ‘Huer’.

Here’s what the dictionary tells us. A huer is, and I quote: ‘A pilchard fisherman’s lookout man’. Apparently, a huer would stand on a clifftop and would signal to his fisherman friends on their boat at sea, where shoals of herring or pilchards could be found. For some reason it’s easier to spot them at a distance rather than when you’re sailing right next to them.

Anyway, huer was never on the list of options during careers advice day at school back in the Dark Ages. Shame that, because if it had been I might have found my lifelong vocation.

Lexicon ten

At last, it has finally happened.  This evening I got my first ten-letter word in one of our regular games of Lexicon. No letter changes, no relying on the Master Card to stand for a letter of my choice. Just ten cards straight out, spelling a valid word: ‘HOSPITALER’. This is defined as a member of a charitable religious order, if you were wondering.

Shana was a tad peeved, as it was she who had dealt the cards out. In the end it cost her a shade over sixty penalty points. We don’t include audio files on this blog, but you can imagine here an appropriately melancholy tune played on the violin 🙂

Oh, and as well as being peeved, Shana was also a trifle miffed, because she recently made a lovely pink crocheted card case in which to keep our Lexicon deck. ‘It will bring me luck,’ she said hopefully. Famous last words, alas, Famous last words… 🙂

On and on and Lexicon

We have been playing Lexicon for about two months now and it shows no signs of getting dull. Incredible as it may sound, this evening was the first time in dozens of games that either of us has actually put down a ten-letter word (ie, all ten cards at once). We’ve had plenty of sevens and managed nine a few times, but it’s surprising how elusive that ten has been.

Oh, and it was yours truly who got it 🙂


To be fair, I didn’t get the full word straight out from the deal. (We’re still waiting for that humdinger). I did get the Master card, which can represent any letter and which I designated as an I. And on my first turn I swapped a T for the A that was lying next to the spare card pile, thus making my ten-letter winner.

Both Shana and I have, by contrast, already both suffered from the trauma of losing ten cards’ worth of points. In my case it totted up to a total of 70, which put me fairly and squarely out 😦

Meanwhile, Scrabble is gathering dust on the bookshelves. Maybe one day…

The Wonder Game

We are currently taking a break from our regular evening games of Scrabble because something mysterious emerged from the cupboard on our upstairs landing.

Yes, I know it all sounds like some far-tetched Hallowe’en frightfest (could it be a hidden zombie had secreted itself up there and then crept out and devoured our Scrabble board?) but the truth is more mundane. I was busy pootling in the upstairs cupboard a while ago, rearranging the dust (as you do 🙂 ) when I found Lexicon, an old word game that Shana had kept from donkey’s years ago and half-forgotten. Apparently it was games manufacturer Waddingtons’ first ever offering, after which they managed to snap up Monopoly (and the rest is history, as they say).

Shana’s edition of Lexicon dates back to the late 1950s, although she would not have acquired it till the ’60s or ’70s.

Lexicon has proved to be easy to grasp, highly addictive, faster paced than Scrabble, and with an emphasis not on scoring highly but on getting rid of your cards by making longer words rather than lots of little two-letter ones. Whoever is left holding unused cards must add their values together and take that as their score. First to score a hundred is the loser.

We are fine with the words, but we do forget who is supposed to be dealing. Shana came up with an ingenious solution: whoever is the dealer takes a pair of artificial holly berries joined by a short length of wire. (These are a leftover from a festive project we were working on a year or two ago.) We have dubbed these the ‘dealer bobbles’. And, as if you have not had enough excitement already today, feast your mince pies on these 🙂


Lexicon letter distribution info follows for anyone who wants to compare and contrast Lexicon with Scrabble.

Lexicon uses a pack of 52 cards

Letter x   Quantity =  Value
A x 4 = 10
B x 1 =  2
C x 1 =  8
D x 1 =  6
E x 4 = 10
F x 1 =  2
G x 1 =  4
H x 3 = 8
I x 4 =  10
J x 1 =  6
K x 1 = 8
L x 3 = 8
M x 1 = 8
N x 1 = 8
O x 3 = 8
P x 1 = 8
Q x 1 = 4
R x 3 = 8
S x 3 = 8
T x 3 = 8
U x 3 = 8
V x 1 = 6
W x 3 = 8
X x 1 = 2
Y x 1 = 4
Z  x 1 = 2
MASTER x 1 = 15 (This card is like the blank in Scrabble and can represent any letter the player chooses. But if you get stuck with it, it will cost you a hefty fifteen points!)