Nikhil Soneja Image Credit: Supplied

This year’s Gulf Scrabble Championship which concluded recently marked its 25th year as well as the debut of a new dictionary – Collins Scrabble Words 2015 (CSW2015) – sanctioned by the global body for Scrabble, WESPA. A total of 6,500 new words to the game, many gleaned from technology, social media, text-speak and urban slang. Sample these:

1. SELFIE – (noun) photograph taken by pointing a camera at oneself

SELFIE is possibly the most polarising word in the world: It was influential enough to become Oxford Dictionary’s Word Of The Year for 2013, yet is considered by some to usher in the end of civilisation as we know it, especially when the word ‘STICK’ follows it. Scrabble players however will be pleased that its plural (SELFIES) is a seven letter word with a fairly high probability of occurring on the tile rack, thus increasing the chance that it can be used to garner 50 bonus points in a turn by playing all the letters at once.

2. PWN – (verb) defeat (an opponent) in conclusive and humiliating fashion. PWN is taken from video game culture where it is used to taunt defeated opponents. It is a valuable three letter word which players can turn to when they are confronted by a lack of vowels.

3. QUINZHEE – (noun) shelter made from hollowed out snow

Scrabblers will relish the addition of a word that contains both the 10 point tiles, Q and Z. Get this on the triple word square and you should be looking at a score in three digits; play it as a bingo and you could break some records.

4. THANX – (interjection) (colloquial) thank you. This addition (along with LOLZ) caused a great deal of controversy when it was first announced, as it seemed to pander to the dumbing down of the language with texting slang. However, it is useful in Scrabble as it can hook the high scoring letter X (eight points) to the back of another common word that might be found on the board, THAN.

5. GEOCACHE – (verb) search for hidden containers using GPS as a recreational activity. GEOCACHE was ’crowdsourced’ in a social media contest conducted by Hasbro in the US to add a new word to Scrabble. It easily garnered enough votes to oust other finalists such as ZEN, BESTIE, COSPLAY, LIFEHACK, RETWEET and BITCOIN.

The author is chairman of the UAE Scrabble Club and organiser of the Gulf Scrabble Championship.

As told to Sharmila Dhal, Chief Reporter