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Scrabble or Chess? Why choosing the right one gained me some credibility

National Scrabble Day

It’s #NationalScrabbleDay!  When I was younger, I loved playing Scrabble for Juniors, but I never got into the adult version so much.  I opted for Cluedo instead, of course.

Apparently though, half of British homes and one-third of American homes own a copy of Scrabble, and I’ve also discovered that the highest (theoretical) possible score for a single move is 2044 points.  I don’t think I ever got more than 10.

Scrabble or Chess?

I may not have played it much, but I do know that Scrabble was first invented in the early 1930s, because finding this out stopped me from making a mistake in one of my corporate team building events.  I was planning a virtual event set in the late 1920s and decided to display a Scrabble board with some letters removed to form one of several clues to help guide the teams towards the killer.

Even though some of my plots can be far-fetched, I do like to make sure that everything going on in the background is accurate to avoid any unwanted plot holes rearing their heads, and I certainly don’t ever want to appear on one of those shows where pedants point out anachronisms in films like spotting a Costa Coffee cup on the set of Game of Thrones.

So luckily I did my research, and replaced the Scrabble with a nifty game of Chess instead because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over 20-odd years of running events like this is that at some point, someone or other would have been very pleased to point out my mistake.

Mistakes were made…

I’m always particularly careful to make sure that dates and timelines are strictly accurate but mistakes can still happen. Recently, a last-minute cast change due to some ice and a broken thumb in Liverpool (long story) resulted in a slight age difference for one of the characters.  I updated all the relevant clues, or so I thought. I’d missed one small picture with a (now incorrect) date inscribed on the back.  The mistake, without giving too much away, implied that we’d been lying about the birth date of one of the suspects.

Did we panic?  Yes, slightly, but did we collapse in defeat?  No.  As testament to my actors’ impressive improvisation skills and an almost telepathic communication (we were unable to leave the room to confer) were able to improvise and come up with a whole sub-plot on the spot.

The moral of the story is that we strive for accuracy, but we’re also excellent at correcting mistakes. And now, my original Scrabble board idea makes a historically accurate appearance in our pop-up escape room, set in 1934.