Word of the week

Word of the week: Sequoia

Before we were married my wife and I played a lot of Scrabble. That’s not a euphemism. We really did play “The World’s Leading Word Game” hundreds of times. That’s how it’s described on the box that I’m looking at right now, made by Spear’s Games sometime in the 1970s. The Deluxe Scrabble set that we were given as a wedding present was made by Mattel. It was these marathon Scrabble sessions that prompted me to think and read more about the game, and to come up with the coaching tips that I wrote about here.

Sequoia was a word that I always wanted to make, and achieve the 50-point bonus for putting all my letters down. Imagine it. Your rack has all five vowels, but you also have the S and the Q. Despite the imbalance (a balanced rack will have no more than three vowels) you can put down all seven letters. I only had a vague idea of what the word meant, a giant tree of some kind. Livescience.com, here, tells me that the world’s largest tree is a giant sequoia (Sequoiadendron giganteum), known as General Sherman. The world’s tallest tree is a redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) called Hyperion.

The word came to mind again this morning on the way to work, for no obvious reason. I wondered how many games of Scrabble we would have to play before I could make the word. It’s at least three years since we last played grown-up Scrabble. Two or three years ago my daughter and I used to play the children’s version regularly, Junior Scrabble, also made my Mattel. She was seven or eight at the time. Each player has five tiles and you can only put down two of them at a time: no chance of ever putting down the word Sequoia.


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