A blog for fans of Bananagrams, word games, puzzles, and amazing things

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Before there was Bananagrams, there was Word-Sport

In the past, I've proposed, half-seriously, the idea of a future where Bananagrams is played on a serious tournament level, like Scrabble or chess. But it turns out that the idea of something like a Speed Scrabble tournament was floated and promoted before Bananagrams was even invented.

First, the game: It's called Word-Sport. Word-Sport is basically Speed Scrabble with some modifications. It is played with the entire Scrabble tile set (including the blanks, which are excluded from Speed Scrabble as normally played). Word-Sport oddly doesn't require that you actually link all your words into a single grid. Instead, there is a scoring system that offers rewards for single grids, for never allowing your opponent to peel (more feasible when you are playing with the smaller Scrabble tile set), and for words 7 or more letters long.

Plans were in the works for a version of the Word-Sport game you could buy (including some optional wild tiles) and a computer version of the game, playable over the Internet (modelled after Literati and paralleling the Large Animal Games Flash version of Bananagrams).

An equally fascinating part of the Word-Sport web site is the page that describes the birth of indoor rowing races. (Imagine a treadmill race, but with rowing machines). I am not making these races up. Apparently indoor rowing races inspired and motivated the idea of Word-Sport tournaments, complete with timers and specially designed tables.

Exploring the Word-Sport web site is like peering into an alternate universe because I can totally imagine a world where Word-Sport took off, pre-empting Bananagrams entirely.