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Friendly war of words

by Derek Jory / Vancouver Canucks

The inaugural Vancouver Canucks Scrabble Battle didn’t play out the way Tanner Glass had hoped, and it played out just as he had hoped.

The seed that was planted when Glass told the Team 1040 he plays Scrabble on road trips blossomed into something bigger than anyone expected, highlighted by a Scrabble game between Glass and blogger Harrison Mooney ( Wednesday afternoon.

In the Game’s Room at Canuck Place, Glass and Mooney sat opposite each other for 45 minutes, sweat trickling down their foreheads, deadlocked in the friendliest war of words around.

It started with Glass making the first move, the benefactor of having earned more pledges than Mooney by a count of $2,435 to $1,565, and maneuvering his way through letters BAIOWRE, he played WEAR for 14 points. And they were off to the races.

It was difficult to predict how this game would unfold being there live – would it be like watching paint dry or was drama in the tiles – but before anyone had time to digest the first move and wait around for a second, Mooney replied with WAITER, playing down off the w from wear, for 18 points.

The exchanging of blows within two minutes of the game beginning caught all 27 spectators, nearly all  Team Glass supporters, off guard. Maybe this had Ali vs. Frazier promise after all.

Glass took a 45-44 lead following his third turn, but before he could reach into the bag of tiles to replace the three used to play IRE, Mooney grabbed it and used his move to exchange six tiles. Instantly the room erupted in jeers, as if Mooney had thrown in the towel.

Instead, Mooney pulled the cherished Z, a 10-point letter, and used it to play ZIN on his next go-round, good for 26 points and a 10-point lead over Glass, a lead he would never relinquish.

Glass had the benefit of having friends John, Jaxson and Kaeden in his corner, and as the game was live-tweeted through @VanCanucks, it became clear the majority of fans were on his side as well.

Down 129-100, Glass toiled with TIDUVNI, prompting fellow Saskatchewan product Brent Butt (@BrentButt) to suggest INUIT, but Glass opted for DINT. Relieved he got out of a pickle, the fourth-line Canucks forward watched in horror as Mooney took control of the game by playing DOUGHIER, a 24-point move that also netted him a BINGO 50-point bonus for using all his tiles (he used blank tiles for the H and R).

All Glass could do was laugh when Mooney remarked: “a chiseled athlete like yourself, I wouldn’t expect you to see that word.”

Three Canuck Place staff members objected to the word, but a quick dictionary check and it was allowed, which gave Mooney a commanding 203-125 lead.

Chipping away at the board and collecting as many points as he could, Glass drew within 39 points on his 13th play by adding MEN to SWEAR to create MENSWEAR, a triple word score move that scored him a personal-high 39 points – or should I say scored his buddy Jaxson 39 points.

“Jaxson and I combined for MENSWEAR…I shouldn’t say combined, it was mostly Jaxson…actually it was all Jaxson,” laughed Glass.

Two moves later and Glass was out of tiles, ending the game with CLEAN and sticking Mooney with minus-5 for his remaining V and U tiles, but it wasn’t enough for the underdog to overcome the underdog. Final score: Mooney 344 Glass 313.

More importantly, the Canucks Scrabble Battle raised an estimated $8,000 for Canucks for Kids Fund between pledges and Tanner Glass Scrabble Champ t-shirts. Mission accomplished.

“I think it went extremely well and we’re really pleased we could do this for the kids of BC,” said Glass, graceful in defeat…or not.

“The better Scrabbler won, but DOUGHIER? Has anyone ever heard of that word? I don’t know about that.”

Those tracking the game on the live Scrabble board on know luck was on the side of Mooney instead of Glass, with the five highest scoring letters (Z, Q, J, X & K) going the way of the blogger, along with a pair of blank tiles, Scrabbles' version of the wardrobe door to Narnia.

“I’m not here to make excuses, but he did have some high-scoring consonants,” said Glass. “I just did the best with what I had.”

Mooney admitted the Scrabble heavens parted for him in arguably the biggest game of his life.

“I had some incredible Scrabble luck, some remarkable tile luck, the Scrabble Gods were on my side today,” said Mooney. “That happens and it’s just a natural part of Scrabble, occasionally you just get the best tiles.”

And occasionally a radio interview leads to an amazing charitable endeavor, one that spelled SUCCESS for Canucks for Kids Fund.

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