How to not get bored in Finland

11.Nov.2010 by Chelsea Little
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It took me a while to figure out that the blank was supposed to be an "N".

When we were leaving for Finland, we were pretty afraid that we were going to be terribly bored over there in the great white northland. After all, we were going to be essentially doing a four-week training camp – longer than any of us had ever done before. How could we keep from getting bored in the long hours of complete darkness we were imagining?

We loaded our luggage with books. The boys brought movies on external hard drives; the girls brought yarn to make hats, mittens, and socks. And we girls brought one more secret weapon, too. We brought our scrabble letters.

This was clearly a losing effort - the extra letters are scattered around the outside.

This was clearly a losing effort - the extra letters are scattered around the outside.

You don’t need a board to play scrabble. There are a bunch of different other games you can play. We checked on wikipedia, and some of them are way too complicated or intellectual for us. We stick to “speed scrabble”, which occupies us pretty well. Like many speed games, it’s completely addicting, and we all want to keep playing until we have that perfect board. Unfortunately, I think it gets us a little too excited before bedtime….

Now, this one must be Lauren's. She always makes long, "good" words rather than short, easily re-arrangeable ones.

Now, this one must be Lauren's. She always makes long, "good" words rather than short, easily re-arrangeable ones.

Here’s how you play. Each player starts with seven letters. All the other letters are face-down in the middle of the table. When you say “go”, everyone turns over their seven letters and starts trying to make words in their own little scrabble-crossword world. As soon as you use up your letters, you say, “Pull!” and everyone takes one more letter, regardless of whether they still have any left or not. And so on. Sometimes you can get really behind with five or ten extra letters you are scrambling to work in. Or sometimes you just get on a roll, building more and more words off of each other and re-arranging two- and three-letter words as you draw new letters. The first person to finish when there are no more letters in the middle of the table wins.

A nicely organized board, this one.

A nicely organized board, this one.

Sometimes you draw a “Q” two turns before the end, and then you’re pretty screwed. And because you aren’t sharing the board with others, if you don’t have vowels, well, you can’t do much about it. Lauren once drew 5 “E” tiles in a row. But… games go so quickly that you’ll always get another chance soon. It’s really addicting. Hannah’s almost as addicted to it as she is to knitting and melatonin. Just kidding about the melatonin. Not about the knitting though.

We’re psyched to be exercising our brains at least a little bit.

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