The Aweirds — the Club’s 50th season celebration, June 2007

Welcome to the Jubilee Season Scrabble Aweirds Ceremony.  And let me begin with a warning: WEIRD is acceptable but doesn’t take an S-hook.  [Note: WEIRDS is now acceptable.]

Scrabble players have a very strange happiness quotient.  For example, they will generally find ORGASM disappointing, since it’s only six letters, while IMPOTENT (eight letters) is an event they can’t wait to share with their partners.

A Scrabble aficionado will gladly exchange six-lettered RICHES or WEALTH for POVERTY.  He will choose the company of seven-lettered GERMANS over that of JEWS.  He thinks eight-letter DECEASED is better than LIVING; and whatever his religious or spiritual affiliation, he will always prefer SATANIC to DIVINE.

Yes, these are the values of a Scrabble-player, dear, unprincipled co-conspirators.  And now it’s time to hear the adjudicator’s decision.

The first Aweird is for Fabulous Phonies Played With A Little Bit Of Shame.  The winning candidate has been heard to say: “It’s not that I like to play phonies — it just happens.”  And on other occasions: “I really thought it was a word.”  And the winner is — surprise, surprise — Zev Kesselman. 

In the same category, the Aweird For The Most Shameless Phonies Played Without Even A Twinge Of Conscience goes to ­Steve Goldberg.

And the final Aweird in this group, for The Most Creative Invalid Words, adding and subtracting prefixes and suffixes according to his muse, and seeing parts of speech as clay in the hands of the potter, goes to — Jonathan Wreschner.

As we all know, perhaps no one better than me, time is a vital factor in Scrabble.  End of the game, your clock is running out, and you wind up losing by two points because you didn’t find your best play.  The winner in the category of Fastest Tile-Layer is certainly not an Israeli worker.  It is she who usually has her play down before you’ve even managed to draw tiles.  And the Aweird goes to — Dahlia Friedman.

And new to playing with the clock every week, but sufficiently quick to deserve a Fastest Tile-Layer co-Aweird is Cilla Meroz.

Of course, a workman needs his tools. The Has Anybody Got A Clock? Aweird goes to Ron Lowenstein. 

Time awaits no man, but there are some who are untroubled by this.  The Aweird for Most Indifferent To The Scrabble Clock — although I must say there’s been a change of late — goes to Liran Altman.

One of the most frequently heard questions at the Scrabble Club is: “But what does it mean?”  It was really hard to pick a winner, but having the persistence to keep asking the question, even though she knows the answer she’ll get is: “I don’t care what it means, I just know that it’s good,” the Aweird for Steadfast Devotion To The Idea That Words Need Meanings goes to Heather Rockman.

Since we’re on the subject of knowing the meaning of words, I have to acknowledge three people who, over the years, have played beautiful, if obscure, words that were part of their working vocabulary.  Aweirds for Elegant Wordplay go to Sara Schachter, Eddie Levenston and Pamela Loval. 

It would be impossible to talk about word knowledge without paying homage to the undisputed priestess of word wisdom, Hazel Haberer.

We couldn’t choose a person for the I Don’t Care Whether I Win Or Not Aweird because there are just too many people who are, or pretend to be, in that category.  But for those of us who are competitive, we know how critical it is to be at the Club each week, since total games play such an important role in the Standings.  There is one outstanding player, however, who has not let this be one of her priorities.  The Aweird for Worst Attendance goes to Brenda Fessbinder. 

There is a whole group of players at the Scrabble Club for whom English is a second, third or even fourth language, and they compete with native English-speakers on equal terms.  The Aweird for Best Foreign-Born Player goes to Ami Tsubery.

And the Herzl Awardim tirzu, ain zo agada (if you will it, it is no dream) — goes to non-native English-speaker Ruth Ogdan, for three hard-earned seasons in A, and to Mancunian-speaker Hilda Bin Nun for vanquishing the Scrabble giants at the Chanukah tournament.

For being able to transpose words from one language to another faster than most people can rearrange their tiles, The Aweird for Multi-Lingual Word Mastery goes to Hadassah Braun.

Many of you have been students in Professor Litke’s Scrabble School.  We are happy to congratulate the person at the top of the School’s Dean’s List.  And that is — Elana Marsden.

Some people are born with a silver spoon in their mouth.  And some are born to have a last name that is just perfect for Scrabble.  The Aweird for Best Compound-Word Last Name goes to Evelyn Sunray (yes, it’s good!).

And two awards go to some of our newest players.  The Aweird for Best New Player goes to Tsemah Yore, and the Aweird for Most Improved Player to Judy Montagu.

We have one non-player who qualifies for an Aweird.  This person, or at least the handiwork of this person, shows up at the Club around five times a season.  For fulfilling the Biblical verse:  “And the Children of Israel were fruitful…and the Scrabble Kiddush tables were filled because of them,” we gratefully present our Help Feed A Hungry Scrabble Player Aweird to Lee Kesselman. 

And the final Aweird of the evening, for The Best Timing, goes to Rena Schwartz, who is celebrating her birthday tonight….