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‘Words With Friends’ free app redefines ‘Scrabble’ |

‘Words With Friends’ free app redefines ‘Scrabble’

| Friday, August 19, 2011 12:00 a.m

Remember family board game night• Even though your family is now spread out across the country and schedules are crazy busy, you can still relive this wonderful pastime. New technology lets you play across the miles and make moves when time avails.

Probably one of the most popular games in this category is “Words With Friends.” At last count, approximately 2.5 million people daily are creating words using smartphones, tablets or Facebook profiles to earn points. Game play is very similar to Scrabble.

Players draw tiles and exchange turns to create words horizontally or vertically on the board. The game ends when one player runs out of tiles or if there are three successive turns that result in no scores by either player. The person with the highest number of points at the end wins.

Aside from the fact it’s truly great fun, what makes the game so attractive is that players do not have to play at the same time. You make a move and get on with your day. After your friend makes his move, you hear a sound effect signaling a new word has been played. That means it’s your turn.

Bounce back and forth at your leisure. You can play up to 20 games at once. Games can go on for days, weeks or longer. The game also has a real-time chat system to give a jab to your opponents from time to time.

Unlike the board game played with people sitting around the kitchen table, you cannot challenge the use of a word and haul out the trusty dictionary. The word is either in the game’s dictionary, or it’s not. Case closed. There are about 200,000 words to choose from.

In addition, the game works on the honor system. No one knows if you cried out and sought help in time of desperation. The problem with this help is that it’s all or nothing.

If you’re stuck for a word, there are a number of “assistive” sites. is one such site. Enter the letters on your tile rack and instantaneously, words you probably never knew existed appear for your selection and use. Here’s a hint: If you plan on using such a word, do yourself a favor and click on the word. You will be taken to the definition of it.

There are several others, including and one with a more positive slant, There are also a number of lexical word finders. These are evil.

Here, you recreate the game’s exact board as it unfolds. Play for play, you enter letters played by both yourself and your opponent. At each turn, you will be presented with the best word to use to gain the highest number of points.

“Words With Friends” is available in both a free and paid version for the iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. The paid version is advertising-free and costs $1.99. There is also a free version available for Android devices. You can play with friends and family that have either system.

There are many multiplayer social games to share with family and friends. For example, you can play chess, Uno, air hockey, and more. Each is very similar to “Words With Friends.” Take a turn and wait until you’re up again.

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