WHY NOT TRY: Get on board with Scrabble
SCRABBLE is a classic board game for a reason. It's a fifteen-by-fifteen grid of pure awesomeness.
The game, in several incarnations, has rattled brains since 1938 as players try to outwit each other and get maximum value from the seven tiles on their racks. Forget the silly brain games on your smartphone, Scrabble is a social way to get your mind into shape as you add potential points, rearrange words, block plays and learn new words.
If you're serious about taking some casualties, and I am, it's worth investing an hour to learn some of the high-scoring two-letter words. Although you'll rarely use words like za (pizza), qi (life force) or xu (Vietnamese currency unit) in daily life, they can help you rack up some serious points and annoy the casual players at the same time.
Make sure you're carrying a well-thumbed copy of the official Scrabble dictionary to fend off their complaints and then take advantage of the North American rule that states those who challenge a valid rule lose a turn.
I played against a word card-carrying Romanian who played all kinds of unfamiliar seven-letter words - using all seven letters in one turn is known as a bingo, and it's a play that earns you an extra 50 points. This tournament regular treats Scrabble like earnest students treat a foreign language.
He has invested an obscene amount of time into this passion and plays the game in English, Romanian or French.
I decided to test him out by making seven letter words and then mixing up the tiles and laying them out in front of him. He was generally able to unravel the anagrams in a couple of seconds at most. It's a pretty cool party trick.
My wife, not a native speaker of English, quickly fell in love with Scrabble, but I can't say the same for my daughter who struggles to keep up and appreciate the subtleties of the game. What's up with two-year-olds these days?
Follow David on Twitter: @bigkamo