Scrabble, the crossword-building board game, has for some months been a blooming craze around the Dickerson-Zimmermann household. We play for fun and art, not for score-maximization (most of the time!), and our house rules are both stricter and more lenient than that of "Official" Scrabble. So we all enjoy ourselves, win or lose.
Recent family games have reminded the graying among us of past over-the-board triumphs. Paulette in particular recalls with relish her once-in-a-lifetime laydown of RHODODENDRON --- throwing down seven tiles across a picket fence of preexisting words in a mano-a-mano game with her oldest and dearest friend Debbie a few decades ago. And Paulette's description of her jaw-dropping Scrabble play brought to mind various chess combinations that I managed to pull off in tournaments during my ill-spent (relative) youth.
And those reminisces of beautiful quasi-mathematical configurations and their discovery led memory in turn to a yet more astounding pattern described in Stefan Fatsis's Word Freak, an entertaining book about the bizarre world of hard-core Scrabble players. At one point (in Chapter 3) Fatsis and some of his buddies are working on anagrams. These are letter-rearrangements: PRESBYTERIANS can be anagrammed into BEST IN PRAYERS (or BRITNEY SPEARS), for example; SUPREME COURT!? permutes to CORRUPT? SUE ME! And the word ANAGRAMS itself transmogrifies into ARS MAGNA, meaning "Great Art" in Latin.
After some heated anagramming competition Eric Chaikin, a Scrabblemanic comrade of the author, reveals what has to be the most amazing mathematico-linguistic relationship in the known universe:
|11 + 2 = 12 + 1|
or, in words:
|ELEVEN + TWO = TWELVE + ONE|
"God put that there," Eric says. "There is no other explanation."