Published: 28th June 2021
#ThrowbackToday: Letters aligned at the first scrabble competition held half a decade ago today
In today's #TBT, we talk about the time when the world was discovering the joy of playing scrabble, a scrabble competition was held in London. Also, this is how the story went about its invention
It was game, set and match for all word-building enthusiasts as London played host to the first British National Scrabble Competition on June 28, 1971. This board game of 15x15 grid of squares served as the battlefield and the Wordsworth who emerged victorious was a young teacher Stephen Haskell. Post three games, his aggregate was 1,345 points and that was that.
It was back in the US that architect Alfred Mosher Butts, who had an affinity for strategic games, came up with Scrabble in the 1930s. Lexico, Criss Cross Words, It — Mosher Butts went through several names for the game over the years in the hope that it would click. But it didn't and he was deeply disappointed. Well, as they say, a friend in need is a friend indeed and one such friend named James Brunot gave the game the name that it is known by today and offered to manufacture it as well.
All the stars aligned for Scrabble, and for Mosher Butts as well, when serendipity struck and the game was discovered by an executive of the famous department store, Macy's. The rest, as they say, was history.
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Mosher Butts earned a royalty of three cents per game that was sold. One-third went to taxes, the other one-third he gave away and the rest he lived on.
Taking a bite
Everyone's eyes were glued to Colonel Robert Gibbon Johnson, more particularly to the glistening tomato in his hand while he stood on the steps of an old Salem county courthouse. The calendar showed the date was June 28, 1820, the same era around which the love apples were believed to be poisonous. Why? Because they were imported from Spain and contained tomatine, a highly poisonous chemical, but no one was ready to listen to the fact that tomatoes had a negligible amount of it.
So, to dispense with this rumour for good, the Colonel bit into one tomato after another, while a doctor kept strict vigil. This act went a long way in convincing people that indeed, tomatoes are harmless.