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In recent weeks, a web-based word puzzle called Wordle has become a popular daily distraction. Suddenly, millions of people are focused on their vocabulary of five-letter words, and are newly aware of concepts like letter frequency and letter position as they strategize about the best opening words and faster solutions.

For these people, Wordle is captivating. Previous research can help us understand how our brains respond to word games, and why we love them.

Wordle is a single-player puzzle that combines elements of several games, including Scrabble and Battleship. My colleagues and I have studied Scrabble as a way of understanding how language is processed in the brain, and how that processing changes with experience.

Competitive Scrabble players are people who spend a great deal of time playing Scrabble, competing in Scrabble tournaments, memorizing word lists and practicing anagramming—shuffling sets of letters to create different words.

Much like chess players, competitive Scrabble players are ranked in an international rating system based on tournament results. We recruited competitive players from Scrabble tournaments and clubs and gave them a series of tasks to understand how all of this Scrabble practice and play alters their mental processes.

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Puzzles & Games | Bridge: May 14, 2022

“Simple Saturday” columns focus on basic technique and logical thinking.

Learning players are exposed to “rules” that are more or less sensible. Years ago, one authority told his students that they should never lead from a king. I think he ought to be spending eternity holding hands with all four kings — obliged to lead from one of them.

In today’s deal, South arrived at four hearts after bidding spades, then hearts. West led the ace of diamonds, and since he knew the injunction about leading from kings, he shifted to a spade.

MAKING FOUR

Declarer won, took the K-A of trumps and threw a club on the king of diamonds. He lost a club and a trump to East, making four.

In this deal, West must lead a club at Trick Two. South’s bidding promised at least 10 major-suit cards. If South’s clubs are A-x, West loses nothing since South would discard his low club on dummy’s king of diamonds anyway. But if East has the ace, West must hasten to cash the defenders’ club tricks.

DAILY QUESTION

You hold: S 7 6 4 3 H J 2 D A 9 8 5 C K 6 3. Your partner opens one heart, you respond one spade, he bids two clubs and you return to two hearts. Partner then bids three hearts. What do you say?

ANSWER: Your partner knows you have a weak hand and lack true heart support since you didn’t raise directly. Still, he is trying for game. Consider how much worse your hand might be! You have honors in his long suits, and a side ace. To bid four hearts is clear.

North dealer

N-S vulnerable

NORTH

S A J

H A 7 5

D K J 6 2

C Q J 9 4

WEST

S 7 6 4 3

H J 2

D A 9 8 5

C K 6 3

EAST

S 8 5

H Q 4 3

D Q 10 7 4

C A 8 5 2

SOUTH

S K Q 10 9 2

H K 10 9 8 6

D 3

C 10 7

North East South West
1 NT Pass 3 S Pass
3 NT Pass 4 H All Pass

Opening lead — D A

(C)2022 Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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