Wimmera Scrabble fans test their skills

IT IS the world's most popular word game, the source of many a squabble between players and inspiration for many online spin-offs.

And, for the first time, Wimmera residents have an official Scrabble club to show off their skills.

Horsham Scrabble Club met for the first time at Horsham Library on Thursday night.

Group spokesman Dieter Jedamski said a handful of people turned up to play.

But he hoped the group would grow.

"A lot of people play Scrabble on the computer these days," he said.

"But if they want real-life engagement and social interaction, they should come to the club."

Scrabble was invented by out-of-work American architect Alfred Mosher Butts in the 1930s, during the Great Depression.

He initially called the game Criss-Cross Words.

"He later sold the rights to entrepreneur James Brunot, who changed the rules slightly and renamed it Scrabble," Mr Jedamski said.

Mr Jedamski started the club at the instigation of the Australian Scrabble Players Association, as part of a regional outreach initiative.

"There are members in Ballarat and Bendigo, and clubs there," he said.

An association member himself, Mr Jedamski is confident there are people in the Wimmera who are skilled at the game.

"Horsham hosts the Border Challenge every October at the White Hart Hotel," he said.

Representatives from Victoria and South Australia play off to determine which state is home to the best Scrabble players.

Horsham Scrabble Club was intended as a place for friendly competition, but Mr Jedamski said he would be keen to teach people tournament skills if they were interested.

He signed up for his first tournament about 25 years ago while living in Adelaide.

Confident of his Scrabble skills, he was surprised to find himself finishing second-last in the third division competition, a grade above amateur level.

"Now, I'm probably a very good second-division player," he said.

"You don't need to know the meaning of words, either it's more of a strategy game. The words themselves only have meaning in terms of the score they produce for you.

"So long as you know the letter combinations are authentic, the word will be okay."

People hoping popular online variations such as Words with Friends would make them Scrabble masters might be in for a shock.

"Words with Friends is different from Scrabble. They use a different dictionary," Mr Jedamski said.

"The Australian Scrabble Players Association uses the Collins Scrabble Dictionary."

Horsham Scrabble Club meets on Thursdays from 6.30pm until about 9.30pm at Horsham Library.

Mr Jedamski said people could call him on 0412 503 317 or the library on 5382 1777 for more information.

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