The Beginning

I love words, competition, math, and winning. A love of competition was instilled in me early on. I would watch my mom and her friend play Scrabble at the kitchen table. When one game finished, another started. What began as a full table of food and family ended with her friend exiting the house at 5 am when the garden sprinklers popped up. Laughs were had, words were challenged, and friendships were strengthened. Slowly, I was invited to help keep score for them. Lucky me. But I watched, learned, and enjoyed my time at the grown-up table.

As I transitioned into university, my Scrabble circle ballooned as I discovered a group of friends online who also enjoyed this fickle game. They were located all around the world. Still, I am in contact with some of these players today as they also found their ways to local clubs and tournaments. 

I married one of these friends and would compare this relationship to a Scrabble game where you open up with a seven-letter word and a fifty-point bonus, think you’re doing well, get another couple of good plays. Then your opponent goes bingo, bango, bongo; you end up losing by 400 points and trying to hold your head up high as you take your bathroom break. Essentially, it was not good, and I wasn’t winning anything. Throughout the marriage, less and less Scrabble was played, and fewer tournaments were attended. I was discouraged from playing the game I loved. I felt beaten up and ready to quit…my marriage, not Scrabble!

The Next Chapter

By 2016, I hadn’t played a tournament in a few years. I was busy being a single mother of these two incredible little girls. I was busy getting a divorce and selling my house. But it was that time of the year again when a hundred Scrabble friends would visit our hometown for another tournament with a side of New Orleans fun. I knew I wasn’t ready or able to play in a tournament yet, but I stayed involved by organizing food trucks for the players and preparing nametags on Mardi Gras beads. I was excited for the tournament, seeing the fun, seeing the competition, and seeing the winning to be had. My mom excitedly told me in all of the preparations, “Austin Shin is coming to the tournament!”. My response was, “Cool…who dat?” I was informed that he was one of England’s youngest and highest rated players and that he would be staying with us to help offset the cost of traveling internationally for the tournament.

At this point in my story, I’d like to make one thing very clear. If you ask anyone in the Scrabble community, it is not uncommon to hear that a player who traveled through New Orleans was hosted at our home on one trip or another. My mother has a gift of hospitality, and we love having visitors. So, for the record, I do not hit on every young man that visits our home, and I was not living my best life at the time, so I was not seeking out a handsome Scrabbler. I suppose it’s like drawing a Z when you already have six consonants on your rack and no open vowels on the board. But after a few days of casual visiting, entertaining toddlers, and many Scrabble games against other people, it felt like my opponent made a five-point play while simultaneously opening up the 3W for my Z to be played in two directions. In other words, we began endlessly messaging each other across the pond, and I was a smitten kitten. 

New Beginnings

We played Scrabble, talked about words. He taught me about strategy, and we studied. We studied at the gym while lifting weights. He attended tournaments. He trained me up so that when I was ready, I’d win. We traveled and met up in at least four different countries to play in tournaments together. We ate and saw the sights. And in Niagara Falls (another one of the best tournaments on the circuit), we shared the news with our Scrabble friends that we would somehow, someway, turn this Scrabble relationship into life together. 

Lindsay and Austin Niagara Falls

We are in good company. Even without my previously failed marriage, many successful “Scrabble couples” in our community are going back decades. I shouldn’t be surprised at how people bond over their love of this game. It doesn’t even have to be romantic. Some of our best friends are the ones from our Scrabble community. We know that we would be welcomed into a club or home for a game or two of Scrabble in many cities and many countries.

As we courted from afar, it was finally time to make objective decisions. Long story short, Austin moved here. We joke that he was my “90-day fiance”. (Please tell me that I’m not the only one who is familiar with this reality show.) Anyway, we have now been married for 2.5 years. We’ve played countless games of Scrabble. I wish I had kept some statistics, but really, the only important one is how many times I’ve won, which I think I can count on one hand. I might also be known to memorialize these wins with a picture. Austin adopted the girls and, together, we have organized tournaments, officially been named directors, and created a school Scrabble club for our daughters and their classmates. Oh, and our Scrabble baby’s name is Oliver. Please note that the word “Oliver” is only valid in the Collins dictionary, and it takes an -S.

Lindsay, Austin, and family.


I’ve enjoyed quarantine. I haven’t studied words as much as I have in the past. Also, I haven’t lifted weights as I have in the past. I haven’t played as much Scrabble on the board as I have in the past. I have enjoyed A LOT of Scrabble Go! Austin and I compete in arena games and word searches and adventures, and puzzle paths. I still lose most of these contests against him, but I feel like I’m winning <3. I’ve enjoyed the quiet and the time together with our family and getting to know our new baby, but I miss our Scrabble family too. We play in online tournaments and clubs and have added some recent accolades to our Scrabble resumes, but it’s not the same. We are vaxxed and itching to play in person again. Hope to see you all somewhere across a Scrabble board soon!

Scrabble tip of the day: Don’t be afraid to trade in your whole rack. Take the zero points. Let go of those tiles preventing you from bingoing or living your best words life. But, of course, you may just draw well after that!

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