Scrabble Love

A club scores at Kahala Mall

When I ask Marion Cornfield how long she’s been playing Scrabble, she smiles. “Since they invented the game.” The game came out in 1948, so that’s a lot of words—on tonight’s board, “pareo,” “punters” and “gloat.” She and her husband are regulars at the Wednesday night Scrabble Club at Kahala Mall. Darren Seu and Claire Durham are the club’s directors; there are about 40 members, with about 15 showing up each week.

“We’ve been playing here five years,” says Durham. “We play by tournament rules and use the Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble Players Dictionary.” Member Lois Oda has played in tournaments all over the country, and is going to the nationals in July. She’s one of the top players in Hawaii and has even gone on Scrabble cruises. “Scrabble is much bigger than people think,” she says.

But while these are accomplished players, newbies are welcome. The club asks for a $1 donation per evening, and provides the game, scoring sheets and pens. “It’s not a hostile environment,” says Cornfield. “It’s sociable.” Many of the members, in fact, come early for dinner before getting down to the serious business of spelling words like “sheqalim.” If you’d like to play, come by the group’s tables, near the fountain, at 6:20 p.m.