One strategy for dominating your opponents in Zynga's Words with Friends is to memorize all the strange two-letter words that the ubiquitous Scrabble game somehow accepts.
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This includes many words you never thought were words. In fact, they may seem more like noises from drunks, zoo animals and monsters from classic horror films.
Take, for example, the word "za." In case you didn't know, "za" is not just the most astute observation that Frankenstein ever made. It means pizza.
Let's say it's late at night. You're aching with hunger. But you are in no condition to mumble polysyllabic words. This is when you call Domino's or Papa Johns and say, "Za."
These companies are usually staffed late at night with trained professionals who will recognize this word, even if you are too plastered to annunciate the "z." If you catch a trainee who is unfamiliar with the term, you might also try the using word "pi."
While waiting for your speedy "za" delivery, you can entertain yourself with a short song I wrote using only two-letter words that I learned playing Word With Friends. "DA, DE, DI, DO! FA, FE, GI, GO! HA, HE, HI, HM, HO!" And don't forget the chorus: "PA, PE, TI, TO!"
This song makes far more sense than the Beatle's "OB-LA-DI, OB-LA-DA" because "OB" is not a word that Words With Friends accepts. It's just part of a melodic phrase like, "Coo coo ca choo." Coo, at least, is in the Words With Friends lexicon. Ca and Choo are not, although, technically, you could spell ca as ka, which will handily go down on the board.
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The point here is to demonstrate that if you are not consistently winning at Words With Friends, it is not because you are dumb. It is because you are not dumb enough.
You are overusing your intelligence in a futile struggle to assemble five-, six- and even seven-letter words without much help from your slate of randomly selected tiles. Your dumber opponent, meanwhile, is scoring big with well-placed, two-letter words like qi, xi, xu and, of course, that all-time, after-party favorite, za!
Even if you insist on using your Ivy League degree in English literature, getting to know every moronic two-letter word that the game will accept will help you stack longer words for maximum scoring. For example, you can lay the word "mae" over the word "mhr" forming the additional words "mm," "ah," and "er."
Yes, I know. Words With Friends accepts many strange three-letter words, too. Among my favorites are "nth," "ova" and "uta." It's enough to make you scream, "Qat!" But not if you memorize them all and use them against your more intelligent friends.
I believe there is hope for those who are not stupid enough to know these terms. Search on the Internet for "two-letter words" or "three-letter words," and you will find lists of them. Then you can smack down the brainiest people you know by simply spelling, "Woo."
I feel personally honored that my two-letter name is an acceptable term in the game. "Al" means "the" in some languages. And this makes me a definite article.
One of my former editors refuses to play me, but not because I am dumb. "It's a career killer," he swears. Time on phones and computers should be spent gathering information and researching companies, not spelling two-letter words.
Like most editors who have confronted me, he is correct. But I've become addicted to this game. I rationalize my reprehensible vice by telling myself that what I'm really doing is researching Zynga Inc.
Almost everyone I know is playing Words With Friends, but nobody I know is buying Zynga (ZNGA) stock. After an initial public offering late last year, Zynga shares shot up to nearly $16. But on Wednesday, they closed at less than $3. Meanwhile, the company had announced that yet another key executive, its chief creative director, was leaving.
To make good use of my otherwise misspent time, I decided to start writing a column addressing Zynga's many problems by stringing together some two- and three-letter words that I learned playing Words With Friends.
Here's what I've written so far:
HEY ZNGA! YAR SOX ES BE-LO $3.
HOW MU MO CAN YO SOX FOH?
YO EX-ET-UT-AVE SAY, BYE!
YO IN-VIS-TAR SAY, OW!
WHA DA HIC, ZNGA?
YO GAM ES FUN. BUT YO SOX ES KA-KA.
(Please email me your thoughts on Zynga's stock and its games using two- and three-letter words from Words With Friends. Then maybe I can finish this piece later. For now, I've got to get back to an ongoing series of games with my cousin from Missouri. She's killing me.)
(Al's Emporium, written by Dow Jones Newswires columnist Al Lewis, offers commentary and analysis on a wide range of business subjects through an unconventional perspective. The column is published each Tuesday and Thursday at 9 a.m. ET. Contact Al at firstname.lastname@example.org or tellittoal.com)