Gest is co-director of the DC Scrabble Club, which the club's website describes as a "mostly friendly" place for players of the popular crossword game. About 20 people meet nearly every Tuesday at the Chevy Chase Community Center and play up to five Scrabble games in a night.
What are your Scrabble games like at club meetings?
Unlike a so-called kitchen table game you might play with your family that might have any number of players, these competitive Scrabble games are all two-person games, and they're timed games. ... It's a maximum of 50 minutes, [and] each player has a maximum of 25 minutes apiece.
This sounds like a chess tournament. Is it comparable?
It's often compared to chess or bridge or games like that. It's fun, of course, and it can be very casual, but yes, it does involve a lot of strategy. A lot of people think that it only involves word knowledge -- and that's a big part of it -- but a lot of it is strategy. ... This is not a matter, as a lot of casual Scrabble players think, of "all I want to do on each turn is to put down the word that gets the most points."
Have you participated in national tournaments?
Yeah, there is a national tournament each year in a different city. It's always during the summer. ... The national tournaments I mentioned are typically 31 games over five days. That's a lot of games. ... You have to be really into it.
Do you dream about Scrabble words, or anything like that?
Just driving down the street, I will see a word on a sign or whatever, and I'll start thinking about it. Either I'll think, "That's a great Scrabble word," or I'll think about other words I can make with that word. My D.C. license place ... has a kind of impossible word, "syzygy."
- April Burbank