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How Many Points For Friendship?

Every letter counts at the local Scrabble club 

Some people play Words with Friends online, but a group of Westbury ladies prefers to play the old-fashioned way: making friends in person. 


The Scrabble Club has been meeting at the Westbury Public Library every Friday since 1999. Usually about eight women come to play at two large square tables by a window, where on a nice day generous amounts of sunlight pour in to illuminate their games. It’s not uncommon for the women to play for four hours or more.


“The nice thing about this is there are no rules, no one takes attendance, and you don’t have to be here on time,” said Betty Rufrano, who has been playing at the library since 1999. “Just come, play a game and leave, it’s very flexible.”


The women came to Scrabble in different ways. Rufrano began playing on her lunch break when she was still working while Althea Harper got hooked while visiting a friend in Atlanta. 


“I’ve met new people here,” Rufrano says. “It’s nice. It’s very nice.” 


And though some have been playing the game for decades, they still say there is a lot to learn. 


“It’s an ongoing challenge you can never master,” Arlene Morgan says. “There are no two games that are alike. No matter how many times you play, the configuration is going to be different. There’s no such thing as a duplicate game. It’s extremely stimulating because you never know what you’ll encounter when you pick up your tiles.” 


The club will play for hours at a time, and Scrabble is just one of the ways they keep “the grey matter moving,” as Morgan says. Each woman brings a different vocabulary to the game because of their varied backgrounds. Laminated cheat sheets and Scrabble dictionaries are kept close at hand to check accuracy of words such as equable (18 points), lama (6 points), and merk (10 points). Scrabble allows the women to learn from each other, as they discover new words and meanings.  


The game has also allowed the women the opportunity to form close friendships. While the club does get occasional players from Suffolk County, most are Westbury residents.  


“I look forward to this,” Harper says. “It’s a very congenial group.”


The club meets every Friday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Westbury Public Library located at 445 Jefferson Street. Scrabble lovers of all ages and skill levels are welcome to come play.