Scrammble for fun in Mahpoac


(Original publication: May 6, 2006)

Forget the countless rounds of Monopoly your kids think of with the mention of a board game. With the help of a local inventor, a new game has given both parents and children a new way to compete and learn.

Somers resident Ifay Chang introduced his board game Scrammble to the market in 2003 after receiving positive feedback from after-school programs and public workshops.

Scrammble is similar to Scrabble, but Scrammble players rack up points by creating different words from letter cards, not tiles, and participate simultaneously rather than taking turns.

"Kids don't have the attention span for Scrabble," Chang said. "Scrammble makes you really concentrate and makes your brain really work."

The first Scrammble Tournament continues today and tomorrow at the Mahopac Public Library with qualifying players from last week's competition and public workshops.

Participants must be in third through 12th grades and can play in one of three divisions: single, family or student team.

There will be a tournament judge, and prizes include cash, books, puzzles and other word and board games.

The game employs vocabulary and math elements, and players can "steal" words from one another as community cards are drawn.

Children's vocabulary is built when players introduce new words and children question them for the sake of points, Chang said.

Taylor Grodin, a third-grader at Somers Intermediate School, has attended two of Chang's Cablevision workshops on Scrammble in the past year.

He and his mother said they found the game entertaining.

"You get to make lots of words and learn new words and finally know what they mean," 8-year-old Taylor said. "It's pretty fun, and it's one of my favorites."

Chang first introduced Scrammble to the "Reach" program at Somers Intermediate School in the winter of 2003-04. After receiving positive feedback from students and teachers, Chang was invited to teach the game at libraries throughout the area and recently started promoting it on cable television.

Ben and Luigi Abbate, 15-year-old twins from Somers, were introduced to the game through friends.

"It's challenging, interesting, and descriptive in words," said Ben, a sophomore at Somers High School. "Whoever knows the most words does the best."

Initially, Chang created the game as a way for the whole family to build his children's vocabulary and thinking skills.

"Adults and family must be involved in learning," said Chang, who has a doctorate in electrical engineering from the University of Rhode Island and is as chief executive officer of TLC Information Services, a company he founded.

"Even just one day a week, my own kids really benefited from it."



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