Scrabble sets only have two y’s

I experienced an episode of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon this afternoon. The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is when you stumble across an obscure piece of information and then encounter it again seemingly at random very soon afterward.

Yesterday I was reading a Wikipedia article, The Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything, where it talks about Arthur Dent spelling out the Ultimate Question using Scrabble tiles. The article mentions that it wouldn’t be possible to spell out the Question (“What do you get if you multiply six by nine?”) has three y’s in it, and that it wouldn’t be possible to spell out the Question because official Scrabble sets only have two y’s.

This afternoon I was showing my new blog design to a friend and he commented that the word Syzygy would be an excellent hangman or Scrabble word. He quickly corrected himself, however, and said that you wouldn’t be able to use Syzygy in Scrabble because official Scrabble sets only have two y’s.

It was so weird to hear him say that, so I brought up Baader-Meinhof and explained what I had been reading about yesterday. He said he had also been reading about Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy on Wikipedia, so I immediately assumed we had read the same thing about Scrabble tiles. This turned out to be yet another bit of synchronicity, however, as he had not read the part about Scrabble tiles. He explained that he knew about Scrabble tiles because he had been playing Scrabble a few weeks ago. I haven’t been able to shake this odd feeling since then.

  • Good book, good game, good post.

    Weird anecdote. *hums Twilight Zone theme*

  • ScW

    Okay… Baader-Meinhof phenomenon… does the fact that just last night I was looking at this programming problem that references the Answer to Life, the Universe and Everything? Obviously, it’s not as obscure as the scrabble issue, but the fact that in the span of just a couple of hours, I see 2 references to it (42) is pretty bizarre.

  • Joey, there are four y’s in the question, “What do you get if you multiply six by nine?”

  • Steve, thank you for pointing out my mistake. I have updated the entry accordingly.

  • Want to know something funny? This is the second post on this topic that I’ve randomly stumbled across in the last two hours. The other is here.

  • ACupOfCoffee

    You COULD do it if you used the two blank tiles.