Saved by the Spelling Bee

Happy Monday after Mother’s Day! I hope all the mums out there got to enjoy their day. Mine descended into horror when I received the dreaded text: ‘I got Queen Bee!!’ from one of my twins…

Let me explain…During our self-imposed exile my boys and I have become obsessed with the NYT online game, Spelling Bee. I credit it (along with the crossword) for saving much on my sanity and (sadly) turning me into one of those Uber-competitive mums who rushes to get to it first so I can get the pangram before my kids do!!

For those of you unfamiliar with Spelling Bee, it’s basically an online, highly addictive version of Boggle, comprising a daily hexagon shaped word game made up of 7 letters (6 of which surround a central letter which must be used).

The goal of the game is to make as many 4+ letter words as possible, urged on by various awards that take you from beginner accolades (‘solid’, ‘nice’) through to ‘genius’ level and then, if you find all the possible words, ‘Queen Bee’. One of the key aims of the game is also to find the pangram or a word that uses all the letters (sometimes there’s more than one pangram just to keep us on our toes!).

I’m not really sure why Spelling Bee is as addictive as it is – but I do know that I’m not alone in loving it, or turning to it for solace during these long 8 weeks under ‘stay at home’ orders. The best part about it all is that it’s become a shared obsession…the worst part, my boys are also so much better at it than me!! We now fight each morning to see how quickly we can get to ‘genius’ (a level we feel compelled to achieve) or, if we’re super lucky, to be crowned ‘Queen Bee’.

So now you can understand my Mother’s Day ‘horror’:)))

I hope that all TKZers are staying safe and healthy during these ongoing, difficult times, and that you have managed to find some distractions to keep up your spirits. Even though Colorado has begun to lift the stay-at-home orders, I am sure our obsession with Spelling Bee will continue.

So TKZers, what has kept you sane during the last 8 weeks? Are any of you Spelling Bee obsessives? What online games or apps have kept you going??


16 thoughts on “Saved by the Spelling Bee

  1. For me, almost nothing has changed, so I haven’t picked up any new hobbies. I still need to get my book written. I accept more challenges from Words With Friends players, and might spend a little more time than I used to playing Candy Crush or solitaire. I’m also trying to stay OFF of social media as much as possible to avoid the anger and frustration of the covidiots out there.
    Sometimes I feel guilty that I haven’t taken up knitting again, or taught myself to draw or paint, but as a retiree (who lives in rural Colorado but is in the age demographic that I’m still under the ‘stay at home’ rules), I’m not feeling much of a lifestyle difference. No yoga classes. I can live without mani-pedis. I can grocery shop on line and have no-contact pickup. That’s one thing I might be keeping after this pandemic passes.

  2. I’ve never played online games, Clare, but I used to love Boggle. I can see how Queen Bee could turn into an obsession.

    A historical female serial killer got me out of my quarantine slump. Once I found her, and realized NO ONE has written her story, obsession and passion took over and I dove headfirst into researching the cases and wrote a 20-page book proposal that I’m submitting as soon as I finish this comment. Fingers crossed!

    • Sue – you’re my hero:)) – I haven’t written more than about 10 pages of anything, though last week I did feel myself emerging from my slump with a new idea so I should definitely start getting some research done! You’ve inspired me! Can’t wait to hear more about this historical female serial killer!

  3. That game sounds fun, Clare! I love word games. But, alas, my husband would rather eat a worm than play a word game, so I have to compete with the computer.

    My go-to game is Scrabble, the tried and true. When my mom was alive and in non-dementia state, we played often. My two daughters and I had many a cut-throat game when they were at home. Spread from Texas to Oregon, we don’t get to play F2F much any more, but they now play with their children.

    And said two daughters will often bring up the one time they each beat me. Maybe I should give them, post-victory, a sort of “Queen Bee” trophy. Would be good for a laugh.

    • I should have added that my husband doesn’t play with us – only adds the occasional word now and then but he’s definitely not part of the spelling bee cult at our house:))

  4. Hi, Clare.

    I hadn’t heard of Spelling Bee before, but I used to play Words With Friends obsessively. The app version of the rummy-like board game, Ticket to Ride has been my sanity saver game during lockdown2020.

    Splendor, another terrific app version of another wonderful board game, this one involving collecting gemstones in order to buy your own gemstones, has been my other go-to online game.

  5. I love word games. Scrabble and Password (remember that one?) were favorites and I print the NYT Sunday crossword each week and work on it over lunch. I also love the Elevate app. It’s a series of little challenges in different categories, some of which are word-oriented.
    I just went out and tried Spelling Bee. It’s harder than it looks. Thanks, Clare, (I think) for giving me something else to distract me from writing! ?

  6. Sanity is highly overrated. Family motto: “We don’t suffer from insanity. We enjoy it!” My sister once cross-stitched that for a Christmas present for my dad. I also come from a good Southern family so I’m eccentric, not bat-shit crazy like some Southerners. The American South loves eccentric even more than England.

    Since I’m retired, I’m not doing much drastically different from before the Great Quarantine. I now talk to my friend via email and phone instead of in person, but I really, really miss the gym.

    Spelling Bee sounds fun, but I’d have as much chance of people playing that with me as Trivial Pursuit or Jeopardy. I’m not as sharp or fast as I was years ago, I let small children win, and I’m not an annoying or highly competitive winner, but people still won’t play me.

  7. My wife and I play the game using pen and paper in the Times Magazine, so I didn’t even realize there was a Queen Bee level. We’ve occasionally compared our list of words with the list of solutions that appears on another page of the magazine, and very often we’ve come up with one or two words that are definitely valid solutions (Merriam-Webster is our arbiter for legitimacy) but don’t appear on the Times list of solutions. Do those words count as valid answers if you play the game online?

  8. We’ve got a similar game in my mother-in-law’s local paper. It bothers the hell out of me that my husband takes one look at it and says “got it” to the 9-letter word, while it takes me ages to figure it out. When I figure it out, I let him know, and he tells me what the word was– just to prove that he knew.

    I’ve mentioned before that I’m considered an essential worker, so working from home has kept my sanity relatively intact, but I really look forward to the evenings. After work, I put on a workout DVD, do my workout, have dinner, then sit at my desk and write… and rewrite… and pull my hair out, and start all over again… and rewrite some more.

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