Shortly after we published our cover story on the Bettner brothers, creators of Words With Friends, they sold their company, Newtoy, to Zynga for $53 million. They also went to work for Zynga. Well, a biceps-bulging FrontBurnervian points us to news that Paul and David Bettner have jumped ship (Zynga stock is down 16 percent today). No word on what they plan to do next, but it is my fervent hope that they want to buy a swinging bachelor pad in Lakewood and invite me over every day to drink rum cocktails and play Tour of Duty.
Get some insight into the two rappers’ strategy in this funny, curse-filled interview at GQ.com. A taste:
Fabolous: One thing they gotta fix is that if someone be taking days to make they move, you should be able to resign motherf—ers. Like, they be taking days to make a move.
Big Boi: Yeah.
Fabolous: And the other thing is that the kid in the studio, when we was playing in the board game, like, you can’t just be trying s—. Like, just plugging in words and letters. I think you should get like three, four tries and that’s it.
I agree 100 percent, by the way. I’ve wanted to be able to resign motherf—ers forever.
A friend sent me this screen grab (at right) of what looks to be the most amazing play ever in Words With Friends. I figured it had to be bogus and asked one of the game’s creators, Paul Bettner, about it. His response: “I think it’s ‘real,’ but there’s no way this just happened in the course of a regular game. To my eyes, this definitely required a concerted effort on the part of both players to build the required scaffolding.” Still, though. That’s some solid workmanship.
Our good friends at Words With Friends are getting some good publicity this morning. Seems Alec Baldwin was so engrossed in a game that he kept playing on an American Airlines flight even after folks were told to put away their electronic devices. Baldwin got booted off the flight at LAX and tweeted: “Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt.” You know who isn’t getting good publicity?
On Nov. 15, from 11pm to midnight EST, fans in the U.S. can collectively play Words With Friends against celebrity Jenny McCarthy, who will be at an event in Los Angeles. While they do, a full reveal photo of the new 2013 Ford Escape will be exposed on giant screens. The new Escape will debut at the Los Angeles Auto Show tomorrow.
Crystal Worthem, manager of brand content and alliances for Ford, said players can submit word suggestions through a live-stream chat. The game will also be live-streamed at www.Facebook.com/fordescape and livestream.com/ford so fans at home can play along, too.
“We’re calling it ‘Jenny McCarthy versus the world,’” Worthem said.
The National Scrabble Championship is being held in Addison. People are still playing, even though this Malaysian guy named Nigel Richards already won. I don’t know how that works. Maybe it’s kind of like a BCS system, or something.
But anyway, here’s the story. He gets $10,000 at 2:30 p.m., so I’m thinking 3:00 p.m. is a good time to mug him or ask for a loan.
An alert FrontBurnervian pointed me to the current comments that folks are making about Words With Friends. Sample: “This app totally blows chunks!!! It’s worse that Obama!!” Folks are getting interminably long spinny wheels, along with the frustrating “rebuilding” message. Please know that I feel for everyone who has experienced these hiccups. Me, personally, since I became good, close, tight, almost brother-like friends with the Newtoy guys after we put them on the cover in June, I get my games routed through a special VIP-only server reserved for special VIPs such as Rhett Miller, Justin Bieber, and all of Chelsea Clinton’s bridesmaids. We never experience delays when we play Words With Friends. We also get non-random tile draws. Those all-vowel racks became a thing of the past the day I was promoted to the special VIP status. Thanks, Newtoy!
Anyway, I asked my best friend David Bettner, co-founder of Newtoy, what is going on with the servers for the hoi polloi. Here’s what he had to say:
We’re working as fast as we can to increase server performance to help alleviate these issues. We’ve had some bugs cause decreased server performance which is why people are experiencing long ‘updating…’ times during peak hours. Version 3.10 should help resolve these issues over the next few days as more people update.The reality is that we’re constantly trying to stay ahead of the growth curve and this is one of those points where we’ve fallen behind a bit. We’re releasing another update (3.11) to Apple in the next few days which should help more with performance and give us a little more breathing room.
Thanks again for sending this over. Have you personally been experiencing any issues?
My favorite moment of the evening came after all the action was over and the crowd had thinned out. A small group continued to gather around Cree and his wife Carla (who, I’m told, was intensely watching the video streams we had projected on screens as both the semifinals and finals were played). Â A group of Newtoy Inc. employees peppered Cree to get his thoughts about Words With Friends. He said it was an intriguing variation of the game that he knows so well. Bingos, worth fewer points than they are in Scrabble, aren’t as important. And the different point values and configuration of the bonus squares are “a real equalizer,” he said, meaning that coming up with those seven- or eight-letter words isn’t as important. Â I love hearing an expert –an expert in nearly any field– expound upon his area of expertise. The excitement and joy in his eyes as he recounts key points in a particular match is infectious.
I asked Cree for some final thoughts about the contest. Here’s what he had to say, followed by the final boards from each of our two semifinals.
Carla and I truly enjoyed the experience. What better way to spend an anniversary! We capped off the evening with a celebratory chicken fried steak and onion rings at D Magazine’s #1 choice – Ozona’s.
As far as game notes – Against Rich I pretty well drew the bag. I was able to bingo twice with the blanks – AEERRR? – REARERs and AENOPR? – PERsONA. I had four other “non-goes” in that game (bingos that did not play). TIDINGS, DENGUES, CINEAST/ACETINS and HIGHEST.
That was a lot of fun. Last night a crowd of enthusiastic Words With Friends fanatics – mostly players who participated in our tournament, along with some of their friends and family – packed the kitchen/lobby of our offices to watch live as Chris Cree, Trennis Jones, Rich Goff, and Rhett Miller fought for the title of WWF champion.
As you can see from the one-of-a-kind mockup of a D Magazine cover that we presented to him framed as his trophy, Chris Cree came out on top. While this was hardly a surprise to those of us who watched him tear through the tournament with unmatched high scores (the only player to break 500 points, he did it three times), what was a surprise was just what an entertaining fellow he is and how amazingly gracious he was in victory, careful to compliment the skills of his opponents. It was a pleasure for us to have him in our tournament and to crown him the winner.
We also want to thank the others in our Finally Four. Sports agent Trennis Jones put up an impressive run to finish second before struggling with a bad rack for much of the championship match against Cree. Musician Rhett Miller of the Old 97s has even more fans after last night, when he showed just what a great sport he is by driving up to Dallas from Austin specifically to participate in our festivities. And promotions manager Rich Goff, despite his unfortunate tendency to root for the St. Louis Cardinals, was a lot of fun even as Cree whipped him soundly in their semifinal pairing. While all the players were sequestered in a (slightly) quieter conference room away from the party, Goff sent a text message to his friend asking him to bring him a beer for comfort. His friend soon obliged.
I’ll have a few more game notes, and the final boards, in one last post to come. But first I again want to thank the 400 applicants who had hoped to be part of our tournament field, the 64 who played, the city of McKinney for sponsoring the tournament, and the 1,400 people who checked in on our live video stream at various points last night. It was a great event, and a lot of people made it happen.
And if you’re dying for more detail immediately, you’re welcome to sort through my attempt at live blogging through difficult circumstances.
UPDATE: It’s over. Chris Cree has been crowned our champion. More tomorrow.
It’s all come down to this: the championship of the D Magazine Words With Friends Tournament will be decided in a match between Chris Cree and Trennis JonesÂ tonight at our company offices.
SPOILER ALERT: Chris Cree won it all. More tomorrow.
It’s been a short, fun ride from 64 competitors who started in our tournament on June 1 to narrowing the field to only four remaining contestants on June 9. Follow along during our live Final Four Showdown from the D Magazine offices tonight. Â Watch a video stream here, and read our live blogging below. (Keep the video stream open in one browser tab, and this post in another, to get the complete picture.) Games get under way at about 7 p.m., maybe a little earlier.
Just keep refreshing this page to see our updates.
7:10 p.m. Â Games are about to start. We have all players in the room.
7:14 p.m. A few technical difficulties because we’re using special iPads for this game.
Don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’re hosting a little Words With Friends Tournament. Tonight the semifinals and finals will be played at the D Magazine offices. All of the original 64 combatants from our tournament were invited to attend. The Finally Four – Rhett Miller, Rich Goff, Chris Cree, and Trennis Jones – will be sitting across a table from one another to duke it out. Game play starts at about 7 p.m.
We’ll be throwing up a FrontBurner post shortly before the appointed time that will provide live video streams of what’s happening on the game boards. We’ll also have a frequently updated post with commentary of what’s going on this evening, from inside the room where all the action takes place.
So come back in a little while and watch as we valiantly attempt to turn Words With Friends into a spectator sport. (Alcohol may be applied liberally.)
This is the second of our semifinal previews, ahead of tonight’s D Magazine Words With Friends Tournament championship. We’ve already broken down Rhett Miller vs. Trennis Jones. Now, eliminated opponents look at Chris Cree vs. Rich Goff.
David Higbee, who came closer than any other player in the tournament to beating Scrabble master Cree, identifies the keys to his success and pinpoints how he might be beat. Â D Magazine senior editor Zac Crain, evaluates the prospects for Goff–who defeated both Zac and D Magazine‘s Tim Rogers in the course of the tournament.
Crain on Goff:
Keys to His Success
Today’s the day for our D Magazine Words With Friends Tournament championship. Four players remain out of the original field of 64. The semifinals kick off at 7 p.m. this evening, and you’ll be able to watch live right here through FrontBurner (more on that later). No word yet on the odds out of Vegas.
In anticipation of the first of our semifinals, between Rhett Miller and Trennis Jones, we asked a couple of their vanquished opponents to provide some expert analysis on how they think this match could play out. Â Cristen Hixson, whom Miller called an “absolute beast” at WWF, shares her insights into the keys to Miller’s success, and how he could be beat. Lauren Lapeyre, who faced Jones in the round of eight, breaks down Jones’ prospects.
Jump for the commentary.
(This is the last of four mini-profiles of the semifinalists of theÂ D Magazine Words With Friends Tournament. Chris Cree will face Rich Goff in one of our two semifinals on June 9. Read to the jump to see this member of our Finally Four answer the same questions as our 10 Most Beautiful Women in Dallas nominees.)
42, Promotions Manager
Lives in: Lake Highlands area of Dallas
Originally from Joplin, Missouri, Rich Goff has been marketing news, weather, sports and online products for television station WFAA since 1999. He’s passionate about three things: the music of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, University of Missouri athletics, and the St. Louis Cardinals.
He got hooked on Scrabble because of semiannual games against his wife’s grandmother. They play for hours every Christmas and Thanksgiving. Usually Goff wins, but not always. He’s been playing WWF since he first discovered it, in March. He calls it “a gift from the iPhone gods.”