Week seventy-two: BASENJI (probability 10155), by David Sutton

A BASENJI is a small African hunting dog that rarely barks; the word is a Bantu plural but that doesn'st stop it taking an -S in English.

Breeds of dog are a little tricky for Scrabble players, since some common ones are capitalised but others are not, and it is hard to see a pattern. So, for example, you will find ALSATIAN* challenged off, but if you get to play DALMATIAN your opponent may well reward you with a 'Well spotted!'. AIREDALE* is not good, nor is PEKINGESE*, but CHIHUAHUA and LABRADOR are OK.

The good news is that the names of a large number of the more exotic breeds are playable, and they include some rather fine Scrabble words, albeit tending to the lower end of the probability. So go ahead with BOERBUL, BORZOI, BOUVIER, BRIARD, GRIFFON, KUVASZ, KEESHOND, KOMONDOR, PINSCHER (taking an unlikely front extension to make AFFENPINSCHER), PULI (plural PULIK or PULIS), SALUKI, SAMOYED, SCHNAUZER, SEALYHAM, SHITZU, SLOUGHI (newly added in CSW12, and a hook to remember), SPINONE (plural SPINONI), SPITZ, TALBOT, TANUKI, TECKEL, VALLHUND and VIZSLA.

And I actually got to play SHOWGHE the other day, one of those words which tends to elicit a 'What the h...' response from the more innocent of one's opponents, and allows one to say 'Just a variant of shough, you know, as in "shoughs, water-rugs and demi-wolves", Macbeth, Act 3, Scene 1...' I'm assuming, of course, that you do want to become the club's most hated player....


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