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Comedian Plays Scrabble Blindfolded in Cobble Hill Bar

By Heather Holland | August 17, 2012 7:42am | Updated on August 17, 2012 10:15am

COBBLE HILL — Comedian Matt Graham knows the scrabble board so well he can play the game blindfolded.

He tells his assitant where to place the tiles and tots up the score in his head.

But on Tuesday, as his assistant announced the score he had earned for spelling out the word "flex," the blindfolded Graham objected.

"If she played 'probe' from my 'opium,' then the 'f' on my 'flex' should land on the center column," he argued.

Sure enough, his helper had made a mistake. When placed correctly, the word racked up 87 points, which put Graham in the lead over his Scrabble night opponent at the Smith street bar,  People’s Republic of Brooklyn.

Cassie Jones, 24, volunteered to be his helper.

She whispered into Graham's ear and he told her where to place his tiles on the board.

"I think the hardest thing was making sure I was giving him all the specific details that he was asking for," said Jones.

"It's amazing how he knows exactly what letter gives you what points, just exactly how the board looks and what everything should come out to."

Graham, 46, visited the bar not only to show off his blindfolded scrabble trick, but also to promote his new one-man show called This Too Shall Suck, which is now showing at The Fringe New York Festival.

Graham, who came in second in the Scrabble International Championships in 1997, said he was a comedian before he was ever a scrabble player, but got into the game when he began playing casually with his girlfriend and the game stuck with him throughout the years.

“It was more fun to learn to play it that way than it would’ve been to learn it like from condescending members of my mother’s family,” Graham said.

“The family played when I was a kid. I didn’t play, but it was big on my mother’s side.”

Graham is able to visualize the board in his head, including the locations of all bonus squares and the value of each letter.

“Put the tiles in alphabetical order so there’s no mistake whether you say a 'd' or a 'b,'” Graham instructed.

As the first game unfolded, his opponent Claire Ratinon, who wasn’t blindfolded, became more and more frustrated. Graham was not only earning higher points with each play, but he was even pointing out her own mistakes while completely blindfolded.

“He kicked my backside,” said Ratinon, who was down nearly 100 points after the first few turns. “It was absolutely infuriating.”

Graham’s one-man-show, which will be playing at The Fringe from Aug.10 through Aug. 25, is autobiographical, though it doesn’t touch on the Scrabble aspect of his life.

For more information or show times, visit www.thistooshallsuck.com.