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Exercise 3 — Tales from a Stone Cottage

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For questions 1-15 read the text about a village Scrabble tournament. Use the root of the words given with the relevant number to form a word that fits the space.

From Tales from a Stone Cottage by Aly Wilks

Colin, my neighbour, looked into the long weeks of winter yet to come and decided that a village Scrabble tournament would be a nice idea. We could meet in each other’s houses, play a time-honoured board game in a spirit of gentle competition and .......... (1. cheer) while away the cold, dark days. Colin would organise the tournament, set the rules, extract a contribution from each team to donate towards the ravenous heating arrangements of our frozen stone church, and present a modest prize to the winning team. Modest, that is, unless he himself won the tournament, which could be an entirely different matter.

He pinned up a notice in the village shop .......... (2. outline) his plans and asking for .......... (3. enter), and I examined it dubiously. I had an/ a .......... (4. ease) childhood memories of rain lashing down on a seaside holiday cottage and an old Scrabble board being .......... (5. earth) as the last refuge from boredom.

But I admired Colin’s stand against the winter blues and, alongside a heartening number of other villagers, signed my husband and myself up. Teams were to decide among themselves who would host each match, but only words found in the host’s home dictionary would be allowed. We were to keep a record of points won and have fun: after all, „Scrabble is only a game.”

It is indeed – gamesmanship started almost immediately. Colin hosted the vicar and his wife Joan for his first match and plied them with rich food and fine wine before ushering them through to the sitting room where the reverend fell asleep in the very comfortable armchair provided. He had to be nudged .......... (6. wake) by Joan to make each move in the game that followed, and Colin’s team won easily. Ben, who lives next door to Colin, noted the incident with interest. When his turn came to host Colin, he produced a mighty three volume dictionary – borrowed from an academic friend – and slowly looked up every word, no matter how simple, suggested by Colin’s team. Colin found the endless delays so .......... (7. fury) that he played at random and lost the game to Ben.

Greatly .......... (8. courage), Ben bought a tiny magnetic travelling Scrabble board before his game with Mr and Mrs Addington. Although the Addingtons’ combined intellectual capacity is truly formidable, their combined eyesight is not the best. Their concentration drained away as they fiddled with the minuscule letters and Ben’s team won again. Ben and Colin were not only the Scrabble players of guile. Audrey, our venerable and intimidating garden queen, produced an ancient Scrabble board with so many letters missing that only she and her husband (who were used to its quirks) could form any .......... (9. mean) words while using it. This stood her in excellent stead until the other teams wised up and insisted on inviting her back to their own homes and more reliable Scrabble sets.

As the season progressed, and tactics came under .......... (10. scrutinize), passions were awakened that, in a more spontaneous part of the world, would have resulted in piles of bleeding bodies. In our tranquil English village it merely meant that certain people said ’Good morning!’ to each other a little more .......... (11. stiff) than usual. Psychological warfare was at its height: Colin was spreading a totally .......... (12. found) rumour that Ben played online Scrabble and had an unfair advantage, while Ben had obtained an antique dictionary that smelled strongly of mildew and contained almost no .......... (13. use) modern words, when the whole thing ground to a sudden halt.

Almost unnoticed by the key players, a shy couple called Quentin and Rosie, newcomers to the village, had been modestly and expertly winning every game they played. And they had worked up an .......... (14. assail) lead. Colin grumpily stashed away the silver cup he had dreamed of being awarded and substituted a set of scented candles given him by a well-meaning aunt for Christmas, which he thought would do nicely for Quentin and Rosie as their prize.

But when time eventually healed the sting of defeat, he would realize that his tournament had .......... (15. triumph) achieved its objectives. Village hospitality had been shown, Scrabble had been played, a useful sum had been donated towards the church’s heating system and spring was now just around the corner. Same again next year? I’m game.

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