IF there’s one thing living through this pandemic has taught me, it’s that I am extraordinarily bad at Scrabble.

I play it online with strangers from across the world. I downloaded the game for my phone in the hope it would perhaps help me to expand my vocabulary in a meaningful way.

All it has done instead is made me raging and given me yet another way of procrastinating.

“Am no playing scrabble against a writer!” my pal said to me as I tried to encourage him to play me at it a few months ago. “Don’t worry about it, mate,” I said. “I’m rotten.” He finally relented and, of course, hammered me. I had to get better.

I found myself awake at three in the morning, poring over articles about scrabble strategies, looking for a way to improve my skills as my current signature move of just trying to play funny and/or sweary words is getting me nowhere.

I’m glad, at least, that I’m not playing it in real life on an actual board, getting trounced by a real person sitting across from me. In the version on my phone, people can send you messages during the game. They say things like “Good game!” and “Great word!”

It sends me almost apoplectic with rage. I can feel the smugness off their words. If it was real life, I’d be sorely tempted to pick up the board and skite it across the room like a frisbee. Maybe rattle a few of the tiles off their dome in retaliation.

It’s a game that masquerades as an intellectual pursuit, a game for thinkers and wordsmiths, but it brings out the worst in people. It’s awful and it’s amazing, all at the same time.

The game has started to bleed into my time away from it. When I’m driving, I find myself imagining registration plates as my Scrabble letters and try and think about what words I could make if I was to be on the receiving end of such a selection.

I look at paving stones as a Scrabble board and wonder where the tantalizing triple word score square would be and how I could utilise it to maximum effect.

In short, this game is consuming me. I am in the pocket of Big Scrabble. Scrabble lives in my mind rent free.

I’ve even wondered how much I’d need to play it to achieve Rain Man levels of skill where I can count the tiles as my opponent plays them and figure out what letters they have and also what letters remain in the bag. I either need to commit to it or cut myself off from it completely.

Maybe I could channel this energy, this love and hatred for the game, into something creative. I could write something like the Queen’s Gambit, the Netflix programme about a chess prodigy on her rise to the top.

Is Scrabble dramatic enough to be depicted in such a way? It Is to me, but not, I imagine, to the people I play against. They play the game with a cold detachment. Their moves are precise and calculated. They play not for fun, not for enjoyment, they play to win. They think three or four moves ahead of me. While I’m deliberating over whether to play the word “jobby” for a laugh or not, they’re thinking of how they can stretch their lead. How they can humiliate me. How they can leave me in bits. If the strangers I played with knew I was a writer, they’d be even more smug.

But I’ve been thinking, can they possibly enjoy playing it in the way I do? While I may be technically bad at it, I am sure that no-one has as much of a laugh as I do.

In footballing terms, my opponents are Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. They’re relentless winning machines, stopping at nothing to get one over on me. I’m the guy who plays for a Sunday league team and turns up to every game hungover but with a smile on his face.

A quick glance at both of us would reveal straight away who is having the better time.

They must experience a lot of pressure, the weight of the world on their shoulders as they try to grind out another win while I lie back, relax, and chuckle at either the daft word I’ve played or how bad this particular game has turned out for me.

Maybe I’m the Eddie the Eagle of the Scrabble world. I play with the freedom to express myself and without the burden of expectation.

The world of online Scrabble may be murky and somewhat hostile, it is not a place for the faint-hearted, but there is fun to be had in placing those tiles, ever so delicately, and creating a daft word for a small amount of meaningless points and in convincing yourself that even though you may have been well beaten, you’re the real winner anyway.