Spot the Deliberate
Mistake Competition:

The Answer

Hello. Well, the competition has now closed and I'd like to thank the many people who sent in suggestions as to the 'deliberate mistake' (In case you are new to this and want to look at the competition, click HERE before reading any further)

Well, what this competition really told me is that I'm really not as good at spelling as I thought I was, and neither was Mari or my sister, who equally failed to notice that I had spelt 'Dalmatian' wrongly. Yes, that's right, it's 'Dalmatian' and not 'Dalmation'. As was pointed out to me on numerous occasions, the dog is from the province of Dalmatia.

BUT - this is a spot the deliberate mistake competition and thus officially excludes well-meaning yet wholly unintentional stupidity on my behalf. In fact, I should really have called this competition 'Amongst all the genuine errors, see if you can spot the one that I thought was the only one.' Or: 'See how many errors you can spot in the picture, then make a wild, random guess at the one I had in mind'.

Anyway, I'll run through the errors that everyone spotted before revealing the one I actually meant (and all the following are genuine suggestions!)


1: The collar doesn't suit Mabel; it should be blue.
2: 'Dog' appears three times and according to several people, this is against the rules of scrabble.

3: 'Dalmation' could not have been placed first as it has nine tiles. (Well, no: it could have been 'mat' first and then the later tiles could have been added. 'Spot' could not have been laid first because then you would have needed eight tiles to make 'Dalmation'. (3rd most popular answer)

4: 'Dalmation' should be spelled 'Dalmatian'. (most popular answer) Oops!

5: Mabel cannot have just played 4 tiles. This is a terrifically well-spotted non-deliberate mistake. The only words that could have been played are dog, paws, lead, cat and tail, none of which require four tiles. (It is always possible mabel has swallowed one, of course)

6: 'Walkies' is a disallowed word. Try telling Mabel that!

7: There are two many 'E's' in Mari's tile carrier. Not at all. There are 12 in an English scrabble set.

8: 'Cat' is not a dog-related word. Oh, come on!

9: From Mr Heinz, with my thanks: "The dalmation is quite obviously a lefty, photographed in reverse and interpolated into a doctored picture, as evidenced by the musculature of the left eyelid which has been built up by winking knowingly due to increased mental acuity and cleverness. Very shrewd, Mr. Fforde, but not quite shrewd enough!"

10: "Statistical improbability of drawing seven "E's" 11: From Ms Hill, again, with my thanks: " There's a nasty tea stain in the lower left of the board, though I suspect that wasn't the deliberate mistake."

12: "Dogs do not play scrabble." Holy cow! And there it was, staring at us all in the face!

14: The appearance of the word 'fur'. Dogs don't have fur, they have hair. Good one.

15: Mabel has only three tiles.

16: From Mara and Bapu, the following: "The problem with the picture of the dog playing Scrabble is that there is a D O G in the picture. I have tried to correct this problem in the attached photo. (see below) In addition, Eeeeeee is the correct spelling of that mouse-squeaking noise and should be used to obtain the triple word score." Good point. If 'Grrrr' is allowed, "Eeeeeee" must be too.
Picture of a cat draped over an iMac.
Bapu the cat demonstrates how to remove dogs from the internet.

17: The mistake is 'spot', because for Mabel it would be in the plural.

18: Unrelated dog-pash-note-by-proxy from Lynn, whose... no, let her explain what's going on: "My Labrador retriever, Thurber, who would be ruling the world if he had opposable thumbs, sends his most fervent regards to Mabel. He finds her eyes "...finer than the chocolate ice cream I get to lick from the bottom of the dessert bowl..." I believe he's smitten."

19: "Mabel's spots are brown in the Scrabble photograph, but they look black in the smaller photograph of her on your webpage."

20: My thanks to Christina who points out the following: "By the way, among the many *possible* undeliberate mistakes, not giving Mabel a way to easily move the tiles should be included-- if she tried to pick them up with her mouth, she'd have a hard time getting them on the board without at least getting drool all over them. Nosing them along would be difficult too. Sad, sad. Give the puppy a pointer or a pair of tongs, why don't you? Poor Mabel."

21: And more Dalmatian related doggery from Ashley: "My parents have a Dalmatian, too, named Sammy, and he is getting to be pretty old for a dog (13 years in human). You might let Mabel know that his spots are still naturally black. She will probably be immensely relieved to hear this. (Girl-dogs tend to worry about that kind of thing.)

22: The human player didn't turn in all of his "E's".

23: "Everyone knows that even intelligence-enhanced dogs play poker not Scrabble!"

24: "Grrr" is spelt wrong - it should be spelt "Grrrrr"

Right, well that's about the scope of the answers, and I can now reveal ..... the true 'deliberate mistake' as I intended it: There are three "K's" on the board when there is only one in a scrabble set. (LicK, walKies and barK). Simple, wasn't it?

The winners - out of the 86 who got it right - and as drawn randomly from Mabel's dog basket, were:

Michael Welter of Clarkston, GA
Gina Alongi of Palo Alto, Ca
Courtney Finch of St Louis
Christina Courtemarche of Waltham, MA
Amy Carlisle of Altoona, IA.

Congratulations to all of these good scrabble-savvy folk, and many thanks to everyone who entered. There will be another competition for the UK and US launches of the 4th in the Thursday Next series, Something Rotten, published in the UK on the 26th July 2004 and in the US on the 9th August 2004. See you there!

To see the results of other competitions, go to my "Competition Terminus" page.