One way to add a bit of spark to a chess match. (Bob Staake for The Washington Post)
Editor and judge of The Style Invitational

Electrify chess pieces so that voltage steadily increases until somebody makes a move.
If you take more than 60 seconds to take your turn in Scrabble, your opponent gets to whack your knuckles with his tile rack.

In a 4G world, who has the patience for 1G sports? When the two-minute warning means that the game should be over in a half-hour or so, you might as well compensate with some other pastimes that we could speed up to fit our ever more frantically ticking clocks. Loser Mike Gips suggests: Suggest ways to make sports and other leisure activities more time-efficient or exciting, as in Mike’s examples above.

Winner gets the Inkin’ Memorial, the bobblehead that is the official Style Invitational trophy. Second place receives — speaking of novel pastimes — a pair of actual three-sided dice, intended for those who lack the dexterity to play Rock-Paper-Scissors in the usual manner. “Loser logic at its finest,” notes donor Jeff Contompasis, since this method requires a suitable dice-rolling surface. Jeff also includes a bonus prize of official USDA instructions on “Obliterating Animal Carcasses With Explosives” (e.g., “Horseshoes should be removed to minimize dangerous flying debris”).

Other runners-up win their choice of a yearned-for Loser Mug or the ardently desired Grossery Bag. Honorable mentions get a lusted-after Loser magnet. First Offenders receive a smelly, tree-shaped air “freshener” (FirStink for their first ink). E-mail entries to or fax to 202-334-4312. Deadline is Monday, Sept. 24; results published Oct. 14 (online Oct. 12). No more than 25 entries per entrant per week. Include “Week 988” in your e-mail subject line or it might be ignored as spam. Include your real name, postal address and phone number with your entry. See contest rules and guidelines at The subhead for this week’s honorable mentions is by Beverley Sharp; the alternative headline in the “Next week’s results” line is by Jeff Contompasis. Join the lively Style Invitational Devotees group on Facebook at

Report from Week 984

in which we asked you to write something in which each successive word started with the next letter of the alphabet — in either direction. And you could even turn around and switch directions, or head from Z on to A or vice versa (“A,” “and” and “the” could be added anywhere). This contest prompted a number of entrants to force the Empress to slog through 26-word and longer sentences (Judge to E: “For giving ink to that atrocious pun, you will hereby serve a 26-word sentence, and surrender your tiara immediately”) that all seemed to be about xanthippic yaks or yapping zebras. She will spare you further, and instead show how it’s done right:

The winner of the Inkin’ Memorial

Z on to A, to Y: Zeroes, athletes, braniacs, cheerleaders, dorks . . . Everybody faking grins . . . (Hey, it’s just kissing!) . . . “Look, Ma, no —” . . . Oops! photos. . . Quotes (really shallow, though) . . . Upperclassmen . . .Varsity winners . . . XOXOXO. Yearbook. (Christopher Lamora, Guatemala City)

2. Winner of the genuine 18-inch rubber chicken: H to A: Harry’s genitals frankly elicit doubts concerning bedroom abilities.
(Ann Martin, Bracknell, England)

3. T back to A, then forward to R: Tampa Secret-Rendezvous Quarters:
“President Obama’s a narcissistic Marxist, liar and Kenyan. Jeez, investigate the Hawaiian government! Follow the evidence! Democrats concealed the bozo’s actual birth certificate!” the Donald explains, flashing a goofy “hey, I’m just kooky” look.
  Mitt nods obligingly, pales and quickly retreats. (Chris Doyle, Ponder, Tex.)

4. A to Z: A belligerent candidate, defiantly expounding fallacious gynecological health information, just kept lecturing, making numbers of people quite rightly say (to use vilifying words), “X#$%, you zero!” (Steve Gerritson, Bothell, Wash., a First Offender)

Alpha bettered: Honorable mentions

Armstrong’s bicycling career: dope-pedaling. (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

Armstrong biked competitively, defeating every France-going hopeful in July. Knocking Lance, malicious naysayers obsessively persecuted. Quit robbing seven titles, USADA — very weak. (Amanda Yanovitch, Midlothian, Va.)

Diana, Cuba beckons again! Zip your Xtreme-Dream wetsuit, vow unwavering tenacity! Swim. Retch. Quit. Plan one next marathon lunacy. (Mike Gips, Bethesda)

Allowing budget cliff-diving ensures the Four Ghastly Horsemen in January, Krugman lectures me. (David Genser, Poway, Calif.)

A boa constrictor doesn’t ever forget: Giving hugs is just killing. Love murders. Neatly. On purpose. (Robert Schechter, Dix Hills, N.Y.)

Another bit casual dopers easily forget: Getting high inhaling joints kills living mitochondria. Nevertheless, optimistic potheads quietly remain stoned, toking up volumes while X-rays yield zero apparent “brain collapse” (duh). (Neal Starkman, Seattle)

A jaded Kate (lately Middleton): “Nosy, obnoxious pregnancy questions! Royalty sucks!” (Katherine Stikkers, Poughkeepsie, N.Y., a First Offender)

Debt = China bought America. (Mark Raffman, Reston)

“Hey, I’m just kidding,” laughed Mitt nervously. “Obama’s policies, quaintly, rarely seem taxing.” (Tom Cary, Hollywood, Md.)

Joystick kaput? Luckily, men now overcome the problem; a quick remedy shapes things up. Viagra: a winner! (Beverley Sharp, Montgomery, Ala.)

Sexual rapport: Quid pro O. (Tom Witte, Montgomery Village)

Limbaugh makes news the oldest profession. (Dave Airozo, Silver Spring)

Bleeding crocodile? Dying elephant? Fractured goat? Hemorrhaging iguana? Jaundiced kangaroo? Languishing moose? Narcoleptic opossum? Paralyzed quail? This unflappable vet will X-ray your zoo animals! (Graham Lester, Roeland Park, Kan.)

Kenyan “joy” is “happy gnus.” (Christopher Lamora)

The ABCs (and CBAs) of the Seven Deadly Sins
1. Anger begets choler and discontent. Eschew fury.
2. Curb dining extravangances; forgo gluttony henceforward.
3. X-rated yearnings and zest? Adultery? Be careful. Don’t even fantasize.
4. A dive eventually follows gloating, hauteur, insolence.
5. Relinquish slothful, tiresome, unproductive, vegetative ways.
6. Discontinue envy. Forever. God hath insisted.
7. Avarice banishes common decency. Eject filthy greed. (Mae Scanlan, Washington)

Noticed our politicians’ quality?: Ready, set — throw up. (Ann Martin)

“Canadians believe Adele’s better?” Céline Dion’s enthusiasm fades. Gallantly holding in jealousy, keeping long-muffled notions of panic quietly repressed, she tunes up, voice wobbling. (Chris Doyle)

Five Guys has incredibly juicy Kobe-like morsels. Now, only prime-quality rectal secretions transpire. (Matt Monitto, Elon, N.C.)

Turkeys using Viagra: wishbones. (Rob Huffman, Fredericksburg, Va.)

Zest your xylem — Viagra. (Lawrence McGuire, Waldorf, Md.) [Three Viagra inks in one Invitational contest — a record?]

Attention, banged chicks: Don’t even fight. Go home. In a jeering kakistocracy, legitimate molestation never occasions pregnancy. (Amanda Yanovitch)

Hizzoner Gray finds executive direction: Clone the Barry administration. (Kevin Dopart)

A bare congressman drippily emerging from Galilean H2O into Jewish kingdom leaves many nonplussed. (David Genser)

“Jobs keep lagging,” Mitt nags. Obama, the president, quickly responds, “Spend, tax!” (Robert Schechter)

Congress directs efficient federal government. Haha! I jest. (Katherine Stikkers)

And last: ZZZZZZ . . . Another “zinger” alphabet-bothering contest drowns the Empress. (David Genser)

And even laster: Avoiding brainier competitions delivering earnings, fame, glory, honor — I just keep losing. (Kevin Dopart)
Still running — deadline Monday night — is the Week 987 contest on “bank heads.” See

Visit the online discussion group The Style Conversational, in which the Empress discusses today’s new contest and results along with news about the Loser Community — and you can vote for your favorite among the inking entries, since you no doubt figured the Empress chose the wrong winner. If you’d like an e-mail notification each week when the Invitational and Conversational are posted online, write to the Empress at (note that in the subject line) and she’ll add you to the mailing list. And on Facebook, join the far more lively group Style Invitational Devotees and chime in.

Next week’s results: What art art thou, or Plumb Bob, in which we showed you five cryptic cartoons by Style Invitational Resident Crazed Cartoonist Bob Staake and asked you to tell us which Invite contest each would accompany.