Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Prompted by, of all things, a colleague, I have resumed playing 5-minutes-per-side Scrabble with random strangers over the Internet (user jfreese on ISC). No offense, but you probably don't want any part of me at 5-minutes-per-side Scrabble. I'm much better at it than the regular 25-minutes-per-side Scrabble, or, more accurately, I'm less worse at 5-minutes vs. 25-minutes than most players are. Equivalently, having five times as much time to think about one's moves doesn't benefit me nearly as much as it benefits other people. I cannot shake the sense that this fact bespeaks something more general, but I'm not sure exactly what it is. I suspect it's not flattering.
BTW, as far as I can tell, three things separate intermediate from novice players from Scrabble:
1. The mental default is to try to score in two directions (if a triple word score square is not involved). For this, obviously, it helps the more 2- and 3-letter words you know.
2. The mental default is to look for a bingo whenever an S- or blank- is on one's rack, keeping them on the rack otherwise unless one has a quite good play. (With 5 minute, where one has no time to ponder, I don't even contemplate using a blank tile for anything other than a bingo until it's the end of the game.)
3. The player very much takes into account the tiles left on one's rack when making a play. I might overthink this in longer games, actually, which may be part of the reason I don't improve as much if given more time.