Friday, September 19, 2008

Give Me Lists or Give Me Death

The promised Michael-and-Heather-post about our solution to the Scrabble HPOWNC issue will appear sometime this weekend :) Until then, I thought I'd regale you with a tale of yet another method of studying...perhaps we could call this the "Plan B: List" Method.

Michael wrote about his distaste for studying and quest to find a method more orderly than flash cards. I know a lot of people say flash cards work...but for me, Miss Neat Freak over here, there were few things appealing about having a million flash cards around to take flying leaps off my desk and get stuck under my chair and in crannies around my room and to take up oodles of space. (Except, of course, for the times when I could steal Michael's flash cards and bring them along with us on journeys to Scrabble tournaments - yay shamelessly mooching off my boyfriend's long hours of toil creating easily accessible knowledge!! Slightly ashamed to say I never paid attention to how - or if - he organized them, though :-P)

Anyway - I was never the flash card girl, or actually the anti-studying girl either. I like school! I might end up going for a Ph.D! I always got my kicks out of studying for academic competitions - memorizing speeches for public speaking competitions, studying lists of words for spelling bees - that was my gig, and I was pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. I never needed to see the word - I could just visualize what I was spelling in my head as if it were typed there, and I'd spell it while it was up there on the "computer screen" of sorts in my head.

So when Michael and I became members of the NSA, and I saw a bunch of lists in our membership packets, I was SO sold. Here's everything a beginning Scrabble player needs to get going on the millions of words out there! 2's, 3's, Blockers, J/Q/X/Z 4's, Quasi-Proper Names That Are Actually Good, The Poo List, the Top 10 Bingo Stems (everything from SATINE to SANTER and IRONES), 4's-That-Can-Be-Formed-From-3's....lemme at 'em!!!!!!!

Tedious though it may sound to some, I love my lists. I'll look at them and I'll say words to myself, I'll write the list out again by hand (writing puts things into memory for me), I'll write just the members of the list that I'm having trouble remembering - it's great. I've learned the 2's, most of the 3's, and the Top 10 Stems from this method so far.

Is this everything?! Heck no. Is it something?! Yeah, for sure, and it's all served me well. I may not be studying the obscure 7's and 8's yet, but I'm learning more probable words that show up on my rack a whole heck of a lot more often than things like RESOJETS, for example (I will forever remember that word because the commentators said someone - and I forget who, because I wasn't an avid Scrabble player yet - missed it as an out play in the televised Nationals a few years ago.)

These lists may take me a long time to get through - like I've said, I hardly ever have time to study! But they'll take a good while. The question once I'm through with them, of course, will be - what then?! Zyzzyva, AnaHack, more lists, ???

Here's a question for any who care to weigh in: are these lists enough to tackle at one time, or should I simultaneously be studying some of the more bizarre words?! I don't pretend at all to know what I'm doing, and I know all the list stuff is probably extremely basic and taken for granted by most halfway-decently-ranked Scrabblers.

I know I'll have to probably break from my precious lists one day. But don't worry. I won't go into list-withdrawal shock. Despite the title of my post - there are far cooler ways to die.

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