I had a revelation yesterday at Rocky River club. One of these years, whenever I'm a little above mid-level in a division, I'm going to make myself decide NOT to play up into the next division at a Nationals, and instead to shoot for the win in whatever division I'm naturally placed in. Not because I want the money, or the feeling of superiority that would come from winning at a Nationals, or even the bragging rights - but because I just saw Doug S's absolutely awesome National Champion Scrabble board, and it's one of the cooler things I've ever seen, and eventually before I die I WANT ONE!
And then, after winning it, I would likely be once again filled with the great and righteous fear of the Increasing Rating. Because winning, my friends, is scary.
Saturday's Battle Creek tourney was only 7 games against 7 other players - but after that one day was over, my rating was suddenly an as-yet-undetermined-amount higher. Meaning I'm expected to be that much better of a performer in a tournament, have that much more word knowledge, that much better strategy. And for someone who fully acknowledges that there is a world or two or ten out there of Scrabble knowledge she doesn't have, the need to perform better can seem like a very tall order sometimes.
I will now digress, quickly but necessarily, to say that I am not half as neurotic as the previous two paragraphs make me sound. Focusing on thoughts like those is of no use, so I just Zyzzyva Zyzzyva Zyzzyva and throw some Quackle into the mix and see where doing my best studying lands me in the next tournament. That's all I know to do, and apparently it's suiting me fairly well right now.
High prob 1-1000 7s, 1-500 8s, 5-7 vowel 7s, 5-8 vowel 8s, JQXZ/W/Y/K 5s, and 4 vowel 6s are always on the agenda these days (with 50 or less in each quiz always, happily). I'll add 500-1000 prob 8s tomorrow and hope for the drive to get through 300+ words I may not have seen before in one shot. I should also add 4s, daunting though they seem - maybe I'll start with the FHKWY ones and go from there to higher prob since I know I know the JQXZ ones...
But there is still always so much to learn, and such a gap between the brain of an intermediate and that of an expert. I have read about the occasional expert serving as a "Scrabble mentor" to us intermediates, and I think that would be about the coolest thing in the world to have happen, because who better to teach you what an expert brain thinks during a Scrabble game than someone who actually does think with an expert brain?! One cannot rely on one's brain to learn everything about a subject if one is never taught.
So I will have to disagree with Michael on the essential value of winning: to me, it's rating points (still want to be in MvO next year, however un-reachable that may be) and an invitation/command to continue studying and improving. And with that, why am I still taking time to blog?! Back to Zyzzyva for me!