Monday, September 28, 2009

On winning: her perspective

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!


George V. said...

Making MvO is an attainable goal. I would love to see some new blood on the team!

Pete Zeigler said...

Agreed. Look at the Ohio listing. making MvO is definitely doable. Keep studying, you'll find yourself learning more stuff more quickly, and before long, you'll be amazed at how much you know.

You guys coming to the clubby thursday?

Heather said...

We'll be there Thursday for sure! Thanks for the motivation, you guys - I shall press on happily and see what I can do. :) Do you two study sevens and eights by probability only (e.g., I'm pretty much done with 1-1000 7s, should I go on to 1000-1500 now?) or do you adopt a different method to the madness once you're over 1000 with these?