mosaic (masochistically) wrote,

jvp - Our weekend

We felt as if we were the only Scrabble players in North America not at a tournament. ISC was either quiet, or down, so we got very few games in as Mosaic, and several of those against questionable opponents.

The theme of our online games -- and of one conversation with Muzjik -- was how willing one is to play questionable words (or perhaps even intentionally bluff) when facing players whom one suspects of (at the very least) playing with a dictionary in their lap.

[Some have estimated a minimum 100-pt ratings advantage to the player who merely uses the book to (a) check questionable words before playing, and thus never phonies, and to (b) check opponent's questionable words, and thus never either allows a phony or mischallenges. It is a truism that on average, even among players who have signed the Fair Play Agreement, phonies are played, allowed to stand, and/or good words mischallenged on ISC at significantly lower rates than occurs in clubs and tournaments.]

Mosaic forewent a play of MISCOPY, unsure whether it was good; and after admitted that in real life we would certainly have played it. Muzjik spoke of resolving to relax on this point (we'll see how long that lasts :-) and then of a bluff that paid off for him.

There are some straight players on ISC.

* * *

Partly because ISC was down for a day, and partly because of some time stuck in Carmax's waiting room, we got some RL jvp-marsh games in, and split 2-2. The theme of these games was the new word list! Which marsh is well ahead on, due to extra jousts at Jumbletime. In four games we saw two QI's, one ZA, and two ONO's. Marsh also made a lovely -E hook on MERGE.

We need LOTS more study and LOTS more play to begin to feel that we have internalized the new list (especially 2's, 3's and 3-to-make-4's) sufficient to be competitive. We think a lot of players underestimate the deeply ingrained foundation of the shorter words that in turn enables the very organic sense of board control crucial to the higher levels of the game.

The DO looms.

* * *

I'm reading le Carre's 'Absolute Friends.'

Le Carre's perennial motif is: yes, this is international espionage, but unlike 007 and most other hero adventurers of the genre, my spies are weak humans, caught in a web of moral ambiguity that is MORE complex, not less, for being spun around the grand themes of Communism, Capitalism, Democracy, etc. That just because the avowed causes are (propagandistically, to be sure) grand, pure, absolute battles of Good vs. Evil, doesn't mean that the players (from infantryman to head-of-state) aren't confused, limited, and inconsistent -- and, like the rest of us in all of 'regular' life, mostly unaware of exactly why they choose as they do.

This discussion returned us to the notion (in Scrabble) of how we view elite play and elite players, and how we respond when we see we have missed something 'obvious.'

We've noticed two important things: (1) the perfect game is almost mythic, and the perfect player is utterly mythic; everybody misses sometimes, and to compound the error by heaping abuse on one's own head sets back the next game, the next tourney, the whole learning process. Give yourself a break. (2) Did you do the right thing in place of the missed bingo? Every play should accomplish something, preferably many things -- position, rack-development, probabilistic reasoning, inference, bluff, offense, defense, etc. A whiff on a bingo rack will hurt less if you consistently apply yourself to the total game.
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