mosaic (masochistically) wrote,

mosaic - Online vs. Real Life, Continued


Obviously, people play on ISC in a wide variety of settings, from a Starbucks to the beach to a quiet den to an office cubicle.

"3. I won't answer your chat while I play, I can't see it when I'm looking at the board. I play each game seriously."

Tournament (and to a lesser degree, club) play takes place in relatively controlled and -- significantly -- impartial settings. Both players suffer from glare, hear shushing, feel the beat of the music from the Bar Mitzvah nextdoor, and so forth. We are on ISC so much that we are apt to forget (John especially so) that our own environment is both less than ideal, and very likely worse than our opponent's.

John has been known to play in the office, while on 'lunch break' -- but even when on a legitimate break, nobody likes to see a game up on an employee's monitor -- so he keeps WordBiz small (barely readable), and minimizes it between plays, only bringing the window to the

"I'm solar-powered. After dark, I'm only here to watch."

foreground when he hears the 'clunk' signal of his opponent's play. In a 30-minute game (15 minutes per side) he may spend only a total of 5 minutes studying the board.

Other players we know have babies at home, or children, pets, wives, husbands, kitchens, TV, or multiple chat windows open simultaneously. Some even have lives. Many play into the wee morning hours, where Scrabble and insomnia become codependent.

This all seems quite obvious -- but there are two points to be made here. First, about morale. As serious experts, some portion of our ego is hooked into our performance (your mileage may vary). A trouncing from a player rated 500 real-life rating points below us is apt to irk.

"6. I play online to practise for the tournament and I think that using aids dulls my skills.

7. I don't play short games (>15 min) because I want to practise my strategies."

To the extent we carry this annoyance into the next game, it hurts our play. To the extent we carry this annoyance into the rest of our day, we have become psychotic, and there's help for that, too. But we must remember that we were not playing in ambient or mental conditions that bring out our best.

A second, and closely related, point has to do with the training regimen. Scrabble is a brain game, and its spatial, mathematical, strategic, anagramming, memory, and other mental tasks are exercised uniquely in a total regulation game (such as at a tournament).

Undoubtedly, speed games, bot games, and other variations build useful mental muscles of various sorts. But in an 18-25 minute game, and provided the ability to focus utterly on the board throughout, we will find the most thorough stretching of the specific talents necessary to a complete game.

Conclusion: Don't gripe about losing when you didn't provide yourself with optimal conditions; and if you really want tournament-calibre training (as opposed to recreation), play 18+ minutes when you are fed, rested, and will not be distracted or interrupted.

Next: Interface and Information
  • Post a new comment


    default userpic