Friday, February 09, 2007

2007 Scrabble Challenge

Some readers may recall my description of a literacy fund raising event last fall where I played team Scrabble with some friends. These same three friends, regulars at my weekly Game Night, have been my constant adversaries on the great board. 2006 was marked by trash talk and competing claims of Scrabble supremacy.
In the interests of proving once and for all who is the best Scrabble player among us, Rumara proposed a tournament to last for one year. Rules would be official National Scrabble Association; scads of data would be recorded in a spreadsheet. Rumara actually joined the NAS in order to get the OFFICIAL world list (referred to as OWL). She prepared a binder for each of us with rules, strategies, useful word lists (the two-letter words, the three-letter words, the u-dumps, the i-dumps, etc.).

After a few weeks of play, usually on Sunday night but often at other times (for example, for five hours on Wednesday afternoon this week; what a good thing we're all self-employed) we have honed our techniques and policies.

1. In the interests of random seating and avoiding cries of "She always sets him up!" we take N,S, E, and W from the bag, lay them face down, and draw for seating at the start of each match. We then draw for who goes first, in the usual manner.

2. "Style points" are noted on the spreadsheet, although we don't have a way to quantify them yet. They may come in handy in the final accounting, perhaps as a tie-breaker, if necessary. Style points are awareded for any especially clever play on the board, such as forming a box, bridging two particularly problematic letters, making a long side-by-side word, etc. Style points are awarded by consensus.

3. Because there are a variety of ways to determing who is "winning," we've begun analyzing the spreadsheet to figure out the best measurement. Right now we are trying a sum of average score + number of wins + number of points (based on first, second, third and fourth place finishes) + number of bingos (7-letter words). By this method, I'm winning right now; however, if we use median score + number of wins + number of points + bingos, then Rumara is winning and Mike is in second place, with me in third. James is last right now, although last week he was first in scoring. Once we figure which method (average or median) gives us the truest picture of Scrabble mastery, we'll create a function for that calculation in the spreadsheet.

This week my bingos were: BESTING, SILLIER, LOUSIER, RECOUPED, and FALTERER. Michael had one bingo, COSTING, and Rumara tried to play RENAMERS and was forced to retract it after a successful challenge.

Stay tuned for further updates. There will be some breaks in the action -- James and I are going to Florida to play in a bridge tournament, Mike is going to Europe to play hockey, etc. -- but we try to squeeze our sanctioned matches in as often as possible as schedules allow. Best Blogger Tips
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