Thursday, November 27, 2008

Scrabble. I just can't quit you...

Or so two out of three directors tell me. That's right, I am talking about resigning or "forfeiting" if you prefer. I can not think of any other competitive two person game that does not allow a person to stop playing when they believe they are going to lose. The majority of chess games end in resignation, tournament magic is the same (here is a link to more info on this game ) poker players always have the opportunity to fold. Even tennis and golf players have the ability to "withdraw" when a match or round is going badly. Only scrabble insists on the sadistic (literally, the enjoyment of another's forced suffering) practice of continuing the game regardless of the chance of a comeback or the mental state of the participants. Or does it? The official tournament rules ( ) have this to say about forfeits: If you must leave a game in progress, and you and your opponent cannot finish at a later time agreeable to both of you and the Director, you receive a forfeit loss for that game. If you are ahead in score when you leave, 50 points are subtracted from your total spread. If you are behind, 50 points plus the amount you are behind are subtracted from your total spread.
Byes and forfeits are not used in computing new ratings.
A game that begins with both players present and is then forfeited is rated as a completed game.

So what is going on here? Well, imprecise phrasing causes a contradiction near the end (they are trying to say that games are rated if two players show up and do not if only one player is there).

More interesting though, is the simple word "must" at the beginning. This is a very subjective term and I have heard a different interpretation from each director I have asked about it. These are all people who have taken the time to study and pass a test devised by the N.S.A. and either run sanctioned clubs and/or multiple rated tournaments. You would think it would be an issue that is unequivocably resolved by the governing body that runs a game, or at least that an accord would be reached by those who mange the nuts and bolts of running tournaments. Instead, some directors rely on hearsay "well I heard that they did this at a tournament in ____ so let's do that" or suddenly become doctors "well it says 'must', do you have a fever?" or worst of all, have no knowledge of the rules whatsover: "the rules say you can not forfeit". This is where things get particularly sticky. Going to a scrabble club or even a scrabble tournament is not like going to a Denny's (aside from how many old people are there) where you can expect a similiar experience regardless of where in the U.S. you happen to be. Instead it is more like pulling off the highway and going to a locally owned restaurant that is the only place food is available on the exit. There will be some similarities such as food, seats, and the exchange of money, but service and the overall experience will vary greatly. In other words, tournaments and clubs (like small restaurants) are owned by their organizers and directors and can be run however they want. I mention this not to disparage any particular individuals, but rather whatever (mis)governing body in the N.S.A. allowed matters to reach this state. The CGP "discussion" forum recently had a long running argument over whether directors should be allowed to play in their own tournaments. Whatever you feel on this issue, the larger concern is that there is no official policy. Where do frustration and lack of oversight lead?.... Hazing! Seriously though, I am getting really tired of hearing justifications of why it's taboo in scrabble to resign that are basically: "It felt horrible the other day when I had to suffer through a blowout loss and it was just your 'turn' to go through that experience". I am sorry that anyone has to go through it. There is something fundamentally wrong with any game that features prominently the trapping and mental torture of its players, whether it is "equally divided" or not. But what about spread? Well join me next time when we take a look at the root of a lot (maybe most) of organized scrabble's problems: the silly specter of spread.


mAdMan said...

Hello there,
I think people take ISC far too seriously. There are no stakes, no money to be lost and really its just a silly word game with some really stupid words. I love Scrabble nonethless and at times migrate to lexulous just for the sheer radio chatter around. Everyone's saying something, and people generally seem to be less uptight.

I really think Scrabble players need to lighten up at ISC and stop turning their finger notes into trophy cabinets.

謝明博馬陰人放購ˇ屁ㄉ人不董識貨ㄉ人精打細算ㄉ人霖宏百里緒恩駛溟含凾信攔醬油邱科信彰柏宏與簽纏t06單耳耽溺娟謝政道QKPb戲曲學院部大汐布袋戲model mode台北不婚獨子女 臺獨 said...

阿彌陀佛 無相佈施


之為腥。所謂「葷腥」即這兩類的合稱。 葷菜
(重定向自五辛) 佛家五葷



興渠另說為洋蔥。) 肉 蛋 奶?!

念楞嚴經 *∞窮盡相關 消去無關 證據 時效 念阿彌陀佛往生西方極樂世界

不婚 不生子女 生生世世不當老師

log 二0.3010 三0.47710.48 五0.6990 七0.8451 .85
root 二1.414 1.41 三1.732 1.73五 2.236 2.24七 2.646
=>十3.16 π∈Q' 一點八1.34

Cesar Bielich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cesar Bielich said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe Raciti said...

Hi Professor P.

I thought you are your readers might be interested in asong/music video I made about word games.


- Joe

Suporna Roy said...

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I Like This Very Much.
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Duck keeping

Ronnie55 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ronnie55 said...

I really like ISC but agree that the people can be a bit rude or out of control sometimes. Fortunately, there's an ignore function, or noplay, where you can block somebody from messaging you or playing against you again. ISC also has some very nice folks, so it's definitely worth it for me. It's the only site I use right now to play online.

Scrabble Online

scrabbleaddiction251 said...

Scrabble is really a nice game, besides of being educational its very strategic and the game is so much fun specially when your with your family

2 letter scrabble words

HanesOLoude said...

For those who have absolutely no idea what Scrabble is, I will run through a basic description.