On challenge rules and so on

Wouldn’t really post anything on any discussion threads now (since I am after all a Lowly Underaged Youth Member) about this, but for tournament play, I strongly feel that a 5 point challenge rule is the best (unless there are any other possibilities that may rattle me off my ground, since I am only considering three possibilities – Single Challenge, 5 Point Challenge and Double Challenge).

Well I will consider Single Challenge first. The problem I have with this challenge is the endless possibilities it opens – it allows people to challenge for time, and challenge everything they are unsure of.

Basically, I think it spoils the uncertainty in challenging. The response for challengers will either be “Oh, I need more time, so I’ll spend my time thinking when the word is being checked” or “I guess I’m not entirely sure of this word, I’ll just check it for fun”. There isn’t the “what if” factor in this challenge – it even benefits the challenger who gets more time to think. I’ve seen this during WYSC, and it gets really irritating when people just check all of your four lettered words (or even high probability bingos) like SCRY and et cetera. It’s almost like playing void, except that the player CAN phony and cannot check words (and he would be extremely disinclined to do so).

I wouldn’t really go as far as to suggest that other countries go off this challenge rule because there are always counter arguments. This is just my point of view so it is open to criticism.

On to double challenge. There are two things I don’t really like about double challenge, but both of which revolve around the notion of excessive benefit to the person getting challenged. One is that the harsh penalty creates too great a “what if” factor. This applies especially for games between higher rated and lower rated players – the higher rated players phony, then the lower rated players think ‘Now, this is a higher rated player who’s obviously spent more time with the dictionary, so this word is probably good, I don’t want to lose my turn.’ In that case, the phony stays on the board even when the lower rated player has not considered if the word is really valid.

Even games between similarly rated players can result in that occurrence. There is simply too huge a penalty in the challenge that people don’t challenge enough. And this results in a large benefit to the “challenged”.

The second, probably more important reason why I would discourage a double challenge rule (this reason applies more to tournaments where there are varying standards) is that it restricts development for the challenger. I mean “development” in terms of learning how to deal with racks and et cetera. Whenever a person makes an unsuccessful challenge, he gets stuck with exactly the same rack. This doesn’t allow him space to work with new racks, and hence kills off some learning opportunities. Granted that whenever the phonier gets his word challenged off, he gets stuck with the same rack too, phonying is a much greater sin than well, challenging!

There also arises the perennial question of when someone should challenge something – should he challenge it when his rack is dreck (and hence he needs to dump them somewhere or change)? What if the challenge is successful and he has nowhere to throw his bad tiles? As most people should see, what one person has on his rack should have nothing to do with whether he should challenge something (unless that much uncertainty is to be added into the game).

I think that a 5 point challenge is probably the most beneficial to all players. It can potentially make a difference in the game result (and hence the existence of a “what if” factor) but it doesn’t discourage people from making the challenge. It’s exactly the point (haha pun) that 5 point challenges aren’t that significant (as I guess many American players are thinking) that makes them valuable. It’s also the fact that players are usually unsure if the 5 points will make a difference to the result of the game that adds a level of uncertainty. And while a single/ double challenge would usually result in uniform responses to unsure words (for single it’s just challenging it, for double it’s not challenging it), 5 point challenges open an entire spectrum encompassing people who challenge every word they’re unsure of and people who don’t challenge any word. (and both parties reaping benefits and losses)

Well please comment if you find this rubbish, or if you find some sense in it.

One for all, All for one, Venturez’ 06

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