Why I haven’t been blogging so much

1. Was focussing on SA News on the past few weeks – honestly though, I’m starting to feel a little worn out, with the somewhat dismal response and contribution (which was pretty much expected from the start anyway). I need to remind myself that success in such endeavours cannot be attained immediately.

2. Haven’t been playing too much Scrabble in my free time since the last tournament. I’ve been on ISC a few times, but I didn’t manage to get in form and in most cases stopped playing after a few games, feeling worn out. I’ve been spending my time instead on stuff like listening to (mostly piano) music, reading online articles and watching the occasional documentary – other things that I imagine will keep my brain somehow intact for university. And I haven’t really found much blog-worthy stuff, since this blog’s mainly Scrabble nowadays…

3. The third reason why I haven’t been posting is that I’m grappling with a rather tough question about strategy. This (ungated version available here) is rather thought provoking, especially Joel Sherman’s quote about forward analysis not being useful all the time. If what he says is true (it probably is true to a large extent), forward analysis becomes one of the most challenging things (as well as one of the most frustrating things!) about Scrabble. I mean, the idea of making a play which predictively gives you a higher chance of scoring next turn and restricts your opponent’s scoring (that was a mouthful) is great and all, but it’s really and I mean really difficult to make decisions based on such foresight.

For instance, I’m still having some difficulty deciding which play I should have made against Hubert last Saturday (practice game), holding a rack of ENOOORW in response to his play of (L)AB, a 2-tile scoring dump – I could either have done WOO for 8 points or WOON for 12 points, but WOON would have exposed a TLS (and a TWS which would be harder to capitalise on). Playing WOON would also be a little more open, though not by much. Leave-wise I suppose ENOR might be better, but I think it’s only marginally better than EOR. CP (haven’t had time to do deeper simulations) says that WOO is better by about 3%, but that’s without knowledge that Hubert just made a 2-tile dump (which might suggest he is keeping lower-point tiles). I eventually played WOO, because the board was confined to a rather small area, so most of his potential bingos would open a wide space for me to capitalise on – a plus point with my decent leave of ENOR.

As it was, Hubert bingoed to my W with (W)ARRANED – he wouldn’t have done so if I’d played WOON. Bingoing through the W was what I least expected, and his bingo was also one of the most blocked possibilities. As it was, I next had COEHORN on my rack with no place to play it, and I eventually played HOON round the triple (over ARRA of WARRANED), missing the superior OHONE (over RANED of WARRANED). I don’t know if I made a mistake with WOO or if I was just unlucky, but this, along with other incidents, leads me to question my belief in forward-looking, which seems to be Quackle’s main strength (with multi-ply simulations). From what I see, top players do create chances for themselves and restrict their opponents’ moves – but perhaps they would not forsake 4 points to avoid opening a TLS which they may very well utilise later themselves. And – not all world-beating players play like Quackle, so maybe forward-looking to a limit or in a unique manner may be the winning formula here (or maybe they don’t play like Quackle because of point 1 here).

This is really a question that might keep my mouth shut about strategy for a long while!

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