Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by LaminatorX on Tuesday August 19 2014, @06:37AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the word-play dept.

Oliver Roeder writes at 538 that for living-room players, Scrabble is a test of vocabularies but for world-class players, it’s about cold memorization and mathematical probabilities which is why top player are often computer programmers or mathematicians, not poets or novelists. Think of the dictionary as a giant rulebook of valid text strings not as a compendium of the beauty and complexity of the English language. A good competitive player will have memorized a sizeable chunk of the 83,667 words that are two letters to eight letters long. Great players will know a lot of the 29,150 nine-letter words as well.

To the uninitiated, a scrabble game played by top players looks like they had played in Martian. Here’s a taste: In a single game in last year’s Nationals, Nigel Richards, the champion of the 2010 National Scrabble Championship, played the following words: zarf (a metal holder for a coffee cup), waddy (to strike with a thick club), hulloed (to hallo, to shout), sajous (a capuchin, a monkey), qi (the vital force in Chinese thought), flyboats (a small, fast boat), trigo (wheat) and threaper (one that threaps, disputes). Richards has a photographic memory and is known for his uncanny gift for constructing impossible words by stringing his letters through tiles already on the board. "He is probably the best Scrabble player in the world at this point," says John D. Williams, Jr.. "He's got the entire dictionary memorized. He's pretty much a Scrabble machine, if such a thing exists." So, really, how does he do it? As Richards said in an interview posted on YouTube, “I’m not sure there is a secret. It’s just a matter of learning the words.” All 178,691 of them.

Related Stories

Discussing the Future of SN: The Next Six Months 158 comments

Now that the latest release of slashcode has settled, and we're moving ahead towards towards getting the site self-sufficient, it's time to look at our longer term plans. I have talked about the direction I want SN to go, as well as some of the trouble getting from here to there. With the help of the staff, what I present here is a more unified plan on how we get from here to there for the community to evaluate. This should however be considered a draft, so, as usual, feel free to rip it to shreds, etc. In short, here's what I want to get done over the next six months:

  • SoylentNews PBC reaches self-sufficiency
  • Beginnings of a major "port and polish" on both content and the site itself
  • Build a more uniformed sense of community throughout the site
  • Compilation and completion of a "style and policy" manual
  • Preparations for running a crowd-funding campaign to get initial capital
  • Define, with assistance and input from the community, a mechanism for community governance
  • If possible, try and reach out to other not-for-profit journalist organizations for advice and guidance
  • Bootstrap the NFP umbrella from the B-corp's funds
  • Define a framework for which original content will be used on SoylentNews
  • Identify people who may be willing to work in a journalistic capacity with us
  • With the above frameworks in place, fundraise
  • Original content launches on SN

As usual, I'm going to go through these one by one, so check past the break

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by Boxzy on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:08AM

    by Boxzy (742) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:08AM (#82946) Journal

    should be able to play it better than humans (like chess) is inevitably poisoned at the highest levels once business gets involved. I enjoy scrabble, mainly because of the social aspect of discussing the words. I wouldn't play chess anymore.

    --
    Go green, Go Soylent.
    • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:25AM

      by davester666 (155) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:25AM (#82952)

      Liar! Go back to elementary school and learn how to spell!

    • (Score: 2) by jasassin on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:24AM

      by jasassin (3566) <jasassin@gmail.com> on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:24AM (#82964) Journal

      be able to play it better than humans (like chess) is inevitably poisoned at the highest levels once business gets involved.

      What does business have to do with anything in this article, or chess?

      I enjoy scrabble, mainly because of the social aspect of discussing the words. I wouldn't play chess anymore.

      Computers play better than any human I've played. They don't mind if you take back a move (or many moves), which opens a whole other door in your chess world.

      I haven't lost a game against a human since playing the computer.

      --
      jasassin@gmail.com Key fingerprint = 0644 173D 8EED AB73 C2A6 B363 8A70 579B B6A7 02CA
      • (Score: 2) by Boxzy on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:53AM

        by Boxzy (742) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:53AM (#82966) Journal

        I was mainly talking about Gary Kasparov and Deep Blue. Business involved itself in professional chess and devalued the game for me as a whole. Scrabble however is about humanity, language, interaction and what that means to civilisation. I frequently discuss the root meaning of words, their social implications and modern interpretations with my opponents. Can you do that with chess?

        --
        Go green, Go Soylent.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19 2014, @09:50AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 19 2014, @09:50AM (#82984)

          Scrabble however is about humanity, language, interaction and what that means to civilisation.

          No, it's about placing letters to form words and getting points.

          • (Score: 1, Flamebait) by Boxzy on Tuesday August 19 2014, @12:24PM

            by Boxzy (742) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @12:24PM (#83025) Journal

            You are an anonymous coward, so OBVIOUSLY the higher considerations of a game which involves language will be lost on you.

            --
            Go green, Go Soylent.
  • (Score: 2) by Subsentient on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:59AM

    by Subsentient (1111) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @07:59AM (#82960) Homepage Journal

    no text here.

    --
    “Man is not a rational animal; he is a rationalizing animal.” ― Robert A. Heinlein
    • (Score: 2) by Ryuugami on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:05AM

      by Ryuugami (2925) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @08:05AM (#82962)

      thatsthejoke.svg

      --
      If a shit storm's on the horizon, it's good to know far enough ahead you can at least bring along an umbrella. - D.Weber
    • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Tuesday August 19 2014, @12:02PM

      by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday August 19 2014, @12:02PM (#83016) Journal
      You mean: Scramble Chop Wins with Bowel Movements?
      --
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aoFiw2jMy-0
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by BradTheGeek on Tuesday August 19 2014, @03:33PM

    by BradTheGeek (450) on Tuesday August 19 2014, @03:33PM (#83123)

    However I am a far above average scrabble player. Some pointers to improve your game...

    Learn all the two and three letter words. Period. This will improve your game better than anything. Knowing how to hook onto nearly anything makes a huge difference in being able to make a decent play where others forfeit.

    Play defensively. Try yo keep vowels from aligning next to a letter multiplier. All vowels are worth 1 point. Only consonants are worth more. If you put a vowel next to a letter multiple, one conconant and one vowel can score huge points for the other player. One of the best examples of this is placing an X (8 points) on a triple letter. The following 2 letter x words are good: ox, ex, ax, xi, xu. Just placing the x will get 25 points (8*3) +1 for the vowel. Placing another vowel will to say make ox and xi will get 50+ points. With 2 letters.

    Watch for when the other player opens this type of play up. Either they missed it, really wanted to play what they had, or have plans to use it. The same goes with triple word scores. The best strategy is to not open them unless you have to. If one is already open, do the following (in order or preference), use it, block it, open another. If you open another it give the other person double the opportunity to score, but will leave one open for you to use and score yourself.

    Against non eidetic players, any unusual words in your vocabulary are good. Losing challenges hurts, and once you scare a person two or three times with legit but crazy plays, they are loath to lose another turn to just about any garbage you put on the board.

    • (Score: 2) by starcraftsicko on Wednesday August 20 2014, @01:11AM

      by starcraftsicko (2821) on Wednesday August 20 2014, @01:11AM (#83323) Journal

      Agreed, all of that.

      When I play, people routinely score 6-7 letter words on me, but for a double letter at most. They mock me for the 2,3, and 4 letter words I play until they realize that I generally outscore them... triple letter, double word, and more.

      Never be afraid to block a triple word if you can't use it right now.

      --
      This post was created with recycled electrons.
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20 2014, @10:39PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 20 2014, @10:39PM (#83731)
    ...Book of the Month Club offered the compact (two volumes, magnifying glass included) edition of the OED for joining, which took no perceptible thought on my part. On receipt, I took my prize into the student union, where there was always a Scrabble® game in progress. I suggested we use it as our game dictionary.

        My GF quickly realized that any combination of words that followed the rules of English orthography had likely been used in some century. She proceeded to wipe the floor with the other three of us. Exit the OED.