Why don't you like Tournament Scrabble

Discuss anything interesting but not remotely Countdown-related here.

Moderator: Jon O'Neill

Post Reply
User avatar
Marc Meakin
Postmaster General
Posts: 3172
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 3:37 pm

Why don't you like Tournament Scrabble

Post by Marc Meakin » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:22 pm

I thought I would try and find out why forumites , mostly, don't play competitive Scrabble.
I have been playing Tournament Scrabble for around twenty years.
Recently I have noticed that really have not been attracting new, younger players.
Is it because playing on Facebook meets your needs.
Or simply that although both Countdown and Scrabble are word (and numbers ) games, with numbers being more important in Countdown, that's were the similarity ends.
Both use different Dictionaries
Luck is a big part of scrabble, as is strategy.
Also my spies tell me that co events are much more fun and nothing like the A level exam level of seriousness at a countdown tournament .
There has definitely been a sea change since Apterous, The last prominent Scrabbler to win a series that I can remember was Craig Beevers.
But back in the eighties and nineties there were regular octochamps with a Scrabble background.
GR MSL GNDT MSS NGVWL SRND NNLYC NNCT

User avatar
Jennifer Steadman
Kiloposter
Posts: 1049
Joined: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:34 pm
Location: Kent
Contact:

Re: Why don't you like Tournament Scrabble

Post by Jennifer Steadman » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:09 pm

I went to the Ilford one a few months ago. My reasons are:

1. I had signed up several times previously and had to drop out due to Sunday engineering works making it literally impossible for me to get there on the day, even though it's my closest tournament (!), because of the 9.30am start (!!!). Even when I did manage to go, I had to get the first train of the day and it was a pretty tight turnaround. This is not an inviting prospect, but with no closer tournament, it's either that or not going at all.

I've mentioned this several times in Scrabble Snippetz but have been dismissed ("We all do it!!!" That's great, but aren't you trying to attract new and younger players? Maybe listen to them??). More helpful players have suggested Facebook or private house tournaments, but - no offence - I don't want to go to a stranger's house or have all these randomers on my Facebook. If ISC were more useable then I'd probably use that, but compared to Apterous it's absolute trash.

2. Just generally from the Snippetz group, I don't get the impression that anyone genuinely wants to make the big changes that would encourage youth participation. You don't have to change what exists if you don't want to, but you then need to offer something else that does meet the needs of the people you ostensibly want to include and encourage. (Although the tournaments are in such weird or concentrated places that I suspect there aren't enough volunteers to run events?)

3. Some opponents were friendly, but the general greeting was "Do you know 2-letter words?" Apart from being slightly patronising, it wasn't the most warm or relatable way to be welcomed. Obviously there are Countdowners who are similarly intense with new players, but I would say that generally it's a lot more sociable. Pub shenanigans are the best part of Co-events! I know there are Weekenders, but that's far too intense and expensive for new players; I suppose the demographics are an obstacle to debauched nights out.

4. The hospital atmosphere during games was not only a bit offputting/stern/intense, but an active hindrance to being able to communicate with my opponents (one was bordering on deaf), and a bit rude too (some woman hissed at me a couple of times when I was having a nice chat with my opponent). Not something that really puts you at ease.

5. The different dictionaries, obviously, and particularly needing to learn all the anagrams of each common word.

Don't want this to seem like I'm slagging the tournament off specifically; it seemed well-run and the organisers/some of my opponents were friendly and helpful. And free entry to your first one is a massive bonus. But ultimately I'm still too invested in this damn game to bother caring about another game. And even if that weren't the case - every time I get into Scrabble, the interest dies off within a week.

Aside from that, it wasn't a community I felt like I belonged in, nor would ever get much enjoyment from. Making it more accessible to a younger and newer audience might improve that, but I'm not sure I really see it happening.
🍆

User avatar
Marc Meakin
Postmaster General
Posts: 3172
Joined: Wed May 20, 2009 3:37 pm

Re: Why don't you like Tournament Scrabble

Post by Marc Meakin » Wed Aug 08, 2018 6:17 pm

I was at that Tourney too, I was going to introduce myself but never found the opportunity .
I think the die hard Scrabbler don't embrace change easily.
Look at the furore over the introduction of tablet Scrabble.
I'm going to a tablet tournament in London in September, though it's a early-ish start it is good value.
Even though playing online face to face seems counter intuitive, it takes the faff ( for me ) of adding up , no overdrawing or dropped tiles and no phones.
So I'm going to see what the fuss is about
GR MSL GNDT MSS NGVWL SRND NNLYC NNCT

User avatar
Ben Wilson
Legend
Posts: 3793
Joined: Fri Jan 11, 2008 5:05 pm
Location: North Hykeham

Re: Why don't you like Tournament Scrabble

Post by Ben Wilson » Wed Aug 08, 2018 7:40 pm

Marc Meakin wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:22 pm
Also my spies tell me that co events are much more fun and nothing like the A level exam level of seriousness at a countdown tournament .
I haven't played a scrabble tournament in six years and this is the main reason why. Jen wrote it much more succinctly in point 4 of her post- co-events are much more social but no less competitive. Well, for those at the top of the food chain, but there the same could be said of Scrabble as well- a player rated 150-odd isn't going to win the NSC, and I can speak from experience there. On those rare occasions that I qualified, I went along as at the time I savoured the prospect of competition, but at some point (about 6 years ago, curiously enough), it struck me that co-events and Scrabble tournaments are similar beasts but built very differently.

A Scrabble tournament is a competition with a social aspect tagged on almost as an afterthought, and even then, in some cases, the word 'social' is stretching it. On the odd occasion, at a weekend tournament, I've actually been thrown off a dinner table by some players who had (somehow) reserved it for the exclusive use of members of their club. Even though their club isn't based anywhere near the venue in question. By comparison, a co-event is a social event with a competition tacked on as something for people to do (says the man with a ridiculously detailed COLIN statistics spreadsheet). The main reason I hosted the first COLIN was to meet the likes of Jim Bentley, Mike Brown and Charlie (sorry, Soo) Reams. This is still the main reason I go to events (even if Jim and Soo hardly go themselves anymore).

The co-event scene keeps expanding largely (mostly) thanks to apterous. People find the online scene, they play a few games, wonder over to the forum, the wiki, find the FOCAL website, get hooked. Maybe if Scrabble had a similar online presence, it'd help, but as Jen said, ISC is antiquated and Facebook Scrabble is too random in nature to be a community in the same way as apterous.

One thing I would say though (and I can almost hear Stewart Holden shouting at me here) is that if you want to give Scrabble a crack, your best bet would be to try club play first. It's much more relaxed, much more sociable and you're more likely to make friends you'd actually want to go to Scrabble tournaments with. But, of course, all of the above is just my opinion.

Post Reply

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 3 guests