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NSC 2008 Commentary: Round 6

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Go to: Round 1, Round 2, Round 3, Round 4, Round 5, Round 6, Round 7, Round 8, Round 9, Round 10, Round 11, Round 12, Round 13, Round 14, Round 15, Round 16, Round 17, Round 18, Round 19, Round 20, Round 21, Round 22, Round 23, Round 24, Round 25, Round 26, Round 27, Round 28, Award Ceremony.

Round 6

Kristen Chew, helping in division 6, tells me of a great play at table 20 this round. The word GANGRENE was played from the first G.

John Robertson, directing division 5, tells me of his favorite overheard anecdote. Earlier today, someone challenged BIPED. In relating the story, the player said, "I was shocked, I wasn't sure you could add a D to BIPE*." Instead of seeing the word as BI-PED (as in two legs), it was seen as the past tense of BIPE*!

Randy Hersom (Morganton, NC) has a terrific game this round. The problem is, his opponent had an even more terrific game. Randy exchanged 6 tiles on his first turn, 2 tiles on his second turn, then finally played AE as his third turn. Then his pants caught on fire and he slammed down some mighty sweet plays: STRIVEN for 78, AIRLINER for 66, UFOLOGY for 95, POLICING for 74, and the high-scoring non-bingo play of SIX/WAGGERS/OI/OX for 65. His opponent, Jeremy Hildebrand (Ottawa ON), about two-thirds of the way through the game, threw down QUERiSTS for 194 points. It was a triple-triple that played through the final R of AIRLINER. He also played JOINER for 47 and JETBEAD for 51. Jeremy won, 513-477!

In the lobby, I met with the designer of Pogo's new online SCRABBLE game, Richard Cooluris. Fans of SCRABBLE can play with the OSPD IV for free on the site and for a yearly fee of $40 (with the first three months thrown in free), NSA members can play with the TWL against other NSA members. In the game Richard and I played on the "advanced" setting, our computer opponent responded to our opening play with xENIA for 21 points. Jeremy Cahnmann (Chicago, IL), who was watching this said, "a blank X for 21 points? Oh no no no no no." Richard took down notes based on comments made about the game's features. For instance, to view tracking, players have to click two buttons. NSA types would most likely prefer to have that info on the top level. I think, though, that the market for the game may be the living room player, so features to make the game more palatable to competitive players might not improve the game for the target market. We shall see! There are many features on the site, such as customizable premium tile colors. You can opt for the standard, old-fashiond colors whereby the triple word scores are red or you can opt for the new fangled look with orange triple word squares. Jeremy offered that being able to customize the screen is a great feature and even more customizable features out to be added. We ought to be keeping our eyes out for this new online SCRABBLE play option!

A researcher from Florida State University is here gathering information on players for his cognitive science dissertation. He's been meeting with players from different ratings ranges to perhaps help explain why some of us are just better at this game than others. It all boils down to brain science! Michael Tuffiash has brought two others to help him meet with and interview the players. Can't wait to see what they glean from us! SCRABBLE players as lab rats!

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