This page discusses the downsides to playing using the
Collins lexicon, and is part of our introduction to Collins (SOWPODS) in North America.
What Are the Downsides to Collins?
- It is difficult to play well in both lexica.
- While one does not have to study many words to play CSW quite well, it could become difficult when playing OWL2 again to remember which words are only acceptable in CSW.
- CSW is not North American English.
- It reflects a more global usage of the language and as such is not just reflective of the language in the U.S. and Canada. However, this is also true in the 45 other countries that use CSW, but they have still chosen to use it, thus embracing their own English and that of everywhere else, including, of course, the U.S. and Canada.
- There are obscure words in Collins.
- While OWL2 contains obsolete and archaic words, the CSW contains more of them.
- The challenge rule may be less challenging.
- Some players like the double-challenge rule and feel that it is an essential part of the game. While there is still a penalty for an incorrect challenge, and there is no reason a CSW game cannot remain double-challenge given the rules, 5 or 10 points per word is a more common de facto standard. This is enough to make you at least pause, so the aspect of the game embodied by double challenge is not completely lost.
- The existence of CSW play splits the U.S. SCRABBLE scene.
- The scene is already fragmented in many different ways. To name a few, we have School play with OSPD4; OWL2 and CSW play; unsanctioned, recreational club, competitive club and tournament play; online and in-person play; and a long list of variant rules that people like to try. It’s part of the strength of the basic game that its many variations appeal to different people. Officially sanctioned CSW play lets us keep players who prefer it to OWL2 play in the fold, and encourages immigrants and tourists to join our community. However, the use of a different lexicon from school play, which is sanctioned by the NSA rather than NASPA, would not be ideal for encouraging young players if NASPA were to switch and the NSA did not.
- There is no single official Collins dictionary with all the definitions.
- The published Collins English dictionary does not contain all the words in CSW. This is because some words are only in the North American dictionaries, and some are in the Collins language corpus but not the printed dictionary. However, keep in mind that the U.S. lexicon is also spread over more than one dictionary (5, in fact), and that a companion volume to CSW, the Collins Official SCRABBLE Dictionary, contains short definitions for the 2-9 letter words, in a similar manner to OSPD.
- Collins doesn’t fit well in some study methods
- While one does not need to study that many words to play a decent CSW game, some study methods, such as stems, are disproportionately affected by the additional words, because, e.g., the mnemonics would be changed. Although, for that particular issue, there are some solutions, such as here, or here .
- Differing strategy
- The relative importance of different aspects of strategy, such as offense versus defense, may change, meaning that those players particularly skilled at one may be disadvantaged. However, these aspects are not publicly well quantified.
Please direct comments about this page to its author, Nick Ball.