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Aug. 4th, 2012

My response to Tunnicliffe that was too long to post there

This is a follow-up to the conversation in http://cesarsalad.livejournal.com/356304.html


Matthew, I disagree with almost everything you said, but thank you for a thoughtful response.

The other way is to stop sanctioning CSW events and stop running CSW divisions at tournaments. Then we're all unified under TWL.

Having us play a different dictionary than the rest of the world is how to get us all unified??? There are already more people in the world playing CSW than TWL. Also English-language competitive Scrabble is rapidly growing in some of those areas and has been stagnant or even shrinking in this area in the last few years. This is the path to make us increasingly irrelevant. Fortunately, there's no way we're going down this path.

I don't think it's that important Most North Americans will never play overseas. And those who do are a small enough minority that I don't think we should bend over backwards to accommodate them at our local tournaments

Two words: THE INTERNET. More people are playing Scrabble and Scrabble-like games like Words With Friends and Wordfeud every single day than people are playing it over the board. Having everyone in the world use the same lexicon for English language play vastly increases the ability for us all to connect and play each other online in addition to tournament play.

But it's not just online play. Unifying the dictionaries also increases the possibilities for international play. To address the point you made, I am sure that we would attract a lot more international players to our NSC if it was unhesitatingly announced in advanced that it would be using CSW and if big cash prizes were given for it. But it's more than that, it's not just about the NSC or WSC. It's terribly unfortunate that people in our two countries think of CSW as a word list for the elites, because it's not that way in the rest of the world. Everyone plays CSW from top players to rank beginners. If we were all using the same dictionary, we could have more tournaments oriented for an international audience of players at all levels, like a World Open. Also, when Scrabble players from abroad happened to be traveling through the states or our players happened to be traveling through the rest of the world, we could just drop by a Scrabble club and play each other, or decide last minute to play in a weekend tournament.

It's *because* of our split dictionaries that the possibilities for international play are stunted, and visualizing the possibilities under a unified dictionary is an important thing to do.


And I'm not about to argue which word source actually has more lexicographical legitimacy

Neither am I.

(even though that should be one of the main factors in whether we decide to switch)

No it shouldn't. Having everyone in the world use the same lexicon is more important than lexicographical concerns. There will never be a perfect dictionary. Anytime people make one, there are going to be issues and some people are going to complain. Ignore them. There are problems with TWL, and there problems with CSW. But they're both good enough. The reasons we should all unify under CSW have nothing to do with a linguistic superiority over TWL. It's because the rest of the world already has. Remember, CSW is not even the original British lexicon. It is the union of the American and British lexicons. It is the compromise that was already made to unify the world under a single Scrabble list. And *all of the countries in the world* have adopted it except for our bi-national association. They intentionally included all of our words so that we wouldn't have to unlearn any of them even though many of them were not originally in the British OSW. The compromise has already been made and if we had just done what the Brits and rest of the world did nearly a decade ago, this would be a nonissue now, we'd already all be united.

At the end of the day, though, CSW has too much momentum, and OWL has too many diehards.

What Evans said on this one. OWL doesn't have that many diehards. The vast majority of the competitive Scrabble world are sheeple on this front. They're willing to play whatever, they just don't want to switch over by themselves. I've become more and more convinced over time that this is not a change we should be making gradually. If we just switched over all at once, most people would just learn extra words, play, and be happy. Happy that they can still play other people close to their ability level local to them. And they'd get the added bonus of being able to play a lot more people.

It's because of NASPA's slowness to hop on board with the rest of the world that we've become divided as we have and that we've started to split along rating lines to the different word lists. And we both agree that that is an unfortunate circumstance.

Every time we update the dictionary (I'm not talking about CSW here, just regular OWL updates) there are people who complain about the new words and say they're going to quit. And they never do. Life goes on, and we play with the new words. And sometimes, (especially with QI) life goes on in a much better way than before.

I don't think your attitude is helping your cause at all. Every time I read a comment from you or Travis or some other angry CSW player about how the lexicon I play is "division 2" or "not all the words", I'm just happy that I'm not giving you the satisfaction.

I have a very positive attitude about politicking for CSW most of the time. I've written many things that are very positive and had many conversations with people in person that are quite upbeat on the topic. I summed up my feelings about the whole issue most completely in this piece on Google+. And when I've written positive stuff like that, I've gotten very little response and if much discussion has come out of it, I haven't seen it. Make all the jokes you want about no one reading Google+, but I linked that article on Facebook as well, and I've also written many things of a similar tone on Facebook.

I strongly believe that the main reasons for unifying the dictionaries are to increase the opportunities for play for everyone, not just to make things better for our WSC competitiors, and I have intentionally not emphasized the WSC aspect when fighting for dictionary unification. I don't want this to be a battle of the elitists vs. the rest.

However, the discussion on this LJ is a conversation among elite players. Every one of the people involved in this deserves the title of "elite player." And as such I'm going to address you all differently than I would other players. We are all very competitive players who are highly self-motivated and driven to be some of the best at what we do. And when I taunt you for playing Scrabble Lite, I hope that it will motivate you to take on the greater challenge of trying to master the biggest word list. Really, if you're that motivated to be the best, what is the excitement of trying to climb to the top of the small hill rather than the highest mountain, when *more people* are playing CSW than TWL and *more prize money* is being offered to it? The WSC had a top prize that was twice as big as last year's NSC. And who knows, the top prize at NSC might be even smaller this year with the way we've become divided.

I'd rather us all just switch together, but for the time being, while NASPA drags its feet, working from the top is one of the best avenues to get more people into CSW. I'd rather not it just be top players, and I'm always searching for ways to get more intermediate players into it too, as I wrote about in this post, which I posted both on Facebook and Google+. If you have good ideas about that, I'd be happy to hear them.

Also, if you look back, this whole thread of the conversation started because I made a quick one liner joke about Nigel playing in Division 2. That was just a snarky comment which I would have been fine with just letting lie there if no one said anything about it. It was only able to grow into a larger conversation because it touched a nerve with several other people, not just by my doing. I'm really happy that I provoked this conversation, because I think a lot of good thoughts, ideas, and discussion have come out of it. Evans made four great points. Only his last one is wrong.

Just remember that you, as an international player who lives in NA, have a lot to gain from NASPA switching to CSW. The rest of us who lack the time, money, or rating to play in the premier overseas events

I have played in one overseas event, last year's WSC, and I'm still paying off my credit card from it. I have been able to go to only a very small number of tournaments this year because of how much money and vacation time I spent on that trip. I would be playing at about the same frequency now regardless of whether I was playing TWL or CSW. I am also lucky that I live in an area where I have quite a few other CSW players around me: Sammy Okosagah, John Van Pelt, Marsh Richards, and Lucas Freeman, who like me play only CSW, as well as Bob Linn and Dan Milton, who play both lexica. I can get my games in and keep preparing for the WSC well enough. If anything the current situation favors me for qualifying for the WSC, as it means I have fewer people to compete with. I've been trying hard to convince players better than me, such as Sammy O, to join the CSW division at our NSC, even though it decreases my chances of winning. This is not about my self-interest at all. This is about doing what is best for Scrabble overall. I already wrote above about why we all have a lot to gain from unifying the dictionaries.

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