Free Challenge(s)?

Discuss ideas for changes to the rules

Free Challenge(s)?

Postby jrbrooks » Fri Jan 23, 2009 2:27 pm

Anyone ever considered this? I think it is very frustrating to play someone who intentionally plays phonies simply because they know that their opponent does not have the base knowledge to even begin to guess if the words being played might be real. I always thought if every player was given maybe 2 free challenges per game, it would help alleviate this. It's one thing to KNOW more words than your opponent, it's another thing to use this fact to your advantage to exploit weaker players by playing crazy words they are afraid to challenge.
User avatar
jrbrooks
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:52 am

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby trashman » Fri Jan 23, 2009 3:59 pm

It's fine for club games. We give newcomers 2 free challenges per game for the first few weeks.

Tournaments are another matter. Definitely not in tourneys.
trashman
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Thu Jan 01, 2009 11:45 am

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby millcake16 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:02 pm

I assume this would only apply to players in the lowest divisions. In any event, I don't see it happening. Free challenges work fine in friendly games, or even some clubs. But in tournaments, players should be prepared for phoneys ahead of time, and hopefully realize these type of possibilities.
millcake16
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:19 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby franktangredi » Fri Jan 23, 2009 4:07 pm

I would only allow free challenges in a teaching situation. It's against the most basic rules of the game.
franktangredi
 
Posts: 102
Joined: Sun Jan 04, 2009 1:34 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby getofftheoven » Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:03 pm

Free challenges are the norm in Great Britain, though many players there would prefer a 5-point penalty per incorrectly challenged word instead (that's the rule most of the rest of the world uses). Loss of turn for a bad challenge is the rule in North America, though, and tournaments with a different challenge rule aren't eligible to be rated by the NSA as far as I know.

In our club (Austin TX) newcomers get free challenges and no overtime penalty, and I think that's good - we don't want to have them leave club discouraged and not wanting to come back. Directors can also reduce the number of phoney-to-death games by matching players with opponents of comparable skill whenever possible.
getofftheoven
 
Posts: 21
Joined: Fri Jan 02, 2009 10:23 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby millcake16 » Fri Jan 23, 2009 5:25 pm

You know, this reminds me of the "dual-challenge" proposal that Paul Epstein brings up every so often, and it's gotten unusually low support. Here's how it works, to the best of my recollection:

When you want to challenge a word, you have the option of either formally challenging or informally challenging. A formal challenge is the one we use today - Lose a turn challenging a good word, or for having a phoney challenged off. The informal challenge is a five point penalty for challenging a good word, or for attempting a phoney. If I remember correctly, having a phoney challenged off does NOT result in a lost turn for whoever attempted the phoney, so they would be given a second chance.

The more I think about it, the more sense this makes. Not only for having more than one option, but even the strategy behind making either option can be very tricky at times. I think the main reason this idea was shot down was because it was thought to be too complicated. Maybe it could made easier if Zyzzyva ever had a formal challenge/informal challenge selection added, but it would obviously not make sense to add unless the dual-challenge ever became a reality.
millcake16
 
Posts: 110
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:19 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby jrbrooks » Sat Jan 24, 2009 12:07 pm

I think that is a great idea. I think the penalty for an incorrect challenge is way too much. On the other hand, I also believe that there should be some penalty for incorrectly challenging a word, and losing 5 points (but not your turn) seems to be very fitting.
User avatar
jrbrooks
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:52 am

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby el_jefe_rey » Mon Jan 26, 2009 12:55 pm

IMNSHO, the challenge system we currently have lends quite a bit of thrill to the game. Bluffing is certainly part of it, and anyone can be bluffed, even experts. Try as some experts might to look down on the practice of playing phonies, everyone does at some point. To a certain extent, the knowledge that a certain word IS good is sometimes just as hard to obtain as is the knowledge that it is NOT. That is to say, people have played enough to know the difference and I believe they deserve to benefit from the knowledge.

Phoney-detection strategies are as varied as players. There are a few good tips I would offer anyone, especially beginners. (These are not tailored for you, Jim, although we have played before)

1) There should be no disrespect given for those people who play phonies, although chances are if you want to get better in Scrabble, phonies will succeed less often (against better opp's) and they're less necessary as you learn the real words in the racks you play. They are essentially a crutch. You should use them when you have to. Also, don't be afraid to challenge. If you learn a new word The Hard Way the red X helps it to stick. You can use it to your advantage in some other game.

2) Playing phony 2s,3s, and 4s is a bad idea on someone who is rated higher than you. If you are going to play a phony make it a six, as not even many experts know all sixes. If you are going to do it you should play it just as confidently and quickly as you do another play. It's also said that most phonies are bastard children of two legitimate words, so if you can make this work to your advantage, work it!

3) Holding your opp. on words you're unsure of is free and may make them think twice about playing phonies if they think you may challenge that one or the next one.

4) All sorts of people are under- and overrated. Although some methodically study scrabble lists, some don't and are vulnerable. I know 1700+ players who haven't methodically studied 4s. I know 1000-level players who know their 5-vowel 8s. You never know unless you play someone enough. Make this work to your advantage! Put on your Game Face!

5) Top 100 6-letter roots are good to study because then you can reverse-engineer the letters and see if there is anything in the rack (assuming it is a phony bingo). Even just reading them over (not necessarily drilling them) goes a long way towards challenge-proofing them.

6) Learn the crazy-looking f&*^ed-up words in order to draw the challenge! Beat peeps playing STRONGYL, SMARAGDE, KAMAAINA, and all the rest. The more words you read the better off you'll be.

8) Guard against bad challenges by a) avoiding pronouncing words incorrectly in your head and b) learning parts of speech info. Example: Do not pronounce PREDIAL as [PREE-dial] because of PREDIALS*. The word is [PRAY-dee-uhl] and takes another A for PRAEDIAL, an adjective. SALTIER, on the other hand, should be pronounced [sahl-TEER] and noted for the noun it is, hence -S.

9) Every good player should exploit their opp's weaknesses. We all make strategic decisions and sometimes those pay off. If I put down LEKU hoping my opp. will S-hook it so I can challenge off LEKUS*, is this relying on their weaknesses? Hells yes! If I feel comfortable in later S-hooking it and then my opp. accepts, is that taking advantage of their weakness too? Yep. We're expected to play our best games, and that includes playing the player, not just the game.
el_jefe_rey
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:46 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby jrbrooks » Mon Jan 26, 2009 8:30 pm

Who's this Jim guy? He sounds like a very awesome and good looking player.

OK so I guess I give up all rights to anonymity when I use my initials and last name on here and ISC.

Anyway I guess i just feel that the bluffing aspect kinda takes away from the game, but obviously there are differing opinions.
User avatar
jrbrooks
 
Posts: 68
Joined: Fri Jan 23, 2009 11:52 am

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby el_jefe_rey » Wed Jan 28, 2009 2:21 am

I think the Challenge Rule as we merkins# play it certainly takes away *something* from the game, but also adds something else to it. Critical to the game experience is something commonly referred to as The 'Aha!' Moment, referring in general to finding a bingo or other excellent play. I also think that there something that, for lack of a better name, I would call The 'Haha!' Moment (after all, my last name is Nelson). This is when you challenge or successfully play phoney.

Getting phonies by an opponent is sneakily exciting if you succeed, and just as thrilling when you clear an opp's junk off the board. As much as any other act in another sport or game, it is exciting. Maybe clearing a phoney is equal to picking a runner off who is trying to steal a base. Isn't it wrong to take advantage of an inattentive pitcher by advancing without hitting? No, because the rules tells us the pitcher should be watching behind, too.

I know certain (non-NSA) people who don't approve of not knowing the definitions, too, even though it's obviously not part of the game. Some scrabblers are wordy and/or verbose, some aren't. That's how it goes. i do not make the mistake of equating having success in scrabble with having a large *working* vocabulary. I personally think it (knowing def's) makes the game more interesting, but I am in the minority.
el_jefe_rey
 
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:46 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby bnjy99 » Thu Jan 29, 2009 12:57 pm

Another thing to be wary of is phoneys with valid anagrams. Just because it has an anagram doesn't mean it is a word. At the Teaneck tournament, I played steamcar* (with a blank) and my opponent held but didn't challenge, as she saw I had multiple other bingoes. However, steamcar* gave me 86 points, which easily tops anything else. In a later game, one of my opponents played redosing*, and I didn't even hold because i saw negroids immediately. I should have realized that negroids is the only one in that combination.

One more thing is to never overestimate your opponent. In my first game ever against an expert, he played repeling*, and I held but saw perineal in the same spot and accepted the play. I still won, but I got scolded after the game by another player for not challenging. My last story is that I played encager*, and my opponent didn't even blink. He then played qis/encagers* but didn't blink myself, since he was an expert. Big mistake on both of our parts.
Ben Schoenbrun, meet me in tournaments in or around New York
bnjy99
 
Posts: 53
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 1:12 pm

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby dlpratt » Wed Feb 16, 2011 2:01 pm

Another poster suggests that free challenges are against the most basic rules of the game.

On the contrary, free challenges are an intrinsic part of genuine Scrabble, developed in 1948 by Alfred Butts and James Brunot, the game that rapidly became hugely popular.

The "Game Room" was a place in Manhattan frequented by those who cannot enjoy a game not played for stakes. Paul McCarthy's excellent book Letterati quotes one of them (a really nice guy, by the way) as being surprised to find out that playing Scrabble for money was not politically correct when he left for other parts of the country. The Game Room form has never proved popular, and their offshoot, the North American Scrabble Players Association, has a membership even smaller than that of the American Cribbage Congress; NASPA is only about 1% as successful as the American Contract Bridge League in attracting enthusiasts to their competitions. Sadly, under Game Room influence, the box rules were changed in 1976 to incorporate penalty challenges. Fortunately, most people learn Scrabble from someone who learned from the pre-1976, authentic, rules. So your suggestion is not a rule change, it is a restoration of authentic Scrabble, and you should be congratulated for thinking in harmony with Butts and Brunot's success.
dlpratt
 
Posts: 1
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2011 8:53 am

Re: Free Challenge(s)?

Postby kev10293 » Tue Sep 11, 2012 7:40 am

I would love to see 2 free challenges per game. I would also like to see that the person who played the phony would be penalized too harshly (maybe 5 points or so).

I'm biased but I can't stand players who intentionally phonies against lower rated players. It just seems distasteful to me. I play tons of phonies but usually I at least think they have a chance (even though no one ever believes me).
kev10293
 
Posts: 133
Joined: Tue Jul 31, 2012 7:25 pm


Return to Rule Suggestions

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users

cron