When you organize a Scrabble competition, you need to have an official dictionary or people start inventing non-sense words to get points. In French for example, you could add the prefix 're' (meaning again or back) to almost any verb and everyone would understand, this is just an example but it's really easy to create nonsense words that people understand from their root. And since you have an official dictionary, it's not about words anymore, it's about memorizing the dictionary.
You really don't need to know the meaning. You can vastly improve your game just by knowing words like jo, qi xi, aa..
Aside -- words like qi have changed the game a lot.
How would you go about determining in a regulated fashion whether someone knows the meaning of a word?
Would you have them offer a definition to be checked against an official dictionary?
Would the definition given have to match the official dictionary definition word for word?
Is so, wouldn't this simply force high-level scrabble players to memorize not only the official words but the official meanings themselves?
And if perfect matching wouldn't be required, how much variation would be allowed and how would such variation be measured?
There's no sense in falling back on the "just use the word in a sentence" proof, either. Because that's no proof at all, since, even if we dispense with all the problems consensus introduces, if the usage is contested, then some official dictionary definition will have to be referenced in the end.
And then you're going to have to deal with the above mentioned issues anyways.
The desire for a more natural, simple and organic Scrabble world in which any word played must be theoretically backended by a player's knowledge of its definition is, well, just asking for trouble.
The question is: what determines sufficiency?
Edit: Further, definitions are often very difficult to produce even in rudimentary form.
It's like pornography, you know it when you see it. And for the rare instances that it's not obvious, there are judges to make a decision.
"I think it renders the whole thing pointless. It ceases to be a word game. I think that, as in tennis and cricket, there should be the right of challenge, and if the person doesn't know the meaning of the word, the go doesn't count and the word is removed." ~ MichaelBulley
I am sure Mr Bulley would prefer it if Chess players could challenge their opponent to prove he or she is a either a Monarch, a Lord, Knight or at the very least a commoner who lives in a castle.
Scrabble is arranging a random selection of tiles into combinations in such a way that score is maximized.
The tiles could have hexadecimal numbers on them and could be played against a randomly generated dictionary of scored combinations. Much like you can play chess with dragons figurines instead of castles or storm troopers instead pawns.
It was as much to do with words as chess has to do with war in the middle ages.
This is an intriguing assertion. The words of a natural language are far from randomly generated. While I can invent new words like 'wobblery' or 'fandogonkified' they still follow patterns familiar from other words.
If I understand the Chomsky idea correctly, we are born with structures in our brain ready to accept a new language. A human might have a hard time memorizing a dictionary of randomly generated words in hexidecimal -- he or she would have to resort to mnemonic techniques (peg lists, memory palace, etc) to memorize that dictionary but it could be done. Further, it could be done by any human who was dedicated to the task.
Whereas the system you describe involves brute force, much like the Deep Blue approach to winning chess. And it's been shown that a group of people collaborating together can defeat computers at chess! I think a lot of interesting research could be done here (if it hasn't already) and it would not surprise me if your assertion could be proven wrong (but I generally agree with it).
I mean it's literally one language against another one. You can call it 'meaning' all you like, but 'meaning' is representative. You call it 'understand' but to this guy memorizing the entire dictionary in order might mean 'understand'.
You might say you need to have felt 'being angry' in order to know what 'angry means' and to determine this as understanding the meaning of the word is ridiculous because it goes both ways. People make their owns meanings up, the only reason we agree is because we exist in relatively the same space time (with respect to the size and age of the universe) and information only varies so much at the distributed rate it tends to vary across minds, people most people are similar in how their minds function and construct pattern relations.
Honestly, some Chess players don't even make the horsey noise when they move the knights.
"The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel." (William Gibson, Neuromancer)
So, bright blue then... Changes the image quite a bit.
But actually that'd be a fun variant.
A spelling bee where you choose the word based on the constraints of scrabble.
Whereas in Scrabble as it stands, a move is either legal or illegal. It's very black and white. Well, once you decide on the dictionary you're playing to!
I stopped playing Scrabble against my father because he was frustrated that I had memorised every two and three letter word. Even being able to define many didn't matter; if they came across as though they were memorised rather than learnt, he was annoyed. I don't see the issue. Everyone who plays is playing by the same rules.
Try it with your dad.
I imagine that the parent considered that one could play a longer word that happened to make shorter words just not _only_ play a two letter word; so parallel words would be acceptable as would things like in-fills that only took one letter but caused 2 words to be formed.
Perhaps a better, succinct, rule that tackles the same problem would be "a minimum of two tiles must be placed".
Eventually I came to terms with it and just considered anything within a two hundred points or so of my wife's score as a personal win, but it can still be frustrating to feel you're playing your best and losing to someone who's barely trying.
The moral of this story I think is not to play an English graduate at Scrabble unless you're OK with losing.
As a player, your goal is to win the game, period. But for everyone else, including spectators and the whole support industry that is built around the game, it doesn't matter who wins. It matters only that the crowd is entertained. A player being too good makes the game boring, and so it is discouraged.
You can see this dynamic more or less clearly in pretty much every sport (F-1 being a notable example). The rules of the game are so constructed as to "level the playing field", to mostly eliminate any kind of advantage a player may bring to the field - like better tech or supplements. The crowd needs to see fierce competition, where everything depends on the talent of players. But then again it can't be too obviously random. If people feel they can't predict the result, they won't enjoy it. Doesn't matter if the game is inherently random or not; it only needs to not look like it. Then there's danger. Safe sports are boring, but actual accidents will detract people from enjoying the show, so again you need to create a sense of imminent danger while minimizing any real chance of a problem.
I mentioned F-1, because it's a notable example of a sport where all rules are constantly adjusted to ensure that you can't win by having better tech.
Personally, I hate this whole showbusiness and the engineering of enjoyment. I would appreciate a game with rules set up so people would be free to develop better strategies and better tech in order to dominate.
Not like the America's cup boat race where you need a huge R&D budget to design a boat. Then someone shows up with a catamaran with a wing sail and they have to regiger the rules again.
1988 rolls around, and a New Zeland team is trying for the cup. Giant boat. US shows up in a catamaran. Catamarans are just faster..
The boats don't even seem like they should race.
Lawsuits about the boat rules after the race was over. The rules didn't say anything about having 2 hulls.
Now americas cup is all about catamarans that seems to have.
> Now americas cup is all about catamarans that seems to have. http://www.techweekeurope.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/A...
God it pisses me off that Oracle has enough money to blow sponsoring shit like this while simultaneously working to destroy the software development industry. "We've got enough money to buy useful technologies and run them into the ground, and to run lawsuits that are incredibly harmful to the software industry for decades, and enough left over on the side to race expensive boats for fun." Fuck you, Oracle.
There are games like that. But they don't tend to have as many spectators or business support - and they don't tend to be as much fun - because they're not optimized for those things.
When I take part in sports or play games my object is to enjoy the game and if it's competitive to make a good account of myself. I used to play football (we were runners up in our University cup competition, so not terribly shoddy) and later played competitive volleyball - one can do well and not win, one can win and play poorly.
Just as not all companies are solely built on a motive of profit above all else so too not all competitive players play solely to beat their competition, some wish to enjoy the game and better themselves more than they care to be labelled "winner".
I think this misses the point that in many games, for many players, they simultaneously have the role you describe as "player" and "spectator"; while they want to win the game, they want the game to be entertaining and not boring, as well.
It's just patterns in the end.
Searles Chinese Room argument although fundamentally flawed (the entire room or house is the conscious part) it says that although you can have a person spitting out the right translations the person is does not speak Chinese.
Isn't that whats going on here?
So the point of the argument is that given the correct responses, there's no way to tell if there is a contextual understanding.
Now you can say that such a table cannot possibly exist, but you would have to say why.
Searle is making the wrong analogy because all he shows is whats going on with the input/output when he really should show the entire house as the intelligent part.
But in the strictest sense, statistics is more important than linguistics. It just doesn't really matter because memorization is so much more important than both of them.
The book Word Freak was pretty good and as far as I can tell, accurate.
Is that really true at this high of a level though? There are a little under 120K words in SOWPODS that are 9 letters or less (looking through some of those archived games, it seems like 10+ letter words are uncommon). So there's a hard upper bound on what memorization can do for you, and it seems plausible that that limit (or close enough to make strategy the dominating factor) would have been reached by a handful of people.
But if both players have memorized about the same number of words, the game is then entirely about strategy.
I think that's the point of what the article is saying. Sure, memorization is critical to get to the point where you can compete at that level, but once you're there, memorization is just a given. What differentiates the players' performance is their strategy.
Beware, though, lots of F-words in the book, because of certain personalities featured prominently in it.
It's more fun that way (for us), and it gives us all an incentive to go learn both the spelling and meaning of obscure words.
One day I even played a number of "speed" games (3 minute games, those were fun!) against Trey Wright, the winner of the National Scrabble Championship in 2004. IIRC, I beat him in one game, by a single point, while he thrashed me in the other 9 or so.
In order to compete against these guys, you have to basically learn words for no other reason than to use them in Scrabble games. Word definitions are useless. It's a bit of an addiction, and quite pointless, but it's fun when you actually end up playing a bizarre 8-letter word (e.g. OENOMELS) and win the game because of it.
It's absolutely true that language has little to do with being good at Scrabble. I used to play against Thai players who had very little knowledge of English but who knew way more English words than I did or ever will.
Of course, when online, you pretty much have to expect that people will cheat. Most of the time, the cheaters are obvious, because good Scrabble players recognize cheating when compared to real human game play.
As for Nigel, the guy's not human. I don't remember if he was ever on ISC (many of the top players were at some point), but everyone in the Scrabble world knows him and knows his uncanny word knowledge and Scrabble abilities.
And if anyone's interested in reading about the Scrabble tournament scene and the associated lifestyles, check out Stefan Fatsis' book "Word Freak", probably the best Scrabble book ever written (although it does contain quite a few f-words, thanks to the colorful personalities that it describes, which I wasn't crazy about).
But those books are only available to tournament scrabble players who pay an annual fee. It's a bit elitist, but that's just how it is (unless it has changed lately).
Other than that, you can pick up a regular Scrabble game dictionary, usually called OSPD, which will not have any off-colour words in it. Those can be bought in any book store and you can even search the OSPD on Scrabble's official website.
That's really cool. I don't think that just because a person doesn't use a word regularly, that they don't 'deserve' the word or can't play the word on the board. There's THOUSANDS of words, nobody uses all of them.
I hate this attitude towards people who play games over time, and they start showing signs of game theory during play, and suddenly it's 'not about the game anymore', but it's always BEEN about the game. The goal is to win!