The rhythm of the game

Published: Thursday, January 29, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 28, 2004 at 10:16 p.m.
What makes each game of Scrabble unique? The first obvious answer is that players draw tiles randomly from the bag.
It follows that no two games start with players drawing exactly the same tiles as in previous games. The second less obvious, but no less significant, is the rhythm of the game.
Every game - be it board or athletic - has its own particular rhythm. In basketball, the game can be frenetic or standstill or both, depending on the players on the court at that time on that particular night.
This is also true in Scrabble. Some players go very fast, almost rushing their opponent. Some players are more methodical and tend to use their entire clock by the end of the match. Still, there are others who tend to let the game come to them. They may play faster or slower depending on the way their opponent plays.
There is no magic potion that tells you how to play a particular game. There is however something very important to do no matter what rhythm is present in your game. Recognize the rhythm as a factor.
There may be times when you want to go against it by slowing down or speeding up a game. There may be times when you may want to go along with it by playing faster or slower than you are normally accustomed.
An opponent who tends to rush you may gain an advantage if a fast game is more to their liking and not yours. They may however be beaten if you also like a faster match. A methodical player can also frustrate a fast player when the game pace slows down.
Do you tend to ponder every possibility for your turn? If so, and you are comfortable at that pace, try to let the game come to you. Don't let an opponent sigh or warn you about your clock. I find they are not truly looking out for your best interest. If time is what you need, take it.
Are you a fast player? Do you spend more time on your opponent's clock because you go faster than they do? Then be sure to not get frustrated if they take a long time.
Find alternative words on your rack or if you track tiles, use this time to make sure all of the letters are marked off properly.
Whatever style player you are, you must become accustomed to your opponent's technique. Each of you will impose your will onto the game. The result will be a rhythm that each player ignores at his peril. The flow of each game is unique, but the player that attunes her game to it first will play best.

Gainesville club

Marie Gier, 2-1, 413; Guerry Smith, 2-1, 397; Jim Cooney, 2-1, 361; Larry Brincefield, 2-1, 357; Nikki Scaffi, 2-1, 356; Laura Thomley, 2-1, 350. High series, Gier, 1,239; high game, Gier, 465; high play, Gier, 92 (lockets).

Lake Area club

Ellen Blottman, 3-0, 362; Gier, 2-1, 366; Geeke Lossing, 2-1, 357. High series, Gier, 1,097; high game, Gier, 487; high play, Gier, 81 (ugliest).

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