Braconid scores big in Scrabble
September 4, 2016 11:49 PM   Subscribe

Braconid (a parasitic wasp) scored 176 plus a 5 point failed challenge penalty; this helped Brett Smitheram win the world Scrabble championship, with the finalists both connected with the UK TV words and numbers gameshow Countdown. Brett takes home around £5,800 from the event at the Grand Palais in Lille. The board in the final match.
posted by Wordshore (21 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ah! My zo of or is so up. We io ae qi. Ja?
posted by rongorongo at 12:04 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's a sign of the times that my first thought was "I wonder how did they hack its nervous system to play Scrabble".
posted by hat_eater at 12:04 AM on September 5, 2016 [36 favorites]


Nono, to my understanding the parasite hacked Smitherams nervous system, manipulating the host to roam Scrabble rich environments for its own nefarious purposes.
posted by Ashenmote at 12:45 AM on September 5, 2016 [9 favorites]


Jon Richardson seethes with jealousy.
posted by sebastienbailard at 1:07 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


plus a 5 point failed challenge penalty

Do people in Scrabble championships really just make up words (and hope it goes unchallenged) often enough that it makes sense to challenge words you don't know?
posted by gloriouslyincandescent at 2:16 AM on September 5, 2016


When there's 176 points on the line, and you don't know the word, the risk of making it 181 doesn't seem that severe to me.
posted by YAMWAK at 2:26 AM on September 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


And to think this is just their side distraction from the 8+ Club!
posted by jaduncan at 2:26 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Nono, to my understanding the parasite hacked Smitherams nervous system, manipulating the host to roam Scrabble rich environments for its own nefarious purposes.

Much more interesting and ambitious than Ampulex wheeloffortuni.
(prev)
posted by sebastienbailard at 2:42 AM on September 5, 2016 [3 favorites]


"It may have been misspelled" is another rationale to challenge a word in championship scrabble.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 5:08 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Do people in Scrabble championships really just make up words (and hope it goes unchallenged) often enough that it makes sense to challenge words you don't know?
Making up words (as well as incorrectly thinking that a word exists) is not uncommon. If a challenge is successful, the person playing the incorrect word loses their turn, which is a pretty horrific penalty, so it certainly seems worthwhile to have bet 5 points on it here even if the challenger wasn't very confident.
posted by dfan at 5:35 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


Nigerian World Scrabble champions beat roadblaock to games in France

Is roadblaock a word? My spellcheck doesn't like it.
posted by bukvich at 6:16 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


So cool to see this on MetaFilter! My dad represented India at this event.
posted by peacheater at 6:53 AM on September 5, 2016 [12 favorites]


He's also participated in several prior World Scrabble Championships with a personal best rank of 21.
posted by peacheater at 7:05 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not mentioned in any of those articles, for some reason: the final score in that game was an absurdly lopsided 638-351. (This was the third and final game in the match; he won the previous two by margins of 451-403 and 538-323.)
posted by Shmuel510 at 7:18 AM on September 5, 2016


How would a wasp even pick up the tiles, let alone learn English?
posted by SansPoint at 7:18 AM on September 5, 2016 [2 favorites]


No one played KWYJIBO?
posted by chavenet at 8:00 AM on September 5, 2016 [1 favorite]


The world Scrabble champion sees BRACONID and I see BACON. And that's why I am not the world Scrabble champion.
posted by Wordshore at 8:21 AM on September 5, 2016 [8 favorites]


Do they have different rules for tournament Scrabble? I recall (and a glance at the rulebook confirms) that an unsuccessful challenge results in a lost turn for the challenger. I've never heard of this "5 point" rule.
posted by explosion at 9:15 AM on September 5, 2016


The winner said he spent up to two hours a day revising words...

It helps a lot when you can edit the dictionary.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:26 AM on September 5, 2016


Braconid left a trail of caterpillar husks on its way to the championship.
posted by benzenedream at 10:22 AM on September 5, 2016


Do they have different rules for tournament Scrabble? I recall (and a glance at the rulebook confirms) that an unsuccessful challenge results in a lost turn for the challenger. I've never heard of this "5 point" rule.

That's the difference between North American tournament play and world tournament play. North American play uses this (the so-called double challenge rule) whereas the rest of the world uses Penalty challenges. More details can be found in the Wikipedia page about this.

The main reason why the World Scrabble Championship uses penalty challenges is because double challenges are more conducive to bluffing (i.e. intentionally putting down a wrong word since the penalty for the opponent for a unsuccessful challenge is so large) - using penalty challenges reduces the likelihood of incorrect words being played intentionally, since as YAMWAK noted above, 5 points is not much compared to the points from a really high-scoring play. The other alternative is single challenges, often used for casual play - if the word is not valid the player must take it off the board, but there is no penalty for an unsuccessful challenge. This is not practical for tournament play as it would result in a lot of frivolous challenges and time-wasting (there is generally 25 minutes on each person's clock for tournament play, so there would be a lot of incentive to gain a little time by frivolously challenging your opponent's play while you think). 5 points is about right, IMO - a little penalty to prevent that kind of thing, but not large enough to encourage blatant bluffing.
posted by peacheater at 11:56 AM on September 5, 2016 [4 favorites]


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