Two things on top of my agenda for this fine Wednesday evening: cleaning the bathroom (beginning after I post this) and some Scrabble word practice. Which words? Well, for the past six weeks or so I've focused my study exclusively on the words that are valid in the OWL, which is the list used for the U.S. Nationals and for most club and tournament play in the U.S. However, the next tournaments on my calendar use a larger list, known as Collins or formerly SOWPODS, that is used in English-language Scrabble tournaments outside North America, including the World Championship, where I'll be competing in a couple of months. I usually study with the larger list, using # symbols to indicate which words are good *only* in the larger list.
Every word that's valid in the smaller OWL is also valid in Collins, so at least I don't have to *unlearn* any words to play in Collins tournaments, thank god. I merely have to remember not to play the Collins-only words when I go back to OWL tournaments. I'm usually pretty good about that, though I'm bound to slip here and there. I don't cough up illegal words often; the greater problem for me is thinking of a word and chickening out on it because I think it's Collins-only, and then finding out later, no, it's actually valid in OWL as well.
Not to rehash a debate that has grown endless and tiresome within the competitive Scrabble world (and please don't do so in comments, thanks), but yes, I think this long-lived state of affairs is stupid and that we should have one word list and one supreme governing body for competitive play everywhere. For many reasons I won't bother with here, I'm not holding my breath waiting for this to happen, though the number of opportunities to play the larger list here is growing. I've been playing both lists for years now and will do so as long as I have to in order to play the tournaments I want to play. As to whether this has been bad for my OWL game, well, sure, on balance it doesn't help to have to block out a fourth of the words I know, but I was ranked as high as #7 in North America earlier this year - the OWL list - so I'd say I'm doing all right. My last two Nationals have been subpar, but dictionary issues weren't much of a factor in that.
So now that Nationals is over, I'm welcoming back the rest of the words. EPICIER, LANDRAIL, LISPOUND, ADJIGO, FOREX, IO, SEEDINGS (yes, seriously, it's not good here - what the...?), EMO, ZAKAT, BELONGER, TOISEACH, DETORT, TOYWOMAN, BHAJI, YUFT, GREX, IMPUNDULU, OARIEST, KILLUT, ZONURE, COLETIT and all you others...come on down.