As longtime readers here know, my initial plan for 2012 was to (mostly) take the year off of Scrabble tournaments. Not from burnout or lack of enjoyment - just wanted to focus on some other things this year. Like music, which I've done a lot of lately.
But this year the Nationals, the annual premier tournament in North America, has added for the first time a division using the larger international word list (CSW - the smaller North American list is usually called OWL or TWL), and I decided last weekend that I really didn't want to miss that, so I signed up. I haven't been practicing the words much this year, so from here until a few days before the tournament will be a cram session. Can already tell I need the refresher - too many words and hooks and anagrams have slipped beyond my easy reach. But I'll be ready enough by August 11, when the tournament starts.
I'm not studying with any particular focus on the CSW-only words - by this point, CSW *is* my native book. I keep the # symbols on, doesn't seem to hurt anything and I do still play some OWL, but I don't pay much attention to them anymore. I usually know whether a word is in the smaller book or not, but it's nice to play CSW and not have to care. Outside of Austin/San Antonio one-days, I can't imagine when I would play another OWL tournament, though if it's just a club or friendly game I don't mind. (And as always, any tournament I direct will have a CSW division if four or more players sign up for it.)
The words are only part of what I'll need. There are the other parts of the game, the strategic elements, though my abilities there haven't really changed in the past few years and won't in the next few weeks. The biggest thing in an event where you compete all day for 4 1/2 days is staying relaxed, focused and confident so your mind can do what you've trained it to do. But trying to force yourself into some heavy-duty mind and body regimen, if you're not already living that way, to accomplish this doesn't make sense to me. I'm not the type to go to these things and ingest nothing but bean sprouts and mineral water and be in bed by 8:30 every night, then wake up and do calisthenics for an hour at 5 every morning. More power to you if you can do that, but it's not me. I do plan to try to go a little more lightly on the heavy meals (especially lunches) and beer, try to get more sleep (hard to do at tournaments, though), get a swim or two in, maybe try doing some studying during the tournament and see if it keeps my neurons better greased. I'm plenty Zen enough at tournaments even as is, so I'm not worried about that. I'll enjoy seeing everybody, as always.