Studying a game yields insights into what it takes to be great at something
In case you didn’t hear the news, there was a major shake-up in the competitive SCRABBLE world last summer in Buffalo. Conrad Bassett-Bouchard, a 24-year old graduate student from Portland, Oregon, won the $10,000 first prize at the National SCRABBLE Championship, making him the youngest American to ever win the tournament. But the big news was that the win ended Nigel Richards’ run of four titles. Richards, a reclusive New Zealander, is widely regarded as the best SCRABBLE player of all-time—the “Michael Jordan of the game,” as one co-competitor put it. Along with five U.S. National titles, Richards has won the World SCRABBLE Championship three times, and the Thailand International—the largest SCRABBLE tournament in the world—eleven times.
SCRABBLE has been one of the most popular board games in the world for decades. And, now, as an increasingly popular domain for scientific research on expertise, it is giving psychologists a better understanding