Improve Your Skills!

Wonder how the top-ranked players do it? Want to get to their level? We’ve asked last year’s FOCAL top 8 to give you their advice…

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Jack Worsley (2016’s Lincoln, Lincoln Hangover, Nottingham and Huddersfield winner and FOCAL Champion)
“If you suffer a loss of form, don’t panic. It happens to everyone and often there is no clear reason for it. Just accept it as part of the learning process and you’ll soon return to form.”

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James Robinson (Milton Keynes and GlasgowOnThen winner 2016)

“It’s pretty simple, but it’s almost a must do for practice – remember your times tables! It may sound silly, but if you get confused or forget your times tables, it could be the fatal blow in a game.”

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Zarte Siempre (St Albans winner 2016)
“When you’re first starting out, don’t worry too much about what your opponent’s doing. No-one expects you to beat a series champion. Set your own realistic goals that only depend on you (getting a word of so many letters, or solving one numbers game per match) and then you can measure your own improvement and manage your own targets more effectively than if you base your prospects on what other people are doing.”

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Callum Todd (King’s Lynn runner up 2016)
“I don’t really have any strategic advice, but I would advise anyone getting into this weird scene of ours just to go 100% for enjoyment above all else and have fun, rather than being too bothered about performance and results and all that shite.”

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Jen Steadman (#2 FOCAL seed 2016)
“Sign up to Apterous.org – every one of 2016’s top 8 is on it, not to mention all 16 series champions since it launched in 2009 – and take advantage of all that it offers! When you subscribe, there’s a dictionary tool called Lexplorer in the top right-hand corner of the homepage which tells you whether words or valid or not, and a ‘stemming’ function which tells you what letters you can add to the word to make a longer word. You can play loads of different versions of the game, and chat to fellow enthusiasts – many of whom you’ll get to meet at events. Also: write 9 x 8 x 7 = 504 onto your hand in permanent marker, because it’s surprisingly useful for 6 small numbers rounds. “