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How Do I Join This Band Of Big-Time Winners?

First of all you must decide to acquire those characteristics of diligence, persistence, and tie breaking skills for yourself. Once the newcomer to competitions accepts that nothing in the way of big prizes are likely to come without effort, then the very first hurdle is overcome.

The next step is to take out a subscription to the enthusiasts' fortnightly magazine 'Competitors Journal', in which you will discover mountains of information of use to seasoned competitors and raw newcomers alike: what competitions are currently available; what tie breaker trends are currently winning favour with the judges; how to improve your skills in first part tasks and tie breaker writing too; what tips, techniques and ideas can improve your winning chances, and so much more.

You might next decide to subscribe to a solutionist magazine, offering a service usually only in respect of preliminary competition tasks. For a fee that varies widely between firms, the agency employs a team of specialist researchers to investigate the answer to part one factual questions, provide expert advice in relation to order-of-merit tasks, to search through those elusive word-squares, to do crosswords, spot-the-ball, and whatever else might be required by which to be almost certain that you will find your way through the first stage of the competition and ultimately ensure yourself a place on the final judging table where those tie breaker sills come to the fore.

Whether using a solutionist service might be seen as an unnecessary extravagance or else something conferring an unfair advantage on those who can afford to avail themselves on the service in the first place, is largely for the individual to decide. Certainly using such an agency will save you an awful lot of time and trouble looking up answers and carrying out other tasks for yourself, though it must be remembered that though a good solutionist's research is accurate of 90% of occasions, what of that odd 1 competition in 10, for which you have written a brilliant tie breaker but in using the erroneous information provided you effectively disqualify yourself before you submit your entry to the post?

For my own part, I subscribe to a solutionist service, but view their research information only as a back up to that research I carry out for myself. If our answers agree - great - I now go to town on my tie breaker. If our answers differ, I recheck my own findings. If we still differ, I enter those answers I personally believe to be correct.

That competitor intend on maintaining a constant stream of wins has several other tricks up his or her sleeve, including:

a) Keeping records of past winning tie breakers, particularly those of competitions sponsored by the firm whose competition is now being entered. The aim here is not to copy or plagiarise past winning lines, just to discover whether any trends exist which might be capitalised upon. In my own experience, I won a great many competitions promoted by supermarket chain 'Presto' - every single one of them with a rhyming couplet!.

b) Maintaining a competitions diary with details of closing dates, qualifiers required, research to carry out, and so on carefully entered.

c) Maintaining a wordbank system along with records of one's own winning and non-winning tie breakers. The latter of course being one's own creation, leave the creator free to use them in any future competition for which they might prove appropriate. A wordbank simply comprises some method of filing ideas, words, skeleton outlines, along with such as proverbs, double meaning words and phrases, homonyms and catch phrases, all of which might prove useful and potentially invaluable as a starting point for some future competition slogan or tie breaker.

d) Remember: Strategy is All Important.

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