Why does the nickname completion not work like I want?
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The default nickname completion search for the first nick matching the entered letter in an unsorted list. To be able to control the nickname completion use the bash-style nickname completion (to be setup in the Preferences --> Interface section). Like the bash-shell completes commands, it is completing until it's not possible to identify a unique record anymore but helps by filling in those letters, where possible.
For example in a #channel there are the following users
by typing in "t" and hitting the tab-key the completion algorithm would automatically add "est" whyle at typing in "a" and hitting the tab-key it is possible for the algorithm to tell, that you meant "another" and is completing the whole nick.