How to Win at Scrabble
...or at least improve your game!
For the serious Scrabble player, winning is everything. There are no concessions given, no bending of the rules, no leniency...no mercy. Emotions can run high, friendships may become temporarily strained - accusations and rationalisations can go flying back and forth:
"How could I have possiby have won, when you got the Q, Y, X, J and Z?"
"Yeah, well you always get the blanks and the s's!"
Scrabble can be a frustrating game, not least because of the chance element, but skill is still THE most important factor and there are ways to maximize your chances of winning.
Get to Know those Two Letter Words
Not surprisingly, possessing a wide vocabularly is a crucial advantage for the Scrabble player. Ideally it would be good if you memorised the Scrabble dictionary and then ate it just to make sure it was absorbed but since this is an impossible feat beyond even the most fanatical player, the next best thing is to learn all the two letter words, which is not too difficult.
These are invaluable for building off other words and often you can get a bigger score by building a series of two letter words alongside an existing word than you can by a longer word tacked onto another letter. Two letter words are also extremely handy for maximizing the benefit of a double or triple letter square, since it means you can build a word both ways.
Remember these if you can:
AA AB AD AE AG AH AI AL AM AN AR AS AT AW AX AY BA BE BI BO BY CH DE DO ED EF EH EL EM EN ER ES ET EX FA GO HA HE HI HM HO ID IF IN IS IT JO KA LA LI LO MA ME MI MM MO MU MY NA NE NO NU OD OE OF OH OM ON OP OR OS OW OX OY PA PE PI RE SH SI SO TA TI TO UH UM UN UP US UT WE WO XI XU YA YE YO ZO ZA QI
Three letter words can also be handy - especially when it comes to using those
difficult, high point value tiles.Suq is a handy one...as is Qat, Zos, Zax and Xis. Something else worth remembering is that almost every letter of the alphabet is also a word, eg; z iszee, r is ar, c is cee, v is vee, k is kay and so on.
As every point counts in Scrabble, throwing out should only be a last resort and not employed flippantly, however there are times where it makes sense.
There's nothing more disheartening in a Scrabble game than picking up a row of blah letters in doubles or triples - something like: i-i-i-o-u-r-r. If you can get rid of them in one fell swoop - great but if you can't it might be better to throw out than to persist for two or three low scoring turns. The same applies when you pick up a row of all vowels.
One of the hardest scenarios is when you pick up all consonants but they are sterling letters, such as p-j-q-w-s-m-k. These can be very hard to part with. I wouldn't necessarily throw out but it's best to try and get rid of more than one in a single go if you can. If you can't, and this is where knowing those obscure two letter words can really come in handy, you can still get a decent score if you can manage to place them on a double or triple letter square.
Finally, it's not a good idea to throw out because you are just one letter off the most brilliant seven-letter in the history of Scrabble - your chances of picking it up are too much of a long-shot and while you're waiting for it too appear, your score is going backwards. It's not worth it.
As has been pointed out to me in the comment section, it is worth noting that the more letters you can pick up in any one game, the more chance you have of grabbing the choice tiles. An obvious point but I failed to make it.
In Scrabble, the object is not just to get high scoring words yourself but to prevent your opponent from getting them as well. So you have to be very careful not to leave any juicy openings dangling - often it's better to sacrifice a higher score than let someone into a potentially lucrative triple word score.
Be on the alert for those triple letter squares too. If your opponent gets a top scoring letter both ways on one of these babies, it can be as good as scoring a seven-letter. Even a w or m both ways on one of these can mean a score of 30 or more, depending on the other letters.
it's a good idea to keep an eye on what letters have been used and what might be remaining. This can be particulalry useful near the end of the game as it can help you decide whether you can afford to leave certain openings vacant or not.
The Seven-letter Question
Seven letter words are great...the holy grail of the scabble player. If you pick up a blank and an s there's a very good chance you can make one. If you can't right away it's a good idea to hang on to these two letters for a while, until you can. Never use these letters recklessy for a mediocre score, as they are the most useful in the game.
Sometimes, you might have a seven-letter and have nowhere to put it. Alas, this is just part of the frustrating nature of Scrabble...no good hanging on to it in that circumstance.
Online Scrabble is a different animal to the board game version because you have a dictionary on-tap that you can legitimately use. Thus the risk element is eliminated. Purists claim it's not real Sctrabble...and I agree, it's not . However it's still a fun game - a variation on the original.
Having played online, I'm constantly amazed at just how many seemingly impossible words exist. So the message here is to try as many combinations as you can in the virtual dictionary..although you might think, oh there's no way that's a word ..you just never know!
That's assuming you have time of course. Some online versions are played like a chess game, where you have all the time you need to put down a word and others only give you a two minute window to put your word down.
In tournament Scrabble you are only allowed a meagre 25 minutes to make all your plays. For a glimpse into the world of the Scrabble Big Leaguers, check out the following video:
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