Patrick (patrickwonders) wrote,

Scrabble Thoughts

I am a pretty decent Facebook Scrabble player. Facebook Scrabble is slightly easier than tournament Scrabble in that it won't let you put in a word that isn't in the dictionary so there is no need to ever challenge (or doubt). Additionally, the time control is on the order of days rather than minutes.

In my current game, my opponent has pulled out words like marque, ringbark, xystoi, and tarzan. It's one of those games where I was feeling like I was playing against a person with a computer looking over her shoulder. But, I wrested the lead back by getting enameled to hit two triple word scores. Sadly, the m was a blank on a double letter spot, or it could have been worth 54 more points!

Anyhow, enough bragging. On to more philosophical matters.

I have a few guidelines/approaches that I try to stick to when playing that I feel really help my final score. I share them now with you.

  • Play for the bingo
    • Unless it's worth more than 35pts to do otherwise, never end a turn with more than one of any letter in your hand. If you've got three 'E's and you play your 'Z', 'A', 'P', you will undoubtedly draw at least one more 'E'. It is always a pain to try to bingo with three or more of a given letter and much easier without any repeats. If the doubled letter is 'I', then be sure you're getting at least 50pts to keep them.
    • Unless it's worth more than 45pts to do otherwise, hang on to the blank.
    • If you have both blanks, take the time to find the best bingo. The odds of there being multiple available bingos when you've got two blanks are almost absurdly high (unless the board is super crowded or bunched together).
  • If your tiles suck, exchange them
    • It's taken me quite some time to feel comfortable scoring a zero on a round to exchange some tiles. Now, I do it almost every game, sometimes three or four times. I definitely exchange tiles more than five times as often as my opponents do.
    • Never hand in a blank. Keep one 'S' if you have some. Keep one 'E' if you have it. Keep a 'D' if you have an 'E'. Keep an 'I', an 'N', and a 'G' if you have all three.
    • If you're thinking about making a six point word and you'll still have too many vowels when you're done, it's high time to exchange. (Note: unless the reason you're only playing two of your tiles is what I am talking about in the very next point.)
    • Know your dosages. I've occasionally exchanged a single tile in an effort to get a particular letter when I knew there were still two of them unplayed and only ten tiles left in the bag. (xref: play for the bingo)
  • Score horizontally and vertically at the same time
    • If you play 'WOW' through a letter, it is only 9pts. But, if you can lay it down against an 'ORE', then you've got 21pts instead.
    • Look to put your 'J', 'X', 'Q', or 'Z' down where it can play in two directions. So, know these words cold: 'JO', 'AX', 'EX', 'OX', 'XI', 'QI', 'ZA' and look for other places to place one of those letters like: '(J)OUST', 'FA(X)', '(Q)AT', 'FE(Z)', '(Z)AG', etc. so you can build perpendicularly scoring the high letter in two directions.
    • And, of course, if you can get a double or triple word score to play in both directions, all the better.
  • Play your side of the board
    • Lots of people work hard to avoid giving their opponents a shot at a triple word score or an easy place to add an 'S'. Feh.
      • First, let's see them triple word score their way back from the two bingos we just played.
      • Second, playing adjacent to other words naturally makes it tougher for your opponent to spring something weighty on a triple word score.
      • Third, it's just more fun to play all out than to sit trying not to let anything happen. There's a saying to the effect: When you gamble, you cannot control how much you win, only how much you lose. In Scrabble, it would be: you cannot control how much your opponent scores, only how much you score. (Of course, at various points, you may know your opponent's tiles with a high degree of confidence. Usually though, this is toward the end of the game when the winner is also pretty clear with a high degree of confidence regardless of your opponent's triple 'X'.)

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