TIPS & STRATEGY

A few words on basic strategy…

Scrabble is so simple that your goal can be summarised in a single sentence: The object of the game is to score more than your opponent. Of course, if you play some nice words in the process, that’s an added bonus. But it’s by no means a prerequisite. If you can win the game by playing CAT and DOG, that’s all you need to do.

Remember, there are three important things you have to consider before you play your word:

  1. Score – you want to score as many points as possible. This can be done by aiming for the premium (coloured) squares, especially trying to place your high scoring tiles there. Of course, playing all 7 tiles in a single move – a bingo – is the best way to score well, as you’ll get a 50-point bonus!
  2. Leave – you want to leave yourself with manageable letters (VVGC are not considered manageable…) so you’ll be able to score well on your next move. A couple of principles to follow:
    1. The more a letter is worth, the quicker you must get rid of it (don’t hold on to Qs and Vs…).S’s and blanks must be “saved” for good moves, allowing you to “hook” words off words on the board and, possibly, to play a bingo.
    1. Try to keep an even number of vowels and consonants – too many of either is not a good thing. Also, don’t hold on to duplicate tiles, if possible.
  3. Opening – scoring well is important, provided you don’t open up too many scoring opportunities for your opponent. What’s the use in scoring 20 points if you give your opponent a potential 50-point play? Remember – the objective is to score more than your opponent, not merely to score well.
Other Tips

This week’s tip: Certain tiles are more bingo-prone than others. The 7 letters in RETINAS are considered “above average” (alternatively: the nine letters in ORIENTALS). Assuming your rack is balanced, holding onto any of these may increase your chances of getting a playable bingo.

How does one manage the Q? Well, try to learn the U-less Q words and the short words with a Q. Don’t hold onto U’s “waiting” for the Q, unless it’s right at the end of the game and the Q is still not out.

Try to maintain a balanced rack. This means keeping a Consonant/Vowel ratio of approximately 4/3 (or 50% of each). Play off excess vowels/consonants if possible, reducing your chances of having a vowel-heavy or vowelless rack.

Be cautious when placing vowels adjacent to the premium squares (double/triple letter/word). An unwary player could easily have his/her opponent scoring over 50 points with a simple XI/AX play.

Rack management (i.e. the importance of what you keep on your rack): S’s and blanks are not to be thrown around for too few points without good reason. Try to keep them for high-scoring plays (some say 30 for an “S” and 50 for a blank – but this depends on your rack and the situation of course).