Scrabble Strategy

Scrabble strategy lessons for improving your SCRABBLE skills. Basic Scrabble tactics can help you improve your score before moving on to advanced Scrabble strategies

If you want to become a better Scrabble player quickly, you should learn a few basic Scrabble strategies. The SCRABBLE strategies are fairly simply concepts. When applied, they overnight should help you score higher and beat your opponent more often.

There are more detailed Scrabble rules to follow, but those would probably do more harm than good for a starting Scrabble player. You can improve at Scrabble by improving in a couple of different areas: vocabulary expansion and Scrabble tactics.

Two Letter Words

Scrabble StrategyPerhaps the single best way to increase your Scrabble effectiveness is to learn the 2-letter Scrabble words. There is a list of two letter words, usually between 120 and 130 in all, that are included in most official Scrabble dictionaries. When you learn these words, you will find your scoring and your defense will improve.

Scoring with two letter words is simple to understand. If you have no other place to play, a rare two-letter SCRABBLE word will help you score some points and avoid a pass. Just as likely, this word might help you score a two-word score, by making two parallel words down the length of a word already on the Scrabble board.

Knowing all the two letter words also help you fit in the surprise double-word or triple-word score, when your opponent thinks you've been blocked from doing so.

Finally, two letter words help your Scrabble defense skills. You don't have to overextend yourself, spelling out a long word and leaving the board open for your opponent. Defensive Scrabble is a major key on the competitive level of SCRABBLE, as a player continues to score without opening up double-word score and triple-word score possibilities for the opponent.

Three Letter Words

Once you've memorized the two letter words in Scrabble, you can move on to the three letter words. Many of these are simple, because the Scrabble words are simply plural forms of the two letter words you've just learned.

Three letter words in SCRABBLE aren't quite as important as the two-letters, because they won't fit into as many places and help you out of as many tight jams. That being said, learning the three letter words is quite important if you are going to become a competitive player.

Once you've improved your Scrabble vocabulary, you can move on to Scrabble strategy and some basic tactics used in Scrabble.

Shuffle Your Tiles Often

This is as simple as it comes, but maintaining a static rack of tiles is one of the most common mistakes new players make in Scrabble.

When you get your seven tiles, don't keep them in one order on your Scrabble rack. Shuffle them up and look at them in several different combinations. You'll find that seeing the letters in a different order will sometimes reveal a word or potential word that you otherwise wouldn't have noticed in the short time spans of a Scrabble turn.

Keep shuffling while it is your opponent's turn. Look at as many different word combinations as possible. This will help you visualize the Scrabble possibilities.

Manage Your Letter Rack

Don't set yourself up for failure by playing a bad combination of letters from your rack. Look one turn ahead. If you can make a solid word using all your vowels, this might be a bad play.

Playing holding only vowels or only consonants at the end of their turn are asking for "bad luck" in their next tile draw. If you play all your vowels and get only consonants on your next draw, you will leave yourself in a bind. It might not be worth the points you just scored to have to redraw the next turn. Look ahead and anticipate your next Scrabble move.

Don't Set Your Opponent

Also anticipate the next move of your opponent. Try not to play words which obviously will set your opponent up for a double-word score or a triple-word score. You might total a big score by setting your opponent, but if that opponent is able to get triple the points on their next turn, it probably isn't worth it.

When playing with an experienced opponent, that opponent can even turn a two-letter space into a triple word play. So watch out when Scrabble game play begins to edge towards the corner of the board.

Maximize Your Power Tiles

Power tiles are the rare letter tiles. Because of their rarity and the difficulty playing these letters, the power tiles are worth the most points. When you get one of these letters, try to maximize your use of the letter by playing it on a multiplier. A multiplier is any square which multiplies the value of the letter tiles. This could be a double letter score, triple letter score, double word score or triple word score.

Letters such as J, K, Q, X and Z are the power tiles.

Learn to Use the Q

Q's are especially tricky to play in Scrabble, because the Q almost always needs to be played with a U. Since there are only 4 U's in a Classic Scrabble set, in a multi-player game there is a chance you never see a U on your rack. If you get the Q in a late game scenario, you might find that all the U's have been played already. If you count four on the board, you're likely to have to trade in your letters or take the penalty at the end of the game.

One helper is the word Qi, which is the Chinese word for vitality, vital force or life energy. Qi, pronounced "chee", is used enough in the English language that it's in most Scrabble dictionaries. So if you don't have a "U" but have an "I" to play off of, you can spell this word and rid yourself of a troublesome Q.

In some Scrabble dictionaries, you'll find other Q-words that don't need a U. Consult your the relevant Scrabble dictionary before playing a competitive game.

Conserve Your Versatile Tiles

Blank tiles are the most versatile on the board, because the blank is a wildcard which can be any letter. The S tile is also versatile, because it can be played at the end of so many words to make a plural. Also, you can pluralize the one word, yet still build a second word off that blank S tile. In this way, the S is often used to score two words at once.

When you receive an "S" or a "blank" tile, try to hold it until you can use the letter for maximum effect. It's generally a bad idea to use the S in the middle of a word as you would most any other letter. The blank tile is perfect for using 7 word combinations or bingos, or completing hard-to-complete word combinations. Both tiles may not score big points themselves, but can help you in scoring major points with a great word.

Bingo When You Can

A Scrabble "bingo" is when you use all 7 letters in your rack. If you score a bingo, you get the point value of the letters in the word plus 50 bonus points. Therefore, it is highly desirable to score a bingo any time you can.

Tournament level Scrabble players build much of their Scrabble strategy around scoring bingos. The player will hold on to a blank tiles with the hopes of scoring a bingo, while playing rare letters for low scores. Competitive SCRABBLE players might score three bingos per game, while beginners are quite lucky to score one bingo.

Build Bingo Stems

Certain letters are so common that they are especially useful in making a bingo. These letters are sometimes hoarded by a player, who wants to collect enough to form a "bingo stem". This is a collection of common letters which can be formed in several different combinations to form a word. The common letters useful for bingo stems are A, E, I, N, R and S.

When you receive a combination of these letters, try to hoard them into a bingo stem. Use the other letters you have on your rack, even if these don't score many points for you. When you have 6 or 7 of the common letters above, you'll be able to play them almost anywhere for a bingo.

Defense, Defense, Defense

Once again, you might sometimes need to forego a high scoring word for a low scoring alternative. The reason for doing this is to limit your opponent's ability to play high scoring words. This is called playing defense in Scrabble.

This concept cannot be stressed enough. Sometimes scoring less is the better play. If you keep your opponent from hitting a triple letter score, those equate to fewer points you'll have to score yourself.

The offense-to-defense ratio is a delicate balance in Scrabble. Obviously, you need to score points to win the game. But a good SCRABBLE player is always aware of the opportunities being offered to one's opponent, as well.

If you enjoyed this article on scrabble strategy, we also recommend that you check out this site on poker strategy.

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