General information

INFO: A word to play is in CAPITALS. Letters already on the board are shown as the S here: WORM(S). Premium Score squares: DL = Double letter: TL = Triple letter: DW = Double Word: TW = Triple Word. The blanks have no score letter on the Top right! A bingo (using all 7 of your letters) gets +35.
Useful word lists are in the first post "ALL MY TIPS. This is the post to read first" and on some other posts. I welcome comments and suggestions.
Had a great play, score or a move you think should have been allowed? Take a screen shot and post it somewhere (Picasa?). Send me the link.

Monday, January 1, 2018

ALL MY TIPS! This is the Post to read first.

Feb 23rd 2014. Just a thank you for all the positive and nice comments you have all made. I do not play as often as I did when I started this blog but that does not change the fact that I love both Words with Friends and Scrabble - the father of them all.  Life is short and I have so many other interests that need nurturing. My daughter, my sons and my grand children, my wife, skiing and making a living! Keep reading, keep playing and I hope this blog has helped. Henry

 “Words With Friends” Tips

(DL TL DW TW refer to double, triple letter, double, triple word squares)
(Words played are shown in Capital Letters. Where a letter is already on the board it is in brackets. Example VA(L)UE - means the L was on the board.)

“Words With Friends”  has two important differences to Scrabble.

(I have been playing Scrabble for years and have recently started to play in French! That is hard as our natural dictionary in our native language is probably 100 times greater but it helps my French grammar.)

1. Bad Word, Good Word? 

Firstly in Scrabble, if you place a word that is not in the official SOWPODS dictionary, it is up to your opponent to challenge the word. If there is no challenge the word stands. If the challenge is valid you lose your turn. 

However in Words With Friends you place a word and if it is not in their official dictionary (based on the ENABLE dictionary) you get the message “Sorry. That is not an acceptable word” and you play again and again and again until…   Use that rule to your advantage.

2. Better Value: Secondly another difference between Scrabble and Words With Friends is the placement of the premium squares. Words With Friends has something better that the TW squares and often overlooked! It has the 2 DW squares on the second row from each edge and they are near enough (5 squares apart) that you can get a 2 x 2 or 4 times the word value score.

3. Learn the 2 letter words. There are 98 in scrabble but Words With Friends has 6 more. DA FE FI GI KI and OI. We used to be able to play ZO, a Himalayan ox and I’ve seen one too but alas it’s now illegal. Perhaps they are extinct! Now it’s ZA – a pizza none the less.

4. Remember: Remember the odd 2-letter words like: AA AB AD AE AG AI AL AR AW BA BI BO DA DE DI ED EF EL ES ET FE FI GI HM ID LI LO MI MO NA NE OD OE OM OS OP OW OY PE PI  SI WO
Remember the high value 2-letter words like: AX EX JO KA KI OX QI XI XU ZA 
Remember the interjection 2-letter words like: AH AY EH ER HA HI HO MM OH OI SH YA YO
Remember the very useful 2-letter words ending or beginning in U; MU NU UH UN UM UT and XU
or even the notes! DO RE MI FA SO LA TI and then a the song goes "back to DO"!

That's 79 of them. The other 27 should be natural: AM AN AS AT BE BY EM EN GO HE IF IN IS IT MA ME MY NO OF ON OR PA TA TO UP US WE YE

Try to remember some of the strange 3-letter words with J, K, Q, W, X, and Z

To name just a few. There are more.

5. Study: Go to a Words With Friends website and print out the 2 and 3 letter words. Take them to bed with you and study.

Remember that Scrabble uses the SOWPODS dictionary but Words With Friends uses its own version that is based on the ENABLE dictionary (Google that for a BIG list) and it is constantly updated. SOWPODS and ENABLE do not have identical lists. The Words With Friends dictionary is part of the app so keep your Words With Friends app up to date.

6. How many left? Also print out this letter distribution and memorise it. There is no point waiting for a U for your Q if none are left!

A=9 B=2 C=2 D=5 E=13 F=2  G=3 H=4 I=8 J=1 K=1 L=4 M=2 N=5 O=8 P=2 Q=1 R=6 S=5 T=7 U=4 V=2 W=2 X=1 Y=2 Z=1 Blanks=2 (Total 104)

Or put another way there are:

13 E
9 A
8 I O
7 T
6 R
5 D  N  S  
4 H  L  U
3 G
2 B  C  F  M  P  V  W Y 
1 J K Q X  Z
2 Blanks

7. Waste not want not: The ‘S’ and the Blanks are very valuable. Try not to use the S in the middle of a word or just at the end unless that hits say the TW score. Rather use it to hook two words together. 

Now let's play

8. Play on or Resign? : Please do not resign too quickly. Being far behind is in fact a good reason to stay. OK you have lost but Words With Friends needs practice to get better. In this case you can experiment placing words where you might not have done and giving your opponent openings that might help your game later. You can exchange letters at will etc. 

9. When to Pass: There is probably only one time to pass and that is at the end when you cannot go. In the middle of the game it is better to exchange letters or at least some. At the end no letters left, no place to go with yours and you are ahead by only a few points.Pass and hope your opponent will be those few points short of a win. He might be left with a high value letter Q? (see tip 20 below) that's a difference of 10 points in your favour. (It's 20 if you've emptied your rack)

10. Opening move: The opening is important. If you like to play an open game then play a long word to the left of the centre star. That forces your opponent to play that side and it is easier to add to the end of a word than to the beginning.
If you prefer a closed game (I hate them!) play a short word to the right.

11. Placement: Sometimes you see a nice word and down it goes for a dozen points. However had you looked closer at the board you could have played fewer letters and scored say 16. (I've lost games I should have won because I didn't look around enough) As they say look outside the box when playing Words With Friends. When you are playing a quick game you should study the board and look for higher scoring placements than the obvious ones. When playing a game over several days take the time to do the same.

12. Use the board letters: Use any high value letters already placed on the board. In fact this strategy highlights why some players get consistently high total scores. Their average score per letter is high. Placing an A to make ZA is 11 minimum where the A only is only worth 1*.

13. Long is not always best: Look for premium squares that could be used twice. Say that already on the board are the words (down) ‘BETTER’ (and across) ‘FLIPPER’ both sharing the ‘R’ then placing an H to form ‘HE’ twice, nets 8 if the ‘H’ falls on a premium square then it’s 14 (DL) or even (20) TL just with one letter*. Make the ‘HE’ into a longer word combining TL and TW makes for very high scores. In the above game look at "HILLY" on the right. The L on the TW and the H  was on a TL so on its own the H earned 10 across plus 30 for its part in HILLY (64).

14. Word beginnings and endings: Look at your letters and put those letters that form word endings to one side and see what’s left. Letter groups like: “ER” “ATE” “ITE” “ED” "IER" etc. “PR” “RE” “TR” “TH” "TION" with of course “S” "ST" and "SP"

15. Seven letter words. You nearly have a 7-letter word on your rack but you are missing a letter. How long do you wait? I think you only wait if you can only score a few points. The value of your “perhaps” 7-letter word diminishes rapidly the longer you wait. You sacrifice say 10 points by waiting and that’s a third of the bonus!

You have a 7-letter word on your rack but there is nowhere on the board to place it, sigh, and move on.

16. Exchange or not?  If you have all vowels or all constants and you are about level is it better to struggle for a few points or exchange the rack? Probably exchange is best.

If you have a “Q” or “Z” and cannot place them, you lose too many points by waiting for a ” U” or the other “A”. If I cant use them to score big I will play “QI” or “ZA” but I would exchange them as a “10” value letter left in your rack is worth -20. +10 to your opponent for finishing and -10 to you as a penalty. BUT be a good sport and don't dump them on your opponent if they have no chance of using them. Gamesmanship?

17. Prevention 1: Try to block your opponent if they place a high value letter that could be used again but you can’t use it.

18. Prevention 2: Do not leave premium TW squares available for your opponent. Rather use them with a small score. Example you could score 30 somewhere else but only 21 on the TW. If you opponent is left the TW your 9 point advantage is soon gone.

19. Be careful: Most high scores come towards the end of the game when the TW or the 2 DW squares become accessible. Work towards them but try not to give direct access. Leave that to your opponent to do for you.

20. Count: I said before that you should try to remember what letters are left. That’s where the word count is important. It makes a difference if there are no blanks left and you have the only “S” Knowing how many letters your opponent has left at the end can be the difference between winning and losing.

21. Your rack: You just played and have some new letters. Look for obvious words but remember they have to hook onto something. Look at the board and see if there are any words that take a letter that you have. Example from the above game: onto "VIA" I placed an "L" and then I saw the that 7-letter word. First I saw Lapse then I saw that the D made lapsed then the E made elapsed.  As I say often "Use the board to try placements while you are waiting for your turn. In Words With Friends your opponent cannot see the letters you are placing and if Words With Friends says "Sorry that word is not acceptable" try again. When the play your letters get returned automatically to your rack.

22. End game: The value of the letters left on your rack when your opponent finishes will count double for them. (See “Exchange or not?” above) So if there are only a few points between you then play the higher value letters first because the value of your remaining letters count DOUBLE against you at the end! 

Play a lot and those funny words become implanted. Enjoy the game.

Henry (user name if you want to play me is Henryb65)

PS I scored 500 in that game above. One of my best scores. 

PPS Must go now as I have 4 games waiting for my move.

Friday, March 23, 2012


This will be a shortish post!  After one year of playing what is an absolutely super game I found myself having 25 and more games to play and it was taking up a lot of my time. Too much in fact. WWF say that 20 games is the limit. In fact it is greater than that as 20 is the limit of "active games". Having more sort of proves it. So be it.

Then our Internet box blew up and we were without Internet (and telephone) for nearly a month and because we lived in the country  it was not possible to log on with a neighbour (we have none) so all my games eventually died. The result was that I lost all my opponents and then, when we eventually got back on, I had to concentrate on putting everything back as it was. (For those of you who have had this happen you will understand what is required).

Then I thought let's have a rest from WWF for a few days. AND that's when I realised that I had become addicted.

I like and respect WWF. But the way it works, and I am not talking about the game itself but the challenges that are sent and the "play again" buttons, make this escalation escalate!! That's why from having 10/15 games I found myself with, I think, 30 at one point. Too much.

I had also just changed from PC to Mac and that also took up far more of my free time than I had expected. It was worth it however.  So for the moment I am not playing. I will restrict my playing now to specific periods like when on holiday or just plain bored or I feel the need.

I'd love to hear from any of you who also feel addicted. Maybe we can have a clinic of WWF addicted players.

To all of you who have visited this blog, thanks. There are more than 250,000 of you! Far more than I ever thought possible. The tips are there for you to use and I hope profit from. 

Thanks for your comments. Do not stop, as I read them all and take note of all you say.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

When the internet dies.....

Two weeks ago we had a powercut. It was in the middle of a very cold spell with the thermometer showing minus 12c, snow on the ground, horses to feed and cats that we normally see once or twice a day, refusing to go out. When the electricity was restored my Internet box had died as well as my UK TV decoder. No phone. No Internet. No neighbours as we live on a farm and the nearest hot spot ia a ten minute drive. Our ISP (Internet Service Provider) is called they have one telephone number, no address and no shops. They took 10 days to "validate" whatever they had to validate and as yet the new ISP box has not arrived. I write this in a hotel room in the UK where I am for a family wedding. When i finally get back on air I am cancelling my contract with FREE. My apologies to any who had to wait and to all of you who had me resigning. The games got chopped by WWF. Do challenge me and hopefully we can get back to normal.


We finally change our ISP and gave our old ISP the boot. It's amazing how much we have tied into the Internet box.

I lost all my games on WWF and thus some of you (if you read this) will understand why I seemed to have disappeared off the face of the earth.  Just send me an invite to play and be patient.

However I did learn one thing. WWF is addictive and very much so at that. What is more the game is cleverly designed to suck you deeper and deeper. You can have, as I have had, 25 games on the go at any time. So be selective about accepting invites. I hate refusing but there comes a time when too much is too much. I will now only play 10 games max and will refuse any others.

My user name is < henryb65 > but if I refuse the challenge please understand. I love my wife more than WWF!!!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Etiquette and Gamesmanship

Before I launch into this subject here is the definition of :


« The customs or rules governing behaviour regarded as correct or acceptable in social or official life."


"The use in a sport or game of aggressive, often dubious tactics, such as psychological intimidation or disruption of concentration, to gain an advantage over one's opponent."

So why should etiquette and gamesmanship come into games like Scrabble or Words With Friends? (Let's stick to WWF for the moment.)

In my opinion because the rules (read them here) are not written in a way that leaves no doubt as to what is meant.  

A few examples... 

First example: It does not say that you can add letters to the beginning AND the end of a word. It only says letters must be played either vertically or horizontally. 

No etiquette or gamesmanship problem here its just that the rule is not clear.

Second example: The use of word checkers or word finders are not mentioned so checking the rule book we have 2 entries that may apply - 

1. "All words labelled as a part of speech (including those listed of foreign origin, and as archaic, obsolete, colloquial, slang, etc.) are permitted with the exception of the following: proper nouns (words always capitalized), abbreviations, prefixes and suffixes standing alone or words requiring a hyphen or an apostrophe."

No mention there!


"Words With Friends has more than 173,000* acceptable words for use in the game. Our list is based on the Enhanced North American Benchmark Lexicon (ENABLE), a public domain list used by many word games. Tap here to visit the site where the original ENABLE list resides. We've added a few of our own words to game such as ‘zen’ and ‘texting,’ and more words may be added in the future."

No mention there either!

*BTW There is a mistake in the dictionary rule. As the longest word playable on the board is only 15 letters long there are certainly not 173,000 acceptable words but only (!) 125,539 acceptable words of 15 letters or less in the ENABLE wordlist. 

AND there is of course the unmentioned fact that the game itself checks the word played and, unlike Scrabble, allows you any number of subsequent goes in order to find an acceptable word. A word checker? Of course and do read my earlier posts on using word finders and checkers.

Back to etiquette and gamesmanship which come in when using wordlists and dictionaries that are are frowned upon by some or worse, called cheating by others.

Here étiquette and gamesmanship say ASK. Chat <Do you use any word lists when playing? I don't mind either way so if you do, so will I. If not lets play without one.>

Third example: Then there is also the rule about "Swapping" letters.  There is in fact no rule about swapping letters in the rule book! However there is a button "Swap"so it must be allowed. Here etiquette takes on another face. 

Let us say that you are stuck with a high value letter Q J Z etc and there is nowhere to place it. This of course should only happen at the end of a game.What happens if your opponent goes out? You have 10 points deducted and he gets 10 points added. If the game is close you will lose. So lets dump the Q J or Z on him and take the only letter/s remaining and unless he passes then you pass etc. he will lose not you.  Swapping letters in the course of the game is fine but I personally think that "dumping" a high value letter when he must get it is bad etiquette and terrible gamesmanship.
I had a long discussion on that very subject on a blog at Oxreality that you might like to see.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Worse than cheating.

I had a game going the other day on Facebook. After a few turns he played the word FLAPED which I thought strange, then he played GHOUTER which made me wonder, then he played A(REJOIN)ER.

The funny thing was that I was leading by nearly 100 points when I asked him how he played words that were not in any accepted wordlist. Had a pathetic reply like "There is a very good legal reason why..."

In  fact he was using a small program called MESSWITHWORDS that allows you to play anything and the pop up that says " ... not an acceptable word..." has a new button that says "Play anyway"

There is actually another way of messing with the program and that is to hack the ENABLE based word list that is loaded by WWF when the program is downloaded. No I won't give you the instructions.
It is not even a funny  joke. It's a bit like graffiti - fun for the artist but a pain for the recipient.

The joke was that even using MESSWITHWORDS he was getting smashed and the other joke was his user name: ARS132 He really is an ...hole!

I've seen some youtube videos where the guy shows you how to load this. I say this is worse than cheating because they nearly all say "This is how you can win every time" Win? They do not live on the same planet as us.

Glad you are all enjoying this blog.


Thursday, November 10, 2011

The difference betwwen Scrabble and Words With Friends

In reply to a comment about the difference betwwen the two games I said: Scrabble and WWF are indeed not the same. I'd not go so far as to say WWF is a poor copy. Each has it's place and indeed WWF might not have existed if the makers of Scrabble had realized the potential of the iPhone/iPad earlier. Early versions of computer based Scrabble were cumbersome. They tried to import the game to the computer without considering the user. WWF wrote the app looking at the problem from the other end. Having also been a software programmer I can see why one worked and the other one didn't. They might have got it right now but like many people I like WWF and see no reason to change.

Over the years, as Scrabble became more and more popular, several groups of players started competitions and now there are, if you like, 2 levels of Scrabble: Competition and not competition. Of course Scrabble is the only one of these two games that can be played in tournaments, face to face, no wordlists, strict rules and timed.

Ask yourself why WWF has been so successful. Perhaps it appealed because it was free, because the rules were more relaxed, you could test words without penalty and you could take your time. Having said that and having played Scrabble for 50 years, out of competition, I have played with word lists and a dictionary, without time restrictions and with a relaxed view on wrong words, all with consent from my opponents. Competition Scrabble has it's rules, playing with family and friends is usually and should be far more relaxed. To give you an analogy: I ride horses and when I practice jumping if my horse refuses to jump I try again and again. That is the correct way to train a horse. In competition a refusal is an elimination!

As to the playing of the game itself, BOTH games have seven letters. Any word formed using either those letters or including some that are already on the board score points. Each game uses a different dictionary, which considering the level of 99% of players is no big deal, the premium squares are not in the same place, the letter distribution not quite the same and their value sometimes different (all to avoid copyright problems I guess) In all and in my opinion these differences are minor BUT the science of the formation of words does not change. The technique of making a BINGO from 7 letters is no different in either game. Playing offensively or defensively is the same in both games. The only big differences, which you correctly point out, are the use of WWFs « try again » check and the permitted use of word lists.

I said in one of my previous posts, use the first rule to your advantage and the second in moderation. We are allowed to drink alcohol but it’s stupid to binge drink !

The only area that I feel needs clarification but could never be enforced is the use of wordlists. If you want to win, win, win then leave it to the computer to do the job. Two things happen there. You cheat yourself and the opponents will soon spot that they are playing a cheat. Of course it's not much fun either! I cant stop anyone playing like that. I do however encourage players, especially beginners to have 2 & 3-letter word lists etc handy. They will soon learn that XI QI and QAT are legal ! There are wordlists, word checkers and word finders in abundance on the Internet. Some are downright cheats and some are good aids. The rest fall in between. If in doubt then ask your opponent at the beginning how you should play. A good way is …Q « Hi, I use the word Finder nnnnn when I play. Do you play with one or would you rather play without one ? Either way is good for me » The wrong way is… « Hi, you are cheating ! »

And last but not least "Scrabble games are timed. ...sleeping on it will bore you to death" Actually I often find my self playing 20 games at the same time (no way boring) which I could not do if there was a time limit. Furthermore as I live in France, playing games with people from the East and West coast of the USA, Canada, Australia and Tasmania (which I do!), would be impossible as the time difference and short window of time would spoil most games. I can go travelling, pause a game and come back to it. I can play the USA at 1 am French time (late afternoon over there) and go to sleep when tiredness overtakes me. I can reflect on a difficult play when Australians are snoring away gently. I always tell my opponent if I am pausing a game or going to sleep. They say "Good night see you tomorrow" or "Have a nice trip" Not boring at all.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Bingo! Or using all your 7 letters in one go.

Many players think making a bingo is hard and of course you need a certain type of letter mix to start with. I do not think it is that hard and maybe that's why WWF only give 35 as a bonus and not 50 as in Scrabble.

WHEN: The best time to place a bingo has to be at the start of a game when the board is 'open'. As the board gets filled up it gets harder to place them. Many times I have a bingo with nowhere to place it - sigh and move on!

EXTEND A WORD: So you have a set of letters that look hopeful. Sometimes the word jumps out but if not I look for prefixes and suffixes: UN RE IN DE... ED ER ES ATE ATION ING and a very very useful one IER (many 4-letter words take IER e.g. TRICK IER). Then look at what's left.

Another trick is to find a smaller word either with your own letters or using one on the board and again see what's left. To give a few examples taken from this paragraph, look at these words: LET TERS, HOPE and FUL, PRE and FIXES, AN and OTHER, EX and AMPLES.

TWO WORDS MAKE ONE BIGGER ONE: If you see 2 words in your rack or maybe one uses a letter from the board then try joining them up. I had recently SHINE using an I that was free both sides and OUT  Bingo OUTSHINES!

STEMS: There is also the 'stem' tactic. Certain groups of 6 letters combined with a 7th make multiple bingos. These are called 'stems'. (Google 'bingo stems' to see them) Some players will keep letters back to build a stem only playing those letters that need to be discarded. Personnally I do not do that as the bonus gets diluted the longer you hold back.

TESTING TIME: And do 'use' the board. WWF allows you to place letters and try words so if you think you have a word do just that. There is no penalty. That not only applies to bingos of course.

Just to prove my point, look at my blog entry  "A personal best"   Of the four Bingos, 3 end with IED, IES or ED, 1 starts with RE and one is 2 words that make 1; OVER and SHOT. All use a letter already on the board. None were difficult to find.

Lastly a word about a doubting opponent. You place a bingo and he says 'did you find that on your own?' Well two things here. The rules actually allow you to use help and so why ask? Then why shouldn't a player know words that others don't? My vocabulary is not the same as yours. My line of work or hobbies may have words common to me but unknown to you! You might be a doctor (my wife was a lab technichian and comes out with good words that are gobblydegook to me), you might be an engineer, a philosophy student, a mushroom lover... Yes PLUTEUS are types of mushrooms. How was he to know that I lived for 12 years in the Pyrennees on a mountain where one of the principal activities was mushroom hunting! We even had lectures by the more knowledgable folk and the local chemists had mushroom identity posters in their windows. Do they have them in New york?

That reminds me of a common mushroom called a Stinkhorn (phallaceae) It's latin name is no accident as it looks like a Phallus! Our best friend and now mayoress of the village was asked to find one when we were sent out on a mushroom learning walk. What's more they are edible!

I have also lived in France for ,the past 20 years and I have learnt that there are many French words that are accepted in WWF.  There is a list of some of them in this blog.