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.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A recap on strategy

I have finaly arrived somewhere in the Caribbean on holiday. After a long flight from France we are happily installed here for a few weeks and I have had the time on the plane (the films were rubbish) to write a couple of posts. So...
It is only when you start playing a lot that you begin to see why strategy is so important.

So let me restate what I think are the golden rules when playing:

1.  KEEP HANDY A PRINTED LIST of the 2 letter words allowed and the distribution of the 104 tiles. You can also include the 3-letter words and other things. I have posted my list HERE which you can copy. I keep mine in "Notes" so I can easily refer to it when playing. 

2. USE THE BOARD to try words that, if allowed, will score well.  You may be pleasantly surprised what is allowed! This is permitted in Words With Friends but of course not in Scrabble. Often I have a word that I know is good but by adding a letter or two at the beginning or the end it looks like it could be a legal word and score morr. If it doesn't work then revert to the original!

3. PLAY WITH THE LETTERS on your rack...

a. EXTRACT A SMALL WORD then see what is left. Often I make a bingo by finding a short 3 or 4 letter word and then see I have another word that joins the first. Example: (that I had recently) VEORSOH gave me  OVER and SHO and a T was on the board so OVERSHOT!

b. ISOLATE WORD PARTS : beginnings (prefix) RE, DIS, UN, DE etc. and endings (suffix) ED, ER, ATE, ING, TION, LESS, NESS etc. 

c. LOOK AT THE REMAINING LETTERS to see if you can make a shorter word and add the prefix, suffix or both to it. Like FAST + EN becomes FASTEN then perhaps UNFASTEN and even UNFASTENING!

d. OR LOOK AT THE BOARD to see if there are words that could accept a prefix or a suffix.

e. The only disadvantage of adding 2 or more letters to a word is that you can only make one word.

4. THEN SCAN THE BOARD and look for:

a. Places where you can hang a word.

b. Letters on the board that you could add your letters to or two board words that you could 'bridge' 

c. Look for the premium squares that are reachable and if you have a high value letter can you place it there. If I have a high value leter I will scan all the TL squares to see if it can be played and if it can be played in two directions so...

d. Look for the premium squares that can be used twice. Placing EX with the X on a TL next to an O making (O)X and EX, gets 50 points! X=8 x 3 x 2 =48 + O and E = 50 using just 2 letters. Other 2 letter bombshells are JO QI OX EX AX and ZA.

5. PLANNING AHEAD is the most difficult thing to do successfully and can be hard to hide. It is sometimes worth a go. So if you have nowhere to place your high value letter or the score is too low,   look to see if you have and O, E, A or I that you can place next to a premium square that (may) be available next go. 


a. If your word falls between the TW and TL (Rows 1 and 3) or the DW/DW (Row 3) combinations then it might be a bad placement. Most high scores come from a combination of those squares. A ten-pointer on the TL combined with that word finishing on the TW is a minimum of 90 points JETS JABS QUIZ QUAD QATS ZOOS ZOOM etc.  QUIZ is worst as it scores 129. Placing a word between the 2 DWs (row3) gives your opponent the chance of a 4 times premium! NOTE that placing a vowel on the square next to these TL or one of those DW squares is the most dangerous as the 2nd letter or penultimate letter of most words is a vowel.

b. Check that there are no DW or TW squares lying just before or after your word or even alongside it. You cannot always avoid this but your opponent will/should take advantage of your word if he can.

7. WATCH HOW NEAR THE GAME IS TO ENDING. Obviously towards the end of the game the strategy will change and will depend if you are close, ahead or far ahead of your opponent.

8. AHEAD? DEFEND! If you are far ahead then defense is called for. Do not play words that allow your opponent to play on, rather fill gaps or play in the “only room for one word” zones that form as you play.

9. CLOSE? If you are just ahead then look for high scores without leaving your opponent a chance to score big too.

10. COUNT THE LETTERS LEFT. Look at the letters left and when they get say 6 letters left and by following the distribution you will know how many letters your opponent will have in his rack. If you miss the chance just count the letters on the board, add yours and take the total from 104. You might also notice if he has any high value letters that he can’t play. Say he has the Q then if you can go out that Q is worth 20 to you. Score small and go out might win the game. If you have an “I” left, be careful how you play it - QI!
Remember too that playing at that stage a word that can take an S can be fatal. Reminder: there are 5 Ss and 2 blanks - check the board before playing.

11. CHECK YOU DO NOT LEAVE AN OPORTUNITY. At that stage be aware that if your word can be hung to with an S or a BLANK or a “D” etc. Your opponent might wel use it. If you can count them on the board and with a distribution list you will know if there is a chance he will have it. That can be vital in the end-game.

12. IF YOU ARE NECK AND NECK in the end game, the strategy willl change. You can see how many tiles he may have and by watching how he plays. You can guess if he is having trouble  playing them. In that case try to play out as soon as possible and do not leave the higher value tiles on your rack. They count double against you if he goes out first. Play a long word first to minimise the value of all the tiles left.

13. SHALL I EXCHANGE SOME LETTERS? This is a hard one. If you have a rack of letters that really are hard to play even with what's on the board then consider this: playing one or two tiles and scoring small may not be your best move. If it's a hard board let your opponent play again. 

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