7 Simple Strategies for the Beginner Scrabble Player

Scrabble is a strategic word game in which two to four players score points by placing tiles on a (15×15 grid of squares) board to form a word (at the start of the game) or a combination of words horizontally or vertically. Words formed must listed in a reference (list or dictionary) agreed upon by the players before the game begins. The player with the highest points at the end of the game wins the game. Here are 7 basic strategies to help you become a better player.

1. Shuffle your rack frequently

This is the most basic strategy yet it is overlooked  by beginner Scrabble players. It is common to see new players leaving their rack of tiles in the order they were picked from the bag. Shuffle your rack, look for three-letter, four-letter even five, six or seven words using the tiles on your rack in combination (if possible) with any of those already on the board.

2. Conserve ‘Flexible’ Tiles

There are only two blanks tiles and four ‘S‘es tiles in the pool of a full Scrabble set. Blank tiles are the most useful as they can be nominated to represent any letter in a game. If you are lucky to get one, use it judiciously. The blank tile is useful when finding 7 letter word combinations (bingoes) or other high-scoring words in combination with other tiles. The S is useful for pluralization of words. You can easily  form two words at once using the letter “S.” The S can thus increase your score when you pluralize an already existing word on the board while forming another word of your own. Such combinations can maximize your score in a single turn tremendously. Don’t be in a rush to play off your blank or S unless you have a very good reason to.

3. Maximize your ‘Biggies’

Power tiles (sometimes called biggies, by Scrabble players) are the high letter es viz J, K, Q, X, Z. They are also less ‘flexible’ as you are less likely to play longer words with them. However you should try to maximize your use of these tiles by playing them on bonus square, sometimes called ‘hot spots’ whenever possible. A bonus square doubles or triples the value of the tile or word played on it. This can be a double letter score, triple letter score, double word score or triple word score. The B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W, and Y are also high value tiles. The same strategy above applies to them as well.

4. Manage your Rack

Your rack ‘leave’ matters. Rack leave means the tiles left on your rack after a single turn before you go into the bag to replenish your rack. If you can, try to maintain a good balance of vowel/consonant ratio on your rack with each turn. A consonant-heavy or vowel-heavy leave can spell doom in your next tile draw. If you play all your vowels and get only consonants on your next draw, you might find yourself in trouble.

5. Look out for stems

Some letters are especially useful in making easy bingoes. These letters are usually kept aside by Scrabble players with the hope that they can be combined at any point in the game to form 7 or 8 letter (with a tile on the board) bingoes. Some of these letters like A, E, I, N, R, T, O and S are good for -IER (for example STONIER), -IEST, -ING, -ERS (BAILERS, CENTERS) and other stems. Be sure to look out for them.

6. Study, study study

One of the keys to becoming a good Scrabble player is study. Increase your word knowledge. Invest in a Scrabble Dictionary or Word List. Alternatively you can search for word lists online or download any of the Scrabble aid software or app online. Start with the two and three letter words, and then move on to the four and five letter words. Apart from the two and probably the three-letter words, you probably may not be able to know all at one go, but with consistent study and play your mastery of the words will improve with time. Another useful study area are the word stems. You may have to use a Scrabble software to aid your study of the stems.

7. Invest in Scrabble equipment

A football player is not complete without his boots. Same with Scrabble. Get a board of your own with a set of tiles, racks and dictionary. Nuff said.