How to win at Scrabble - some tips and tactics

how to win at Scrabble imageScrabble is an extremely popular board game which uses a simple combination of words and letter points to create scores. 

It is played all over the world and enjoyed as a family game as well as at international competition levels. 

Wherever you play, here are a few tips to help you play better and achieve greater scores.

Firstly you need to know what words are allowed and which words aren't. Many people use their home dictionary to check words, but there is an easier way. Get a copy of the Collins Official Scrabble Words book, which contains all of the words that are allowed in international competition. Some people think that you need to know the meanings of words in order to use them but that is a myth. You do not have to state the meaning when playing a word, it just needs to be in the book.

You cannot be expected to learn all of the words, but you can practice play and use the book regularly to increase your vocabulary for the game. If you have a good memory I advise that you do learn all of the 124 two letter Scrabble words that are allowed. These words are extremely valuable, as they are commonly used by experts in the game to create multiple words and get high scores by laying down just a few letters. They are especially useful if you can incorporate a high value letter on a bonus square. An example of this can be seen in the picture above, where the letter Q has been placed on a triple letter square. The main word is QUEY, and there are two extra words created which are QI and UN. This gives a score of (QUEY = 36 )+ (QI = 31)+(UN = 2) = 69 total for laying down 4 letters.

scrabble board set up 2 imageUsing all of the letters in your rack at once scores an extra 50 points, so always be alert for ways to do this. For example if you have the word RETAINS on your rack, there are eight other words that use all of those letters: anestri antsier nastier ratines retinas retsina stainer stearin. Being aware of these opportunities allows you to be more flexible when looking for somewhere on the board to use your letters. Incidentally, those 7 letters also make up a great selection of 8 letter words when another letter is added from the board. Words like notaries, ingrates, stearine, retinals, pinaster, tertians, and  raiments to name but a few.

The best 6 letter combination that can be used to form the most 7 letter words is SANTIE, so if you have those letters there is a good chance you can use the other letter to make your extra 50 points, unless it is Q or Y. Even a Z with them will give you zaniest or zeatins.

Take a look at our second image and you will see how the word ZANIEST was played, creating the word RODE from ROD and maximising the score potential. The Z is on a double letter score square and the E is on a triple word score square so the word ZANIEST scores 26 x 3 = 78, the word RODE scores 3 x 5 =15 and there is a bonus of 50 points for using all 7 letters which gives a total score for the turn of a massive 143 points. Often, it is just one big score like this that will win you the game, because it will give you a big lead that is hard for your opponent to catch up with, so remember to always be on the look out for big score opportunities.  Common word endings are good to keep on your rack for a couple of turns or so to see if you can generate seven or eight letter words from them. Combinations like ING, ION, IVE, and ATE are often useful to hang on to for this reason, as you only need four letters to go with them to create a word and there are lots options with these.

If you really enjoy Scrabble,  another tip is to find a local club and join. Then you can play with other like minded people and you will learn a lot more tips, tricks, and tactics to help you consistently win at Scrabble.

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