11 Hacks & Tips on Winning Scrabble

It is said that you must play scrabble to enhance your vocabulary. Or is it the other way around-- first enhance your vocabulary then play scrabble?

Well, there is no one right answer to this question, for neither is a prerequisite to qualify for playing the game. While players who have built a great arsenal of words have a high chance of winning this board game, it does not work all the time. But one thing is true. Playing games that improve vocabulary surely increases the volume of words in your armoury. And the more you play the better you perform in the next game.

Whether you are the former or the latter, there are hacks and tips to help you improve your vocabulary and win this word game at the same time.

1. Avoid playing ‘pass’ as frequently as possible.

Playing ‘pass’ forgoes your chance of a score, which puts you at a disadvantage. To avoid facing this situation, scan the entire board and find a place where you can insert a tile or two. A score of eight is better than zero. But make sure you don’t waste your letter for a very low score.

2. Know your two-letter words.

This is particularly helpful with letters X, J, Q, and Z because, although these tiles are tough to place on the board, they are of high value. Words like ka, xi, jo, qi, za can raise your score to a great extent. Note however that these high-value tiles will give you the most points only if you use them in double-letter or triple-letter score spots.

Let’s take the words ‘xi’ (the 14th letter of the Greek alphabet) and ‘xu' (a monetary unit of Vietnam, equal to one-hundredth of a dong) as an example. If you place X in a triple-letter score spot it automatically gives you an initial score of 24 (for xi). Once it is used twice (for xu), that score doubles. Add the value of the remaining letters i and u, and you get a total score of 50. Isn’t that amazing?

3. Aim for a bingo.

In scrabble, a bingo is a word that utilizes all seven tiles in one word. It means that it can be a seven-letter word or any word consisting of more letters but uses all your scrabble tiles. In this scenario, your vocabulary arsenal is your ultimate weapon. The more lengthy words you know the chances of you creating bingo words are high. The more bingo words the higher you score considering that bingo gives you 50 extra points.

4. Get rid of multiple vowels.

Getting multiple vowel tiles can be frustrating for two reasons. One, they don’t have much value. Two, they usually need to be paired with a consonant or two to form a word and eventually get a good score. But just like knowing how to use the letters x, j, q, and z, you must also familiarize yourself with words that contain two vowels like aa, ae, ai, oe, oi. Disposing two vowels is making room for the possibility of getting better letters.

In worst-case scenarios wherein all your seven tiles are vowels, swapping them for better tiles is your last option, and may yield better results. Decide accordingly.

6. Use hook letters effectively.

S, Y, C, L, among others are called hook letters. The most commonly used is ‘s’.

A hook is a letter added at the beginning or at the end of an existing word. Verbs and nouns that can be pluralized are the best places where you can use hook letters for. But in order to maximize your score, make sure that you form a new word using a hook letter.

7. Make sure you use your blank tiles efficiently.

Blank tiles don’t have value. But because they can assume any letter, you can choose to add them to any word you want. They are particularly useful if you happen to get two of them at the same time because it would be easier for you to create a word based on the other five tiles you have. Bingo is more possible with blank tiles. And just like ‘s’, don’t unnecessarily toss blank tiles on the board for a low-scoring turn. Hold onto them for a favourable play.

8. Never pass up a double or triple-word score.

As mentioned above, double and triple-letter score elevate your overall word score, being one letter gets doubled or tripled in one turn. However, double or triple word score can do more than that since the value of the entire word is counted twice or thrice. So as much as possible, however, short the word is, exploit double and triple word score to your advantage.

9. Intend to score higher than 12 points

Unless you are saving some letters for a bingo in the next play or you have no other choice, make it a rule to never put a scrabble word down that is worth less than around 12 points.

10. Block your opponents from accessing bonus squares.

Bonus squares are triple letter bonus or double word score. And as much as possible, refrain from leaving your opponents open access to these bonuses or making any move that boosts their score. Unless there are no available places to put your tiles, let them carve the path for higher scores for you!

11. Group letters.

Suffixes like -ing, -ed, -ier, prefixes such as bl-, sh-, ch- and diphthongs like oi, ou, au can easily be grouped together. Grouping them helps you find words on the board or on your tray that may score well.

Whether you’re playing with your logophile friends or verbalist family members, knowing these tips will surely help you ace your opponents' performance.

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