It shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone who knows me, or anyone who has been a Patch reader for a while, that one of the top date nights in our house consists of putting the kids to bed, opening up a nice (okay cheap) bottle of wine, and engaging in a Scrabble battle.
I will confess, here for all the Patch world to see, that my husband regularly delivers me a good old fashioned whoopin’ during said matches. Yes, I’m the writer. Yes, he’s the expert in advanced mathematics. And, yes, he beats me just about every time. And, we are talking by hundreds of points.
I secretly believe that on those rare occasions when I do win, he has let me do so. I am just not sure why.
In the interest of raising my level of play and regaining some of my lost dignity, I have been doing a bit of research into tips and techniques of veteran and advanced Scrabble players.
Here are the top five things I have gleaned:
1. Play the points squares with purpose. This one might seem obvious to you if you are a “real” Scrabble player. But, the experts do say that if you panic and just throw your word down anywhere, you should take the time to notice how much your score increases when you place that same word on one of the colored squares that offers things like double letter and double word points. I have started to do this and it really does help.
2. Block like a defensive back. There are obvious score advantages to using the bonus squares. You get more points and you may win the game. But, there is another advantage to playing on the colored squares. You prevent your opponent from using them. Even if you have only doubled your points on “aunt,” you have prevented him from doubling his points on “axiom” and there’s a lot of value in that. Look out honey, I am going to start doing this.
3. You don’t always need a U. There are 33 acceptable Scrabble words which use Q but not U. If you learn them you will no longer feel queasy when you draw the 10-point Q among your Scrabble tiles. I might do this.
4. Two-letter words rule. About 100 two-letter words can be legally played in Scrabble. Many of them can be made plural by adding an S. You can find these lists online. If you take the time to memorize them, you will have an edge over your opponent. I won’t do this.
5. Strive for a BINGO. If you don’t know what that means (I didn’t) that means a word that uses all of the tiles on your rack. When you manage to do that you get like a bazillion (50?) points. There are apparently players that do that more than once in a game. They say look for word ending combinations like -ING, -ED, -ER, -IER on your rack and then go from there. I don’t think I will ever be able to do this.
Perhaps I should consider learning to play chess?