5 Tips for Embarrassing your Friends in Scrabble

I won’t pretend to be an expert at Scrabble (I have so far been too chicken to attend a Houston Scrabble Club meeting because of this), but I will say I’m a huge nerd and love word games.

There are many people out there playing Words With Friends who are making some basic rookie mistakes. I’m not necessarily saying you, my dear friend and reader (please don’t be mad)… but say maybe your friends (again, not you) might get something out of this, feel free to pass it along.

Here are some tips for dominating your friends in Scrabble. No SAT-level vocabulary needed.

1. Memorize your 2 letter words – especially the high dollar ones

Contrary to popular belief, Scrabble really isn’t about vocabulary. You’ll do more damage with a well placed 2 letter word than a 6 letter word most of the time.

2 letter words are going to get you through this game, so pay your respect.

Note: Keep in mind that different platforms allow different words, for instance Words With Friends does not allow “ZA,” but Scrabble does. In case of such disputes while playing IRL, always have your Scrabble dictionary on you (I have mine in my car most of the time if you need one).

Here is the list of acceptable Scrabble two letter words, according to the National Scrabble Association. I’ve bolded some of my favorites that can get you out of a jam, or into a lot of points:

AA AB AD AE AG AH AI AL AM AN AR AS AT AW AX AY BA BE BI BO BY DE DO ED EF EH EL EM EN ER ES ET EX FA FE GO HA HE HI HM HO ID IF IN IS IT JO KA LA LI LO MA ME MI MM MO MU MY NA NE NO NU OD OE OF OH OI OM ON OP OR OS OW OX OY PA PE PI QI RE SH SI SO TA TI TO UH UM UN UP US UT WE WO XI XU YA YE YO ZA

The following list is not the most up to date (see the newly added words from NSA, including “ZA,” “QI,” and “DOH”), but it includes definitions. Use when impressing haters, who don’t believe you that “SH” is a real word: http://www.yak.net/kablooey/scrabble/2letterwords.html

Learn your 2 letter words… so even if you think you have nothing, you might just have something

2. Never play just one word (unless it’s a really good one)

This is key. Even if you have terrible letters, there is somewhere on the board that you can play two words on top of each other, making a series of vertical two letter words. If there is a triple letter score up next to a word that is already on the board, why not use it twice?

Note: This is where knowing those double vowel words comes in handy – AA, AE, AI, OE, OI. Also remember that the spelling out of letters (EF, EN, etc.) are acceptable words.

I love a good block where three (or four!) words are played on top of each other. That’s some good Scrabblin’.

3. The S is your best friend

Now that you are resigned to never play just one boring word, use the S to score some free easy points. Add it to the end of an already high scoring word, and build your own word above it. This is the Scrabble equivalent of a buy one, get one free shoe sale… what could be better?

Don’t use your S’s lightly – save for something good… like the triple word score

4. Play defensively

It’s like momma says – don’t give anything away too easily! If you were playing soccer, you wouldn’t just leave the goal open – unless you were distracted by David Beckham’s sexy eyes.

Don’t leave the triple word score open if you can help it (bold, underline, and italics). If you’re playing me, I will play there no matter what letters I have… just so you can’t!

Note: Sometimes while blocking your opponent you will end up stifling yourself a bit, so be aware.

5. Know the weird ones

In reading the book “Word Freak” (a classic about Stefan Fastis’ journey into the world of competitive Scrabble) – his first step is to memorize the 2 letter words,then 3 letter words, then 7 letter words. This is a lot of memorization for your average “I’m just in it for fun” player. What you can do is memorize those couple of words that can help you out in a clutch situation. Here are a few notable words to keep up your sleeve:

  • QI
  • QAT
  • QAID
  • QANAT
  • ZA (not acceptable in Words With Friends)
  • ZAX
  • BRRR (thanks JMO for discovering that one)
  • SH
  • AE, AI, AU, OE, OI
  • XI, XU

That’s all I got! Anything I left out? What are your money words or tricks for certified ass-kicking? Share!

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