The year was 1933 when unemployed American architect Alfred Mosher Butts became a word game visionary. Hailing from Poughkeepsie, New York, he invented a game that would lift spirits nationwide during the Great Depression. That iconic game is Scrabble.
Since then, Scrabble would become a staple for family game nights, rivaling other popular board games like Monopoly and Clue. To this day, Scrabble is still entertaining and challenging millions worldwide, with the game testing the players’ wit and vocabulary.
Scrabble became so popular that it even has dedicated international tournaments. These Scrabble world tournaments have attracted some of the most skilled and competitive players from all nations since 1991. The most prestigious of English-language Scrabble tournament titles is the World Scrabble Championship.
Additionally, the popularity of Scrabble has even spawned a healthy online player base with the development of Scrabble Go. In Scrabble Go, players can play against other random players to test their word game skills and strategies.
As straightforward as the game’s premise may seem, the difficulty of Scrabble ultimately depends on the skills of your opponent. If you’re tired of constantly losing games against random players with cheeky strategies, this article is for you.
Most players think it takes a vast vocabulary and high-level IQ to win consistently in Scrabble. While these attributes may make a difference in the game, how they affect a player’s chances are minimal at best.
Any game, whether video or board games, has patterns that players can exploit once they understand. Scrabble is no exception to this rule. With enough practice, any player can become a pro-Scrabble player once they know its patterns by heart.
This article will uncover some of the most common strategies pro-Scrabble players use that most average players do not know. These strategies will help you win games consistently and teach you how to counter your opponent’s own game plan.
Use an Unscrambling Tool
While you may not be allowed to use unscrambling apps during some face-to-face games, you can certainly use them during online matches. Many players will think using these applications is cheating, but there is no actual rule against using them outside tournaments. It ultimately boils down to your discretion as a player and the decision of those you play with offline.
In case you’re not allowed to use these applications during game night, unscrambling apps are still handy. Anagram solvers and word finders are excellent tools for online play, practice, and learning new words to use in games. Some people even use word unscrambling apps for educational purposes to bolster their vocabulary.
In some instances, players encourage the use of unscrambling apps in their games to make things more interesting. These applications provide players with new words that would not typically appear on a Scrabble board. Using these applications promotes a more exciting and creative way of playing word games.
Additionally, it helps a player win more consistently as it helps them formulate words from their letters effortlessly. Unlike a typical Scrabble word list, unscrambling apps have nearly limitless letter combinations you can incorporate into your games. It also helps you generate words that will disrupt your opponent’s strategy if they plan to play off your old words.
Look for Hooks
Hooks refer to any letter attachable to the beginning or end of an existing word to generate a new one. Here are some examples you can use for your next game to give you an idea of how hooks work.
- Adding the letter “m” to the word “ore” to turn it into “more”
- Adding the letter “c” to the word “old” to turn it into “cold”
- Adding the letter “y” to the word “earn” to turn it into “yearn”
- Adding the letter “s” to the word “cry” to turn it into “scry”
- Adding the letter “b” to the word “lush” to turn it into “blush”
- Adding the letter “i” to the word “deal” to turn it into “ideal”
- Adding the letter “t” to the word “come” to turn it into “comet”
- Adding the letter “h” to the word “eat” to turn it into “heat”
- Adding the letter “d” to the word “rug” to turn it into “drug”
- Adding the letter “g” to the word “host” to turn it into “ghost”
Using hooks allows you to siphon extra points from existing words your opponent put down with minimal effort. It’s why players familiar with this strategy avoid using common words that can have hooks to prevent giving away advantages. Essentially, using hooks allows you to get more points off your existing words and steal points from your opponent’s words.
“S,” “e,” “y,” “d,” and “r” letters are the most commonly used for hooks on a Scrabble board. Ideally, you want to hold on to these letters until you can find words you can plant them on. The key to mastering this strategy is a keen eye and careful attention to the state of the board.
Know Two- and Three-Letter Words by Heart
Similar to math problems, the simplest solution is likely the correct one. Many people have the misconception that Scrabble is about forming the longest words to win. While that strategy may occupy more squares and possibly cover bonus squares, it does not always result in consistent wins.
You can win more games consistently and with less effort by memorizing two and three-letter words. Arguably, you can win more games with two and three-letter words than with longer and more complex words.
Two and three-letter combinations provide a player with more space for creative placements because of the minimal board space they take. It also allows you to save valuable letters like “s” and “d” for capitalizing on past tense and plural hook plays. Additionally, it helps you easily exploit bonus squares more effectively than your opponent with less effort.
Strategy Over Vocabulary
While a strong vocabulary can help you think of new words on the fly, strategy is what ultimately wins a game of Scrabble. By following the tips in this guide, you should have no problem understanding the game’s patterns and how to exploit them. With enough practice, it will not be long before you play like a pro.