12 secret Scrabble strategies that will help you win any game

Scrabble
Going into a game of Scrabble with no strategy can spell trouble. David Martyn Hunt/Flickr

In 1933, during the height of the Great Depression, an out-of-work architect named Alfred Mosher Butts invented a game that would bring joy to millions of Americans.

Fast forward to today, and Scrabble continues to delight millions of people all over the world.

We compiled a list of tips and tricks players of all skill levels can use the next time they play this iconic game. So call up your friends and schedule a game night because you’ll want to put these 12 Scrabble hacks into action.

Place letters around bonus tiles.

Place letters around bonus tiles.
Maximize your score by placing high scoring letters on bonus spaces. Flickr
You won’t fare very well in Scrabble if you don’t utilize the double letter, triple letter, double word, and/or triple word spaces.

Even if you aren’t able to get a high-scoring word, use these spots. It will cut off your opponents and prevent them from running up the score.

Keep your eyes on these eight magic letters: A, E, I, L, N, R, S, and T.

 

Keep your eyes on these eight magic letters: A, E, I, L, N, R, S, and T.
A, E, I, L, N, R, S, and T are the most commonly used letters in the English alphabet.       Flickr/Jared Vork
 The letters A, E, I, L, N, R, S, and T are some of the most commonly used letters in the English alphabet. If you’re having a rough time coming up with words, having one or more of these letters on your deck can help greatly.

Memorize two-letter and three-letter words so you can rack up points.

Memorize two-letter and three-letter words so you can rack up points.
As they say, less is more. Flickr/Virginia State Parks

They’re hard to pull off, but knowing two-letter and three-letter words can be the kiss of death for your opponents if you place them on bonus spaces.

Check out these lists for two-letter and three-letter Scrabble words for ideas.

Be on the lookout for Scrabble “bingos.”

Be on the lookout for Scrabble “bingos.”
Using all the letters on your deck in one turn will make your opponents groan.
 As Scrabble pros are familiar with, there’s no greater feeling in the game than being able to use your entire deck for a word in a single turn. Commonly known as a Scrabble “bingo,” you can add 50 points on top of what the word would normally score.

So keep your eyes pealed! A move like this could decide the winner.

Know your prefixes and suffixes.

Know your prefixes and suffixes.
Put some extra points on the board by adding a suffix or a prefix to an already played word. 

 

By knowing words with prefixes and suffixes, you’ll be able to piggyback off of your opponents’ scores.

Common examples for suffixes include S, -ED, -ER,  -ING, -LY, -ENT, -IEST, -FUL, -ITY, -NESS, -CY, -AL, -TION, -ITE in addition to prefixes NON-, EX-, TRI-, PRE-, and MIS-.

For example, if you add the suffix “ER” to “JUMP,” you can make the word “JUMPER.” Or if your opponent played the word “VERBAL,” you can add the prefix “NON” to make “NONVERBAL” and rack up points.

These prefixes and suffixes can also be handy to make Bingo and get the 50 point bonus.

Use Q sooner rather than later.

Use Q sooner rather than later.
Q is a high value letter, but it’s not so easy to use.

 

As Scrabble pros know, Q is perhaps the toughest letter to use during a game because there aren’t many words that use the letter. Your best bet when getting a Q on your letters deck is to use it the first opportunity you can.

Moreover, if there’s a power spot open, placing your Q there can give you the edge over your opponents.

And learn words that use Q but don’t need a U.

And learn words that use Q but don't need a U.
The dreaded Q.

 

You might be saving that Q because you’re missing a U in your rack — don’t! There are 33 words in the Scrabble dictionary, from Faqir to Tranqs, that use a Q but no U.

Do yourself a favor and learn them here.

Save letters J, X, or Z for double or triple points.

Save letters J, X, or Z for double or triple points.
The worst mistake you can make in Scrabble is not using your high scoring letters wisely.

 

Besides the letter Q, another way to get big points on the board is with the letters J, X, and/or Z. You’ll have a much easier time using these letters than Q since they’re more commonly used in the English language.

Furthermore, if you use them in the right spaces — double letter, double word, triple letter, and triple words — you can rack up double or possibly even triple digit points in a single round.

Try to find opportunities for “hooks.”

Try to find opportunities for
An S is a great letter to have for a hook.Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

 

A hook in Scrabble is when you alter an opponent’s word with a letter of your own and build a whole new word in the opposite direction. This not only allows you to get the points from your new word, but your opponent’s word, too.

Take the photo above as an example. By adding an S to “ZIP,” the player was able to build off a new word and get points from “ZIP,” too.

S words are only the beginning — here’s a full list of some good hook ideas in Scrabble.

And use parallels wisely.

And use parallels wisely.
Parallels are a good way to get rid of useless vowels.Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images

 

If you want to get rid of your vowels but still rack up points, parallels are a great idea. You play them parallel to another word already on the board, and get points for every new word you create.

Experts recommend waiting for a sweet spot that’s near a bonus square or with a high value letter. Knowing your two- and three-letter words will come in handy here.

Read the dictionary or subscribe to a word of the day.

Read the dictionary or subscribe to a word of the day.
Sites like Merriam-Webster and Dictionary.com offer daily Word of the Day newsletters.            Phil Thomas/Flickr

Relive the days of preparing for the SAT by subscribing to a Word of the Day newsletter or even reading the dictionary! You’ll improve your vocabulary, which will make you a more formidable Scrabble opponent.

Plus, having a bigger vocabulary can’t hurt you in your professional life.

If times get tough, trade in your letters.

If times get tough, trade in your letters.
You’ll have to give up your turn, but trading in tiles could be worth it. David Martyn Hunt/Flickr

Even though you give up your turn, swapping tiles on your letters deck during tough times can help your chances of scoring the next time around.

Only exchange letters if you’re truly desperate — it forces you to give up your turn, which is a major downside — and be sure to follow rules for trading them in.

And don’t forget that at the end of the day, it’s just a game.

And don't forget that at the end of the day, it's just a game.
Happy Scrabbling! Flickr
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: