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A. Mandible
United States
Cambridge
Massachusetts
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Edit: I was missing a key rule. This would only give you a score of 21. For what it's worth, the original post is below.

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I just realized, sadly, that if you use the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary as your authority for this game, there's a simple way to get a perfect score every time when playing this game with 3.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The key is that every consonant except X has a 3-letter word that starts with that consonant and ends with two different vowels.

So Player 1 plays any consonant but X, the other two finish the word with vowels. Player 1 ends the word and repeats until she has no cards in hand (or just the X). Player 1 passes.

Now Player 2 does the same thing, using another PASS when she's done. Player 3 follows suit, except that on the turn when she would pass, she stops and looks around.

All the cards are gone except for one, the X. If Player 1 has the X, then player 3 plays the A to start AXE. If Player 2 has the X, then 3 passes and 1 starts the word AXE. If Player 3 herself has the X, she and Player 1 both pass (now all four are gone) and Player 2 starts the final word.

So I think the answer is that the Scrabble dictionary is too inclusive for use in 3-player SHH, at least with folks who play enough Scrabble to know the short words. And since all of the OSPD's words come from collegiate dictionaries, it's possible that some of the standard collegiate dictionaries are out too. (Merriam Webster is missing a few of these. Collins is only missing one. If you care you can check the others.)

Here's the list of words, behind an extra spoiler:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
BOA
CUE
DUE
FIE
GIE ("give", from Scots)
HIE
JOE (coffee)
KAE (a bird)
LIE
MOI (loan word from French, I think new in OSPD5)
NAE ("no", from Scots)
PIE
QUA
ROE
SEA
TIE
VIE
WAE ("woe", I think Scots again?)
YOU
ZOA

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Brandon M
United States
Ohio
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“Games give you a chance to excel, and if you're playing in good company you don't even mind if you lose because you had the enjoyment of the company during the course of the game.” ― Gary Gygax
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Re: 3p SHH solved (if you play with the Scrabble dictionary)
IIRC, a word must be at least 5 letters long in order to flip and be able to score the vowels used in it, so this would not result in a perfect score.
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A. Mandible
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Re: 3p SHH solved (if you play with the Scrabble dictionary)
EMBARRASSING.

I missed that rule and had been playing without it.

Thanks!
 
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A. Mandible
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Re: Nothing to see here, move along (was: 3p SHH solved (if you play with the Scrabble dictionary))
Okay, so there IS a way to score 26 every time in 2p, if your dictionary is the OSPD. And, interestingly, it doesn't use the fact that you have perfect knowledge of the other player's hand-- it works along the lines of the failed 3p solution above.

Spoiler (click to reveal)
The word list below has one word starting with each consonant except X. All of the words on the list have no other consonants in it and are an odd number of letters long.

I start by playing any consonant from my hand other than X. Me and Player 2 play out the corresponding word from this list using vowels to finish it. Since it was an odd number of letters, Player 2 will be the one to finish the word and start another; they do the same thing I did.

Eventually, one of us will be left with only the X in her hand; they pass, and the other player plays A to start AXE. In the worst case scenario, where the dealer was the younger player and received the X (so they play first and are left with just the X when the older player has two cards left) it may be necessary to pass twice more to let the older player start two more words. (Though usually if one player has two cards left and the other player has none, there's some four-letter word that goes consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel they can make.)

I think-- though I already made one embarrassing rules error, so who knows-- that this gives a perfect score with 1-3 passes used.

I am pretty sure there are ways to reduce the number of passes, maybe to zero. For instance, 13 of the consonants also have 3-letter words that begin with A, have that consonant in the middle, and end with another vowel. So both players are guaranteed to have at least two of them; if we always save those letters for the end, then when I'm starting a word, I have the choice of using a letter from my hand, by playing it, or using a letter from the other player's hand, by playing A and letting them use a consonant. I suspect that can get us to zero passes all by itself-- and again, that's without me ever counting cards to deduce exactly what the other player is holding, since that's no fun.

Word list:
Spoiler (click to reveal)
BOA
CUE
DUE
FIE
GIE ("give", from Scots)
HIE
JOE (coffee)
KAE (a bird)
LOUIE
MIAOU
NAE ("no", from Scots)
PIE
QUA
ROE
SEA
TIE
VIE
WAE ("woe", I think Scots again?)
YOU
ZOA

Extra words for my suggested zero-pass refinement:
ACE
ADO
AGO
AHI
AJI
ANI
APE
ARE
ATE
AWE
AXE
AYE
AZO

ALE and AMI are also good words, but we need the L and the M for starting five-letter words to score all the vowels.


Something along these lines might also solve the game for 4p, but it would need to be a little cleverer, since 3-letter words and 5-letter words change who starts the next word in different directions, and someone could get stranded more easily.


 
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