Scrabble is considered to be the grand-daddy of all word games, and with good reason. It has been around for a while, it has millions of fans, and everyone knows how to play it. For people who love it, there is almost nothing better than sitting down with a rack of tiles and watching the afternoon drift into night.
But what if someone you love loves this game, and you do not?
I am somewhat in this camp. Although I am an appreciator of words and a lover of the English language, I think that this word game has some significant flaws that prevent me from embracing it wholeheartedly.
The main problem I have is with the scoring. Short words will often provide higher scores than long words. This has three negative consequences, namely 1) playing fewer tiles prolongs the game, since it ends only when all tiles are gone; 2) shorter words tighten up the board, leading to fewer word placement options (for all players); and 3) fewer placement options means players have to spend longer thinking about their next move – which slows down the game even further.
Long words are beneficial only when either 1) they lead to hitting a double or triple word score space, or 2) they use up all seven of your tiles, giving you a bonus. When neither of these is possible, a player aiming to maximize their score (and hinder their opponents) will play defensively, blocking up the board and turning what could be a beautiful, fun game into a prolonged battle of attrition.
Should you find yourself in such a situation, here are a few tips I find useful in getting a game of Scrabble to pass more quickly.
Learn to play, at least a little. Learn your ‘Q with no U’ words (qindar et al). Learn about adding letters to existing words and building from them (‘S’ is particularly valuable for this).
Do your thinking on your opponents turn. Provided they spend more then two minutes on their move, you should be ready to pounce the second they start digging for their new tiles.
Always have two plans. Murphy’s Law as applied to Scrabble would be ‘Wherever you want to play your word, your opponent will play there first.’ So be ready to go with Plan B.
Always play the longest word you possibly can. This is the most important rule. Do this even if you only get five or six points. Do it even if you leave your opponent open to a triple word score. Just do it.
Never challenge, unless the opponents word was pitifully small and you know it is bogus.
Don’t be afraid to trade in letters if your rack is particularly hopeless. It is better to miss a turn than to spend your next four turns struggling.
It may seem from this write-up that I hate Scrabble. This is not true; there are many games that I hate more (I wrote up a similar guide for playing a speedy game of Monopoly, for instance). I just wish that its rules promoted a more open, elegant style of play, and that there were not so much down-time. A good example of a game that got the scoring right, in my opinion, is Qwirkle, which I would gladly play on almost any occasion.
I hope I haven’t offended any Scrabble lovers out there. My intention is purely to help out any poor souls who find themselves linked to a person who happens to like this game more than they do.
Your summary doesn't account for rack management at all. Oftentimes people play short words to weed out the low-playability letters on their racks and thus increase the likelihood of a bingo with a rack full of LATRINES (the great players can make a lot of bingos with 7 of those 8 letters)
Your play method would prefer someone make a 4 tile play if it's their longest, which may lead to another 4 tile play to follow. Meanwhile a rack management player might play only 2 or 3 tiles on turn N for a great shot at playing 7 on turn N+1.
If you don't want downtime, I suggest a chess clock.
- Last edited Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:46 pm (Total Number of Edits: 1)
- Posted Fri Aug 22, 2008 7:45 pm
Scrabble is a great game.
Scrabble is torturous without a chess clock.