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All the words in this puzzle are Legal and on the OWL.
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A new player walked into club one Wednesday evening, and when asked where she had played scrabble confidently answered that she played primarily with family and was seeking more significant competition. As we began to play game #1 she noticed that I was tracking the tiles played on my tracking sheet. “ Isn’t that cheating?” she asked. “No, tracking is not cheating,” I told her. “Tracking assists players to know which letters are unseen and probably remaining in the tile bag or on an opponent’s rack.”
What YOU should know about TRACKING
In my opinion, if you have not refined your skill to track correctly, with 100% accuracy, you should not track at all. Tracking will allow you to project your future plays based upon the knowledge of what you might expect to draw out of the bag (the unseen tiles).
If there are 25 tiles remaining in the bag, and you have mistracked by 20% it would be fool hearty to rely on that information to develop strategies.
How does one develop tracking skills?
Practice, practice, and more practice.
Sit down at your board; draw out between 60 to 80 tiles at random and place them with the letters showing. They need not form real words. Take a fresh tracking sheet and set a timer. Begin the timer and track all the letters on the board. When finished, stop the clock. Take the remaining tiles from the bag and verify that they DO or DO NOT match with the results of the tracking sheet.
If and when a person can achieve doing this exercise with 100% accuracy, with regularity (99% – 100% of the time), I would be willing to certify them as excellent trackers and stand behind their results. Short of that only track the major tiles: Z, Q, X, J, K, S, S, S, S, Blank, Blank.
*Never bother TRACKING even if you can do it 100% accurately if you do not know how to apply the information unveiled.
Some players track tiles during the game, after each turn. If you do this, you should know the rules. In the course of completing your turn, you are only permitted to track tiles AFTER YOU HAVE REPLENISHED TILES TO YOUR RACK. Some players who do not follow this rule can create upsets during a game by slowing down the play of their opponents.
I do not track during the game because I frequently become distracted by one thing or another and lose control of tracking. Instead, at the end of the game, if and when accurate tracking will be to my advantage in playing my end game, and if I have more than four minutes remaining on my clock, I track the entire board on my time during a single move.
Hey Abbot! WHO’S ON FIRST?Ooooops, wrong game! That’s the question; and does it matter?
YES! Just so you know, the brainiacs and math people have studied the value of playing first versus second and given us a guesstamate that there is an average of a 10 point advantage for the player who plays first. In the rules there are instructions as to how to decide which player plays first,
In some clubs and at tournaments when multiple games will be played, players are told to keep track of who played first in each game, then rotate who goes first in future games so that all players have the opportunity to lead an equal number of times.
Each player draws a single tile from the bag. The player drawing the letter closest to ‘A’ goes first. A blank beats an ‘A’. If both players draw the same letter then they each draw a second tile, etc. When it is determined which player goes first, the player who goes second earns the right to choose the equipment that will be used during the game (board, clock, tiles). However, there are some standards which determine the kind of equipment that should be used.
- A board with ridges to keep the tiles from sliding around unlike the original cardboard surface takes preference.
- Protiles take preference over wooden tiles. Tiles must not be faded or difficult to read.
- Digital Clocks take preference to Analog Clocks.
There should be a small piece of paper kept on the playing table upon which the players will record the Blank Designations when they are played.
The player who goes first draws seven tiles from the bag. As soon as that players sees a letter on any of those tiles the clock begins to tick off time. Many players will select tiles and place them facedown on the table and only then, after having seven tiles will they place the tiles on their rack.
That ten point advantage is tied to the fact that the first play of the game, when placed correctly over the center star, earns the value of a DWL (double word score). To take full advantage of earning points on the first turn, player #1 should try to create a word of five-letters long or longer so that one of the letters in the word can rest on the DLS at (D8) or (L8) or (H4) or (H12) . Always try to play a tile with a high point value on the DLS.
Ex: You have the rack E – I – O – O – U – W – Z. You are playing first. What words can you find? Where will you place the first tile in that word? How many points will the play earn?
ZOO Z on G8 or H7 = 24 points
OOZE O on E8 or H5 = 26 points
ZOWIE Z on D8 or H4 = 48 points
WHAT IS A CONSOGRAM?
There are many ways to categorize words. A CONSOGRAM is a way to identify words by its consonants. One of the best scrabble players I know who successfully use studying consograms to expand his ability to recognize words on random racks is Amnon Meyers. Maybe that is because Amnon is a native Israeli, and Hebrew is a language based on consonants.
Example 1: Let’s choose the three consonants B, C, and D at random. Next let us find a list of words (7 letters long) that includes those three consonants. There are about 70 words that fit that category such as
Example 2: Choose the consonants F, G, and H. There are 26 words in this category
What is clear to me is that some players are very proficient learning words using consograms while others use the system of STEMS.
The BOTTOM LINE is to decide which system works best for you and then use it to help expand your personal word power.
You can do it yourself, or you can turn to JFTSOI for help with our hardcopy book of CONSOGRAMS.
You can DO IT.
YES YOU CAN!
HOW TO COMPLETE YOUR TURN
To complete a turn in which you play a word, you must do the following things in this order:
- Record your opponent’s cumulative score (unless the tile bag is empty)
Place the appropriate tiles on the board
- Designate the blanks (if any); what letter does the blank represent. Say the letter aloud and write down the letter on the letter designation slip if one is provided -or- on any sheet of paper on the playing table.
- Declare the score for the play.
- Start your opponent’s game timer (or stop yours if this is the last play of the game)
- Record your cumulative score (unless the tile bag is empty)
- Record your play (optional): writing down your word.
- Draw replacement tiles, if any remain in the bag. If you have gone out neutralize the clock.
- Track which tiles were played (optional).
Way too many players are so excited to play the game that they never learn the rules and don’t always follow the rules during play.
The RULES are there to keep things fair and uniform. When your opponent breaks a rule, stop the clock and call ‘DIRECTOR’ and ask for a clarification of the rule that was just broken. For instance, when an opponent doesn’t designate a blank by writing it down it might later be imagined to be a different letter, and other issues could occur. When players do not announce and record their correct scores, the outcome of the game may hang in the balance.
You have the right and the obligation to recount your opponents’ play scores on your turns.
There are penalties for overdrawing tiles. There are VERY SEVERE PENALTIES for overdrawing tiles at the end of the game when there are fewer than seven tiles in the bag.
HEAVY WITH CONSONANTS
It’s easier to earn big scores when you have racks with mostly consonants than with vowels. However, if you have too many consonants at the same time it will be more challenging to find bingos (7 & 8 letter word plays). You will have several options when it’s your turn.
You can exchange any number of your tiles on your turn. Again you have to make an educated guess about which of your tiles to trade. Having a sense of what tiles may still be in the tile bag will be necessary. (Always get rid of doubles or triples of any tile.)
Playoff two or more tiles by wrapping them around vowels already on the board.
If you have one or two tiles on your rack that creates a 2-Letter Word, look for a ‘HOT SPOTS’ where you can place a three-point tile so that it plays two ways. An ‘X,’ ‘J,’ ‘Q’ or ‘Z’ played on a hot spot in two directions can be worth a ton of points. Maximize your score and hope you’ll draw some vowels. (Try not to beat yourself up when you then draw replicas of the same consonants.)
Did you know that there are more than 130 words that contain NO VOWELS? And there are 8,400+ words that contain only a single vowel. It is essential for every competitive player to know some of these words.
Here are some examples:
BRRR, GRRRL, CRYPT, GYPSY, PSYCH, RYND, PHPHT, NYMPH, SHH, MYRRH,
CRWTH, LYCH, ACYL, ALCHYMY, PUGGRY, PUNNY, SLYNESS, SMARTLY, GYM
When you find a word that is new to you, and you want to cement it into your memory, TAKE AN ACTION. Write down the word, say the word aloud, spell the word aloud. Create a flashcard for the word. (On the front side of the card place the letters alphabetically; on the rear write the answer.)
Front Side: KKSSSTT
Back Side: TSKTSKS
HEAVY WITH VOWELS
How often do you look down at your rack and find it littered with too many vowels? It’s not just you. This situation happens to all of us from time to time. Because of the random nature of the tiles we draw, having a rack ‘heavy with vowels’ isn’t the exception. The question is: “What do you do when you have one of those ugly, seemingly unplayable combinations?”
Trade some or all of your tiles: The critical thing here is knowing which tiles to keep and which one to trade. IT depends on the point in the game when you have an unfortunate rack and if you have a clear sense of what tiles are unseen and possibly still in the tile bag.
Play-off several of the vowels: This approach presumes that you know many words that contain large numbers of vowels. There are more than 60 4-Letter Words that have three vowels. There are about 300 6-Letter Words that have four vowels.
There are over 300 8-Letter words that have five vowels:
- Your job, should you choose to undertake it is to begin learning some of them.
- Put them on flashcards
- Order your pre-made flashcards by JFTSOI. (Only if you’ll study them.)
- Here are a few samples:
ABASIA, ABELIA, ABOULIASA, ABULIA
ACACIA, ACADAMIAAERO, ACAJOU, ACAUDATE, ACEQUIAS, ACQUIREE
AGEE, AGIO, AGUE
A Word of Advice. What keeps scrabble player tossing and turning through the night? Words. As for me, I keep a scrabble dictionary, a pen, and paper on my bedside table. Many a morning I wake to discover words and notes I’ve written to myself during the wee hours of the morning. At times, when I don’t make an effort to write things down they recycle in my head and clog up the free-flowing dreamlike thinking like a log jam in the narrowing of a river.
For the last three nights, I’ve had a recurring dream that conjures up memories of an old scrabble nemesis in the person of Mark Milan. Mark is a master at making opening plays that he knows to have prefixes that can extend his first play, on his second turn, to the TWS. Genius! Whereas some of us play high scoring front extensions once in a long while, Milan makes it into a strategy that allows him to WIN more often than the average bear.
Consider thinking this way and surprise your opponents. Don’t just play any words; choose the words that you play ON PURPOSE.
Think about these kinds of words and write them down. NOW!
- DAT ABASE; CAL ABASH; SUB ABBOT; DIS ABLED
- CAP ABLER; DIS ABLER; DIS ABLES; DUR ABLES
- EAT ABLES; MOV ABLES; NOT ABLES; PAR ABLES
- PAY ABLES; POT ABLES; RAT ABLES; RET ABLES
- TAX ABLES; VOC ABLES; GAD ABOUT; LAY ABOUT
- MAR ABOUT; RUN ABOUT; DIS ABUSE; ATT ACHED
Want more of this list? Purchase it from me at JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com
High Probability refers to those words containing a particular combination of designated letters that are common to many seven-letter words.
A STEM is a set of 6 letters when specific other possessed are added to the mix seven-letter-words can be created.
In the beginning, when serious competitors faced off at scrabble competitions, the mathematicians in the group calculated which sets of tiles possess the highest probabilities, known as STEMS. In the days to follow they identified an order of the TOP 100 STEMS. And it came to pass that Scrabble™ players who studied lists of STEMS became some of the highest-rated players winning many more tournaments than the average bear.
You and I can gain an instant advantage over other players if we simply master the Top Ten Stems. They are:
Did you know that SATINE plus a seventh letter can create as many as 73 bingos? SATIRE+? = another 73 bingos.
JFTSOI (Just For The Spell Of It) produces and sells WHIZ CARDS (flashcards) dedicated to the Stems. It’s a great way to study and learn. Even though you and I may not know the meanings of many of the words that are part of THE STEMS, you can be assured that ‘stem words’ will show up on your rack game after game. Once you know these words and have a rack like A-E-E-I-N-S-T you won’t waste the opportunity by playing ‘EATEN’ for 18 points. Instead you’ll recognize that you have ‘SATINE’ + ‘E’ and if you have studied the stem, you’ll think ETESIAN’ and score 65 – 80+ points.
You can make flashcards for yourself -or- if you’d like JFTSOI can make them for you.
- Set of Stems (26 cards) = $10;
- Sets of Stems (52 cards) = $18.
- Set Special (78 cards) = $ 25
- Top 10 Stems (260 cards) = $ 65
Send your order to JFTSOI.MOSS@gmail.com
Pay with PayPal or send a check to
JFTSOI, 3367 Punta Alta #3B, Laguna Wds.,CA. 92637
Add $3 for shipping/handling
A SUBANAGRAM is a word made up from the letters within a given word. Ex: The word ‘RATE’ contains as many as twenty-three legal words found on the OWL (Official Word List). They are:
AE, ARE, EAR, ERA, RATE, TARE, TEAR, ATE, EAT, ETA, TAE, TEA, AR, ART, RAT, TAR, AT TA, ER, RE, RET, ET, TE.
Many players after drawing their seven tiles and placing them on their rack will see a word or two that they can play on their turn, never looking any deeper into the possibilities. If they had looked harder they might have found an even better play. The longest word played is not necessarily the best choice.
RULE #226: Find a wordplay, pause, find a better play, pause, find an even better option, pause, consider your choices, then make your play.
Time Factor: During the average game each player will have17 turns. If each turn used takes the same amount of time, each turn would consume a little less than 90 seconds. Practice drawing seven tiles at random and determining your play in under 90 seconds. After accomplishing this, shorten the time to under 60 seconds.
Plan Your Next Play While Your Opponent Is Taking Their Turn. Of course you may have to adjust your plan if your opponent closes off the spot where you preferred to play, or they opened a HOT SPOT for you. Be flexible; go with the flow.
When attempting to communicate clearly about location and placement of words on a scrabble board it is most helpful to employ a map-like grid with numbers and letters to identify specific places on the board. The center square, which must be covered by the initial play is designated as H8; the TWS in the lower righthand corner is O15. With this understanding in place we can now have full confidence that we are in sync.
The first play of the game can be the most critical for the player who goes first. Many players simply find any word and slap it down without consideration of the consequences. The first play may be placed horizontally or vertically as long as it covers the center square (H8). Most players will play horizontally; playing vertically will sometimes be a distraction for your opponent.
- Note that there are DLS (double letter score) spots atH4, H12, D8 & L8. Playing a word of five or more letters long will make it possible for one letter to cover the DLS enabling you to increase your score. Try to place a letter with 4+ points on the DLS such as: QUEEN; JIHAD; WHALE; XENON.
- Note the four DLS at G7, I7, G9, & I9. When you choose your first play, avoid placing a vowel between these ‘Hot Spots’, if possible. Placing a vowel between these spots gives an advantage to your opponent who may counter with a high point consonant adjacent to the vowel.
When choosing your play always consider your opponents’ comeback play. Think one play ahead.Your first rack is:
What word do you play? Where does the word begin?
A-E-E-I-N-S-T ETESIAN F8
A rack with seven tiles has many, many words. Would you believe that the rack A-E-I N-O-P-S has more than 165 words between 2 and 7 letters long? You may not know the 2 words that are 7-Letters-Long, but when you have PIANOS + E you have EPINAOS and SENOPIA. Just remember.
Learn to make HOOKS!
Learn to make HOOKS a central part of your strategy. JFTSOI creates and publishes puzzle books each with multiple puzzles like the one below. The challenge is for you to match front hooks and back hooks to the words provided. You’re guaranteed to learn new information and other things you may have forgotten. Make it part of learning the game, and soon you’ll stake fear into the hearts of your club and tournament opponents.
Handy Exercise For Building Scrabble Word Power
The tiles pictured here is typical of a rack you might draw when playing scrabble. The letters are aligned alphabetically. Believe it or not, there are 126 possible legal scrabble words to be found in this set of letters. How many can you find?
If you enjoy this exercise, JFTSOI offers ten different booklets, each with 100 racks plus the answers to challenge your word knowledge. When you work on exercises like this you’ll hone your ability to sharpen your skills to see the words hiding on the rack in plain sight.
Each hardcopy booklet of 100 challenges is $6, including shipping & handling.
When ordering specify which volumes you want:
#101 #102 #103 #104 #105 #106 #107 #108 #109 #110
Order by email and pay with PayPal to the account of JFTSOI.email@example.com.
BACKWARDS SCRABBLE DICTIONARY
I spent the better part of six months recreating a Backwards Scrabble Dictionary containing all the legal 2’s thru 8’s. It is a great study tool. Instead of being alphabetized left to right like every other English dictionary, this one is alphabetized Right-To-Left. Therefore the words having the same endings find themselves grouped. Ex: If using a standard dictionary and you want to see all the words ending in ‘…ING’ which take an ’S’ at the end, you’ll have to peruse the entire tome. With my Backwards Dictionary you find all those words grouped. WARNING ! ! ! This is not a ‘silver bullet.’ You still have to put in some effort, but this will surely help. With 300+ pages, front and back, four columns, this is a serious amount of information. I typed and alphabetized every word. Then I turned it over to my good programmer friend, Amnon Meyers, who did his magic to ensure that there were no typos or misspellings. All words are legal and on the OWL as of August 2019
The cost is only $30 + $10 shh
Send your check payable to JFTSOI (Just 4 The Spell Of It)
c/o Gary Moss 3367 Punta Alta #3B, Laguna Woods, CA. 92637
or pay via PAYPAL to the account of JFTSOI.firstname.lastname@example.org