12 Scrabble Tips for Beginners

Occassionally we teach a beginners course at Classics’ regular Friday night Scrabble games.  Here’s a summary.

#1.  Turning in

When to turn in:  If I can’t get at least 10 points in a play, I turn in the less desireable letters.

What to turn in: I turn in the “c” and the “v.”  If I have too many vowels, I turn in several, assuming that for every two I put in, I will draw another vowel.  Ideally, I want to end up with 3 vowels and 4 consonants.

#2.  Bingo

To help set yourself up for bingos, save “re/er” combinations, “s” and blanks.  I only play blanks to help me get a bingo.

Also, play the highest point value tiles quickly.  Bingos come easier with lower point letters.

#3.  Multiple Words

The key to big scores between bingos is to play a word that forms multiple words.  To do this most effectively, you need to learn the 101 two-letter words.

#4.  The Elbow

The magic spot on the board is not the triple word (though that’s a good one).  Look for the elbow, where a high point letter can be part of two words (horizontal and vertical) on a double or triple.  Hit the elbow with letters like “x”, “f”, “h”, “j”, “b”, “m”, “p”, “w”, “z” and “q”.

#5.  The “S”

Bookstore Scrabble veteran Marion never plays the “s” unless is adds 10 points to a play.  I only play an “s” with a bingo, unless I have more than one.

#6.  The “X”

Get at least 28 points for your “x”.  To do this, you’ll need to play multiple words while playing the “x” on a double or triple square.

These words will help you do this: ex, ox, ax, xi, and xu.

#7.  The “Q”

Dump it as fast as you can.  Try to place it on a multiplier, but if you can’t, still dump it.

These words will help you do this:  qi, qua, qat, qaid, quid, quad, aqua, qyay, quai, quin.

#8.  The “Z”

Dump it as fast as you can.  Try to place it on a multiplier, but if you can’t, still dump it.

These words will help you do this:  za, zoa, azo, zed, zee, zin, adz, biz, coz, zag.

#9.  The “V”

Dump it as fast as you can. 

These words will help you do this:  vac, var, vau, vav, vaw, vee, veg, vig, voe, vug

#10.  The “J”

These words will help you to maximize your “j”:  jo, haj, jag, jee, jeu, jin, joe, jun, raj, taj.

#11.  Endgame

Going out first can give you as many pointsas you might get playing an additional turn.

To go out first, as soon as you see that the game is almost over and you won’t get any tiles, arrange your tiles into two words using all your letters and make plans to be out in your next two turns.  Get rid of your most difficult letters in your first word.

#12.  Practice

The best practice is to play often against people better than you.  Watch how they play.  Watch what words they play.

Don’t play to beat them; play to beat your average score.  This way you won’t get discouraged.  They might win the game, but you are improving.  Their time will come.

Note: 4 time club champion Dan Robinson disagrees with some of the advice above. 

He believes, for example, that you should not focus on dumping premium tiles like “c” and “v”.  While Scrabble experts see the “c” as an excellent bingo building letter, my advice remains to the beginner to get rid of it quickly.

Dan also believes that maximizing the use of other premium letters like “z” and “q” is important for beginners.  Of course, I agree with this, as written above.  Beginners be careful, though, not to let these premium tiles sit on your board for 6 rounds.  It will be like playing with only 6 tiles while you are waiting to play these in a good spot.

Dan is also skeptical about beginners saving blanks and “er” combination for bingos.  Here we disagree.  One bingo against other beginners in a kitchen table game should rocket you ahead.  I believe it is worth the risk.

To read more advice from Dan Robinson, visit http://www.classicsusedbooks.com/?p=576.

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