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Breaking the Game explores Scrabble strategy for players of all levels. Whether you’re a Scrabble newcomer or a veteran Scrabble expert, this site presents the various tactics used by the best players in the world and gives you the tools to master Scrabble strategy.
This site covers Scrabble using the CSW (International) lexicon. If you live in North America, please switch to the TWL (North America) lexicon on the right side of the menu.
To start, we’ve created a list of Scrabble tips for new players who want to improve their game. All of these strategies and more are further explained in our strategy section, but this page should serve as a good one-page starter for anyone who wants to learn Scrabble strategy and improve their Scrabble skills.
A Quick Guide to Scrabble Strategy
Twos and Threes
It’s nearly impossible to play an enjoyable game of Scrabble without knowing these basic words, as two and three letter words will improve your score immensely, allowing you to make parallel plays with high-point tiles and also allowing you to place your bonus. Some of the most useful 2s and 3s include QI, JO, JA, ZO XI, XU, ZA, AA, EA, EE, and QAT.
Most players find these words (and others) easier to learn without a definition. If you need to learn definitions to internalize words then feel free to do so, but if you can, you might find it more efficient to study words via word list.
As a beginner/intermediate player, parallel plays should responsible for nearly half of your total points, as they allow you to score well with tiles such as the J, Q, X, Z, W, H, Y, K, and F. Pay special attentions to using spots for parallel plays that use hotspots, such as the Triple Word Score.
For some puzzle positions on parallel plays, click here.
While double and triple word bonuses are nice, ideally you want to link bonus squares together. For example, you want to use a double letter and triple word square simultaneously, or a word that uses a triple letter and double word, as this allows you to maximize the value out of the high point letters on your rack. Finding these combinations is one of the essential skills in Scrabble.
Identify prefixes such as RE-, OUT-, and UN-, suffixes such as -ING, LY, and -ED, and other letter combinations such as CH, QU, and ST. Searching for bonuses is especially when holding a blank or many one point tiles on your rack. Top Scrabble players average 2 or more bonuses per game!
Using all seven of your tiles is an extremely important part of Scrabble, as doing so will give you a lucrative 50 point bonus. Besides the blank, the best bonus tiles are in the phrase ‘DARN TILES’ with the next best tiles coming in the word ‘CHOMP’, so save these tiles if your goal is to play a bonus.
For some bonus puzzles, click here.
Hooks can provide you with places to play words in your rack and give you a lucrative way to score points. While the most common hook is the -S hook (pluralizing a word), watch out for other hooks, both beginning and ending pre-existing words on the board.
For some puzzles on hooks, click here.
Focus on using duplicate tiles and high point tiles, or any surplus of consonants or vowels. This will make it easier for you to find high scoring plays or bingos when they exist while also ensuring that you retain good tiles so you score well next turn. High point tiles are often difficult to use, while duplicate tiles limit the number of words you can make on your rack.
In many ways, Scrabble is a problem solving game. While you want to score points, you also want to balance your rack so you’ll have a good rack next turn that will allow you to score well.
Save the blank
and the S
. The blank and the S are easily the two most valuable tiles in Scrabble because of their ability to pluralize words and either score or form a bonus. As a general rule, you should keep an unduplicated S unless you can score at least 10 additional points with that S, and you should keep an unduplicated blank unless you can score at least 30 additional points with the S.
Learn the short JQXZ words
and vowel dumps
. These words show up frequently and allow you to score with otherwise unfriendly tiles, often for big points when you can play them using hotspot combinations. Learning just a handful of these words can really help you score. Some common vowel dumps include AIA, EUOI, EUOUAE, AIYEE, OORIE, AIOLI, MOAI, OLIO, BOOAI, and UNAI.
Scrabble might be perceived as primarily a word game, but as you improve and learn more words, you’ll quickly realize that it’s also a strategic game. To win, you need to choose the best candidate to achieve your strategic goals. While strategy is overlooked, it’s important if you want to win at Scrabble. For free strategic tips, take a look at my strategy section.
If you want a crash course in Scrabble strategy, check out my book Word. I’ve spent over a thousand hours writing and editing this book, and it comes recommended by some of the strongest Scrabble players in the world. (For more information including a free sample chapter, click here.)
With these tips, you’re well on your way to Scrabble success! For more tips and Scrabble strategy, please browse through the rest of the website. Within no time, you too can become an expert Scrabble player!