Opponent’s options: Bingos in row 2, bingos/scoring plays (hooking FIBS) in column o, setups in row 15 forming AQUA
Candidate plays: JOGS, QI, YOK, ZO
Potential plays on next turn: ARTSIEST 2g (75), DISTASTE o8 (89), DISTENTS o8.
Subgoal: Maximize your odds of playing a bingo and overtaking your opponent
Resolution: Puzzle 18 is a bit of a quagmire. You are behind by a bingo, and there are only two bingo lines on the board: row 2, and column o. There are no good ways to create a new bingo line, yes there are quite a few ways to block both lanes simultaneously, although most blocking options still leave you a glimmer of hope.
At first glance, the two bingos possible are either bingos starting with R or ending in D. However, at further glance, you’ll find that’s no longer the case. Bingos in column 2 can start with ER, AR, or OR, while bingos can fit along column O as long as they have a D_S letter sequence.
Since the spots to bingo require very precise tiles since they will likely be block, you need to figure out what you want to draw. Your best hope for figuring out what you need to draw is the A: this allows you to play DISTASTE at o8 or ARTSIEST at 2g.
Thus, you want to get rid of the O. This is where things get interesting. For an extra 9 points, you can play the O at 4g, blocking ARTSIEST but still leaving the lane open. Many players will block in row 3, leaving DISTASTE a strong possibility to win. This would make blocking marginally better, but would do a lot better if your opponent tries to outrun your bingo, particularly if they have the X in their rack. Against most opponents, playing ZO for 11 is best, but against some opponents who are likely to try to outscore you often, it may be worth considering taking the extra 4 points. Because of the possibility of DISTENTS on top, I think that ZO is a superior play.