Frequently asked Questions

Question 1: What are these funky words?
Question 2: What dictionary is being used?
Question 3: Why isn’t ______ a word?
Question 4: What are the differences between each book?
Question 5: Which version of each book is best for me?
Question 6: Why isn’t this book sold in bookstores?
Question 7: Why are you charging money for this book?
Question 8: Do you give lessons?
Question 9: What is the future of Breaking the game?
Question 10: How do I study words/play a Scrabble tournament?
Question 11: Why is there a different dictionary for North America?

Question: What are these funky words?

Answer: English is a rich language spanning the globe, containing many dialects.  In addition, there are many obscure foods, chemicals, plants, etc. unknown to the everyday person.

Question: What dictionary is being used?

Answer: There are predominantly two dictionaries used in Scrabble: an American dictionary called TWL (predominantly used in North America and Canada, and used in the puzzles and strategy sections of this website) and a worldwide dictionary named Collins.  (There are Collins versions of both Breaking the Game and Words of Wisdom.)  Collins includes all TWL words plus an additional ~30,000 words.  In Words with Friends, the creators use ENABLE: a lexicon smaller than both Scrabble dictionaries.

Question: Why isn’t ______ a word?

Answer: There are some words that seemingly should be acceptable but unfortunately aren’t.  Perhaps the word is capitalized (Gouda*), or it isn’t quite common enough to be accepted in the English vernacular (hola*).  Perhaps the word is too new (twerk wasn’t a word until fairly recently).

Dictionary creators have an impossible task, between including all of the intuitive words everyone knows while not being too inclusive and adding every obscure concept into the dictionary.  Sadly, the dictionary will never be perfect.

Question: What is each book about?

Answer: Breaking the Game is an introduction to the world of Scrabble strategy. It provides players of all levels with the fundamentals needed to excel at Scrabble, from the kitchen table to the Scrabble competition, explaining all the necessary skills to become a Scrabble master.

Words of Wisdom introduces you into the world of tournament Scrabble strategy. Words with Friends focuses on tournament-specific skills, such as endgame, entropy, board dynamics, defense, and other skills that are mostly geared towards tournament players. It is written as a sequel: all players should want to read Breaking the Game first, as it gives them the fundamental understanding required to get the most out of this book. 

Beyond Words is an introduction into the strategy of Words with Friends. It discusses the intricacies of Words with Friends, allowing them to think of Words with Friends as a strategy game, and illustrates the important strategic differences between Words with Friends and Scrabble.

Question: Should I buy the Kindle version, the PDF version, or the physical book?

Answer: It depends.

The print book is good for gifts, people who don’t like ebooks, or for people who want to share the book with others.  Whether you want to introduce new players, use the book as reference, or discuss positions with others, the print book is for you!  There’s something special about holding a physical book in your hands, being able to read it anywhere, anyplace, anytime.

The PDF is bold, colorful, and perfect for desktop and laptop application.  In full color, PDFs can be read with programs on Mac and Windows and features the original layout of all of the books in the Breaking the Game series.

The Kindle Version is great for your busy on-the-go lifestyle.  It can be read on mobile devices (with some adjustments) or on a tablet: great for people who don’t want the hassle of a printed book and those who can’t read a PDF.  It can be a little bit fussy depending on your settings, but for some, the Kindle version will be the most convenient.

Question: Why isn’t this book available in bookstores?

Answer: At this time, Hasbro is not allowing authors to write books about any of its titles, including (but not limited to) My Little Pony, GI Joe, Monopoly, Candyland, etc.  If you’d like this policy to change, please sign my letter here.

Question: Why are you charging money for this book?

Answer: First, this book has taken a substantial amount of money (and time) to produce. It has undergone 9 drafts, and I have spent money on the book, printing, artwork, and the website. I would also like to spend money to further enhance the experience, such as buying stream equipment, creating better videos, and upgrading the website.
Second, the goal is to eventually sell this book to bookstores, and to do that, I am using my online sales as a proof of concept to sell to bookstores. To do so, I need to offer my book at a price similar to what bookstores would offer.

Question: Do you give lessons?

Answer: Yes!  Rates are very affordable for anyone who wants to improve at Scrabble or Words with Friends, running at a flat rate of 20 dollars + 5 dollars per game.  For that, you will get a complete analysis of each game as well as an overall summary based on each game that you send, as well as a detailed overall analysis highlighting your mistakes by type and giving you advice tailored on your strengths and weaknesses.  Examples can be found HERE and HERE.  For more information, please email me at

Question: What’s the future of Breaking the Game?

Answer: Subscribe to see future projects from Breaking the Game.  We’ll send out an email every month at most, and won’t give your information to any third party.

Question: How can I study words and play a Scrabble tournament?

NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association) is the only sanctioned tournament organization endorsed by Hasbro. With tournaments all over the country, it’s easy to find a club or tournament in your local area. In addition to your membership, you also get access to Zyzzyva, the premier study program for Scrabble players. For more information, click here.

There are also plenty of unsanctioned tournaments, in local libraries, meetups, or casual clubs, which can be found mostly by a quick local search. Many of these meetups are part of a compilation of independent players called WGPO, which can be found here.

Why are there two dictionaries?

         Throughout Scrabble, many players describe Scrabble as a religion, and the dictionary as their bible.  Scrabble players are extremely devoted to their dictionary, and have spent hundreds if not thousands of hours memorizing the words. Unsurprisingly, players have an everlasting affinity for their dictionary of choice, and will defend their dictionary at all costs.  Thus, the dictionary debate is considered one of, if not the biggest debate in all of Scrabble.   

         In North America, players use a dictionary called OWL (Official Word List).  OWL is a smaller dictionary, compiled from 5 regional dictionaries that reflect North American English and spellings.  As a result, OWL focuses on English as spoken in North America, and as such neglects English words that are primarily spoken in other countries. (such as many -ISE British spellings or various foods, plants, etc. from English speaking countries around the world).  For a short list of intuitive CSW-only words, click <a href=””>here.</a>  OWL proponents prefer we keep the dictionary as reflective of the English language even if it leaves some reasonable words out.

         Internationally, players use a different dictionary entitled CSW (Collins Scrabble Words).  This dictionary allows significantly more words than its OWL counterpart. While CSW includes intuitive words that OWL does not (such as birthdate, muppet, and immersive) it also contains many obscure words that are not a part of most people’s working dictionary (such as EUOUAE and WAQF).  CSW proponents prefer having a larger dictionary that includes as many legitimate words as possible, even if doing so requires accepting many words that the average English speaker has never seen before.

         For those who are new to the debate, I’ve outlined what I believe to be the best points on both sides of the debate below:

         Why we should stick with TWL

         Why we should switch to Collins