RULES & TIPS
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9/22/12: Jason’s Tips on Short Words
Jason Keller recently placed 11th in the National Scrabble Championships. Learn some of his secrets!
In round 8 of this year’s National Scrabble Championships, I scored 40 points or more in six straight turns (and after a 34-point play, I added another 75-point play and won 510-377). Three of those plays were JOB making JO, ON, and BE for 41; FAY making FE, AY, and YE for 40; and HEP making FEH, AYE and YEP for 47. Notice the lengths of those words. No word that I made was longer than three letters, yet I managed to score 128 points with those plays!
The moral of this little story (besides the fact that I’m awesome) is that knowledge of the two- and three-letter words can really pay off. Good players look for “parallel plays” when appropriate. If a word is on the board and you may be able to place another word on top of (or below for a word placed horizontally, or next to if the word is placed vertically) it, forming valid words in both directions and scoring points for each word formed, as I did with each of the plays I described.
JOB FAY FAY
ONE EYE EYE
If the right tiles are placed on the premium squares (double and triple letter, double and triple word), you can get a big score for a short play. This is especially true of the power tiles: J, Q, X, and Z. Each of them forms at least a single two letter word (JO, QI, and ZA), and the X is especially useful in this regard, as it formed a two-letter word with each vowel (AX, EX, XI, OX, and XU). If you make a parallel play that puts a power tile on a triple-letter score, the J and X score 48 points on their own, and the Q and Z score 60! Just for those tiles!
You may also be able to get nice scores for other tiles using the same idea. My FAY play had the Y on a triple-letter, and my HEP play put the H on a double-word, and they scored big, but even one-point tiles can be used to make plays that score significantly more than their face value. For example, a play of IT can be worth 41 points, if a Q is next to a triple word score.
And more good news: there are only 101 acceptable two-letter words in the Official Club and Tournament Word List , and many of them common. If you run through them a few times, or play enough, they should be easy to remember. There are 1015 three-letter words. That’s a little bit larger of a list to memorize, but it is doable.