A Few Effective Scrabble Strategies

Whether you are someone who morphs into a ruthless and fiercely competitive word fanatic or someone who is just in it to win it (with a bit of fun on the side), there are some amazing strategies you can use to almost always win a game of Scrabble.

Though there is a strong element of chance any time you play, there are ways to counteract the difficulties that “chance” throws your way. Let’s consider some of the most effective Scrabble strategies used by experts, masters and “must win” players:

  • The Official Scrabble Players’ Dictionary – No, don’t try to memorize it, but do take the following, recommended terms to heart: AA, OOGONIUM, QANAT, SIBILATE, CWM, XYSTER, EXEQUY, and HORDEOLA…Do you see a common theme here? Difficult, seemingly artificial words, each of them also appears in the OSPD and are on the Official Word List or OWL. There are thousands of others, but this list lets you use Q without U, X and Y in one word and even double A’s. It is great to memorize such obscure terms, and you will want to peruse the word lists to find a few favorites of your own, as well.
  • Master Two and Three Letter Words – that include a large number of two and three letter words. It is a very effective strategy to have them on hand, especially as you reach endgame and may be left with some unusual odds and ends. Some very useful two letter options for higher point tiles include XU, AX, OX and XI among others.
  • Memorize Many Q Words – Remember, you will want Q without U words and also a nice array of Q without E words. Just consider, you will be hit with ten points for the Q and Z tiles, but can eliminate them with words like ZA, QI, QAT, QIS, ZEP or ZAX.
  • Know Suffixes and Prefixes – Sure, you can get some points for pluralizing, but really amp up your play by adding powerful suffixes and prefixes. A good list of suffixes would include -CY, -ITY, -AL, -ENT, -LY, -IEST, -FUL, -ITE and -TION (and that is in addition to -ED, -ER and -ING). The potent prefixes will include IN-, UN-, RE-, EX-, NON-, MIS-, PRE-, and TRI-.
  • 100% Vowels – Also memorize the accepted words that are made entirely of vowels, they include AA, AE, AI, EAU, OE, OI.

These simple strategies can help you really gain a serious edge when playing Scrabble.

How Anagrams Help in Word Games

If you are an avid player of Scrabble or Words with Friends, you might find yourself reorganizing the tiles on your rack in an effort to come up with a good word or two. It can feel like a desperate tactic, and yet it is exactly why Scrabble is named Scrabble. The meaning of the word is “to grope around frantically in an effort to find something” or to “struggle desperately to get something” and so shaking your phone or moving your tiles is an appropriate method for scrabbling after some good words.

However, there is another way to find good words, and that is to master anagrams. These are words or phrases you spell by rearranging the letters of another word or phrase. Readers of the Harry Potter series know that Lord Voldemort’s full name is an anagram of his actual name, and some people even play games challenging one another to make anagrams relevant to the original term. For example, school master can be turned into the classroom, punishments becomes nine thumps and debit card turns into bad credit.

How does this help with word games? Easily, it forces you to start reimagining your tiles in a less confusing way. You are looking to make any sort of phrase or word instead of struggling with what appears on the board and the rack.

Using Anagrams

Now, you may still not see how anagramming can really help you win at word games. However, just think about it for a moment. If you have the board in front of you, and it is loaded with an array of pre-existing words and open spaces, your strategy demands you consider the most lucrative moves. It is not just about making the longest word, but more about the words that give the most points. Anagram tools, like ours, give you solutions with anywhere from two to six or more letters. You can then use them to plug into the available spaces, finding the highest points possible.

Start playing with anagram tools and discover the surprising number of options just a single collection of tiles can yield.

Top Scrabble Tips for Beginners

Did you just recently receive a good, hard bite from the Scrabble bug? If so, congratulations! You can now enjoy membership in a vast group of fellow Scrabble addicts who want to play the game, or variations on it, as often as possible. Today, a Scrabble enthusiast can find countless ways to hone their skills through the use of online games, apps, and simple game play with others. There are even board game groups (such as those you might find on sites like Meetup.com) which meet on a regular schedule to play formal, and even intense games.

So, how do you make the most of your Scrabble adventures? One of the most obvious ways to really enjoy playing against others is to sharpen your skills on your own, ensuring you have all kinds of tactics and winning strategies on hand throughout any game. Let’s look at a few of our top tips for Scrabble beginners who want to really master their technique and become constant winners:

  • Read the instruction manual – It is pretty amazing to discover just how many people who are admittedly nuts over the game will also say that they have never taken the time to read the instructions. This is a big mistake because it provides a somewhat surprising number of tips for becoming a pretty potent player. If you don’t believe it, go online to Hasbro’s official site and read them here.
  • One of the most significant tips that Hasbro suggests, and what we must reiterate here is to learn as many valid two and three letter words as humanly possible. There are some great websites for helping you with this, so spend some time “googling” to discover the words with two or three letters.
  • Balance the rack – If you can keep three vowels and four consonants on your tile rack at any given moment in the game, you will have a pretty good shot at coming up with great combinations. Go too far in either direction, and you will find it harder and harder to create good, high point earning words.
  • Prefix it – So many times we are looking at ways to spell out words using a single letter from another player’s words or even a previous word of our own. However, you are missing a huge opportunity by not considering if your rack has any workable prefixes for words on the board. Everyone knows to pluralize if possible, but never forget to add a prefix if you can – “anti” is a good one to consider, as is “im” such as the word perfect becoming “imperfect”.
  • “Ish” it – Are you someone who will answer a question and then tack on the suffix “ish” to a word you just spoke. For instance, “I think we’ll be there around noon…ish”. Well, why not look at the words on the board to see if that “ish” is a valid addition to them? For example, child becomes “childish”, and so on.
  • Q with no U is good, but Q with no E is important too – You may already be working on mastering a list of valid Q words you can build without also having a U in the rack. Don’t overlook the struggle of using that Q without an E as well. Check out this page of words containing Q, yet also free of the letter E.

Perfect these tactics and take these tips to heart, and you will soon be playing like a seasoned Scrabble professional and serious contender.

A Brief History of Word Games

Humans are so eager to engage in “play” that it is likely the first humans to develop speech were also the first to make up games with that speech. Think of how often young children find delight in making up rhymes…that alone tells us that word games of one form or another have probably been around since language itself emerged.

What, though, of more formal and organized word games? If we look at the word “game” itself, we see it emerge in Old English around the year 1200 CE. Meaning anything from joy and fun to glee and amusement, it is thought to have originally been “gamen” and lost the -en sound accidentally when speakers mistook it as a suffix. As one etymological website says, game “is first attested c. 1200 (of athletic contests, chess, backgammon). Especially ‘the sport of hunting, fishing, hawking, or fowling’… thus ‘wild animals caught for sport'”…also become “game”.

By the middle of the 1500s, though, it seems that people were already using it to describe a type of “play” or “sport” and people would play at games. Then, it became “gambling” and soon moved into the concept of games we think of today. Of course, when we think of word games, we might automatically think of crossword puzzles, and perhaps that is one of the earliest, formal types of word games.

Puzzle is a word that appeared around the 1590s and was first used to mean a “perplexing question”. However, by the 1800s, it became a “toy contrived to test one’s ingenuity”.

So, we can see how word games may have easily evolved, becoming challenges that tested someone’s language skills or knowledge. Because games are a form of entertainment, they probably emerged in this manner and then moved on to competitions and educational outlets later.

The word games we play today are probably not that far from their origins, and most experts agree that they are found in only a few formats limited to letter arrangement, letter replacement or “fill in the blanks”. Think of anagrams, hangman games and word jumbles. Some combine elements of chance, while others might emphasize a certain knowledge or skill. Crosswords are one such example.

We know that crosswords became popular in the 1800s but only emerged in a recognizable form in the U.S. around 1913. They require general knowledge and good vocabulary and are not limited to chance. Scrabble, on the other hand, emerged as a game of both chance and skill.

As long as we could read, write and speak we have played with words, and today there are amazing opportunities to continue enjoying such activities – including multiplayer word games through apps like Words with Friends or traditional and beloved board games like Scrabble.

English Words Containing Q Not Followed By U

Quick…quote some quality colloquialisms or quips featuring Q without U. It is not as easy as it might seem. In fact, a common resource used by avid Scrabble players (the game’s instruction manual) shows only 21 options. However, there are many more than that (more than 2,000 in fact), and you should try to memorize as many of them as you can if you wish to become a thoroughly competitive Scrabble expert.

Start With Two and Three Letters

One of the simplest ways to free yourself of the points-heavy letter Q (it has ten points, as does the Z tile, but that’s a letter for a different article), is to use it in a two or three letter word. There are no commonly used two letter options apart from QI (a vital force in all things, according to Chinese philosophy), and there are two three-letter words that use it without a U – QAT and QIS.

The former is a variation of khat, which is both a shrub and illegal drug in China. The latter is a term often used in traditional Chinese medicine to describe the life force. Though you don’t have to know the meanings of these terms to use them, it can be empowering to counter any challenge by not only knowing they appear in the official Scrabble dictionaries and word lists, but also whipping out their definitions.

English or Scrabble and/or WWF Accepted?

However, the title of this article does say “English” words, and those are both terms that originate in the Chinese language. There are not a lot of words spelt using Q without U that also originate strictly from the English. What we really should have entitled the article, was “Scrabble and Words With Friends Words Containing Q Not Followed By U” as the words we are going to consider are all acceptable in both scenarios. So, now that we have clarified, let’s move past those three letter words…

Beyond Three Letters

If you look at a list of Q without U words on another website, the etymology of the terms provided actually reads like a global adventure. You see Arabic, Yemen, Persia and France, Latin and Middle English, and that is just in the first three or four words! Of course, that is the beauty of playing word games like Scrabble or Words with Friends – they don’t just challenge you to use your existing vocabulary, but actually increase it.

For example, at the Merriam Webster Dictionary page dedicated to those eager to build their arsenal of Q without U words allowed in popular games, we find cinq and qoph, and the five letter words are even more abundant, offering faqir and niqab as well as qanat and tranq. There are six letter variants and options going all the way to nine letter words – and all without a single Q appearing.

The Possibility for Bingos

While the reason you want to rid yourself of that Q as quickly as possible has to do with its hefty ten-point value, never overlook the fact that it could be the key to a BINGO. Using all seven tiles at once can take a lot of cunning, but you improve your odds because of the unusual nature of so many of the Q without U words. As a prime example, MBAQANGAS…that’s an actual word (it is a type of South African dance music), and as delicious as it might be to sound it out, you might find yourself also using up an awkward rack of mixed tiles because of it!

Note: As a final word of advice, it is also a good idea to use resources like the Merriam Webster online Scrabble tool to also learn about “words you can build” from your Q without words. For example, there is a startling number of words you can make from MBAQANGAS and knowing them can be a major advantage!