How to Become a More Competitive Scrabble Player

Have you ever seen that documentary Word Wars, about a bunch of full-time professional Scrabble tournament players? (Yes, there is such a thing as a full-time professional Scrabble tournament player.) By turns unbelievably sad and hilariously entertaining, it proves that some things-like games and sports-just shouldn’t be taken too terribly seriously. Be forewarned: while Word Wars focuses heavily on the losers who spend way too much of their lives trying for the impossible dream of making a living by doing little else besides placing tiny tiles with letters on a cardboard square, the one Scrabble champion who has a successful life, a wife and kids and such is given the least amount of the screen time. (It’s kind of like the fact that the only part of American Idol that might even possibly worth giving up an hour of your time for would be the part that allows you to laugh at thoroughly untalented people; and yes, I’m talking about when the judges give opinions, not when those poor saps sing in such a way that would sterilize frogs at a thousand yards.) And yet, even though the film does focus on those Scrabble tournament professionals who still live with their mothers and can only find the comfort of female company when green paper with pictures of dead Presidents are featured in the transaction, there is still much to be admired about these people who are playing at the top of the elite in the hardscrabble world of…Scrabble. Could you have a shot at becoming part of the cast of Word Wars II? Perhaps, if you follow some of this advice on how to become a better Scrabble player.

Take your time. Rushing into the game is an enormous mistake because you can quite easily overlook a Bender’s big score. Before deciding which tiles you will place on the Scrabble board take at least a minute to examine what you’ve got on your plate and what you’ve got to work with on the board. Taking your time while playing Scrabble doesn’t just mean scrutinizing what letters you’ve got, it also means taking the time to examine the potential scoring opportunity before you. Before making any final decision try to figure out all the reasons why that move is the absolute best possible move you could make; this means taking into account the potential score, the potential for giving other players a better opportunity to score off your addition, and the potential for giving up letters now for a lesser score that could have paid off big time if you draw a few much-needed tiles for a Bender’s big score in the next round.


The best offense is a good defense. In other words, don’t make things worse on yourself by opening up for play those triple score alleys up and down and the board unless by doing so you can score big yourself. Playing defensively really comes into play when the game is halfway done. By this point you should take every caution to put obstacles in the place of the competitors by playing to ensure not so much that you are scoring big, but that you are taking away the opportunity for your competitors to use up all their tiles. That means, obviously, that you will also be unable to play all your tiles, but it doesn’t matter as much because you are already in the lead. Of course, the opposite is also true; when playing from behind the best defense is a wild and crazy offense. If you are still behind when the game is half over, now is the time to take some risks. Instead of playing a word that you are sure your opponent is aware of, instead choose to play the word he might well challenge. And when behind it behooves you to take the risk for the sake of more points than playing it safe. Go for the seven letter play by using your S or a blank tile for the plural. These tips probably won’t be enough to get you on the fast track to the Scrabble tournament circuit, but they may be enough to finally beat Aunt Fanny.