Never Lose at Scrabble Again by Avoiding 9 Common Mistakes
Adapted from Getty Images
1. Waiting to Play Specific Words
Often, players will wait too long to play a good word. This happens because they are waiting to play a word they don’t have the letters for yet. It is a good idea to look ahead to figure out useful words that you can potentially play, but you don’t want to limit your options too much.
Waiting to play your desired word will only give your opponent more time to pull ahead. While you’re waiting for the tiles you need, your opponent can take control of the board and ruin any chance you have of playing your word.
2. Forgetting to Exchange Tiles
This mistake is common and is often a deciding factor in who wins the game. Swapping out tiles does cost you a turn, but it can help you generate a huge advantage later. If you want to never lose at Scrabble again, you need to exchange tiles now and then.
Many newer players, especially ones who haven’t developed their Scrabble vocabulary yet, will get stuck when their letter rack is filled with useless tiles. They’ll play whatever small words they can and hope that their opponent plays something they can use. It’s a problem they could fix in one turn if they simply replaced some of their tiles.
3. Trying to Play Only High-Value Words
Bigger is always better, right? Not necessarily. Playing larger words will net you the most points, land on the most score multiplier squares and give you the most bingo bonuses. The problem is that smaller words lay the foundation for larger ones.
If you only look for chances to play big words, you’ll miss your chance to play optimal words. Smaller words are often your best helpers in Scrabble. They can limit your opponent’s options and set you up for more points later. Plan ahead and use the words that will be helpful to you.
4. Playing the First Word You See
Figuring out which words to play is not always easy. If your anagram-solving skills aren’t where you’d like them to be, finding words on your tile rack can be daunting. So, when you do finally see a word in the letters, you might be tempted to play it right away.
Perhaps that word will end up being the one you play, but you shouldn’t rush things. Take your time and make sure you don’t miss a better option by playing the immediate one.
5. Neglecting to Look at the Entire Board
This one pairs closely with the previous one. Do your best to avoid developing tunnel vision when you play. Focusing on specific tiles, obsessing over landing on a multiplier square or trying to play words in only one portion of the board are great ways to miss opportunities and lose games.
Your opponent might also use this against you if they realize what’s happening. While you’re fixated on something else, they will find a way to trap you and limit your options. Always look for every play on every part of the board.
6. Letting Your Opponent Get the Bonus Squares
The double and triple letter and word bonus squares are crucial in every game of Scrabble. You need to use them to your advantage to maximize your score potential. Even if you play massive word after massive word, you’ll still end up losing if you don’t spell them on the multipliers.
This is because your opponent will be free to spell all of their words on them. Ignoring the multiplier squares while also adding tiles to the board will give your opponent all of the chances they need to create words that land on them.
7. Accidentally Creating Valuable Hooks
This mistake is not always devastating, but it is typically frustrating. A hook is a word you create by adding a letter to the start or end of a word that’s already on the board. For example, you can turn AIR into HAIR by adding an H tile to it.
When you create an opportunity for your opponent to create a hook, you’re giving them a chance to play a potentially high-value word at the cost of only one letter tile. The placement of their tile may also disrupt or limit the words you were hoping to play in the future.
8. Wasting the S and Blank Tiles
In terms of versatility, the S tiles and blank tiles are the most valuable tiles in the game. They are the best tiles to use to form a hook, and the blanks can help you create the exact word you need right when you need it. The problem for inexperienced players is that they don’t always know the best times to use them.
Because they are useful at almost any time, players will often use these tiles immediately for quick and easy points. While there might be instances when doing so will let you pull ahead and keep a lead in a game, doing it habitually is a terrible idea. Typically, it’s best to save those tiles and use them to build off of something promising that appears later in a game.
9. Failing to Challenge the Opponent’s Words
Whether it’s intentional or accidental, people lie. You see this a lot in Scrabble with words that aren’t actually words. Scrabble demands that both players only use words that appear in an agreed upon dictionary. If either player spells something that doesn’t look like a real word, the other player has a right to challenge that word by looking for it in the dictionary.
The problem is that many players don’t bother doing this. Yes, you can potentially cost yourself a turn if you challenge the word and it turns out to be valid. You shouldn’t let that possibility dissuade you from challenging truly questionable words, however. People will often play fake words on purpose as a bluff, hoping that you won’t challenge them.
Learn the Scrabble Essentials
To never lose at Scrabble again is every avid Scrabble player’s goal. But, as this list has shown, it’s not an easy accomplishment. Scrabble can be difficult. There’s a lot you need to learn and remember about the game if you want to succeed. This is why it’s good to do a lot of research. Study our three essential Scrabble rules to learn the game’s need-to-know strategies.
Zac Pricener has been a content creator for the past eight years. He’s a bit of an all-around nerd, and he has a bad habit of working movie and TV show references into conversations whenever possible.