Does Scrabble Need To Be Fixed?
September 17, 2019 6:10 AM   Subscribe

 
So the argument here is that some of the high-scoring tiles are easier to play than others, and their scores should be adjusted accordingly. Hmm.

I am reminded of a Scrabble game I was playing with my ex once; I started with a rack full of these high-scoring tiles, like Z and X and Q and such. But as the game progressed, there simply were no good opportunities to play them in the developing game. I even traded in some of those tiles for a couple of my turns, and was still getting things like X and K and such. My ex noticed that my turns were taking longer and longer, and I was getting glummer and glummer, as I studied the board and my rack and tried to find a way to play at least one of my tiles so I could trade in for an E or an S or SOMETHING. "...Do you want to quit?" he offered.

"No, I...." I studied my rack again, studied the board. "Could we actually just start the whole game over again?" He agreed, we wiped the board clear, reshuffled the tiles and redrew - and I sighed with relief when I got a much more mixed bag with a K, but also a T and an S and an H and an A and basically, stuff I could actually use to make words, and we went on with that game.

The points on the tiles don't mean jack if you can't play them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:29 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


So the argument here is that some of the high-scoring tiles are easier to play than others, and their scores should be adjusted accordingly. Hmm.

Um. No? Like, I'm not trying to be mean, but the entire article is about how a previous article/paper posited what you're saying, but that it's wrong because testing by the author of this article showed that even randomizing the values of all tiles didn't change the amount of luck in the game. However, what did change the amount of luck was to devalue "bingos", because luck plays a big part in whether a player is ever even in a position to get one.

The tl;dr is, remove bingos or reduce their relative value and luck goes down.
posted by tocts at 6:34 AM on September 17, 2019 [18 favorites]


I'd argue that if you're worrying about the point scoring system in scrabble, you've lost sight of what makes it fun. Which is not spelling "QUIZZES" on a triple-word score, but instead convincing your friends that "DICKSHORTS" is a valid word. (pro scrabble tip: if you can't, you're playing with the wrong people.)
posted by phooky at 6:37 AM on September 17, 2019 [26 favorites]


It seems kind of obvious that any game where you draw pieces/cards/tiles out of a bag/deck/pile, blind, will have some element of luck. Scrabble is a game of skill and chance. Not sure what the point of trying to lessen the impact of chance is unless the game is really unbalanced, which IMO it's not.

In my experience as a pretty-good friends and family Scrabble player, it's the element of chance that keeps it interesting. Otherwise it would just be a strict hierarchy of who's better than who in my limited circle of opponents, which would make it a lot less enjoyable to embark on a lengthy game if the outcome is basically predetermined because you know your opponent is a better player.

I guess if your objective is to make competitive Scrabble more like competitive chess, with very fine-grained rankings measuring skill "objectively", I see the point. But for most players this kind of change would make it a much less enjoyable game.
posted by bgribble at 6:44 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Sure, let's take the bingos out of Scrabble. Better take away the yahtzees from Yahtzee, while we're at it--way too much random noise. Same deal with shooting the moon in hearts. No one enjoys exciting or unpredictable moves that upset the established game flow. We should be aiming for grim homogeneity in all of our gaming ventures. Hell, dice have way too much uncertainty for my liking--we're gonna sit here and play Chutes and Ladders the way it was meant to be played: everybody moves forward exactly one square at a time.
posted by Mayor West at 6:47 AM on September 17, 2019 [24 favorites]


“A Dweeb Glitters” and “Wagers Tile Debt” are both anagrams of Betteridge's law.

I have nothing more to add, except you can take my bingos from my cold, EXPIRED, DEFUNCT, EXTINCT and DEMISED hands.
posted by lalochezia at 6:47 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


One of my proudest moments was when I played a word I knew wasn't in the dictionary, made up a definition to convince my sister that a challenge would fail, then challenged her when she pluralized it.
posted by lmindful at 6:54 AM on September 17, 2019 [36 favorites]


Actually I just connected the dots between this article's secondary thesis (luck plays too much of a role in Scrabble victories) and the article about Tetris tile randomization last week, and now I think I'm going to go implement a bag system of tile distribution to see if it moves the needle on that 18% margin of victory
posted by Mayor West at 6:55 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Duplicate scrabble!
posted by The Ted at 6:57 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


I would like to know more about that scrabble-playing algorithm. Presumably it adapts to the tile values and thus prefers to play whatever word has the most points under the current tile value setup. But it's also a pretty good scrabble player, right? I wonder if the answer to how much role luck plays depends heavily on skill and if therefore something that might make no difference among skilled tournament players might be hugely significant for someone like me, who's scrabble turns consist largely of adding S to words already on the board, or writing "AND" or "dog." and who would surely love to place that Q or Z but hasn't memorized the scrabble dictionary for a way to do it.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 7:02 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


The tl;dr is, remove bingos or reduce their relative value and luck goes down.

LOL - sorry, I think I just blanked on that because I've never had the luck to have gotten a bingo in my life and a part of my brain just doesn't recognize it as an option.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:02 AM on September 17, 2019


Normal players almost never score bingos, so it hardly matters to casual play; the luck component added by those 50 point bonuses is almost exclusively something high-grade and professional players, the kinds who memorize word lists, deal with.

The influence of luck on a game is something that:
A. tends not to matter to people until it definitely bites them,
B. matters more the longer a game is (it sucks to spend an hour playing a game the tile draw has fated you to lose),
C. is in the aggregate a bonus in favor of weaker players, and so
D. is of more concern the more serious about it players get.

If most serious players don't mind the existence of an 18% luck bonus then that, it would seem, is that, but there are good arguments to be made about it, like reducing the value of bingos in tournaments.
posted by JHarris at 7:03 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Play online here: http://www.isc.ro. Last night I had a bingo to come from behind and two places to put it but dag nabbit my opponent blocked both places with one play. (I'm not high grade or professional at all. Bingos can come to anyone.)
posted by hypnogogue at 7:04 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


I would like to know more about that scrabble-playing algorithm.

Here you go! Quackle, wonderfully, is open source.
posted by JHarris at 7:06 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


The secret to using unfortunate tile draws is a defensive game with weaponized bad plays. Play QI or ZA to prevent your opponent from dropping a word down parallel to another word to get six or eight words out of dropping five tiles. You’ll only get eleven points but what’s more important is they won’t be getting sixty points.
posted by ardgedee at 7:24 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


I do want to say, to be clear: luck in games is good, if that's what you're after. I'm often after it! I like luck. I like different ways of injecting luck. I've spent a lot of time thinking about various methods, because I like to geek out on game design (I am particularly fond of bag methods for evening out the extremes). I also basically don't play Chess anymore specifically because it's a game that's real hard to enjoy if the two players aren't very similar in skill level, because there's basically no luck element.

But: I can totally appreciate that people who are trying to play a game competitively would want to reduce luck. Right now, the way Scrabble tournaments manage it is by playing a bunch of games so that hopefully it evens out. A change like removing bingos might mean they could play fewer games, or play the same number but feel more comfortable that it really did end up being that the best player won, and I don't think a desire for that is a desire for monotony or a desire to kill all fun in games.

Basically: I could see a change to bingos making sense in tournaments, and I don't think that's incompatible with people having fun (in the tournament, or in general).
posted by tocts at 7:25 AM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


Sure, let's take the bingos out of Scrabble. Better take away the yahtzees from Yahtzee, while we're at it--way too much random noise. Same deal with shooting the moon in hearts. No one enjoys exciting or unpredictable moves that upset the established game flow. We should be aiming for grim homogeneity in all of our gaming ventures. Hell, dice have way too much uncertainty for my liking--we're gonna sit here and play Chutes and Ladders the way it was meant to be played: everybody moves forward exactly one square at a time.

Deregulate the orchestra
There's been too much protection.
A synthesizer does the job
Sack the woodwind section!

Restructure the 'Moonlight Sonata'
It's too soft! Go on, be bold!
Make it more competitive
It's far too slow and old.

Rationalize the violin
No one's going to starve.
Eliminate that curly bit
It takes too long to carve.

- Michael Leunig, Musical Reform Package
posted by davejay at 7:28 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Sure, let's take the bingos out of Scrabble. Better take away the yahtzees from Yahtzee, while we're at it--way too much random noise. Same deal with shooting the moon in hearts. No one enjoys exciting or unpredictable moves that upset the established game flow. We should be aiming for grim homogeneity in all of our gaming ventures. Hell, dice have way too much uncertainty for my liking--we're gonna sit here and play Chutes and Ladders the way it was meant to be played: everybody moves forward exactly one square at a time.

I know this is snark, but there's a reason "Final Destination, Fox only, no items" became a meme.
posted by NoxAeternum at 7:42 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


I would like to know more about that scrabble-playing algorithm. Presumably it adapts to the tile values and thus prefers to play whatever word has the most points under the current tile value setup. But it's also a pretty good scrabble player, right?
When I was a kid, I used to play Computer Scrabble for the ZX Spectrum. I never beat it, partly because I was a kid but partly because the Spectrum was a really simple computer. There was no space or processing power to make the "AI" anything but a perfect player - no way to randomise at all. So every move it made was perfect, it never messed anything up or or placed a lower-scoring word because it hadn't spotted a higher-scoring word on its rack.
posted by winterhill at 8:20 AM on September 17, 2019


There was no space or processing power to make the "AI" anything but a perfect player

It's apparently pretty difficult to make a realistically mediocre chess program; I wonder if Scrabble is the same? I imagine it is not trivial to write algorithms that find plausible but flawed moves, or that can distinguish the kind of good moves that an amateur player would see from those that they would probably miss, or that plays the kind of typical errors that they normally make.
posted by thelonius at 8:48 AM on September 17, 2019


Normal players almost never score bingos, so it hardly matters to casual play

I was coming in to say that I'm a normal player, and I score bingos all the time (playing on my phone, against the computer opponent), then I looked at the Scrabble statistics on my phone, saw that I have played 13,544 games in the past four years (scoring 7857 bingos in the process), and realized that a) I am not a normal player, and b) I should probably at some point seriously re-evaluate my life choices.
posted by Daily Alice at 8:50 AM on September 17, 2019 [14 favorites]


I, too, score bingos all the time. It's not that hard if you wind up with an I-N-G or other multiletter suffixes in your rack...
posted by AJaffe at 9:34 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


My proudest Scrabble moment was playing against a group of magazine copy editors and placing ASTREW on a triple word score. (As in “The tiles lay ASTREW across the floor.”) They were all fairly certain I had made the word up, which I very much had, but I was able to instill enough doubt that no one wanted to be the one to challenge it and risk losing their turn. After the play passed unchallenged they pulled out the dictionary and there was much friendly jeering and outrage.

The inability to pull this kind of bullshit in Words With Friends is why I tired of it quickly.
posted by ejs at 9:45 AM on September 17, 2019 [3 favorites]


Playing Scrabble with competitive scrabbler wannabes is not fun. If you have to bust out a dictionary, everyone has lost. If you use a dictionary to invalidate a totally legit word on the basis that it's not included in an inherently outdated and often incorrect book like a dictionary, we shouldn't even be acquaintances. Really, Upwords is just better scrabble in my eyes. Less of a pissing contest of vocabulary and obtuse rules and more spelling out fun stuff to laugh with friends, though, it is at times much heavier on the two letter words, which is good or bad depending on how bullshit you and your friends are. I run very high on bullshit so I enjoy making up and defending 2+ letter words.
posted by GoblinHoney at 9:56 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


We've found that the best way to improve Scrabble is to ban two-letter words, especially when there is a large experience gap between the players.
posted by FakeFreyja at 10:05 AM on September 17, 2019 [5 favorites]


I imagine it is not trivial to write algorithms that find plausible but flawed moves, or that can distinguish the kind of good moves that an amateur player would see from those that they would probably miss, or that plays the kind of typical errors that they normally make.

A couple of quick ideas (note: am not computer scientist):
  • Segregate the dictionary by commonness of word
  • Take best-scoring word regardless of strategic placement (i.e., take 25 points but open a TWS; leave a singular word hanging when all of the S tiles are still out)
  • Don't keep track of possible remaining tiles
posted by Etrigan at 10:41 AM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Grumpybearbride gets bingos with alarming consistency. I get them so infrequently that I actually remember my most recent - GUNSHIPS - and depend instead on creative multi-dimensional word clusters that feature a DWS and, of course, the coveted TWS.

We also use the Hasbro online dictionary for challenges. That's a game mechanic which we like, but of course the rules are completely malleable, aren't they? And banning 2-letter words is great until you have a J, Z or Q late in the game.

I'm hungry, gonna order some za.
posted by grumpybear69 at 10:47 AM on September 17, 2019




(I am particularly fond of bag methods for evening out the extremes). I also basically don't play Chess anymore […]

Chess but you draw the pieces out of a bag would be pretty brilliant.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:59 PM on September 17, 2019 [4 favorites]


There's actually something kinda like that, called No Stress Chess. It's primarily a teaching tool, and works by having players use a small hand of cards to choose what piece they can move (thus removing the pressure of large-scale strategy and instead reformulating the game into a lot of small, tactical choices, since what pieces they can move is not in their control).

It's... OK?
posted by tocts at 1:49 PM on September 17, 2019 [1 favorite]


Playing Scrabble with competitive scrabbler wannabes is not fun. If you have to bust out a dictionary, everyone has lost. If you use a dictionary to invalidate a totally legit word on the basis that it's not included in an inherently outdated and often incorrect book like a dictionary, we shouldn't even be acquaintances.

Someone telling me 'aran' (as in 'aran weight yarn') didn't count because it wasn't in the Scrabble dictionary made me one of those competitive players. Before that, someone could go, "Aww, I was gonna play there..." and I would be like, "Oh, sorry!" and play an equally good word somewhere else because I didn't care about points or winning, I just wanted to play fun words.

Not anymore.
posted by brook horse at 2:18 PM on September 17, 2019


Bingos are definitely too valuable, and I say that as someone whose Scrabble strategy is almost entirely based around maintaining a bingo friendly rack. I'm really curious about the solving algorithm though. The article implies they arise randomly, but most of my early turns are based around getting rid of everything but the universally useful one or two point tiles.

I agree that luck is what makes it fun though. For me, the best part of a game is the sort of poker half way through where both players are roughly aware of what the other has, the big bonuses are available, and you're trying to set yourself up without leaving it open for your partner.
posted by lucidium at 6:07 PM on September 17, 2019 [2 favorites]


I'm ambivalent about Scrabble balancing the points and would try a game with more balanced points.

Once you start getting into defensive and offensive play with reliable blocks and planning Scrabble is only partially about vocabulary or letter/word points. I do prefer it if the dictionary is effectively the entire OED and then some and not one of the official Scrabble dictionaries because part of the fun still is vocabulary play.

I find the best games involve a nice casual adult dinner party, some healthy, well matched competition and when it's more like you're playing with runes and making random poetry and playing with words while having a nice chat. It should be relaxed and not stressful or irritating, which is why I hate Monopoly because it's like 90% irritation.

I still want to win, though. I don't play very often or very seriously, but it's one of the only board games I'm naturally comfortable at playing and that I'm not awkward at, and I just don't seem to lose very often. I regularly and reliably suck at most other board games, but apparently Scrabble is a perfect balance of strategy puzzle and word play for me. And of course I like showing off my vocabulary, it's fun and it's a good brain workout.

So I try to keep it... mellow and not lethal or brutal but will scale my strategy and play to my co-players. If people want to throw down like it's a pull no punches game of dominoes I'll throw down with the strategy and underhanded defensive/offensive play, but I'm just as happy keeping it less aggressive and more mellow and playing with vocabulary.

I also seem to enjoy losing, too, because sometimes I learn new words and it's just fun.
posted by loquacious at 7:50 PM on September 17, 2019


As many casual players are not aware of how Serious Scrabble relates to Everyday Scrabble, here is an overview for anyone interested.

There are two official English tournament dictionaries: one for North America + Thailand, one for ... everywhere else. They've both been updated in roughly the last year. The former is called the NASPA Word List, 2018 (abbreviated NWL18) and the latter is called Collins Official Scrabble Words (CSW19). By convention the "international"/UK dictionary is a superset of NWL18; it has all the words that NWL18 has, and a bunch more. There is a complicated history of the sources for these dictionaries and how the sources have changed over time. There is a school dictionary that excludes offensive stuff.

There are the following number of words of 2 to 8 letters in each: 88,311 in NWL and 119,609 in CSW. That's obviously a big difference, and hints at the depths of "what kind of nonsense word is this?" that can be reached, if that is the way you think about Scrabble. In the CSW19 dictionary, there are 2282 words marked "(Spenser)", and, like I'm not a historian of English but even as a dedicated player I often think of these as some of the silliest ("if it's not even arguably English any more, what is it doing there?"). I don't think we need these at all: EMERAUDE (emerald), EMPLONGE (plunge), QUINCHE (to stir/move), and so on. For all that, QUAYD (daunted) and the rest remain words that every high-ranked Scrabble prodigy must know.

Core Scrabble resources: Collins Zyzzyva is a free desktop dictionary program for the CSW19 dictionary. Searching, quizzes, etc. You can add a "custom" dictionary like NWL18 if you can obtain the copyrighted list. Ulu is a lightweight dictionary search for iOS. Aerolith.org is a top-notch web site that has daily word quizzes for both English dictionaries (and I think French and Spanish as well), and the ability to create custom quizzes. From what I can tell a lot of uber-pros hang out there, because the scores they obtain are outrageous (e.g. answering 100% of ~70 bingo racks in ~3 minutes, when many of the words are stuff like SMECTIC CHLAMYS SABKHAS POWHIRI SEBIFIC). This is what I must tell myself, anyway. I get about 33% on those quizzes on the 4.5-minute timer and I'm roughly last on the leaderboard. But it's only secondarily a game, it's supposed to be a study tool.

If you're like me, it's one thing to remember that AEROSAT is a probable bingo, and another thing to find it in AAEORST. An intermediate bingo-maker will look for suffixes like -ER(S), -IER, -(I)EST, -ING, -(I)ED, etc, and prefixes like RE-, DE-, DIS-. None works on AAEORST, although a number of them are there. I have been wondering if the prodigies 'simply' associate the alphabetized rack, called an "alphagram", with the word(s) it makes, half-consciously, or what is going on there that they can solve them so fast.

The bread and butter of intermediate Scrabble players, people who definitely take time to study, is knowing the 2- and 3-letter words (about 1,100, depending on dictionary), knowing how to look for bingos, and knowing how to hook words alongside existing words, because each tile value is then counted twice. E.g. you can play "EXED" under "BADE" because BE, AX, ED, and DE are all 2-letter words. Casual players will sometimes even ask if this is allowed in the rules; yes, it's the way to big points! The only letters that make no 2-letter word are V and C (except "CH" in CSW). In my own experience, stuff like "WVIIUU" is the absolute worst stuff to have. With a so-so rack you might play QI or LOUIE, or even HM MM CWM PHT, but there is exactly one (obscure) word in WVIIUU, and if you play it you'll still have VUU. A really bad rack haunts you for a number of turns, which is costly.

Expert players generally alternate between "dumping" undesirable tiles like CFHVWY using these fancy hooks and their extensive 4-5L vocab knowledge ("WYCH", "VROW") while retaining desirable tiles—and keeping the rack balanced between vowels and consonants—to have a good chance at playing a bingo on the next draw.

The highest-scoring letters are opportunities, not undesirable; JQXZ mostly take care of themselves once you know 2L and 3L words, and how to place tiles so they count twice; or better, so the premium square counts twice: if you put a Z on a triple-letter score beside an A both ways, to make simply "ZA", you get 10 x 3 x 2 + 1 + 1 points! This is why, in the article, someone proposes reducing the value of high-point tiles. The proliferation of junky 2/3-letter words in recent decades has made these tiles much less difficult to get rid of and/or score well with. Defense now involves not putting your vowels beside triple-letter scores and such. Even four-point tiles like H and F are powerful when hooked both ways on premium squares.

The racks that make the most seven-letter words are AEINRST and AEGINST (11 each, in CSW). The most words you can make with one set of letters is 13: PARSE and STARE, which coincidentally is much of the Scrabble experience.
posted by sylvanshine at 10:06 PM on September 17, 2019 [8 favorites]


I was coming in to say that I'm a normal player, and I score bingos all the time (playing on my phone, against the computer opponent), then I looked at the Scrabble statistics on my phone, saw that I have played 13,544 games in the past four years

Wait... so, 10 games a day? On average?!

One thing about the article that I was disappointed they didn't do is rerun their Quackle tournament without bingos at all and see if the scores evened out. All they did was set all the letter scores to all-50, which changes the game profoundly as it makes all letters equal value.

Because even without bingos, Scrabble is a game with a lot of luck: the piece draw is random, after all, and you could get bad racks. If the score spreads evened out greatly without bingos in the game, it would say something profound about the quality of Scrabble's general design. But maybe it would be too great a change to the game for them to manage easily, or else maybe the strategy files all prioritize bingoes to an extent that it wouldn't be a fair test to exclude them, kneecapping otherwise good algorithms.
posted by JHarris at 10:52 PM on September 17, 2019


Once we get the luck out of Scrabble, let's start on Poker next.
posted by hypnogogue at 11:01 PM on September 17, 2019


I have been wondering if the prodigies 'simply' associate the alphabetized rack, called an "alphagram", with the word(s) it makes, half-consciously, or what is going on there that they can solve them so fast.

The best player at a club I used to attend spent years as a night watchman memorizing alphabetized bingoes...

In my own experience, stuff like "WVIIUU" is the absolute worst stuff to have. With a so-so rack you might play QI or LOUIE, or even HM MM CWM PHT, but there is exactly one (obscure) word in WVIIUU, and if you play it you'll still have VUU. A really bad rack haunts you for a number of turns, which is costly.

Everything you said jibes with my experience of Serious Scrabble, but especially this. When I see the kind of rack that will make my next 3+ turns miserable, I just skip my turn to trade my tiles; I probably do it at least once a game on average and think this is one of the most underappreciated maneuvers in the game.

The other, related maneuver I think is underappreciated is sacrificing a few points if I can play, say, 5 of my tiles instead of 2. Every tile you draw is a chance at a blank or an S, and every tile you draw is a tile your opponent can't use.
posted by aws17576 at 12:41 AM on September 18, 2019 [1 favorite]


Duplicate Scrabble, as referenced above, takes the luck out of Scrabble in a very straightforward fashion. Everyone has the same set of tiles and faces the same board--highest scoring word goes on the board.
posted by oneironaut at 1:13 AM on September 18, 2019


I was coming in to say that I'm a normal player, and I score bingos all the time (playing on my phone, against the computer opponent), then I looked at the Scrabble statistics on my phone, saw that I have played 13,544 games in the past four years

Wait... so, 10 games a day? On average?!


Well, yes, but some days are not average - my life as a stay-at-home mom to a non-driving teenager means that I spend a lot of time waiting between bouts of chauffeur duty. A day that includes ten hours spent at a marching band competition is a day that accommodates a heck of a lot of Scrabble games. I suppose I should be spending the time writing the Great American Novel or plotting the overthrow of the government or something, but Scrabble is about as much as I have mental energy for these days. (See: life choices, re-evaluating.)
posted by Daily Alice at 3:35 AM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]


Yeah, "WVIIUU" is going straight back in the bag. Talking about fixing Scrabble, I swear there are too many "I"s.
posted by lucidium at 5:49 AM on September 18, 2019


I'd keep the W.
posted by hypnogogue at 6:57 AM on September 18, 2019


Ah, Daily Alice. All I have to say is, I would hate to run into you in a dark alley carrying a Scrabble board.
posted by JHarris at 6:23 PM on September 18, 2019


("Noooo please you won that last one by over 100 points, let me go!")
posted by JHarris at 6:24 PM on September 18, 2019


It's apparently pretty difficult to make a realistically mediocre chess program; I wonder if Scrabble is the same?

I worked on one back in the early 90's. The way we did it was to split the dictionary by reading age and/or difficulty level. The weakest computer player used only the easiest dictionary. The strongest used all of them.
posted by Cardinal Fang at 5:18 AM on September 19, 2019 [1 favorite]


My mother's been attending a weekly (casually competitive) Scrabble club for years. The newbies get handout sheets with all the legal three- and four-letter words on them. That does a lot to balance the game.
posted by ardgedee at 5:50 AM on September 20, 2019


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