Speaking of extreme geekiness, last night as an experiment Kenny and I played a game of “open book” Scrabble. We played a two-player game, but with our tile racks open, and used TEA, the word builder, and the Scrabble dictionary to see just how high we would score in Scrabble if we knew every acceptable Scrabble word in the English language. The resulting board is here:
And the scores/words played are here:
You’ll notice that while this game featured quite a few very strange words and was relatively high-scoring, it was not astronomically so (in fact, when Kenny and I play by the rules we typically only score about 60 points less per player). Additionally, some of our better plays (e.g. my 62-pointer for playing “za”) were not suggested by the tools we were using but simply through our own identification of high-scoring opportunities available on the board. And even with TEA to help us, the letters we received only enabled us to score three “bingos” during the whole game. This all just reinforces some of the things they always say about good Scrabble playing:
- Scrabble involves a good deal of luck. No matter how many words you know, sometimes you can still get constrained by crappy raw material.
- Knowing all of the 2- and 3- letter words off-hand can help you easily spot opportunities for leveraging the letters that are already on the board.
- Same goes for the “q without u” words, and words that use “j” or “x”.
- Sometimes even when you have 7 “good” or common letters on your board, there’s still no way to force a word that uses all of them.
Of course we’ll never really know how we would have done with this exact set of turns if we had been playing “for real” – I’d guess that we’d have actually done pretty badly because there were a few times during the game when we were both stumped by what we would have played if we didn’t have tools to help us (I suppose those are the occasions when we would have traded in letters normally). I guess if we had really wanted to be formal about the experiment, we also would have recorded which tiles we drew on each turn. But that would be nerdy.