Beginning Again

Here are another 5 racks taken at random from a bag of tiles

D E I O R T X

A A B I N O Y

E I I R S V W

D D I R T T U

A B E I L N W

This is the same format as last week’s blog which received several positive comments, so I thought I would give it another go. However I will try to do something different next week.

The idea is to discuss real life type situations when it is your turn to go first. There is no agenda with me deciding what words I want to talk about. It is just whatever letters I pulled out of the bag.

In some cases the best play might be a moot point. The highest scoring move might not be the best option. It could be better to score a bit less, but keep a nicer combination of letters.

Even when you have decided on the best word to play there is a decision about where to play it because exposing vowels next to the double letter scores can sometimes be expensive if your opponent has the J, Q, X or Z

If the rack is bad enough then the best play might be to change, but then you have to decide exactly which letters you will exchange and what you will keep.

So go back to those 7 random racks and decide what you think is the best play. Circle the letter you will put on the centre square of the board so that you know how it will be placed. I will highlight the central square letter on my suggested answers.

Question 1: DEIORTX

Only one word gets the X on the double letter square so that play – REDOX – should be a clear winner because 42 is too much to turn down.

REDOX is a type of chemical reaction where one agent is reduced while and the other is oxidised.

The second best play is probably the new word – DOX – for 21 points. Although it never feels very good to release the X for only a moderate score, the leave of EIRT is certainly a great group of letters to draw to. DOX means to publish personal information about a person on the internet.

This was a rack where we might not have minded going 2nd. If our opponent played an I we could play TRIOXIDE. An even nicer play was available if they played a T. Would you have been able to spot TETROXID? That would be high level scrabble.

Question 2: AABINOY

There are two similar looking words with different meanings that vie for best play

BANYA 26 points Leaving IO A Russian sauna

BANIA 20 points Leaving OY An Indian fig tree

Taking the slightly higher score here is probably better even though drawing to IO doesn’t look as attractive as OY. Your opponent might get a good score from the double letter score over the Y with an F, B or M, but it won’t be as expensive as leaving the I in that position if your opponent has the X or can play QAT

Question 3: EIIRSVW

WIVER 30 points Leaving IS A heraldic dragon

We don’t want to play the S just to get the V on the double letter square. VIEWS is not so good even though it does not put a vowel next to the double letter square

WIVE scoring 20 points and leaving IRS isn’t a bad choice, but 10 points is a lot to give up just to keep that R

Question 4: DDIRTTU

TURD 10 points Leaving DIT

Fells like the best play even though I am not a fan of keeping D and T together as I think they are often inflexible. The highest scoring play also has some merit

DRUID 18 points Leaving TT

You often try not to keep a duplication because it plays so badly when you draw another one. That should be even more of a concern when you are drawing 5 tiles, so I thought I would do some maths:

If you play DRUID then you will draw at least one more T just over 21% of the time. That doesn’t seem so bad, but I will add in the 3% of the time that you will get no more T’s but pick up all consonants and also the 12.6% that you pick up four other consonants plus one vowel because that will probably be an awkward rack. Those possibilities together add up to 36.6%

Am I being too pessimistic or is that extra 8 points worth it?

If you will still play DRUID then don’t miss the opportunity to score 36 points later with DRUIDISM. You probably don’t want to waste two S’s for DRUIDESS though.

Question 5: ABEILNW

The best two plays here are

WANLE 24 points Leaving BI Supple or pliant

BLAWN 26 points Leaving EI Blown. Past tense of BLAW (scots)

I will rate WANLE slightly higher because it keeps one vowel and one consonant, even though BI is nothing wonderful. I do admit to being very tempted to take the extra 2 points for BLAWN because it keeps that valuable E. This might be a close call that comes down to personal preference.

This was another rack where we would be happy to go second if our opponent played a D or an N for WINDABLE or WINNABLE

This was an interesting set of opening racks. Did you agree with my choices?

Happy Scrabbling

Patrick

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