This article introduces Scrabble as played in school competitions and talks about some tips and tricks that you can use to win at Scrabble in a competition.

What is Scrabble?

Scrabble is a word game invented in 1931 that is played on a board that has a grid marked 15x15. The least amount of players required to play is 2, and the most number of players allowed to play is 4.

When you start, there should be 100 tiles in total. You can count the tiles by arranging it on the board like this:

Counting Scrabble Tiles

How to play Scrabble

Scrabble is usually played with a timer. The timer is a double-clock, and it is also used in chess. It looks something like this:

Scrabble TimerCredit: By Sergei (Own work) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

You must set the minute clock to thirty minutes. If you or the opponent goes over the red arrow, you are not allowed to make a move anymore. However, you can still challenge your opponents if you think that they are putting words that do not exist. Once you finish your turn, tap the button of the clock to let the other player know that it is his or her turn.

Playing ScrabbleCredit: iamsyFirst, take a tile rack and place it in front of you. Make sure the Scrabble logo on the rack is facing your opponent and not you. Also make sure that the Scrabble logo on the board is facing your right, so that it is fair for both you and your opponent.

To determine who starts first, you will need to hold the tile bag above your eye level, randomly pick a tile and put it on the board, showing it to your opponent. Your opponent must do the same.  The alphabet on the tile you get determines the player who starts first.

For example, if your opponent gets ‘A’ and you get ‘B’, your opponent will start first. If you get a blank, you will start first. If the both of you get the same tiles, place them back into the bag and choose your tile again.

Once the player who starts is determined, hold the tile bag above your eye level and pick 7 tiles. Once you do, do not show them to the opponent. Place them on the tile rack. If you accidentally take an extra tile, you have to let your opponent randomly pick a tile from your rack and place it in the tile bag. However, do not show your tiles to the opponent. 

So let us assume that your opponent starts first. He or she must put the word they are forming in the middle of the tile, as long as one of the tiles is touching the red box with a star on it. The points of the word you placed on the red box will be doubled because it is a ‘Double Word’ box. After your opponent placed their tile and counted their score, it is your turn. Your opponent will then replenish their tile rack by making sure their total number of tiles is 7 again.

If your opponent has placed a word that does not exist, you can challenge your opponent by saying challenge. However, if your opponent has not counted their score yet, your challenge will not count. When you challenge your opponent, you can check if the word exists using the Scrabble dictionary.

If the word that was challenged exists, the person who got their word challenged will gain 3 points. If the word that was challenged does not exist, the person who got their word challenged will have to skip a turn.

In order to count the score of the word you placed, you have to sum up the numbers at the bottom right corner of the tiles. An example is shown in the picture below

Counting Word ScoreCredit: iamsy

When there are no more tiles in the bag and a player has used up his or her tiles, the game will end. The game will also end when both parties agree to end the game.

When the game ends, you can count the spread between your score and your opponent’s score. The spread is basically the difference between your score and your opponent’s score. After you do so, you can brag to your friends about how much the difference between your score and your opponent’s score. If you lost, you can work on it and try to beat your opponent.

Scoring a ‘Bingo’ or a ‘Scrabble’

A ‘Bingo’ or a ‘Scrabble’ occurs when a player uses up all 7 of his or her tiles. When you do so, you gain an additional 50 points to the amount of points the word gives you.  You can only score a ‘Bingo’ or a ‘Scrabble’ if you use up 7 of your tiles in one round.

Tips on how to win Scrabble

  • During your opponent’s turn, think of a word to form and a place to put. This saves the amount of time wasted during your turn because you would have already thought up of a word and a place to put your tiles.
  • Find at least two spots to place your tiles in case the other player takes one of them.
  • Try not to place a vowel above, beside or below the ‘triple letter’ box because they may be able to use high-scoring letters such as ‘Z’, ‘Q’, ‘J’ or ‘X’ for the ‘triple letter’ box and thus gaining up to twenty or more points.
  • Try to avoid the last two grids because your opponent can easily score ‘triple word’ if you do.
  • Try to aim for triple word. If you do, it will triple the amount of points you gain when your tile lands on the ‘triple word’ box.
  • Try to form a bingo whenever you have –ING, -ER, -ES and so on because it is easier for you to form a bingo this way.
  • Do not fish for tiles just to get a bingo. If you can put a high-scoring word onto the board, use the word instead of saving them up for a bingo.
  • Try to stack your tiles on top of other tiles. This way, you will gain more points. An example of stacking is shown in the picture below by playing the word "PETTING":
    Scrabble StackingCredit: iamsy
  • Try to memorize the two-letter Scrabble word list. This will allow you to place words easier when you are stacking your tiles on top of other tiles.
  • After you have memorised the two-letter Scrabble word list, try to memorize the hooking list. The hooking list is a list of words that are formed when you add an extra letter to the front or the back of a certain two-letter word.