Open Scrabble


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Post: Open Scrabble / 10.01.2008

Open Scrabble

This Scrabble variant occurred to me in the shower this morning: instead of working with 7 tiles at a time, drawn blindly, you get to pick your tiles. You still use the blind draw to determine who goes first, but then you spread out all the tiles face up, and the players take turns picking one tile each until they're all distributed.

You each keep your tiles face-up in front of you for the whole game, so there's no mystery about who has what, and nobody needs to try to keep track of what's left. Each turn, then, you can use anything you have in front of you. No exchanging tiles, obviously, since they're all distributed, and you can't use more than 7 in any one turn. Bingos are way too easy in this version, so no bonus points for them.

I haven't tried this, but it sounds intriguing. In play it seems like it would be kind of the Chess version of Scrabble, much more about planning and board-position. Plus the tile-draw at the beginning evokes trading-card-game deck-building. Or being picked for teams in elementary school, although in this case you're always a captain, so it shouldn't be as traumatic.

Presumably the opening rounds of the draw would be amenable to analysis, if not optimization, but chess openings are fairly exhaustively explored and it doesn't seem to ruin the fun, so I think that's probably fine.


This discussion led me to one more rule: The first word by each player must use only 1-point tiles. This makes the first move more clearly a strategic one, rather than just an exercise in playing the highest-scoring word you can make in a vaccuum.

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