A study strategy

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Scrabble Adventures

Blog URL: http://doubleblanks.wordpress.com
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Location: Mississauga-Toronto
Blog Summary: The adventures of a tournament Scrabble player
This blog has been active since: November,2006
Post: A study strategy

A study strategy

A few weeks ago, I attended a Scrabble session led by our club director, Craig Rowland. Craig dubbed the session “Scrabble School” and reviewed some basic strategies (i.e., don’t close the board up with two and three letter words), reviewed when to open up the triple word score lane (using a presentation originally made by Adam Logan at the Toronto Scrabble Club), opening rack strategies, and when to trade tiles. Overall, the session was very helpful - although I would have preferred if people listenedto what Craig had to say (since he is an expert) rather than interjecting what they *like/prefer* to do.

One point that really stuck to me was Craig’s advice on how to study. He recommended the following strategy:

  1. learn the 2 letter words
  2. learn the U-less Q words
  3. learn the 3 letter words
  4. learn the 5 letter words with J, X, Z, or Q (most of the “power” tiles)
  5. learn the 6 letter “high-probability” stems to make 7 letter words (e.g., SATIRE?, TISANE?)

This strategy was recommended for those who are starting from “scratch”. I’m sure the strategy could be useful to players of varying levels of experience.

My Study Strategy

I’ve learned the 2 letter words and know most (if not all) of the U-less Q words. I’m trying to get the 3 letter words down, but a handful still escape me (like ALB or FOU or IFF to name a few). Right now, I’ve finished learning the TISANE? stem and am trying to learn TISANE??. My plan is to work through the top 100 high probability stems (as listed by Lexpert) but also study the 8 letter word when learning the stem. I remember Craig mentioned that better players tend to play more 8 letter bingos compared with beginning players. His reasoning is that you don’t always have an opportunity to overlay a tile or to hook off of another existing word. As such, learning to play through a word is very important. Thus I’m trying to learn the stem plus ??. I’ve finished TISANE? and now am tackling TISANE??. I expect learning the TISANE?? will take about a month as there are 247 words.

I originally anticipated learning the SATIRE? stem, but I think I’m going to go for STANED? instead. I came across this situation during the Toronto Open tournament but could only see the TISANE? words. STANED? is a bit lower on the probability list, but it’s something I want to tackle. As I’m learning these stems (say one a month for the full list of 7 and 8 letter words) I’ll try and master the 3 letter words and then start on the 5 letter words (and not just the ones with the Z, X, J, or Q). I’ll probably go after the 6 letter words next, as Tony Leah said that not too many players study those.

I’m also going to start simulating some games using Quackle to evaluate my board play. Based on the simulations that I’ve run so far, my greatest weakness seems to be my poor word knowledge, specifically not knowing the bingos. I’m using both Lexpert and Zyzzyva to generate word lists and for quizzing. Both are excellent study aids.

If you have any other suggestions, I’d love to hear from you (you can find my contact info in the About Me section).

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