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Scrabble II in Action!


The Columbia Scrabble Club vs. The Dover Scrabble Club

or,

What Scrabble is vs. What Scrabble could be...

 

In late 2008, the Columbia Scabble Club (Maryland) graciously and bravely took up the invitation of the Dover Scrabble Club (Delaware) to pit its finished Scrabble boards against ours.

The Columbia Scrabble Club is sanctioned by the National Scrabble Association, and consequently plays by American tournament rules. I call this form of Scrabble "modern American tournament-style Scrabble", or "modern Scrabble", for short.

The Dover Scrabble Club (Delaware), on the other hand, plays Scrabble II, which is pure Scrabble with the straitjacket removed. A few small adjustments move the game out of the morass of the twos and threes and up into the realm of the six through nines. And we do it using a conventional dictionary and with no one ever scoring a point for an invalid word. (No bluffing!)

To help get the show on the road, I've moved the Scrabble II overview to an appendix at the bottom. You can easily find further discussion on other web pages of mine.

***

The Columbia Scrabble Club submitted finished boards for three games, presumably among their best of the evening. Hence, I selected three games from a Dover Scrabble Club session from the same week.

Even though Scrabble players compete against each other in a game, I view the final Scrabble board as the product of a team effort of all the players. (In the Dover club, we prefer threesomes and foursomes.) What you see below are the words on the final boards, not the individual plays.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Words in red would not be acceptable in the Dover Scrabble Club. Generally, this means that the word is not recognized by the American Heritage 4th Edition. There is also a small handful of words now included in the American Heritage which I have specifically banished as Scrabble junk. See the appendix at the bottom.

Here, then, in a very easy-to-digest format, is a comparison of the three Columbia games vs. three Dover games played in the same week.

Take a look and tell me if it looks like the Columbia players might have a significantly more rewarding Scrabble experience if they trashed the silly little words, brought on a real dictionary, and started pulling nice, long words from out of their own vocabularies.

If you don't agree, please send me a batch of games from your Scrabble club and I will whip up a similar page for you!

 

*** 9-letter Words ***

Columbia: (none)

Dover: (3) DISQUIETS TOLERATED TWIDDLERS

 

*** 8-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (none)

Dover: (3) HAIRPINS REAGENTS RELEGATE

 

*** 7-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (4) BEARING GROUSES LEERING SHOWIER

Dover: (13) ANOTHER ASPIRED AVIATES BISCUIT BRACKEN CANNILY CONDOMS EXHUMED FEELING HILLING ORDEALS REPEATS SEEMING

 

*** 6-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (7) COCOAS DREAMS INTUIT NATION NOVELS REMARK VISAGE

Dover: (11) BROWED FRIGHT MOSQUE PIGLET SQUABS TOMBOY TWEEDS VIOLET WAGONS WHEELS WOOFED

 

*** 5-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (18) AMAZE ANODE ATRIA DUNCE ERODE FRITZ GOOFS GUILE KITED LIVID LURED MOVES QUITE TOONS URBAN VILER WAGES WEEKS

Dover: (15) BLOWN COWER DIRTY EPOXY EVADE FINER LAZED OVERT RANDY RUINS TANGO TELLY WADER WIPER WOVEN

 

*** 4-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (28) ANIL BRAT CLEF DAHS DART DINT DIRT DONE DORK EYES FIBS FRET HEED LACY LIEU LOAN NICE NOON PALE PEON PURR QATS RENT REVS TAUS TINE TSAR WAFT

Dover: (16) BURP COGS DARK DIES DOZE GAIT GRUB GYRO HORN JOGS NAME OVEN PARD VEER WIDE WILY

 

*** 3-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (33) ADO AGO AYE DEL DUI ELF FEW HEX HEY HUE JIF JIG LAT LOG LOO MOB NAY NIP NOB PAD PIE POI POX QIS RYE SUN TAT TEA TIC VOW YAM YEH ZAS

Dover: (13) AXE CAY END FEW FOB GNU HUT LAX POI ROW SOY TOY ZED

 

*** 2-Letter Words ***

Columbia: (47) AA AB AG AH AI AL AR AS AY BE BO DO DO EH EL EX ID ID IF JO JO MI MO MU NE OI OM OM OR OW OX OY PA QI QI QI RE TI TI UN UN UT UT WO XI XU ZA

Dover: (13) AS AS AW BY EX GO HI ID ME OF SO TA YE

 

*** Stupid and Invalid Words ***

Columbia: (26) QATS DEL DUI JIF QIS YEH ZAS AA AL BO JO JO MO NE OI OM OM OY QI QI QI UN UN WO XU ZA

Dover: (none)

 

*** Mini-plays of just Two-letter Words ***

Scrabble II has high standards and does not allow these exceptionally mindless "mini-plays" consisting solely of two-letter word(s). I would need to see the play by play record to count up the exact number of mini-plays made. These are the ones surviving on the final boards. Some may actually represent two separate plays. Other mini-plays may have been covered up by the addition of another letter. So this list represents a lower limit.

Columbia: (at least 12)   BE/EH   PA/AG   AI/OI   ZA   UT/UN   BO   JO/DO   QI/QI   XI/XU/UT   MO/OM/OM   JO/OW   AS/AH

Dover Club: (never happens)

 

*** Use of the Q ***

Columbia:

QUITE
QATS
QIS
QI
QI
QI

Dover:

DISQUIETS
MOSQUE
SQUABS

 

*** Percentage of SHORTIES on Final Board ***

Columbia: 47 Twos + 33 Threes → 80 Shorties/137 words = 58.4% Shorties

Dover: 13 Twos + 13 Threes → 26 Shorties/87 words = 29.9% Shorties

 

*** Percentage of LONG WORDS on Final Board ***

Columbia: 7 Sixes + 4 Sevens → 11 Long Words/137 words = 8.0% Long Words

Dover: 11 Sixes + 13 Sevens + 3 Eights + 3 Nines → 30 Long Words/87 words = 34.5% Long Words

 

*** Average LENGTH of Words on Final Board ***

Columbia: 465 letters/137 words = 3.39 letters/word

Dover: 413 letters/87 words = 4.75 letters/word

(Understand that "letters" means all the letters making up the individual words, as distinct from tiles played. We actually played 30 more tiles than the Columbia players in the three games, 319 vs. 289. Think about that - we made 50 fewer words while playing 30 more tiles!)

So the Dover Scrabble Club played words about 1.36 letters longer, on the average, than the Columbia Scrabble Club.

Put another way, our words were, on the average, about 40% longer than the Columbia Scrabble Club words!

 

*** Conclusion ***

Scrabble II: half the shorties, twice the long words, and none of the artificiality of modern tournament-style Scrabble!

 


Appendix I: Scrabble II

The Dover Scrabble Club (Delaware) plays Scrabble II, which is pure Scrabble with a few very small, very natural, long overdue fixes which rescue the game from the army of outlandish midget words which have taken over Scrabble in the decades since the game was invented. The game has been broken wide open, but, otherwise, all the strategies remain the same. In a nutshell, Scrabble II is . . .

Moreover, we use a conventional dictionary, the American Heritage Dictionary 4th Edition, to further keep our boards from looking like Greek or Martian. The American Heritage is probably about 75% as inclusive as the Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary (OSPD), but it has more words than you'll ever use, in life or in Scrabble. You've seen in this study that, by not having some weird little word to get you out of each and every jam, you are nudged into playing longer, more respectable words. I urge you to consider a conventional dictionary. A smaller, more refined word set in Scrabble has just the opposite effect to what you would think.

 


Appendix 2: All I'm Asking For . . .

. . . is any of the following:

1. Give it a try!

2. Give it a try and report back!

3. A quality Scrabble II program placed prominently on the internet. I'll pay reasonable programming costs!

4. A dear, old benefactor to bankroll a Scrabble II tournament with the largest ever cash prizes for a Scrabble tournament (which would still only amount to chicken change!)

 


Appendix 3: Disallowed American Heritage Words

In moving up from the second to the fourth edition of the American Heritage a few years ago, I found a few words were added which I couldn't bear fouling up my Scrabble boards. While I was rejecting those words, I took the opportunity to "retire" all the Hebrew letters (letters aren't words; Hebrew is foreign) and a few old-timers, including AZO and ZOA, which never pop up in real life and which have long since worn out their welcome on the Scrabble board. See my Dover Scrabble Club rules page for a list of charges against the condemned:

AA AE JO PE QI ZA

AZO DEX DIS HOS IGG JEE MEM SUQ TAV VAU VAV WAW ZAG ZIG ZEP ZOA

QOPH

May they rest in peace.

 


Appendix 4: The game boards used in this study

The stats presented above provide the easiest way to digest the point being made here, but feel free to compare the Columbia and Dover boards side by side. Each board is shown twice, the second time with all the tiles flipped across the diagonal so you can easily see every word played by reading horizontally. Don't bother yourself with the vertical words. The * represents an unused triple word score.


          Columbia - game 1                            Dover - game 1
  
                                                                              H     
                                                                              I R   
                                                                              L U   
  *      DUNCE  *   *  XU INTUIT AH        OVEN   *   WIDE        O      *    L I   
   F   PEoN  R       FRITZ O  FIBS          E A         I         VEER   O    I N   
   R        VOW          AGO    R           E ME    C PARD        E      REAGENTS   
  XI        ID           SUN   LAT          R EX    O O T         NAME   D  R G     
  UT      PALE            I   QATS             H  CANNILY           EXHUMED U       
   ZAS AY  NE  J     P   AL  TIC AB            U  O D                    A  BISCUIT 
  I GUILE DORK OW    E   YEH   Y rE            M  G O    R               L     O    
  NOON  HEED    A   Do     E      A        *ORDEALs MOSQUe        *   COGs  E  WIPER
  T       LEERING   UN  P DEL     R          E D   AS    L            A   ASpIRED   
  U    T        E   N   ANODE     I          A     S  G  E          CONDOMS O  R    
  IF  QI    MOVES   C VILER E MO  N          GRUB EpOXY  G            N  O  X       
  TI LACY   OM      ERODE K R OM  G          E  I  I  R  A        W POI  S GYRO     
   BRAT               W     I V         HILLING S  R  O  T        I A L  Q          
  AS TSAr                JO N E              T  COWER    E        DIRTY  U          
  H    BEARING  *   *     WAGES   *      RUINS  U ID     *        E D   ReLEGATE*   
                                                I P                                 
                                                T E                                 
                                                  R                                 
  
  
  
  
          Columbia - game 2                            Dover - game 2
                                        
                                                                                    
                                                         R                          
                                                         O               F          
  N      *      *   *      JIG    *        *      G     AW        *      O   TANGO  
  ID        G UT          DO                      N     V             TOMBOY O      
  PURR     LOAN           I  L    N              HUT B  I              V  FEELING   
   I E   L  OY        REMARK I    o              I WILY A              E     E      
     MOB U  FEW         O TINE    V         T      E O  TA             R     RANDY  
     A O REVS ADO       BO TAUS   E         OVERT  E WOVEN             T J F A  I   
   DIRT HEX   F           HEY H N L         M    D D N  SO          HI  DOZE t  E   
  JO KITED    TEA   *  LURED COCOAS       FOB   JOGS     T        GNU    G WhEELS   
  I   NAY   P   T        EX   w B           OF   Z       H          TWEEDS   D A    
  G LIEU C QI  AR     L  V   QI             YE  FEW  EVADE           I         X    
       SHOwIER MI    GOOFS  PIE              E    h   I  R          BLOWN  E        
         C   E AA     AYE     RENT         TOLERAtED  O              Y O   VIOLET   
        NOB  N Z     UN WAFT               A I A  E   LAZED            V   A  A E   
         A   T E     T   D E AMAZE         N N N  LAX E           AVIATES  D  Z L   
  * NoVELS      *   *    O ATRIA  *        G G DIES   TELLY     ROW   ANOTHER E L   
                                           O   Y                              D Y   
                                                                                    
                                                                                    
                                        
  
  
  
          Columbia - game 3                            Dover - game 3
  
                                                                          H         
                                                                          A         
                                                                          I         
  *      *     PA   *      *      *        *  BRACKEN    W        *     DARK    T   
    B         LOG       C       QIS           U          A                P    GO   
    EH        OX     BE L       U            FRIGHT      G          F     I S CAY   
     U       WO V     HUE     POI G           P   WADER  O        BURP    N Q  I    
   CLEF J    E  I       FRET DART r               I      N        R I   DiSQUIETs   
      R I  DREAMS         LIVID E O             ZED     AS        A G  Z    A N E   
      ELF    K  A       JIF  N    U        D   D  D  F  X         C H  E    B D E   
  *   TI TOONS  G   *      TAT EYES        A   i  L PIGLET        K TWIDDLERS   M   
       V AI A RYE          OI     E     HAIRPINS  E  N            E  A     E    I   
      DINT  T  A         D O   DAHs        K   Q  REPEATS         N  D   P P    N   
     PAD    I  MU        R NATION            SQUABS  R  O            E  FINER   G   
     OR  E DONE R      WEEKS   NICE            I       BY            R   G A        
   QUITE Y ANIL B    LOO A  R  EL            C END     R                 L T BROWED 
   I     E H C ZA   POX  M  YAM  Z          GAIT       O H             AXE SOY  O   
  *S GrOUSEs E  N   AG VISAGE URBAN        TOY sEEMING WOOFED     WAGONS T     HORN 
                                                       E R                      F   
                                                       D N                      E   
                                                                                D   
  

 


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