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Scrabble For Word Lovers suite - main page.
Scrabble II introduction.
Scrabble II rules.
It was created before the Nice Letter Distribution and Stretch Bonuses were implemented. Back then, Scrabble II words averaged about 5 letters; now they average about 6 letters. So, no matter how impressively Scrabble II stacked up against "regular" Scrabble in this old page, it would go a quantum leap beyond that now.
North American tournament Scrabble players play, naturally enough, a form of Scrabble which I call "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 sixes 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 National Scrabble Championship was held in Orlando, Florida, in July 2008. The play-by-play for the "Table 1 games" for all 28 rounds of the tournament was posted on the internet. Presumably, Table 1 games are the games between the two players currently leading in the tournament.
The first four games of a new season in the Dover Scrabble Club went particularly well, and that gave me the idea to do a comparative study between the championship games and some of our own. I eventually chose four good games from the same time period as the national championship to compare with the final four Table 1 games in the tournament.
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. An exception is in the category I call "Mini-plays of just Two-letter Words", where you see the actual plays. Scrabble II has high standards and does not allow these exceptionally mindless mini-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 final four National Scrabble Championship 2008 Table 1 games vs. four contemporaneous Scrabble II games played in the Dover Scrabble Club.
Remembering that we use a conventional dictionary in the Dover Scrabble Club, and that none of us spends a minute of his life studying word lists, does it look like we're missing out on any of the joys of Scrabble? Who looks like they're having the most exciting and rewarding Scrabble experience? the champs with their gobs and gobs of funny little words? or us regular folk pulling nice, long words from out of our own vocabularies? The statistics sure seem to point to a higher quality Scrabble being played in the Dover club.
Wouldn't it be exciting to see what the champions would do with Scrabble II?
Dover: (2) ENERVATED TREATABLE
Champs: (10) ANTIMERE CYTOSINE INDORSED INNERVED JAGGIEST PETIOLAR REOILING SERRYING SARCINAE TRITONES
Dover: (7) BAPTIZES CRUELEST DETOURED PACIFIED PARITIES ROCKETED STUDYING
Yes, the champs beat us soundly in the 8's - they're good! - but I ask you to view the bigger picture.
Champs: (10) CRAZIER DARIOLE DINGIES DIVERTS EROSELY FATALLY KINGLET LEVYING PENATES TRUDGER
Dover: (23) AIRMAIL AMOEBAS ARRIVAL ATTIRED BAILOUT BEARERS BREADTH CHEATER CHEQUES EXCISED FLUNKED HOOPING ILLICIT INDOORS INFERNO KEENING NEEDIER PROVISO REVOTED SANDING TWIDDLE UNRATED YOUNGER
Champs: (14) APPEAR BATHER FOVEAE GOLFER GUANIN HELLOS IMPAIR INANER LIBIDO SEPTIC TINCTS UNTRUE WHEATS YAIRDS
Dover: (17) ADDING ALLOTS AWAKED BATTER BRAYED CATTLE CUDDLY DAMAGE DRYING FARMED GRATED IDEATE LICHEN LOONEY MORBID TWINED UMPIRE
Champs: (14) CHUFF DOVEN ENOWS KITHE LAZED LYNCH MOOCH OBIAS OBJET OUTDO OUZOS PALEA SHULN WORMY
Dover: (14) ANNEX EXERT LOANS MOIST MUMPS OPINE PIQUE QUARK QUARK SKATE SPURT VOTER WRIST YEARN
Champs: (27) AJEE AMUS ATES CION DANK DAVY DELT FADS FUCI GIRN GLEE JUST LEWD LOWN OBAS OBIT OMIT OYER PEND PHOT PUSH REIF SUQS TACO TOTE WEPT YONI
Dover: (22) ARIA BODY DIVA DOZE DRUM EDGE FAIR GIVE HATE HEWN HITS HONE HULA ILLS IOTA JAIL JOWL LEGS NOGS SARI WOOD ZAPS
Champs: (36) ABA AGE AMI AVA AXE BAG BAT BEG DOE EAU EFT EYE FIX GOT GOX GUN HER IDS KIF LEA MOW MOW OKA ORC PAW QIS RAX RID SEN TAJ TAU VAS VIG ZEP ZOA ZOA
Dover: (10) BED FOB HAJ JET ORA POW REV TOE ZOO ZOO
Champs: (49) AE AG AL AL AM AT AW AW AX BE BI BI BI BO DO ED ED EF EL EL ET EX HE ID ID IN IN JO JO KA LI MM NO OM OM ON OW OX QI QI QI RE SI SO TI UN WO XU YA
Dover: (20) AB AI AN AT AT AY BE DO EH EH EL EN EN FA IF IS ME ON PA RE
Champs: (49) SERRYING SARCINAE PENATES GUANIN YAIRDS DOVEN ENOWS KITHE OBIAS OBJET SHULN AJEE AMUS ATES DAVY FUCI LOWN OYER PEND REIF SUQS AMI AVA EAU GOX OKA ORC QIS RAX VIG ZEP ZOA ZOA AL AL BO JO JO KA MM OM OM QI QI QI UN WO XU YA
Champs: (8) XU AW/AM/WO QI QI BO/BI/ON TI JO/GO QI/QI/IN
Dover: (never happens)
Stepping through the games play by play and counting up the turns in which the experts played an invalid word or made a mini-play, we find that 50% of their plays (51 out of 102) would not even be allowed in the Dover Scrabble Club.
In case 6 Q-words doesn't strike you as a large enough sample to establish a trend, please see my page devoted to the brilliant use of the Q in tournament Scrabble. I list all the Q-words formed in all 28 "Table 1" games. Yes, QI and QIS make up half the list.
Champs: 49 Twos + 36 Threes → 85 Shorties/160 words = 53.1% Shorties
Dover: 20 Twos + 10 Threes → 30 Shorties/115 words = 26.1% Shorties
Champs: 14 Sixes + 10 Sevens + 10 Eights → 34 Long Words/160 words = 21.3% Long Words
Dover: 17 Sixes + 23 Sevens + 7 Eights + 2 Nines → 49 Long Words/115 words = 42.6% Long Words
Champs: 618 letters/160 words = 3.86 letters/word
Dover: 565 letters/115 words = 4.91 letters/word
(Understand that "letters" means all the letters making up the individual words, as distinct from tiles played. We actually played 45 more tiles than the champions players in the four games, 440 vs. 395. Think about that - we made 45 fewer words while playing 45 more tiles!)
So the Dover Scrabble Club plays words about one letter longer, on the average, than the North American champs. Put another way, our words average about 27.2% longer! The mind boggles at what the champs could do if they kissed the funny little stuff goodbye, and stepped up to . . . Scrabble II!
Scrabble II: half the shorties, twice the long words, and none of the artificiality of modern tournament-style Scrabble!
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.
. . . 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!)
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
May they rest in peace.
Additionally, when the games in this study were played, the junk words AG and ED were not allowed in the Dover club. Times change.
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Helpful keywords not in the main text: ospd = official scrabble players dictionary.