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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.
World tournament Scrabble players play, naturally enough, a form of Scrabble which I call "modern world tournament-style Scrabble". It differs from "modern American tournament-style Scrabble" mainly in the vastly enlarged word set used, and a vastly different challenge rule.
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 2009 World SCRABBLE Championship was held in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, in November 2009. After 24 rounds of play over three days, Nigel Richards and Pakorn Nemitrmansuk went head-to-head in four games for the championship.
Accordingly, I chose four games recently played in the Dover Scrabble Club for comparison. I thought it was fair enough to pick from our best recent games since we're going up against the absolute best of the best.
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.
The Dover Scrabble Club uses the American Heritage 4th Edition as its basic word authority. I would guess the American Heritage is about 60% the size of the word set used in world Scrabble. For example, we use a 72-word two-letter word list. On top of that, the world champions get to play these 52:
AA AE AL BA BO CH DA DE DI EA EE ES ET FE FY GI GU HM IO JA JO KA KI KO KY MM MO NA NE NY OB OD OE OI OM OO OP OU OY PE PO QI ST TE UG UN UR XU YA YU ZA ZO
Look anything like the English you know and love?
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 4 games of the playoff round of the World Scrabble Championship 2009 vs. 4 recent, good games 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? The statistics would seem to point to a higher quality Scrabble being played in the Dover club.
Who appears to be playing a true word game, and who appears to be playing a game of artificial strategy which happens to involve letters?
Wouldn't it be exciting to see what the world champs would do with Scrabble II?
Champs: (3) DRENCHING FREEHOLDS HOMEWARES
Dover: (4) COUNTRIES OVERDOSES PINNACLED SENTINELS
Champs: (9) BOHEMIAN BOTANICA DELETING GENETRIX GRIFTERS PALUDINE RAMPAUGE REDEPLOY STAMINAS
Dover: (9) DEPRIVES DESTINED GOVERNOR PUGILIST QUARTERS RELINKED RUTABAGA VOCATION WARPATHS
Champs: (10) ADVENES EBRIATE JINKERS LICHTED OORIEST REACTOR REPTANT STAINED UNRULES UNSWORN
Dover: (22) BENEATH BOILING CAPPING COLLEGE DRESSES ENEMIES ERODING FORAGES HANDIER HAUNTED JANGLES JUICIER LEXICON MAIDENS MASHING MINCING OUTDATE PASTING PLUMPED SEQUINS SPUTTER TWIRLED
Champs: (12) AIRMEN AZOTIC BOWATS DOYLEY FICHES FOETID MATZAS POUNDS TIGLIC VOICED WAILED WAXING
Dover: (19) BESTOW BRANDY DOORED EXPEND FAMOUS FELINE GIRLIE JARGON JOLTED LIQUOR LOUDER NOTARY PANTRY QUEENS TRAUMA WASABI WAVILY WIDOWS WOLFED
Champs: (14) BIRKS BLIPS BOEUF FIDGE GROMA ICIER ILIAC OLLIE QUAIS QUOTE SAPID TWIST VENUE VIRTU
Dover: (10) BEARD BRINY HAULS JAPES MOONS QUILT SEINE SHOVE UNION WAXES
Champs: (22) ABYS ADRY ARUM CHER DIEL DISK DRAW ERNE EXAM FARL FEHM GEEZ GUYS INGO LAST POOF SPUR TONS UNIT UVAE VIVE YOOF
Dover: (12) AURA FAME FLAW FOPS FREE GANG ICON JIVE KEPT SAGA VIBE ZOUK
Champs: (32) ARD BOY EON FEH FEZ FOY FUD GOV HOY JAG JEU JOR JOY KAT LAV LEI LOR NAE NOH NOO NTH OMS OXO PIC QAT TAT TEG TID TUX WED WOO ZOA
Dover: (16) AWE FOX GUY HAW HOE HOP JOT OAK RAD RIM TON TOO TOO TUX VIA ZAX
Champs: (38) AL AN AR AS AW AX BA BO EA ED EE EL EN ES ES ET FY GI JA JA KY LA LA NA NU OI OI ON OO PA PE QI QI TO UM UR US YE
Dover: (25) AD AR AS BE BI BY BY DO EH EL EL EN EX FA LA ME MU NO OF OF SO SO TO WE YO
Champs: (67) HOMEWARES GENETRIX PALUDINE RAMPAUGE STAMINAS ADVENES EBRIATE JINKERS LICHTED OORIEST AZOTIC BOWATS DOYLEY MATZAS TIGLIC BOEUF FIDGE GROMA OLLIE QUAIS ABYS ADRY CHER DIEL FARL FEHM INGO UVAE VIVE YOOF ARD FEH FUD GOV JEU JOR KAT LAV LOR NOH NOO OMS OXO QAT TID ZOA AL BA BO EA EE ES ES ET FY GI JA JA KY NA OI OI OO PE QI QI UR
Counting up the turns in which the champs formed at least one Say what??? word, we find that 69.8% of their plays (60 out of 86) would not even be allowed in the Dover Scrabble Club.
Since four games doesn't give us much to sink our teeth into here, I've dug the mini-plays out of all 28 "Board 1" games. There is about one per game, which is about half the number played in the 2009 American National Scrabble Championship. It would seem that the extra 277 three-letter words in world Scrabble make it that much easier to plunk your one or two problem tiles alongside existing two-letter words.
Champs: (27) WO/WE EL/LO QI EM/RE/EM QI/IT EX/WE/OX ID/QI/ID JO/JA/ON HI/EH/KI BY/OB/OY QI/QI/IN QI/QI EA TE OO/OI/OR AA/AH/AI QI/QI/IS QI OY EA/JA ON/ZO QI/QI OX/OB/XI YE/OY/WE PA EE/EN/ET QI
Dover: (never happens)
In case 5 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 "Board 1" games. Yes, QI and QIS make up more than half the list.
Champs: 38 Twos + 32 Threes → 70 Shorties/140 words = 50.0% Shorties
Dover: 25 Twos + 16 Threes → 41 Shorties/117 words = 35.0% Shorties
Champs: 12 Sixes + 10 Sevens + 9 Eights + 3 Nines → 34 Long Words/140 words = 24.3% Long Words
Dover: 19 Sixes + 22 Sevens + 9 Eights + 4 Nine → 54 Long Words/117 words = 46.2% Long Words
Champs: 571 letters/140 words = 4.08 letters/word
Dover: 572 letters/117 words = 4.89 letters/word
(Understand that "letters" means all the letters making up the individual words, as distinct from tiles played. We actually played 52 more tiles than the world champs in the four games, 439 vs. 387. Think about that - we made 23 fewer words while playing 52 more tiles!)
So the Dover Scrabble Club plays words almost one letter longer (about eight tenths of a letter), on the average, than the World Champs. Put another way, our words average about 20% longer! The mind boggles at what they could do if they kissed the funny little stuff goodbye, and stepped up to . . . Scrabble II!
As the Executive Director's Report said in Scrabble News #231:
For now, Donald invites any top expert to come to his club to try out Scrabble II. To sweeten the pot, he's put up $5 in prize money ("while the supplies last!") on each game.
How about it, Pakorn??! What say, Nigel, old bean??!
(Offer also valid for U.S. Presidents.)
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.
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