Friday, July 25, 2008

BC Advanced Strategies: Speed Scrabble/Take Two

This week’s BC Advanced Strategy segment is related to a game you probably know very well: Scrabble. However, I won’t be talking about Scrabble this time around; I’ll be talking about a Scrabble variant I learned called Speed Scrabble which I have also heard called Take Two.
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Here are the rules as I know them. The only equipment you need for this game is a set of Scrabble letters, the board is unnecessary. Each player starts with seven tiles, all face down. A player then announces “go” and the game begins. Each player then flips over their seven tiles and tries to arrange them so that they make a connected set of words, just like in Scrabble. The words must be connected and every letter must be used, for example, like this:


F
AIR
S
T

The first player to do this announces to the group “take two” and then every player, even if they are not done with their current amount of letters, must take two more tiles. Then, whichever player finishes connecting all their letters into words, that player announces “take two” and so on. You win by saying “take two” when not everyone can gain two more letters (i.e. two tiles remain among three players). If you have illegal words or didn’t use all your letters and you say “take two” then you lose, and that would be bad. This game works great with 4 players, and if you have a lot of people who are playing (six or more) change the “take two” to a “take one.”

Strangely enough, for a game that is so simple there is a good amount of strategy involved. Try this game out with your friends and family and use these strategies to gain an edge.

1. Keep it simple. I don’t have an insane vocabulary. Besides, most of the cool vocabulary words are too long for Scrabble. Sesquipedalian is one of them. Anyway, use the words you know. Remember, under the rules I showed above, the score doesn’t matter. Use the words that first come to your mind and everything should fall into place. In other variants of Speed Scrabble people count the points on their word tiles and subtract the ones they didn’t use.

2. Space out your vowels. Since most acceptable words require vowels, you’ll find yourself centering in your vowels. Words that have two vowels back-to-back might limit your options expanding outwards. You might get too cluttered trying to make two words with one letter. The bigger branches you have, the more chances you’ll have to make words fast. If you find yourself having too many vowels though, then you might have to cluster them.

3. Words you make are not set in stone. Just because you have one or two words set doesn’t mean you have to stick to those words. Sometimes the two letters you pick up will work better if you rearrange your whole set. That being said, if you can, stick with the words you already placed so that you don’t over think. If you find yourself bunching the letters again though, break-up your words and switch it up.

UPDATE (courtesy of Will):
3a. Mix your tiles up when stuck early on. If you're roughly 2/3 through the game or less, and your board looks like crap; there's tons of super short words, and it's hard to find spaces to play off of, just mix all of your tiles up. Then take like 30 seconds to find the longest word you can. Once you make that word, the board will be really open, and then proceed to place the rest of your tiles. This will make the rest of the game much easier, and if done correctly you can have enough time to catch up and win. Unless you're playing with me.... muahahahahaha.

4. Master the initial flip. It is possible to flip over all seven letters at the same time. This will save you about 3 seconds but I just think it looks really cool. If the letters are rectangular shaped, arrange them face down so all the letters’ long sides are touching each other. Then grip the edges hard and flip them all in one go. Viola! Now you have all seven letters face-up while other people are flipping them one at a time.

5. Try to use words that can have prefixes and suffixes. It’s real nice when you can place the word “deem” and then have that word turn into “redeemer” with two pickups. Don’t let this rule be a burning thought on your mind however. If you think of two words with your set of letters, try thinking if that word can be expanded if you get the right letters.

6. Know some of the strange two-letter words. By, go, and it are some words you should be able to come up with when you are trying to place an extra letter someplace. But here are some other two-letter words you should store in the back of your brain somewhere: Aa, Ar, Ef, Fe, Hm, Jo, Ki, Nu, Oi, Op, Qi, Ut, Xi and Za. These are some of the lesser known two-letter words that are completely legal. Yes, I know, some of them don’t work on Scrabulous. But I far as I know, this is the official two-letter word list.

7. Don’t forget to replace your blank letters. Blank letters are a godsend in Speed Scrabble since you have such freedom to move letters on your board. When you use a blank letter, try and remember what letter that is so that if you pick that letter up, you can immediately replace it and use your blank letter somewhere else.

8. Keep your cool. Sometimes, an opponent will just be on a roll, saying “take two” about every three seconds. Don’t get flustered when this happens, just take a look at the letters you get and try to incorporate them. If it’s a hard letter to use like Q or Z just put it to the side and deal with it a little bit later. Your brain can only handle so many tasks at one time.

I’m really not an expert at this game. Actually, I wouldn’t even call myself good at this game and I know there are some people out there with some pointers. Share them! However, I really like this game since it is simple to set-up and people get really into it. It’s also really funny to hear people freak-out when they are bombarded with letters. Try this pseudo-board game out sometime, it’s quick fun.

8 comments:

Will said...

Awesome; this game is amazing. A strategy I often use is this:

If you're roughly 2/3 through the game or less, and your board looks like crap; there's tons of super short words, and it's hard to find spaces to play off of, just mix all of your tiles up. Then take like 30 seconds to find the longest word you can.

Once you make that word, the board will be really open, and then proceed to place the rest of your tiles. This will make the rest of the game much easier, and if done correctly you can have enough time to catch up and win. Unless you're playing with me.... muahahahahaha.

Richard R. said...

Ah, I knew you wouls have something to input Will. You are a BEAST in this game, I swear.

Peter said...

Cool article - I've been trying to master that seven tile flip for ages!

You can also play Speed Scrabble online.

scrabble words with 2 letters said...

I’ve always enjoyed the game Scrabble. The game requires a mixture of vocabulary, strategy, pattern-recognition and luck.

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