Scrabble Tutorial: Tile Placement

17 Aug 2015

Tags: scrabble tutorial


I had to learn this myself: Scrabble move notation. Essentially, how it goes is:

xy <WORD> <score>

Where x is the column/row that the word sits/extends on, y is the column/row that is the second coordinate to the first letter, <WORD> is the word played, and <score> is the score.


This one is a bit more challenging to get than the last one, but the gist of it is: Place your tiles away from score multipliers. Not “away” as in not touch them if you have the chance, but to stop your opponent from getting them. It is basically the equivalent of the chess “superior placement of pieces” (sorry, I have bad chess terminology). The ones you’d typically want to avoid are the Triple Letter and Triple Word tiles. It’s hard to explain in writing, so here are some examples of application:

Early Game

When starting out, try not to let your opponent place a high-scoring consonant on the DL, or else your opponent would certainly take advantage of it (if he/she could). The following is a short example of a ludicrously lucky opponent given a huge opportunity:

First move: 8G ABA 10 (FIG. 1-1)

Fig. 1-1

Opponent’s unexpected move: 7G ZAP 59 (FIG. 1-2)

Fig. 1-2

BOOM! (Or more appropriately: “ZAP!”) The opponent immediately gets a huge advantage of 49 points above the player. Lets see what would happen if the player’s first move was different:

First move: 8F ABA 10 (FIG. 1-3)

Fig. 1-3

Opponent’s move: 7F ZAP 35 (FIG. 1-4)

Fig. 1-4

Much better. That is much easier to recover from. What, you thought the player was going to miraculously get the upper hand? Of course not!


So maybe your opponent has fumbled and left some bonus tiles for your taking. So what? You can’t do anything decent with the all-vowels rack that you have! That’s when blocking comes into play: To anticipate and block moves with your own. This shouldn’t need an example. Period.


Just in general, avoid putting vowels next to bonus tiles, and know your 2-letter words.