4th Thursday [7]: The Double-Triple

DISGRACE

I came home from college with a degree in Scrabble, and while I have paperwork to show as much, none of it is a diploma, and all of it is authorized by no one other than me.

I brought my new knowledge home one summer to torture a friend in a game, and he managed to keep playing after I stretched a 7-letter play across two triple word scores, the double-triple.

Appropriately, the word was DISGRACE, one of the first plays of more than 100 points that I can recall playing. Now, in my friend’s defense, he didn’t know the skill I came home with when I suggested we pull out the word game. And also in his defense, he graciously finished the game even after it was clear it was an exercise in futility.  But a lesson was learned by both of us: Don’t play a single letter cleanly between two TWS without A) having about a 150-point lead already, B) being reasonably confident your opponent has terrible letters, or C) feeling like luck is on your side.

I recently put my faith in option C in an online Scrabble game:

CARROT

Here, my play of CARROT did not quite give me a 100-point lead, but I took a chance, and Nancy did not use either TWS, to my relief.

My suggestion is to not open a TWS at all unless you can score at least 25-27 points in doing so, because you can expect an average of 27 points to be scored by the person who plays on it. The example above scored me exactly 27, but opened two TWS, which is always a bigger risk.

If an opponent opens a TWS for you, and you are unable to play on it or can’t score anything worthwhile, then you should also make an effort to block it.  One way to do that is to play in the column next to the one that makes available the TWS, so the only way it could be hit is by playing several 2-letter words alongside yours. So throw a V in there, somewhere if you can.

DISGRACE was a good play, yes, but it was certainly no

CONQUEST

(311 points).


Then again, it  wasn’t exactly

QUIXOTIC(356 points)

The moral is, don’t do it. Don’t leave a letter dangling freely between two triple word scores. Unless you are already winning comfortably, or losing hopelessly.

Some players will tell you to ignore that advice, and to score the most points you can on every turn. Tournament players aren’t bashful about opening up bonus squares, because they’re scoring a bingo more often than not. But not me. Defense is part of my strategy. Play me a game?

DISGRACE–167 points, TWS+TWS.

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