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- Written by HG
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This board occurred at this year's Easter Warmup tournament.

You are player A with the rack A I I N O S T.

The scores are 397 to you and your opponent has 375. You have a healthy 22 point lead but…

Your opponent has only 6 tiles on their rack. You know that 3 of them are a J, a blank and an E, but you don’t have time to work out the remaining 3 tiles.

Can you win ?

Remember :

If you think your opponent can play all 6 tiles, you need to block their space or score more than their move will yield (also remembering to add/subtract your unplayed tiles).

If you think your opponent can’t play all 6 tiles, you will have the benefit of 2 moves to their 1 providing you can play 2 moves that outscore their move (and of course you will have the benefit of the +/- of their tiles).

You have a 22 point advantage to start with, so don’t forget to include that in your calculations.

In tournament play, you may not have time to calculate your opponent’s rack, but it should only take 5 minutes to help your decision-making.

There is one useful, but obscure, word which guarantees a win, but everyday Scrabbler’s vocabulary should see you winning… but how?

Answers / thoughts below

Coming soon

Real soon

Firstly if time permits player A should determine the letters in player B’s rack. This should only take a few minutes and are JAREL and a blank.

Secondly assess where the J can be played for a high scoring move.

There are 4 places :

1. Around the U or L in columns C/D and with the J on a double letter, and the whole word doubling. An example move JURAL would score 40 points, and if player B has a play out, using all 6 letters, will score 42 points (+/- points left on player A’s rack)

2. JiVE in row 14, this scores 32.

3. InJERA in column N for 28

4. JAiLED or JArREd in column N for 58.

Player B’s highest scoring moves are in column C and column N and cannot both be blocked.

What is player A’s highest scoring move ? The highest, and most obscure is ISATIN/GRIPES(30) and will leave an O.

This will mean player A will go 52 points up, and player B will lose if they play out for 42 points. So player B must play JAiLEd/JArRED for 58. Player B is now 6 points up, and all player A has to do is play the O to win and JO will do admirably.

But ISATIN is very obscure.

What is the next highest scoring move ?

There is another obscure word OSTIA (and GRIPES) for 27 and this will win in a similar manner to ISATIN.

There is an everyday word which scores 27 too. It also blocks player B’s high scoring words of InJERA, JiVe and JAiLED/JArRED. This word is VAIN in row 14. This will put player A 49 ahead.

Player B’s best score is 42 by playing out (7 points behind), and with player A holding OSTI, player B will win by 1 point.

If player B only plays JURAL (40), player A can play out with RIOTS column H for 18.

So playing ISATIN will win everytime. Playing VAIN will win providing there is no 6 letter word for player B to play out. There isn’t, so playing VAIN (blocking 3 out of 4 of the high J moves) will win, without resorting to knowing ISATIN.

In summary in a close game:

1 - Try to work out the tiles on your opponents rack

2 - Ascertain if they can play out in one move and either block it or score more than their move (allowing for +/- remainng tiles)

3 - if they can't play out in 1, you must try to play out in 2. and outscore their single move score (allowing for +/- remaining tiles).

- Details
- Written by HG
- Category: Strategy
- Hits: 2010

Endgame Puzzle – Can Player A stop Player B from winning ?

Player A rack FOXRIOT score 382 to play

Player B rack INST score 397.

It is Player A's turn. Can you see how Player B can win ? Can you stop it ?

Thoughts and analysis below.

On the first inspection, a 15 point gap holding an X should be a straightforward win for A. However B can play out on their next move in 3 places :

- Row 3 NITS or TINS making SAG (12 points)

- Row 5 NITS or TINS making AGS (10 points)

- Column L making LINTS (6 points).

Player A needs to score 15 points remove the deficit, another 6-12 points to outscore B’s play AND score enough to outscore the +/- of the remaining letters.

For example playing EX/EX in column 15 scores 34 points but leaves FORIOT (10 points) and doesn’t block B’s best play.

Thus the moves would go :

A : EX/EX 382 + 34 = 416

B : TINS/SAG 397 + 12 = 409 and out.

A : 416 – FORIOT (9) = 407.

B : 409 + FORIOT (9) = 418.

B wins by 11.

A similar result occurs if player A plays FAX/HOAX row 9.

Player A can’t block the AG (B’s highest scoring places) without enhancing B’s scoring.

Example OXO/AGO scores 16, but B can play TINS/SAGO.

Similarly RIFT/TAG by A, leaves B with TINS/TAGS.

But there is one move by A which will guarantee a minimum of a draw, and an outside chance of a win!!!!!

That is to play FIXT/TAG scoring 32. (A’s Total score is now 414 with ROO to be subtracted if B plays out, i.e 411 final score)

B’s best play is to play TINS/TAGS scoring 11 giving a total of 408 which with ROO to be added gives 411. A draw.

But what if B got greedy ?

The F of FIXT is two places below a triple word score, and SIFT scores a very reasonable 24.

It doesn’t finish the game so B would have a total of 421 (with an N left, so a final total of 420 assuming A plays out).

The score is now 414 for A, and 421 for B. A’s ROO will score well in column H making ROOT/ZO for 23 winning the game easily.

So in summary, if both players played to the best of their ability, the final score is a 411 draw !!!

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- Written by HG
- Category: Strategy
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As a general rule the more letters of RETAINS you have, the greater the chance of a bonus.

Below are all the bonus words you can make if you have six of those letters, TISANE, and one other letter.

There are a lot of words, so to make learning easier, perhaps break them down into groups of 10-15 words or by distinct letter groups (i.e TISANE+A, B, C, D and E).

TISANE +

A - ENTASIA, TAENIAS

B - BANTIES, BASINET, BESAINT, BESTAIN

C - ACETINS, CANIEST, CINEAST

D - DESTAIN, DETAINS, INSTEAD, NIDATES, SAINTED, SATINED, STAINED

E - ETESIAN

F - FAINEST, FANSITE, NAIFEST

G - EASTING, EATINGS, GAINEST, GENISTA, INGATES, INGESTA, SEATING, TAGINES, TANGIES, TEASING, TSIGANE

H - SHEITAN, STHENIA

I - ISATINE

J - JANTIES, TAJINES

K - INTAKES, KENTIAS, TANKIES

L - EASTLIN, ELASTIN, ENTAILS, NAILSET, SALIENT, SALTINE, SLAINTE, STANIEL, TENAILS

M - ETAMINS, INMATES, MAINEST, MANTIES, TAMEINS, TAMINES

N - INANEST, NANITES, STANINE, TANNIES

O - ATONIES

P - PANTIES, PATINES, SAPIENT, SPINATE

Q - nothing

R - ANESTRI, ANTSIER, NASTIER, RATINES, RESIANT, RETAINS, RETINAS, RETSINA, STAINER, STARNIE, STEARIN

S - ENTASIS, NASTIES, SEITANS, SESTINA, TANSIES, TISANES

T - INSTATE, SATINET, TANTIES

U - AUNTIES. SINUATE

V - NAIVEST, NATIVES, VAINEST

W - AWNIEST, TAWNIES, WANIEST, WANTIES

X - ANTISEX, SEXTAIN

Y - nothing

Z - ZANIEST, ZEATINS

96 words in total. 2 letters TISANE doesn't combine with to make a bonus (Q, Y)

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- Written by HG
- Category: Strategy
- Hits: 2695

Here is a board towards the end of a game, and curiously many of the words have become all too familiar over the last few weeks.

The two blanks are O - making GLOVE, and S making ISOLATE.

Your rack is DEEITXY. Your opponent has a J.

It is your turn to play, and you need to

- ascertain whether your opponent's J can play

- and, if it can, block the position

You then have to play your (remaining) tiles to accrue the highest score.

To do this you may decide to play off the tiles slowly.. or quickly.

Hint : Playing tiles slowly is likely to score you more points. For example playing YEH in the bottom left hand corner will score 27. But if you played EH for 5, then YEH for 27 you will score 32.

Can you score 80 or more points ? Is 100 points possible ? The words you lay needn't be in keeping with the theme of the puzzle.

.....

This puzzle was sent to East Berks Members late May 2020, with a week to find the highest outplay.

There were lots of very good plays on our coronavirus inspired board with everybody scoring 100 or at least close to. Well done!

The trick was blocking the J (onto the A of QUARANTINE)... but with what ?. YA or EA both do the trick as does AIN.

So its a matter of optimising the remaining 6 tiles making sure either Y, E or I is left.

Lots of players went for moves using h15 EXED, and several players also played YEH (a15) , some forgetting to play EH first!

The third best set of moves was from Mary - scoring 118. Well done Mary - here are her moves.

Move 1. AIN 5ka. 3 points

Move 2 EH 15ba. 5 points

Move 3 YEH. 15aa. 27 points

Move 4 EX 15fa. 18 points

Move 5 EXED 15fa 51 points

Move 6 TAX 13gd. 14 points

Mary was narrowly pipped by Wanda who utilised the Y and E in a different way to accrue 1 extra point (RAINBOWY and BEDE scored 33, to EH/YEH 32. Wanda's total was 119 !

AIN E11a 3

AX/EX N7d 18

AT/TAX M6a 14

EXED O6a 51

BEDE B8d 12

RAINBOWY F2d 21

But the winner is Richard who originally sent in the 118 score above, but then found a total of 126 by using the triple word score at O15, and building up the word YEXED.

Here are his words

1) Play the I at L5 to block the J and make AIN for 3.

2) Play the X at M15 making EX/EX for 18.

3) Play Y at K15 to make AY/YEX for 18.

4) Play T at M13 making IT/TEX for 24.

5) Play ED at N15a making YEXED for 48.

6) Play E at H15 making YE for 15.

Total 126

Well done Richard - a brilliant score which in a real game would involve a swing of 142 points (126 + 8 (J) , and your opponent would lose 8 points (J). Imagine being 140 points down and winning this game.

Here is his board :

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- Written by HG
- Category: Strategy
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As a general rule the more letters of RETAINS you have, the greater the chance of a bonus.

Below are all the bonus words you can make if you have six of those letters, TRAINS, and one other letter.

There are a lot of words, so to make learning easier, perhaps break them down into groups of 10-15 words or by distinct letter groups (i.e TRAINS+A, B, C, D and E).

TRAINS +

A - ANTIARS, ARTISAN, TSARINA

B - BRISANT

C - NARCIST

D - INDARTS

E - ANESTRI, ANTSIER, NASTIER, RATINES, RESIANT, RETAINS, RETINAS, RETSINA, STAINER, STARNIE, STEARIN

F - nothing

G - GASTRIN, GRATINS, RATINGS, STARING, TARINGS

H - TARNISH

I - nothing

J - nothing

K - KIRTANS, RANKIST

L - RATLINS

M - MARTINS

N - nothing

O - AROINTS, RATIONS

P - SPIRANT, SPRAINT

Q - QINTARS

R - nothing

S - INSTARS, SANTIRS, STRAINS

T - STRAINT, TRANSIT

U - NUTRIAS

V - nothing

W - nothing

X - nothing

Y - nothing

Z - nothing

38 words in total. 10 letters TRAINS doesn't combine with to make a bonus (F, I, J, N, R, V, W, X, Y, Z)

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