Noel's Scrabble Tips

New Players

Noel's Tips
Rack Management
Learning Words
Tile Turnover
Changing Tiles

Possessing the Initiative
Triple-Word Squares
Defensive Play
The Endgame

Tips for More Advanced Players
- Making Notes and Tile-Tracking

This seems to be an appropriate point to mention the practice of tile-tracking. Risk-assessment, such as that mentioned in the last section, usually goes hand-in-hand with having a good idea of what tiles are left to be played.

It is quite normal to want to make notes at any point during the game. I can never, for example, feel sure that I have made the best of a rack like NASTIER, unless I have written down all the anagrams, and weighed-up the pros and cons of playing each one of them on the board. It is equally normal to want to keep those notes out of your opponentís sight. If I, ultimately, cannot get any of the anagrams of NASTIER down, then why would I want my opponent to know what I have on my rack, and what I was considering doing? This is all common practice, and is not cheating. It is, though, perhaps advisable to be capable of showing that the notepad you are using was clear of helpful crib-sheets beforehand!

Once this practice is accepted, then, it must be obvious that it is impractical to prevent a player from noting, for example, that all the high-scoring tiles, all the blanks, all the Sís etc. have been played. It is not even especially sharp practice to do so. The novice player who is shocked by the discovery of the practice of "tile-tracking", i.e. the noting down of all the tiles that have been played, is, perhaps, likening it to the noting down of which cards have been played in Black Jack, something likely to get you unceremoniously ejected from a casino, even if it is thought that you are only doing it mentally! But the parallel is unfair. After all, the cards in such a card-game are returned to the bottom of the deck, where they are out of sight. In Scrabble the evidence lies before you on the board. Tile-tracking is simply a question of saving time in weighing-up the threats still facing you. It allows the game to be played at a faster pace, which is, in the end, of benefit to both players. You will find that tile-tracking is the norm at tournaments, and possibly, even in the club. It is usual to find that such players have prepared sheets of letters from which they strike the tiles as they are played. This simply saves making up new ones at the start of every game. Provided that the sheets contain no other information, the practice is perfectly within the rules.

Defensive Play