Scrabble® School - 3Posted by Randall T on Wed September 10, 2008 at 19h12
Lesson 3 - Anagramming, 2s & 3s
Anagramming is finding words within scrambled letters, or words within words. The
better you are at this, the more variety you will have in making a play. Suppose your
opening rack is AABEMQY, and you decide to keep AQ. How will you play ABEMY?
If you only find MAYBE, your choices are limited. But move those tiles around, and you
might find EMBAY or BEAMY, giving you two more choices for that opening play.
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FACTOID: There are 41 5-letter combinations with 5 anagrams. (source: Zyzzyva)
eg. ORSTY = RYOTS, STORY, STROY, TROYS, TYROS
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What’s the secret to good anagramming skills? Practice and study.
To practice, you’re limited only by your imagination:
1] Sit with a rack and a bag of tiles and pull 7 tiles out -- and make as many words
as you can. Time yourself if you like. A program like Quackle, or a Franklin,
will help you verify whether you got them all.
2] Similar to #1, use the board this time and try to make the longest play you can,
each turn replenishing your rack.
3] As a passenger on a moving vehicle, find other words on signs, or...
4] Use the letters on license plates as a guide to finding the shortest word.
For example, if a plate had TXN, you might think of TAXING or TAXON.
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For study, again there are many ways to do so:
1] If you have a genuine love of words, simply browsing the OSPD on a daily basis
will bring hundreds of new words to light. The benefit of this method is that you often
learn the meanings of words, and will know when a word can be pluralized, or
treated as a verb (can add -ED, -ING).
2] Use lists. Ask other players what sorts of lists they study. If their method interests you,
perhaps they’ll share their lists. Examples of lists are: words ending in -ING; words starting
with UP-; all 7-letter words using AEIOU; all 5-letter words ending in -K.
3] Use a computerized study guide like Zyzzyva, or even a Franklin can be useful in making
lists and finding anagrams. I find that writing them out by hand locks them in better than
simply reading it over and over. Use whatever works for you.
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While it helps to be methodical when you study, you can get sidetracked. I found I was
getting plagued by too many “I’s” on my rack, so I endeavoured to learn a great many
words with 3 “I’s”, and especially words with “II”. It took awhile to pay off, but it was most
satisfying not only playing REDUVIID, but getting a challenge as well. Same goes for
RETIARII. I’m still waiting for a chance to play LIXIVIA.
What’s most important about study in relation to anagramming is that you’ll be able to
recognize more words as you move the tiles around on your rack. While I won't say it's
necessary to shuffle tiles, quite often it will act as a creative spark to finding a suitable
play. I’ve tried staring at racks and only found a few words, but once I began shifting,
inserting, reversing, alphabetizing etc., words just sprang out.
When you are shuffling the tiles, try to keep logical pairs or groups of letters together.
You can do this yourself, and it will probably help you remember it better, but start with
“A” and go through the entire alphabet and think of what letters most commonly associate
with “A”. “BA” has plenty of words, there’s also “AB” as a prefix meaning essentially the
opposite of the word that follows (ABNORMAL). “EA” is a common vowel pair; “OA” less
prevalent and “AO” uncommon (yet there’s HAO and TAO).
If you’d rather practice, then use the rack and tiles idea and separate your tiles that way.
A few groupings might be ING, PRE, GHT, EAU, ISH, IAL, ION, CHA, etc. The Scrabble® news
has a feature on using this method for finding bingos.
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2- and 3-letter words
The biggest singular improvement you will make in your game is when you learn all the
2-letter words and 3-letter words. These are fundamental to increasing your score, opening
and closing the board, and managing your rack. Particularly in this last instance, if you wish to,
for example, keep 4 tiles and play off the other three, knowing how they go together and where
they hook are essential.
Another reason to know your 2’s:
A L I E N E E
D I S T A N T
Such overlaps are not only pretty but add more points and make opponent’s replies more difficult.
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One way of practicing is to play a game restricting plays to only 2- or 3-letter words.
Try to squeeze as many points as you can out of the fewest tiles. After playing a few
games like this, you’ll be champing at the bit to play without restrictions.
But how can we remember all these words? Straight memorization is tedious for some,
boring for others, and may not work at all for even others. For the 2-letter words, since
there are only 101 of them, I’d suggest reading over them, then trying to write them all down,
or just pull one tile out of the bag and test yourself.
For the 3’s (1015 of them), lots of practice with them helps, but if you can work in your own
study methods, great. Perhaps patterns work for you. I know someone who remembers PYA
and RYA together, as well as PYE and RYE in the same group. Other ways to group the 3’s:
mirror words (LUG-GUL, see below);
invert words (AVA-VAV,see below);
anagrams (AGE-GAE, ARE-EAR-ERA).
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MIRROR WORDS (ABC-CBA) (only those that occur first alphabetically are shown,
and no palindromes)
AIR ABO ADO AHS ARB ARE ATE AVO BAD BAG
BAL BAN BAS BAT BED BEN BID BIG BIN BIS
BOG BOY BRO BUD BUN BUR BUS BUT CAM CEP
CIS COD COR DAG DAH DAL DAM DAP DAW DEF
DEL DEW DIF DIG DIM DOG DOM DON DOR DOS
DOT DUO DUP EAT EEL FER FIR GAL GAM GAN
GAR GAS GAT GAY GEL GEM GEN GET GIP GOT
GUL GUM GUT GUV HAP HAY HEP HEY HON HOP
JAR KAY LAP LAS LES LET LIN LIT LOP MAN
MAP MAR MAT MAY MHO MIR MON MOP MOR MOT
MUS NAP NAW NET NIP NIT NOS NOT NOW NUS
NUT OAT OOT PAR PAS PAT PAW PAY PER PEW
PIS PIT POT POW PUS PUT RAT RAW RAY RES
ROT SAT SAW SAY SIT SIX SOW TAV TAW TEW
While there are 1015 3-letter words,
by knowing these 142, YOU ACTUALLY KNOW 284
or almost 28%
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INVERT WORDS (ABA-BAB)
AGA - GAG
AHA - HAH
ANA - NAN
AVA - VAV
AWA - WAW
EME - MEM