In this crossword game, two to four players hold a running stock of seven lettered tiles of different values, and use them to build word on word. Premium squares, such as ‘double word score’ and ‘triple letter score’, yield extra points. There is a bonus of 50 for laying down all seven tiles in one go. Here are some of the secrets of the champions.
1. Learn two-letter words (al, ai, em, en, ax, ex …) and you’ll rarely be stuck for something to put down.
2. Learn where ‘Q’ can be used without a ‘U’ – faqir chews qat while typing on his qwerty keyboard.
3. Try to use ‘S’ to make a plural at the same time as a new word and score two words for the price of one.
4. Focus on the board, not on your rack. Where you put a word and the options it opens up is at least as important as what you put down.
5. Keep abreast of which tiles have been used – or used up.
6. Aim to use a premium square with every move.
7. Don’t hoard high-score tiles. As play progresses it gets ever harder to lay them down, and any you’re left with count against you.
8. When laying down the high-scorers you’ll want to place them where others can’t make use of them – but then nor can you. Consider your tactics and whether to take a chance on a second crack or risk your opponent laying down a feeble spoiler.
9. Get the best score you can with every turn. Holding back because you have nearly got a seven-letter word, or because you might be able to get that triple-word bonus, is a loser’s game. While you’re hanging out in the hope of something, others can be notching up consistently good scores.