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Champion Scrabble player explains one misconception everyone has about how to score well

Champion Scrabble player explains one misconception everyone has about how to score well

Scrabble player Howard Warner, from New Zealand, has explained a misconception about scoring well in the game

A champion Scrabble player has shared his secrets of the game to help others become stronger opponents – explaining how there's one misconception everyone has about how to score well. 

Howard Warner, from New Zealand, is a two-time winner of the WESPA Senior Scrabble Championship who first started playing board games as a kid, before joining a club in his early 20s after moving to a new town. 

Speaking to Urbo, he recalled how he became 'hooked' after winning second place in his first tournament around 30 years ago.

Warner, who is also President of the NZ Association of Scrabble Players, revealed that there are a number of 'big' misunderstandings about the game - including one in particular about how to 'score well'.

“The big misconception is that it’s about words,” he continued. 

“Another big misconception is that the only way to score well is to get on the triple word score.

"The fact is there’s many, many, many ways of scoring very well in the game of Scrabble, and also many ways of stopping your opponent from scoring well. 

“That’s the offensive approach and the defensive approach, and a good player combines the two.”

Howard Warner.
NZ Association of Scrabble Players

Speaking about the misconceptions people have about Scrabble at tournament level, he added: “The main difference, at the domestic level, [is that] people think it’s about words.

“I always tell people, ‘If you’re interested as words as language, write or read.’ 

“For Scrabble, it’s more about letter combinations that are used for scoring points. So it’s a very mathematical game. 

“And it just so happens that many of the top players are also very good bridge players, chess players, poker players. They’re applying the same sort of numerical and strategic approaches to those games. 

“The only difference is, instead of working with spots on cards or imitation soldiers, they’re working with letter combinations.” 

According to Urbo, the top tournament winners take home upwards of $10,000 – but those playing at that level inevitably have to invest a great deal of time, graft and practice to get there.

Warner said he plays daily to keep his skills up, and often revises anagrams as a key tool.

"I don’t prepare for a tournament," he said.

"I prepare for tournament play, generally, and it’s an ongoing thing. It’s daily.

Warner said it's not always necessarily about those triple word scores.
Kevin Wheal/Alamy Stock Photo

"A marathon runner might be clocking up their miles every day, and we’re similar. Everyday, I will do my anagram revision.

"I should just explain how we learn words. You generally learn the words from two letters up to five letters by rote, until you just have them all there, just sitting in your memory constantly.

"And you play the smaller words a lot, so they don’t need a lot of revision. Once you learn them, they’re just there, ready for use. It’s the words from six letters to eight letters long, and sometimes even nine letters long, that you generally learn by anagram combinations.

"You want to be able to recognise the anagram combination as soon as it’s on your rack and know all the permutations. There are programs and apps around now that help us refine this learning. I spend around an hour every day just going through all these, revising all my anagrams.

"I’m not learning the words. I know all the words I need now, I’m just revising; anagrams."

Featured Image Credit: WESPA/Shutterstock

Topics: Gaming, World News