Are You a Scrabble Pro?


By: Zoe Samuel

6 Min Quiz

Image: Pixabay

About This Quiz

Scrabble was invented in 1933 by Alfred Mosher Butts, an architect who loved word games and wanted to cheer up an America still suffering from the Great Depression. He was sad to note that word games were less popular and thought this was because they did not have a scoring system. After studying crosswords diligently to work out what points value to assign each letter, he invented the precusor of Scrabble, a game named Lexiko. Later he changed this to Criss-Cross Words, and after meeting his future partner James Brunot, finally to Scrabble.

Brunot was the first person to take Scrabble seriously, investing in manufacture and distribution. However, he lost money on it at first. Only once the president of Macy's played the game on vacation and ordered it for the store did it become a hit. At one point, they couldn't keep up with demand, and had to ration Scrabble boards. These days, Scrabble is played on every conceivable device, which doesn't mean that people don't buy the physical game: manufacturer Hasbro (who bought out the previous makers when they went bust in the 1980s) claims that a third of American homes have a Scrabble board, and more than half of British homes!

Are you a Scrabble maestro? Let's find out!

What's it called when one player has used up all their tiles?

If you have played out, you used all your tiles. Most versions of the game stop immediately at this point and the other players lose points for any tiles left in hand. Others allow players who haven't played during that turn to play out too, if they can.


If your word lands on a double letter AND a double word score, what do you do?

You double the letter, THEN the word. So if you play JOBS with the J on a double letter and the S on the triple word score, you double the J to 16, THEN triple the word.


How many tiles do you get at once?

You get 7 tiles unless you are playing special rules. This doesn't mean the longest word you can play is seven letters, though, as sometimes you attach on to an existing tile or two and make 8- or 9-letter words.


When can you can exchange your tiles without forfeiting your turn?

All the wrong answers here are sometimes used as rules, especially with younger players, but they are not official. You want to trade those tiles? Give up your turn.


If you challenge another player's word and you're wrong, what happens?

Woe betide the unsuccessful challenger. You not only lose your turn, you also look like a bit of a sourgrapes.


What characteristic do the squares at the four corners of the board have?

Triple word score is the best square on the board and you find it in the corners. There are four more, too, halfway along each side.


What is the best individual letter square for a letter to land on?

The triple letter square triples that letter. This is cumulative, so if you also have a double word score, you triple the letter, THEN double it. If you can land a Q, J, Z, or X on one, you're golden.


Where on the board must the first player place their word?

The center square is where the game begins. This is a good place to play because it has a double word score!


What is it called when you arrange your tiles in alphabetical order on your rack?

An alphagram is when you put your letters in alphabetical order. Some people find this useful for visualization of words.


What tile is the most versatile when it comes to where to attach a new word?

-S is an incredibly common English suffix and initial letter, meaning S is the most valuable letter when trying to attach. Use your S's wisely!


What is considered a perfectly decent individual total score in Scrabble?

250 is a good individual score. Anything over 300 is probably a winning score in a two-player game unless you're both pretty good. Under 200, in two-player, means it's time to raise your game!


What do these letters have in common: J, X, Q, Z?

These are the four highest scoring tiles and they are worth 8-10 points. There is only one of each, though.


What tile is the only one worth 5 points?

The K tile is worth 5. It's the only K, too, so it is doubly unique!


How many tiles are there at the start?

There are 100 tiles in American and British Scrabble. Of course, the number and point values are different in different languages!


Which word should you use as your guide when trying to accrue the right letters for a seven-letter word?

If you have a rack that contains seven letters, all of which are found in the word RESTRAINED, you have a really good shot at a bingo. Keep moving those tiles until you find it - and remember to look at the board for an 8th that might finish you off!


When drawing tiles to decide who goes first, if player 1 draws an A and player 2 draws a blank tile, who plays first?

The blank goes before A. This was not always the rules, but Scrabble updated it in the 1970s, and who are we to argue with that?


Which is the most common tile?

There are 12-14 letter E's in the original tiles, depending on which version of the game you have. This makes it by far the most common tile. Second is A, with 9 tiles.


What is it called when a player prefers short, high-scoring words that choke up the board, instead of longer ones that lead to a more open board?

Defensive play usually makes the game duller in terms of what appears on the board. However, if the tiles conspire against you, sometimes it is the only way.


Once a blank tile is played, what happens?

A blank tile scores zero points in and of itself, though it can multiply your score if it lands on a triple or double word square. Once played, it is the letter the player made it. Thus, if you play ZOOM using a blank for the first O, now that is an O and must be treated thus by other players.


How many letter U tiles are there?

This is the least frequent vowel, partly to make it harder to play the Q (since you often need a U to play it). The next least common vowel is O, with 8 tiles.


What do these letters have in common: M, C, B, P?

These tiles are worth 3 points each. As a result, there are only two of each of them. They're all good value because they fit into an awful lot of words of all lengths.


What is the point value of the letter Z in Polish Scrabble?

The Z is worth a lot, but only in English. In Polish, loads and loads of words have a Z, hence it is only worth 1.


What size is the board?

The board is 15 squares in each direction, for a total of 225 squares. A good game will typically spread across most of the board, unless both players are doing their best to avoid it.


What's it called when your word joins the existing board in more than one non-contiguous place?

A bridge is when your word attaches twice, but the two places that it attach do not touch each other. So if you see ACE and RAD, and you put HAR between the C of ACE and the D of RAD, spelling out CHARD, that's a bridge.


What is it called when you get a seven-letter word?

A bingo gets a 50-point bonus, so it is a big deal! The worst thing to get in Scrabble is a "nongo", which is a bingo that can't fit on the board anywhere and thus cannot be played. Truly, a tragedy!


In a game with two players, what cumulative score for both players combined is expert level?

800 is a truly superb score between two players. 700 is considered the bar for a very good game. Anything over 1,000 and either you're both awesome or somebody just got the trouncing of their life.


What is it called when your word lines up alongside another so that multiple two- or even three-or-more-letter words are made as well as the word you're actually playing?

Parallel play is when you put two words next to each other, though usually not perfectly aligned. This means not only is your new word valid, it also attaches to the previous word by forming multiple two-letter words.


How many points are sitting on your rack if you have the letters spelling CABBAGE?

CABBAGE contains 12 points just in the letters. It is a bingo only if you play it, meaning you cannot assume it is worth at least the 62 that it gets when played.


What's it called when you play a potentially sub-ideal word just to stop your opponent being able to use a desirable spot like a double word score?

Blocking means putting something in a spot just to have something in that spot. It's super rude to do it to someone much less experienced, but otherwise very crafty.


Which of these two-letter words is NOT in the Scrabble dictionary?

There is no VU. ZA, QI and NA are all permitted. Other than just having a good vocabulary and being good at anagrams, learning the two-letter words is the single most important skill to get great at Scrabble.


What's it called when there are fewer than 7 tiles left to draw?

The endgame is when you can't replenish your board to full strength due to a shortage of tiles. It's time to start dumping high-scoring letters in case you get stuck with them.


What is the highest-scoring word ever played in professional Scrabble?

Dr. Karl Khoshnaw set the amazing record of 392 for a single play with CAZIQUES in 1982. It's a kind of king or chief in Latin America and he managed to put it on two triple word scores AND a double letter score under the Z. Also, yes, professional Scrabble is a thing and it is awesome.


What is "balancing your rack"?

Balancing your rack is a smart move if you have a good expectation that you will get good letters next time round. That is, there are still lots of good 'uns out there and your opponent doesn't seem to have them!


Besides Q, what is the highest-scoring letter?

The Z scores 10, as does the Q. These are the highest-scoring letters. The only two-letter word you can make using the Q is "qi," which means your life force.


What is it called when you have a letter in hand that could add onto a word already on the board, to make a new word - that is, extending the existing word as opposed to merely crossing it?

The hook letter is the one that joins you up by adding to an existing word. For example, you want to play SUAVE and WIPE is already on the board. If you attach SUAV to the E, that's not a hook - but if you place SUAVE such that you change WIPE into SWIPE, that S is now a hook!


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!