Scrabble By The Numbers

Scrabble, of course, is a game that is all about the words. Without words you cannot win, but without the numbers there can be no points and points are really what we want more than anything else in the game. So in this game of words it really is the numbers that are the most meaningful and I think you might find that it is the numbers that are the most interesting. Let’s take a look at Scrabble by the numbers.

The number of possible combinations of 7 tiles that you can draw when starting a game. Remember that time you drew J K Q X Y Y Z and went nuts? Well the odds of that happening are 3,199,724 to 1 so instead of getting upset about it you should be extremely excited at just how unlikely that situation is.

The number of words that are in the Official Tournament and Club Word List also referred to as the TWL. This number of words includes everything from the 2-letter words through the 15-letter words That is how many possibilities are out there every time it’s your turn to play from your rack.

The number of 8-letter words that appear in the TWL and it is the largest number of words of any letter length in the TWL. That means that all you have to do it memorize this many words to know how to link your full rack of tiles off of a letter hanging out in space.

The number of words that appear in the TWL that contain the magic number of letters that will earn us our bonus, or bingo, points. It is a much more manageable number of words to memorize and recall when you’re opening a game and want to start things off at the right pace.

The year the name Scrabble was trademarked by the creator of the game, Alfred Mosher Butts, and his partner, James Brunot. The game was originally called Criss-Cross Words, but later changed to Scrabble which means ‘to grope frantically.’ The game was sold to Solchow & Righter in 1972 and now is in the hands of Hasbro.

The highest point total for one word played using approved words from the TWL to set up the perfect board to play the word OXYPHENBUTAZONE according to this blog. The board is perfectly setup for this, probably not even once in a lifetime, play covering three triple word tiles and creating the words OPACIFYING, XIS, PREQUALIFIED, BRAINWASHING, AWAKENERS, ZONETIME, and EJACULATING in the process. This play was done using a simulator so it doesn’t exactly count as a real record, but it is a lot of fun to speculate. Using the SOWPODS list the same blogger was able to put up 1785 points with the same word, but slightly different setup words that are not legal in the TWL.

The record score for a single Scrabble game using the TWL. This incredible game took place at a Scrabble club in Lexington, MA in 2006 where the winner of the game, Michael Cresta, beat his opponent 830 - 490. The game broke several records including the highest combined point total in a sanctioned Scrabble game at 1320 and the highest point total for a single word played for QUIXOTRY at 365 points. The record setter, Cresta, traded in tiles a total of 5 times on his way to victory while his opponent, Wayne Yorra, hit 4 bingos while Cresta only hit 2. It was a couple of triple triple plays by Cresta that launched him into the record books. He played FLATFISH getting the double triple for 239 points then amazingly drew towards the word QUIXOTRY needing to draw the T and O to hit that double triple for 365 points and the single word record. The odds of drawing those to tiles are roughly 513 to 1 against drawing each of them. Certainly an amazing game that took place and will be hard to top.

The number of words that are legal in Scrabble, but do not contain a vowel. Twenty of these words don’t even use the letter Y to replace the vowel and most of these are interjections such as SHH, PSST, TSKTSK, PFFT, and my favorite, PHPHT. The other 101 words all use the letter Y in place of a vowel and contain gems like SYZYGY and GLYCYLS.

The number of tournaments won over a career by Chuck Armstrong, one of the best Scrabble players of all-time. It is very possible that he has won more than this based on the length of his playing career and the lack of such statistics in a lot of the early years of Scrabble tournament play. He is currently ranked 98th in North America by the North American Scrabble Players Association.

The number of legal 2-letter words in the game of Scrabble. It is an important list to memorize if you take playing Scrabble seriously. It may seem like two letters can’t add up to much, but if you can play a nice word that lines up with an existing word and create a bunch of these bad boys you will be able to score big. Some of the most important words from this list are JO, QI, XI, XU, and ZA.

The number of words that contain the letter Q without a U immediately after. This is a handy list to memorize because it just seems like you always get that high valued Q and no Us are nearby to help you out. Words like QWERTY, SHEQEL, QOPH, and TRANQ can surely get you out of a tight spot and into the winner’s circle.

The number one word used in the English language as evaluated by the Oxford English Corpus, and used already three times in this sentence, is the word...THE. BE, TO, OF, and AND round out the top five most commonly used words in our wonderfully confusing language.

I hope you’ve had fun taking our journey through the numbers that make up our favorite game, Scrabble. I dare you to make your own record setting scores and share them with us!