Last week, I was told after a particular game…”I had the Q for ages and didn’t know what to do with it”.
The Power Tiles of J,Q,X and Z ought to yield high scores because of their high point value.
But another way is to consider them as, PROBLEM tiles. There are various problem tiles in Scrabble – a V, two Is… and if the JQXZ were added to this list, then it would be more obvious what to do with them.
My ‘gut feel’ for the PROBLEM POWER tiles was that I would play the Q off within 1-2 moves. Similarly for the J. The X and Z may stay on the rack a move or two longer.
I keep records of racks at the tournaments I play in. I discovered, through sampling 50 games I picked the POWER tiles 101 times (broadly in line with probability). 67% of those times I played the power tile on the VERY NEXT MOVE. 21% of the time I played the power tile on the next subsequent move. So 88% of the power tiles I picked up were played in the first 2 opportunities I had.
I also analysed 10 games played at the 2016 British Matchplay Scrabble Championships. (Frequently at this tournament, they have a recorder who writes down every rack and move so that the games can be subsequently analysed using a tool called Quackle). http://www.centrestar.co.uk/tsh/16bmsc/html/annotations.html
Those 10 games would have yielded 40 POWER tiles. (Actually 41 as there was one change and the Q appeared twice in a game).
In 33 occasions out of 41, the POWER tile was played/changed immediately. That is over 80% of the time.
So the top players play off the JQXZ very, very quickly.
But the top players know more words – they can obviously play the tiles quicker !
Here are the words that were played in those 10 games.
Most of the words are everyday English, or a 2, 3 or 4 letter word.
Knowledge of these short words will enable the JQXZ to played off quickly!
Don’t forget though to try to get a score when you play them!
JURA QAT REZ LEX
XI JEWED ZO QI
ZEA FIQUE JOWL DEXY
JAVELINA CHIZ OXEN QAT
NOX QIN JAI REZ
PUTZES TAX QIN JUROR
WAX JIZ change + QI (JIZ included both J and Z)
BISEXUAL ZEA JOE QANAT
RELAXINS JIZ QI (JIZ included both J and Z)
QAT JILT HOX RIZ