Christmas Puzzle 2018.
This puzzle has been inspired by a game played between two of our members a few weeks back.
One of the players had an unplayable Q, the other player failed to maximise her score as she played her remaining tiles in 2 moves.
Frequently if your opponent is stuck with one tile it can be profitable to play out slowly.
Using this Christmas themed board below and the rack AESTUWZ how many points can you score before the end of the game ?
Can you score more than 50 points ? 70 ? over 100 ?
The highest score will be published on the website in the New Year... will it be yours ?
Christmas Scrabble Puzzle 2018 – The Highest Answer
The highest score we found on the above board is 134.
If you attempted the puzzle and you didn’t get near this score, don’t worry - hopefully you will see how the score can be achieved and if you look back at your solution you will discover how you could have scored more.
But how did we did we score 134 ?
Firstly, despite the puzzle’s preamble, the Q is playable (onto the I of SLEIGH). Your first move MUST block this space. Failure to do this will result in one move from you and one move from your opponent.
You have various ways to block the Q. Here are a few :
TI (4); IT/TI (4); WIT/TI (16); ZIT (34); AI (4) ; AIT (7); LA/AE (4); WE(5): SI (4); SIT (7)
It follows therefore we have a few choices so we need to concentrate on which titles would be more useful in future moves. (For example, using the S for 4 is wasteful as it can accrue more points by pluralising PRESENT-s for 10. )
It also useful to remember that if your opponent cannot play, you have as many moves as you have letters (in this case as many as 7 moves). Playing slowly, by building up the letters in a word, you will be re-accruing all the points for the original word.
For example, if you select WIT/TI as your first move, you will score 16 points.
If you play IT/TI (4) and then WIT (14) you will score 18. Two points more.
Another way to accrue points is to set up multi-directional premium squares.
Taking the IT/TI (4), WIT (14) example, we could then play an A making LAW/AE (8) giving a total of 26.
However, playing IT/TI (4) then LAW/WIT/AE as the second move scores 30, giving a total of 34. 8 points more.
But the W is not the only letter than can be placed in the triple letter score. A ‘Z ‘ can be used to make ZIT. This is how one of the better totals can be achieved:
IT/TI 4 Total 4
LEZ/ZIT/EE 66 Total 70
WHOLLY 20 Total 90
AB 12 Total 102 (using the B of BOX)
ICES/SI 16 Total 118
GU 6 Total 124 (using the G of MANGER)
Our 10 point Z, added 60 points to the total !
But, there is another place on the board where the Z can score lots of points.
Making AZO in parallel to BOX.
IT/TI 4 Total 4
ZO/ZO 22 Total 26 (building up to AZO)
AZO/AB 48 Total 74
ZOEA/EE 17 Total 91 (a sneaky hole created by the ZO/ZO move)
WHOLLY 20 Total 111
ICES/SI 16 Total 127
GU 6 Total 133 (using the G of MANGER)
This gives a higher total of 133.
But wait !
At the top of this article we said the highest is 134. Where did the extra 1 point come from?
A game of Scrabble is over when one player has no tiles left or there 6 moves of zero (passes, challenges, changes). You have 2 free plays at playing a speculative move before playing a valid move (GU 6). (Your opponent’s Q passing are 3 of the 6 moves). DOUM is ripe for guessing and scores 7, giving a total of 134.
Please note : this article has concentrated on blocking the Q with IT/TI, as it turns out TI (4) is equally valid. We have not managed to get such a high score by blocking the Q in any other way.
Also note we will still have the Q to add onto our score and subtract form out opponents, giving 154 points accrued in the endgame.