In our last article we looked at learning lists, and breaking long lists into sublists.



Learning lists has 2 major drawbacks :


1)      its tedious and


2)    if you can’t remember one word, you may not remember all the words that follow it




Mnemonics provide a colourful way of remembering a set of words, and is most useful for learning hooks. 

Mnemonics work best when the letters/phrase in the mnemonic can be connected to the base word.




Take this as an example … what are the hooks to EVE ?


A mnemonic might be MaNLY TuRNS. 



It could be argued that EVE turned Adam (MAN) when she ate the apple in the Garden of Eden. So this mnemonic can, albeit loosely, be

tied to the base word. But what does MaNLY TuRNS mean ?



The letters MNLY can all precede EVE to make MEVE, NEVE, LEVE and YEVE.


The letters TRNS all follow EVE to make EVET, EVER, EVEN and EVES.



Note that the vowels in MaNLY TuRNS are not used, which is why they have been shown in lower case.




Using mnemonics that don’t connect with the base words, is possible.. but you have to then remember what the base word is !


As an example the hooks to AA are BAA, CAA, FAA, MAA, AAH, AAL and AAS.



The following mnemonic is poor :


Buying Cod For Men Has Little Sense




But if you know that AA is a type of volcanic lava from Hawaii then :


Be Careful ! Fire, Magma, Hawaiian Lava Splashes



provides the front hooks (BCFM) and back hooks (HLS).


But will you remember which are front and back ?




It is possible to use mnemonics for bonus words too..






The 7 letter word SNORTED combines with the letters of “IN A YUMMY PIE” (I,N,A,Y,U,M,P and E) to make :


I – DRONIEST                     N- TENDRONS                                    A-TORNADES




M- MORDENTS                  P- PORTENDS, PROTENDS               E -ERODENTS




The word AGA can have 2 definitions – a Middle Eastern Chief, or a type of cooker.


Why not try to come up with a mnemonic to remember the front and back hooks to AGA?


(The hooks to AGA appeared in a recent quiz, scroll down to find the letters you need to use in your mnemonic).




Next time we will look at stories.


The first way to learn lists, is to… LEARN LISTS.




Think back to when you were at school, how did you learn to count in French, how did you learn a poem or song, how did you remember battles, chemical elements, etc.. ?



Probably by rote.



By writing down the list, time after time, after time. Very monotonous, but does get rewards.



Some lists though are quite big.  So break the lists down into manageable sizes.


For example the 2 letter words could be broken into :


a)       26 mini lists each beginning with a different letter (DA, DE, DI, DO)



b)      26 mini lists each ENDING with a different letter (AR, ER, OR, UR)



c)       Ignore words a child of 10 would know (and then look at the rest) e.g Ignore AM, BY, IT etc



d)      Words containing JQXZ



e)      Words containing 2 vowels (or 2 consonants) e.g AA, AE, AI, EA etc or CH, FY, KY etc



f)        Musical notes (DO, RE, MI, FA etc)



g)       Parts of speech (AH, ER, UM etc)




Every long list, whether it is :


- all the 2 letter words


- or the 7 letter words containing the letters of RETAIN


- or the 4 letter words containing 3 vowels (e.g AREA, EPEE, IDEA)




can all be broken in several sub-list. How you create the sub-lists is down to you.




Using the last example as a question …

Can you think of 3 different ways the 96 4 letter words containing 3 vowels can be split into sub-lists ? (Answers at the end, but do think about it before you read them)




These days many top players record the lists and play it back on the car, or the bath. You can too… every mobile phone has a recorder function these days!




Next time we will look at mnemonics.




(For those struggling with the sub-lists for the 4 letter words containing 3 vowels here are 3 sub-list ideas :


-          Words starting with the same letter  e.g OBIA, OOZE, OUMA etc. 


-          Words split by the sole consonant in the word e.g AREA, ARIA, EURO etc 


-          Words split by vowel make up AEE yields AGEE, AJEE, EASE etc..




There are others of course, the choice is yours)


At the end of recent Scrabble club evening there was a discussion about how to learn new words. Over the next few postings, we will share some of the tools and techniques anyone can use to learn new words. Everyone learns in different ways so pick the one that works best for you.




But first…there are over 118,000 words up to 8 letters long, which should I learn ?


Here are a few pointers :


i)                    All the 2 letter words. There are 124 of them




ii)                   As many 3 letter words as you can. There are 1341 of these, so there are a lot.




iii)                 Have a good working knowledge of the 5625 4 letter words.




iv)                 Learn how to form high probability bonuses.


For instance the six letter word RETAIN can be made into 70 7 letter words with the addition of 1 letter. Similarly,  SATINE +1 other letter makes 95 words. TORIES +1 other letter makes another 70.




v)                   Learn a reasonable selection of 2/3/4/5 letter words that contain the J, Q, X or Z




vi)                 Learn words with lots of vowels in! 








Decide where your weakness lies and build up your learning in one particular area.


There are many published books that contain useful lists, the most recent is “Scrabble Trainer” by Allan Simmons published by Collins. The ABSP website  has some useful lists too.


There are also various computer software programs – probably the most well-known is zyzzyva.  If you use zyzzyva, make sure you set the dictionary to CSW15.


In our next posting we will start giving you pointers to help you learn lists.



Here is the last part of the hooks to the 3 letters words that begin and end with A. 


What are the front and back hooks of AVA and AWA ?









Answers below :



























So if you look back at all 11 A?A words, they can be used hooked to make over 60 4 letter words. Well worth learning!

Continuing the mini-series for hooks to the 3 letters words that begin and end with A. 


What are the front and back hooks of ALA, AMA ?









Answers below :