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).



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

Although the point value of S is one, and the value of  a blank is nothing, it well worth considering their worth to your rack and in particular their usefulness in generating a large move score.


Many top players will rarely use an 'S' for less than 30 points during the first half of the game.

Many top players will rarely use a blank for less than 50 points during the first half of the game.


In all likelihood both will form the basis of a bonus word (ie 70+ points).


There are exceptions : perhaps you are holding 3 esses, or maybe a rack with no vowels, or there is a high scoring opportunity that needs to be blocked before your opponent uses it. In  general (and probably 80% of the time) the 30/50 values should be considered.



As the game progresses the point worth will diminish as the board becomes more blocked, and letters are used up. However, the value of 'the last' S or blank is a useful weapon, so may be worth retaining for the end-game.

This section of the East Berks Scrabble Club is concerned with Strategy.

Mainly hints and tips on becoming a better player, though one of the main ways is TO LEARN MORE WORDS.

Word learning, and vocabulary puzzles, appear in the 'Wordplay' section.


This section will cover the 'why' a move is better than others.

'Why' certain word lists are more profitable to learn than others.

'Why' the top players always seem to have a bonus on their racks!


If there is a question you'd like answering do send it to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


and we will do our best to answer!

How many vowels are there in a standard set ? How many consonants ?


Have a little think ? Are there 30 vowels ? 40 ? 50 ?


There are 42 vowels, and 56 consonants. (and 2 blanks).


That is a ratio of 3:4, which is very difficult to work out especially as the letters come out randomly.



One way to consider the ratio is a 50:50 ratio with a slight emphasis to consonants.