The new Scrabble words – a player’s analysis of how useful they are

The new Scrabble words – a  critical analysis of how useful they are

The new Scrabble words – a critical analysis of how useful they are

The new Collins Scrabble dictionary is out today with a host of newly accepted words. As a self-confessed Scrabble nerd, I thought I’d attempt to analyse how useful some of these new words are to players.

Apparently 3,000 have been added and I’ve not seen the full list yet, so I’m just going to share my notes on some of the most commonly reported (source: Guardian, Telegraph).

  • QIN: a Chinese zither – the BLOCKBUSTER new one

    Without doubt this is the powerhouse of the new words, likely to be used regularly and increase average scores.

    There is only one two letter scrabble word with the power-tile Q in it and that is QI (the only three letters are QAT, QUA and SUQ). So if, as is common, you’ve a Q in your rack but no U, this is a key play. Hopefully, you’ll be able to intersect it on a triple letter position, where you get it vertically and horizontally, thus scoring 62.

    Once it’s on the board, the only way to hook into it (connect another word to it) is currently by pluralising it with an S to make QIS. The newly acceptable QIN means there’s a second option, which should mean many more people connecting in and bagging themselves an additional 12 points or more.

  • BREDREN: brother

    Any new seven-letter word (or bingo) is useful, as play it in one move and you get 50 bonus points. What’s good about this one, as far as I can work out, is that combination of letters doesn’t have any other bingos in it, ie, there’s no acceptable seven-letter anagram. So, while it has narrow application, it’s a good one.

  • GRRL: definition to be confirmed

    A vowelless word is superb, as when your rack is consonants-only it can be a nightmare. GRRL joins HM, CH, ST, HMM and others in the words to remember. Even better, GRRL is four letters and they’re all commonly occurring. (PS RHYTHM is the longest non-vowel word possible, though Y is a semi-vowel.)

  • INBOX: email folder for incoming mail

    The strength of INBOX is that it is a great co-join of two words. If there is an existing IN or BOX on the table, you can hook them together with the right letters.

    I suspect this will turn out to be especially useful in the end-game when you’re trying to get rid of as many letters as possible. By adding IN to an existing BOX, you get a decent score with two low-scoring letters.

  • GOBI: cauliflower

    More useful than many would think this one, but probably only for more serious players.

    OBI, a Japanese robe, is an allowable word. I find myself playing it often, as it’s a good way of getting rid of three ‘not-that-bingoable’ letters (this is all about rack management, which involves deliberately leaving the right letters in your rack to improve your chances of getting a bingo).

    So, if there is an existing OBI on the board, this could prove very useful for getting down a bingo ending in ING, which is common in the rack but tough to get on the board. GOBI is a welcome new option.

  • PUNAANY: female sex organ

    What I like about this one, barring the obvious Ali G silliness, is the always useful double A in there. Plus this is a relatively common combination of seven letters (though not as common as BREDREN) and, again, there’s no existing bingo combination in it. In fact, the biggest word I can find in there is punny.

    A very similar set of circumstances exists for TWIGLET: wheat snack.

  • VLOG: video blogging

    Anything that helps you get a V on the board is good in my book. Especially as LOG is a common word and trying to hook in with a word with a V is never easy – this will help.

  • TIK and GAK: definitions to be confirmed

    Any new three-letter word is useful. Though I must be honest: while I know my two-letter words and my three-letter power tiles, I don’t know all my three-letter words. One day I’d like to dedicate a month to word learning, so that I know them all, but at the moment there’s way too much MoneySaving going on.

  • INNIT: isn’t it

    This is what I think of as a ‘better than changing’ word. If you’ve too many duplicate letters, eg, NNNIIIT in your rack, then you can play INNIT to get rid of them and earn some points. However, INNIT is likely to be used quite rarely, as the T is one of the most useful letters and IN is a good combo (in case you get a G). I’m thinking this would only rarely be good rack management.

To finish, it’s worth noting that with my ‘day job’ hat on, adding new words to the Scrabble dictionary is a savvy commercial move. Not only does it mean there’s a lot of column inches written about contentious new words, all of which is good free advertising, it also means that lots of serious Scrabble players will need to buy new dictionaries. After all, if there were only 10 new words, you’d write them in, but 3,000!

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