28/09/2009

The Scrabble Book (by Derryn Hinch)

I'd never heard of Derryn Hinch, but apparently he's an Australian media personality. I happened to pick up his book about Scrabble at a relative's house, prior to a game. Since she wasn't going to read it, she said I could keep it.

'The Scrabble Book', written in 1972, is basically a book of Scrabble strategy. It starts with the rules of the game (I skimmed that section), then goes on to explain such techniques as rack balancing (ie trying to ensure vowels and consonants are roughly equal), when to exchange tiles, how to use the blank most effectively, and so on.

I had already worked out some of the suggested strategies for myself - such as not opening up triple word scores, and playing the high-scoring letters on bonus tiles wherever possible. Repeated games, even online, with good players make it clear what works and what doesn't. I found this book it a very interesting read, nonetheless.

I don't play championship Scrabble, and probably never will; I'm not competitive enough, nor do I think sufficiently fast. But I do play sometimes in real life, and frequently on Facebook, and have learned in the past year just how important it is, not just to find good words but to use good placement. Often a shorter word with high letters, well-placed, can score considerably more than a longer word.

No longer in print - there are no doubt other books of this type, and many web pages devoted to the topic of Scrabble strategy - but I enjoyed reading it, and will probably refer to it again.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 28th September 2009

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