Hi, Scrabble players! My name is Will, and I’m a former North American Scrabble Champion. Even if you’re just starting out as a Scrabble player, I can guarantee that we have something in common. Neither of us was born knowing how to play Scrabble. We all start our Scrabble journeys from the same place! I hope my tips and advice will help you as you embark on your own Scrabble journey.  

The Rules

If you’re completely new to Scrabble, you should familiarize yourself with the rules of Scrabble (here – link). You might also find it helpful to look at (this post – link) about how many letters there are in the game of Scrabble with some extra tips on how to use them. With that as your foundation, let’s talk about some basic strategies that you can use to play better Scrabble.  

2-Letter Words

The two-letter words are the foundation of the game of Scrabble. As you continue to play more Scrabble, you’ll begin to learn more and more of these words because they appear so often. As of 2021, there are 127 two-letter words, twenty of which are unique to the UK English dictionary.

There are several reasons these words are so important. First, they’re the easiest way to use your highest-scoring tiles. Playing words like QI, ZA, XU, and JO can be simple ways to score lots of points. Next, they allow you to play more of the words you see. Sometimes, knowing the two-letter words will be the difference between placing that nice word you see on your rack onto the board or having nowhere to put it. Finally, two-letter words allow you to place a word alongside other words on the board. This is known as a parallel play (more on these below).  

Bonus Squares

It only takes a quick glance at the Scrabble board to see all the brightly colored squares and understand that they must be important.

These are the bonus squares. The Double Letter (DL) and Triple Letter (TL) squares boost the scores of individual letters, and the Double Word (DW) and Triple Word (TW) squares boost the value of your entire word. (The center star required for the opening move of the game is a Double Word square.) One approach to use when playing Scrabble is to look at your tiles and identify the ones that score the most points. Then look at the board and try to place those tiles on the best bonus squares you can reach!  

Parallel Plays

A parallel play occurs when you play your word alongside a word already on the board. Parallel plays combine the power of two-letter words and bonus squares. You can rack up a lot of points in one move by adding several additional words to the score of your “main” word. For example, on this turn, I’m about to play AJAR for 21 points.

But by shifting the position of my word to form a parallel play, I can play AJAR for 42 points instead!

If you can make a parallel play that forms two words with the same bonus square, you’ll receive that bonus twice! In the example above, the J is on a double letter score, and I’ve formed two words with it at once – AJAR and JO. That means the J alone is worth 32 points! I get extra points for AG and AN as well.  


A hook is a letter added to the front or back of a word that’s already been played.

It’s a great way to fit the words you see on your rack onto the game board. Some hooks are easier to identify, such as an S to pluralize a word or a D to change a verb tense.

Others are tricky and completely change the meaning of the word, like in this example:

Do your best to think about potential hooks – not only for words that have already been played but for words that you’re considering playing during your turn.

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