Okay, so you have the basics (link) and intermediate (link) strategies down. It’s time to tackle some more advanced strategies for playing high-quality Scrabble.  

Tile Tracking

Have you noticed the Tile Tracking section of the game screen?

When you draw new tiles from the bag after placing a word, or when your opponent plays a word, those tiles will be removed from the Tile Tracking window.

This means that as the game progresses, there will be fewer and fewer letters in this window.

How can you use the information you find there?

As you progress through a Scrabble game, the importance of the Tile Tracking window grows. The odds of your opponent holding the tiles you see in the window increase, but the odds of you drawing key tiles that have yet to be played also increase.

Here are some things to think about when examining the Tile Tracking window:

  • How far along in the game is it? If it’s still early, it’ll be hard to use the information you find there. If it’s midway through or in the latter stages of the game, it’s time to start looking more closely.
  • Are there many more consonants than vowels remaining? If so, be wary of using your vowels since you won’t be likely to draw more.

  • Are there many more vowels than consonants remaining? In that case, you’ll want to hold on to your consonants if possible.

  • Have the J, Q, X, and Z been played yet? These are critical tiles that can greatly impact the game. For example, if it’s late in the game, you have a lead, and there’s a big scoring spot open with a lot of these high-point tiles yet to be played, blocking that spot will become a higher priority than usual since the odds of your opponent holding these letters are much greater than average.

  • How many S and blank tiles are remaining? These are the best tiles in Scrabble for playing bingos. If you’re ahead in a game and many of these tiles have yet to be played, you may want to try and block any key openings or hooks before your opponent can use them since they’re likely to be on your opponent’s rack.

  • On the other hand, if you’re trailing towards the end of a game and there are lots of S, and blank tiles left unplayed or good places to score with unplayed JQXZ tiles, you should strongly consider playing more tiles than usual in an effort to draw those valuable letters yourself.

  • There are countless other ways to use the Tile Tracking window that depend on your individual game scenario. Did you just draw a Q without a U later in a game, but all four U’s are still available to be drawn? Perhaps using up your other letters to try and draw a U is a good idea. Are there seven I’s still unplayed, and do you have an I on your rack? Do your best to use your I since you’re likely to draw another.

Try to use the Tile Tracking window like a detective looking for clues. What details can you uncover that can help you make a better play? As the game progresses and as the number of unplayed tiles dwindles, these clues will become more and more important.


Once you or your opponent draws the final tile from the bag, you’ve reached the final stages of your game, known as the endgame.

The Tile Tracking window at this point in the game will display “Tile Bag: 0” to denote the fact that the bag is empty. But the rest of the window will show the exact letters your opponent has.  

Earlier on in the game, you may ask questions like: Does my opponent have the Q? Does my opponent have an S and blank?

In the endgame, you’ll know the answers to these questions with certainty and can plan accordingly.

Experienced players will even attempt to mathematically calculate the “best sequence” or, to use a term from chess, the “best line” of plays in each endgame.

In many games, playing a strong endgame only affects your margin of victory or defeat. But sometimes, playing an accurate endgame will be the difference between winning and losing the game!

Here are some basic principles of endgame play in Scrabble:

  • Remember, in Scrabble, the player who uses up all of their letters first will end the game. If possible, you want to be the one to do this.

  • Take a look at your opponent’s letters and see what options they have. Can they use all of their letters in one move? If they have multiple moves that use up all of their letters and you can’t block them all, you may want to try and block their highest-scoring option of the bunch.

  • Even if your opponent can’t play all of their letters, they might have a play that scores head and shoulders above any other option, and you’ll want to block that move if you can.

  • On the other hand, you need to maximize your own score as well. Look for the highest-scoring plays you can find, but before you make those plays, try to envision whether or not they give your opponent something new that they didn’t have before. For example, if your highest scoring endgame move scores 30 points but it gives your opponent a 50 point response, it might not be the best choice.

  • One common theme in endgames is a sequence where you make a move, your opponent makes a move, and you make a second move using the rest of your tiles, ending the game. (This is known as an “out-in-two.”)  In these scenarios, you want to find a one-two punch that scores the most points. This might mean passing up your highest-scoring play. For example, if you have a 30 point play available, but your next best play after that will score only 5 points, giving you a total of 35, that wouldn’t be as good as two plays of 20 points, giving you a total of 40.

  • If your opponent has certain tiles like the Q, C, or V, which are notoriously difficult to play in 2-letter words, you may be able to execute a technique known as a “stick,” so-called because those tiles will be “stuck” to your opponent’s rack, unable to be played. When you see that your opponent has tiles like this, take a moment to visualize where they might be played. Sometimes, there won’t be a spot for them. Other times, there will only be one spot for them, which you can block before they get to use it. Once your opponent is stuck with a tile, you can play your tiles individually to maximize your score or make setup plays that your opponent will be powerless to block.

  • Similarly, if your opponent has only consonants or only vowels, they may struggle to block you if you open a nice scoring spot for yourself in the endgame. Take note of these situations and try to be creative!

Endgames take time and practice, but they can yield some of Scrabble’s most interesting strategic plays!

Open and Closed Boards

As you play more Scrabble, you’ll start to get an instinctive feel for which boards offer lots of opportunity for scoring plays and bingos and which do not.

Boards with many of these opportunities are known as “open,” while boards without them are known as “closed.”

It’s a matter of personal preference which type of board you most enjoy playing on. If you prefer a tight, tactical battle, you might want to aim for a closed board. If you enjoy high-scoring, back-and-forth shootouts, you might prefer an open board.

However, even if you prefer open boards, you’ll often benefit from trying to close the board again if you’re ahead in a game. And, by the same token, if you prefer closed boards, but you’re trailing in a game, you’ll probably want to try and create a more open board, which will help you come back from your deficit.

So what are the characteristics of open and closed boards?

An open board has a variety of available scoring spots, hooks, and open tiles to play through. A closed board has few scoring spots, few available hooks to use, and few open tiles to play through.

A closed board will often have a large number of parallel plays that constrict both players’ options. Let’s look at a couple examples.

This is an open board.

For scoring plays, there are two Triple Word squares accessible here (the top center and top right), and parallel plays on top of FAME or underneath BORAGE will score quite well.

It’s an even better board for bingos. RESTRIVE takes N and S hooks, and almost any 7-letter word will play, forming a two-letter word with the A of AARGH. The S of RESTRIVE is also a great letter for playing 8-letter bingos, as is the second E of RESTRIVE.

This board is a closed board.

There are no easily accessible triple word scores and no easy scoring spots at all.

It’s also very difficult to fit a bingo on this board. The only way to fit a 7-letter word would be a word starting with S forming REINS, or perhaps a word hooking AMA or OMA on the left side of the board, where MA was played. Playing an 8-letter bingo won’t be much easier, with only very specific and unlikely options available (the Ls in WAULS and FLAIR and the Os and N of TOON).

To close an open board, try to find parallel plays that close off many open tiles at once, and try to identify and block useful hooks your opponent might play.

To open a closed board, try to make plays that grant you access to multiple new parts of the board at once, and do your best to make plays that offer you hooks in the future.

Getting comfortable with both open and closed boards will help you hold more of your leads and make more comebacks in games where you’re trailing!

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