Board Games

Highest Scoring Scrabble Word



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The highest scoring English Scrabble word used to be QUARTZY, at 82 points. That record blown to smithereens  by a player who, after a couple of rounds of discarding unnecessary tiles, managed to play QUIXOTRY, using all seven letters and extending over two triple word squares. (The R was already on the board for him to connect to.) His score, which is the current all-time record for a single play, was 365 points. (SMITHEREENS could be made if a player had SMIRTEN on his rack and the word HERE and a perfectly located S were on the board, but it lacks the high scoring letters to score hugely.)

The match, which paired two experienced tournament players who were not superstars of the Scrabble world, produced two other sanctioned Scrabble records for North America. The man who played QUIXOTRY (meaning a rash and impractical act; a back formation originating from the name Don Quixote) ended with a total of 830 points. That was record number two. His opponent totaled 490 points. The combined total point score of 1320 points was the other record.

A triple-triple such as QUIXOTRY is an extreme rarity in tournament Scrabble, but this match produced two others: FLATFISH and SCAMSTER. There were also three bingos or plays that used all seven letters and earned 50 point bonuses.

What was necessary to bring this unbelievable game into Scrabble's record book was a rare combination of mathematical improbability and some boneheaded play. A computer expert analyzing the game pronounced that there were higher scoring moves available than those used in fourteen of the twenty-two non-bingo turns. A major defensive error was made by the losing player when he failed to block or protect the R that led to the super score. Postgame analysts say that there were seven other bingo opportunities that would have scored higher and not left that tasty R next to the triple word space.

I love Scrabble, but I have been talking about a level of play to which I do not aspire. From playing hundreds of games, I know many of the odd two-letter words that no one ever hears or speaks but are acceptable. I don't like to use AA, the basaltic rock (or whatever it is) from Hawaii. I use the names of Greek letters only in extremis, notes of the Guido's scale, UT included, are fine.

I have heard of tournament players who have memorized hundreds of these letter combinations and say with pride that they have no idea what any of them mean. I prefer using words that are words. ZA is not a short form of PIZZA that I have ever heard used other than by Scrabblistas.

Even the top-ranked players are going to lose some games. Major league pitchers can't "win 'em all" because their are many variables in baseball. Tiger Woods' perfectly read and stroked putts may not drop if there is a minute object or spike mark in the ball's path. The best Scrabble player will occasionally get rack after rack of one-point vowels while his less skilled opponent draws all the blank tiles, s's, and high-point letters.

 

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