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Old 02-12-2019, 05:48 AM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 2,164
"Co-operative Scrabble"

Scrabble enthusiasts may find some interest in reading about a whimsical experiment in which I recently took part. My brother and I share a house, and have sequential games of Scrabble more or less continually on the go. (All thoughts which follow, are about Scrabble between only two players.)

We recently exchanged observations about the way in which at times, large areas of the board are made inaccessible for laying out of words in: by virtue of the way the game happens to go -- which letters the players draw, when; and sometimes, both players refrain from such opening-up as might be possible, for fear of letting the other in and enabling him to "clean up" scoring-wise, in that part of the board. This situation can be felt as an interesting -- or sometimes maddening -- constraint / challenge. Under such conditions, one might (briefly) entertain thoughts of self-sacrifice -- playing a very low-scoring word, in order to open up for both players, a thus "blocked" area; even if the result would be some high scoring for one's opponent. We decided to try an experiment by which we played a non-competitive round of Scrabble -- for this one round, altogether ignoring scores: no point in scoring, with the object being not to try to beat the other guy, but to work together to make as much as possible of the board, open and available for play.

Brother is a more competitive character than me, and tried pretty much as he does in normal play, to create ingenious high-scoring stuff (even though we weren't scoring); I was more laid-back -- trying for words of decent length and breaking new ground on the board, but not greatly sweating it. Things went rather more quickly than in our normal games, but not hugely more so. Approaching the end, we had words in plenty -- longish ones (often five or six letters) predominating more than usual; and a good spread, of use of not far off the whole board: biggest unoccupied area was three adjacent horizontal rows of five squares each, in the lower middle of the board (three rows, occupied, between the lowest of these "fives", and the bottom of the board).

At the end-game, brother went "out" first: I was left with four letters (IKMW) -- as we weren't scoring, no need felt to be particularly frantic to get rid of big-scoring letters before the end. He suggested that with our doing things as we were, I might as well play my remaining letters: that was possible in two goes, making KID and MEW -- the K of KID went on to the end of the abovementioned three hitherto "virgin" rows of five. At the very end, we had used only two out of the eight triple-word squares -- since not scoring, no particular incentive to reach out and use them !

Unsurprisingly -- we found this an interesting thing to try once, but very far from thrilling. Of some interest to observe what happened, when "doing" Scrabble in this way.
Old 02-12-2019, 07:48 AM
Teuton's Avatar
Teuton Teuton is offline
Join Date: Jan 2012
Location: Plymouth, UK
Posts: 1,507
If you want a more competitive game without the feeling that you are opening the board to your opponent scoring off your long words, you can play the variant printed in the rule book of my edition, where you play with the same set of 7 tiles as each other, each suggesting a play but only the highest scoring word being placed (although all words are scored). You can play with much more than the usual limit of four this way - I've had 8 playing, but at that table only 3 actually wanted to play so was a bit of failed experiment. I've played like that duo a number of times though.
Old 02-13-2019, 05:33 AM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 2,164
Thanks -- interesting thought, re "same set of tiles as each other, pick the best score"; and one which would never have occurred to me. In a two-person game (which is basically all that's available to us: except for us two, none of our near-and-dear-ones are into word-game stuff), I don't see my brother going for this ploy: as he'd be the first to admit, patience is not in his repertoire of virtues !
Old 02-13-2019, 07:18 AM
JKellyMap's Avatar
JKellyMap JKellyMap is offline
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 9,280
Another way to make it less competitive is to allow trading of tiles — maybe limit it to three times for each player; and maybe the trade initiator must offer a choice of two (or three?) yikes to give up, at least one of which is of the same or greater value. “Do you have an E? I can give you a T or O for it.” The opponent has right of refusal.
Old Yesterday, 12:07 PM
Sangahyando Sangahyando is offline
Join Date: Mar 2015
Posts: 2,164
Tile-trading -- again, interesting notion; but I doubt that the brother would go for it. He's for "maximum ferocity and may the best man win": and is better at the business all round, than me -- I win perhaps one out of five of our games, and that's OK by me. Essentially, we're happy with fierce competition, and "the frustration (including sometimes large areas of the board being no-go areas) is part of the fun"; we were just curious to try, once, what a no-scoring-no-competing round would be like, for filling the board up.


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