Scrabble with a purely defensive player..

who closes the board, and, I must add, usually wins to my annoyance. (It’s my brother) Yes, I have seen the "How to cheat w/o cheating at Scrabble vid, but it’s too the point where I cannot stand playing with him.

Desperation leads me to post here, other than gnashing and rending, is there anything I can do?

I used to beat my brother by having a few blanks hidden upon my person, but I hate playing a purely defensive person and constant attack is the answer. Get him rattled first not you.

Ha, your brother must be my buddy because I very nearly started this thread in my frustration with him. He does the exact same thing in Words with Friends, completely closing the board, only playing words that run parallel to others. My win/loss rate against him is about 50/50. I don’ have much advice other than to try and hit every triple word an triple letter you can because the board closers typically don’t seem too concerned with thost tiles.

Hate it. It just makes the game not fun. It’s harder to do in lexulous, because you tend to be able to make longer words that make the board harder to ‘close up.’

Playing parallel isnt defensive, its the way to get the most points!

I don’t think that it’s defensive. Defensive play is making moves so that your opponent doesn’t get the chance to play on the big tiles. I’ll always give up some points if I don’t leave my opponent open to getting to play a TW.

My favorite opponent in Words With Friends plays a closed game. I am the opposite in general. I like playing him because we’re evenly matched. I “met” him as a random opponent. It’s funny because I don’t know a thing about this individual. We’ve played tons of games but have never used the chat feature.

(Brag: I just played BELIEVER on two DWs for 104 points)

One thing I’ll mention: If your opponent isn’t giving you someplace good to play, don’t be afraid to exchange tiles. It took me a while to learn that lesson.

My wife used to play Scrabble as a word game and tried to get the biggest word possible, even if it opened access to a triple for me. I would beat her about 2-1, despite her better vocabulary.

I play Scrabble as a strategic tile placement game with an unusual set of allowed plays. That means going for all the triples, doubles, and multi-word plays I can while preventing her from hitting doubles and triples. Since then, she’s picked up on my style and we are much more competitive.

Playing defensively is a completely valid strategy. I like to mix it up myself, but I’ll happily sacrifice a few points in favor of blocking a TW square from my opponent. The real trick is playing defensively while still scoring enough points to win. If your brother is doing this consistently, maybe he’s just a better player than you.

I have found that I get better at my own style of play (not in Scrabble as I haven’t played more than just occasionally) if I play with different styles. I learn the drawbacks of such styles and learn how to defeat them. You might find, as suggested by sisu to rattle him by playing his exact same style- at least until the board opens up.

Depends on how much you want to study,but learning all the hooks on the 2 and 3 letter words will help you a bunch.Don’t forget the front hooks, which are often overlooked.

I don’t know if it’s necessarily defensive, but it sure closes up the board. Of course, if you gain more points with parallel play, it’s no problem. But my friend on WWF will never play anything but parallel to existing words. I think he often costs himself points because of it, but he feels he’s limiting my moves, thus net gain for him. At least that’s how I imagine he sees it.

Liking this advice the best, I remember a casual ship board tourney, when I played a guy who plays like my brother. Luckily, I had experience with that, and kept playing the little words, whilst he must have swapped tiles about 5-6 time in a row.

Will try that!

This is exactly what happened with my wife. She used to call it “Dirty Scrabble”, but eventually she decided it was just stratergery and now she probably does it better than I do.

I used to play defensively against my mother and defeated her almost every time. Unfortunately I came to realise she had no fun playing me and only did so to maintain contact. The first game wherein I decided to purposely open up a triple word for her* she beat me by one point, 373-374… I hope she found it as amusing as I did.

*I still scored good points and thought I could cover any word she made. Normally I would never open up a triple or 2x double even if it meant sacrificing points.

I don’t recommend it,I might trade tiles once every 30 games.I really think it is better to dump a tile or two,especially on a tight board,and I am very far from a casual player.

I gotta say I don’t really understand the OP’s question. It’s not like you and your brother play on two different boards. If he frequently makes plays that leave the board in a cluttered state, well, then you and he end up having exactly the same options as to what you can put where. If you’re just complaining that he doesn’t open up TWS’s for you willy nilly, well, that’s just sound play. If you’re saying that he constantly leaves the board in a congested state, and then wins, then clearly he’s better at playing on a congested board than you are, and plays to his strengths (whether consciously or not). Assuming I’m understanding what you mean by “congested board” properly, probably the best single thing you can do is learn your 2-letter words and as many of your 3-letter-stems as you can, because that will make it a lost easier to attach your words.

And being willing to trade in tiles is definitely good advice, although not necessarily directly related to board-cloggedness. If you have perfectly good letters but nowhere to play anything, trading in isn’t going to help you, most likely.

At the highest levels of the game, playing extremely defensively is quite rare and is generally considered to be a poor strategy. It’s very easy to frustrate by aggressively opening the board. The defensive opponent will spend so much time trying fruitlessly to shut the board down that you can run away with the victory.

Scrabble is really a strategic mathematical game, not a vocabulary duel. The words themselves are completely unimportant–so long as they are legal to play. They may as well be a codified series of acceptable strings of digits.

While I don’t disagree, you can’t deny that the person who knows quixotic is a word has an advantage over the person who thinks they has a really crappy hand*. Knowing the legal bit-strings is perhaps less important, but still a very integral part of playing said game.

  • I don’t play Scrabble much, but I don’t think a hand that could play quixotic is really that crappy in reality, but I’m not going to go out and find an example of a really cool word whose corresponding hand can’t be used for much useful other than that specific word.