Finding Words for Tough Letters
Some letters are tougher to use than others and often will require a little advance planning. No one ever frets about playing off an E, unless they have five of them and need to find a good way to get rid of quite a few. However, some other letters are much tougher to play for several reasons. The first challenge is if the letter cannot be used as a two letter word. There is no shortage of two letter words for an H. The other challenge is being able to play the letter off. I’ve found myself before at the end of the game with both Vs which can be very difficult to play. Furthermore, if I cannot play them off, I take a 4 point penalty for each V tile and my opponent gets the same points as a bonus. This is a 16 point swing and can mean the difference between winning and losing. Three other tough letters are C, J, and K. At least the J and K have two letter options: JO, KI and KA.
Fun with V Words
I think the V is my least favorite tile in Scrabble. It does not have any two letter options for a quick and easy dump. Unlike the C, I don’t think I’ve ever even managed a bingo with a V. Although the words SERVICE and NERVIER just came to mind. So what should one do if they get the V? My perspective would be to play it off reasonably quick. It probably will not result in many points, but as noted above, can be quite an annoying liability in the end game. The best way is to learn some of the common 3 letter V words, several of which take the form of vowel-V-vowel. There are 36 3 letter V words and 5 that take the vowel –V-vowel form including: AVE, AVA, OVA, EVE, and AVO. The other words are: DEV, REV, LEV, GUV (VUG), LUV, LAV, TAV (VAT), IVY. Words that start with V include VAC, VAN, VAR, VAS, VAT, VAU, VAV (very handy if you get stuck with two Vs), VAW, VEE, VEG, VET, VEX, VIA, VID, VIE, VIG, VIM, VIS, VOE, VOW, VOX, VUM.
Playing off the C
While the C is not quite as difficult as the V, it is still challenging since there are no 2 letter C words where you can just readily dump it off your rack. However, there are many more 3 letter C words than 3 letter V words. In fact, there are almost twice as many with 66 possibilities for C to just 36 possibilities for V. Perhaps the most interesting 3 letter C word is CWM, which does not require any vowels. Also CO? works with 14 of the 26 letters, including COZ and COR. The other 63 3-letter C words are: ACE, ACT, ARC, CAB, CAD, CAM, CAN, CAP, CAR, CAT, CAW, CAY, CEE, CEL, CEP, CHI, CIG, CIS, COB, COD, COG, COL, CON, COO, COP, COR, COS, COT, COW, COX, COY, COZ, CRU, CRY, CUB, CUD, CUE, CUM, CUP, CUR, CUT, DOC, ECU, HIC, ICE, ICH, ICK, ICY, LAC, MAC, MIC, MOC, MYC, OCA, ORC, PAC, PEC, PIC, REC, ROC, SAC, SEC, SIC, TIC, and most useful (perhaps) VAC.
Jumping for Joy with the J
The first word to remember for the J is JO which can be extended to JOE, which can be extended to JOEY. Another useful chain is JO to JOW to JOWL to JOWLY. A well positioned JO can score 52 points. The letter J has 26 3-letter options. Twenty of these take the form of J-vowel-consonant. Most of these J words are fairly common: JAB, JAG, JAM, JAY, JET, JIB, JIG, JOB, JOB, JOT, JOW, JOY, JUG, JUT. A few are slightly more unusual: JEW (slang), JIN (Islamic mythology ), JUN (? ), JUS (often refers to juice as in in au jus).
The other six words are: TAJ, RAJ, HAJ and then JOE, JEE, JEU (another French word that slipped in meaning game).
Fun with K words
The K is worth 5 points and there is only one K tile in the game. I don’t usually think of it as hard to play off since there are often many common words that use the K and at just 5 points, it is not a disaster if you don’t maximize your score. The J being worth 8 points, deserves more focus to maximize those points. Furthermore there are two 2-letter words for the K: both KI and KA as well as another 55 3-letter words. Both KI and KA extend to quite a few 3 letter words, enabling the astute player to capture the K points for than once. Furthermore, there are easy rules to remember these extensions. Every letter in Betsy’s feet extends KA to a playable word (KAB, KAE, KAF, KAT, KAS). For KI, every consonant in FIND PRINTER extends KI to a playable word (KIF, KIN, KID, KIP, KIR, KIT). The stem ko- is a little harder since ko is not a word. But the made up word BIPARS* provides all the letters that make KO? work (KOB, KOI, KOP, KOA, KOR, KOS). The other 3-letter K words are: ARK, ASK, AUK, DAK, EEK, EKE, ELK, ICK, ILK, INK, IRK, KEA, KEF, KEG, KEN, KEP, KEX, KEY, KHI, KUE, KYE, LEK, OAK, OKA, OKE, SKA, SKI, SKY, SUK, TSK, UKE, WOK, YAK, YOK, YUK, ZEK.