After long days and anxious hours of working and waiting...I am finally BY DEFINITION a *good Scrabble player*! (Rob and I are celebrating my achievement as you can see above:)
According to the official Scrabble gameplay guide, a "good player" typically scores between three and four hundred in a 2 player game. Since I've been in Ithaca Rob and I have played 7 games. He's scored above that 300 mark twice already, but even though I beat him 4 times, I never made it above 300 till this evening when I scored 313!!!
I think I can contribute some of my overall personal improvement in the game to Rob's and my frequent habit of working through crossword puzzles together. I believe it's increased my ability to create words from my own tiles as well as to see helpful patterns of letters already in play from which I can build the high-scoring combinations of letters that make a champion. If you've ever watched a pro crossworder in action you may have noticed that sometimes, even more than finding an answer to the provided clue, just being able to see patterns in the letters is what really gives them the advantage. As our scrabble games have progressed we've both been increasing the frequency that we're able to create 2 and even 3 words in one cramped little area of the board scoring 30 or more points from just a couple of letters.
From Rob I also learned to pay more attention to where I place words (deliberately shooting for those double and triple word scores) rather than just trying to make big beautiful words. "ATONED" is a fine word for example, but most of those letters are only worth 1 point each so if you have to play it on all blank squares you could end up with a measly 7 points. On the other hand, if you play a shorter and more boring word that hits a couple high scoring squares and makes a couple 2 letter words on the side, you could bring your point tally for a single turn well above 20, 30, or even 40.
Beauty or utility...? It's a tough choice, but if you're playing to win...I guess ya gotta be practical.