The 'Q without U' combo is almost guaranteed to raise the clenched fist of a beginning Scrabble player. Why? Well, for one thing, just like that video says, the Q needs a U to really do its thing. But that doesn't really explain why this situation is so bad. Here are some good reasons...
Firstly, a Q that stays on your rack move after move, stubbornly awaiting a friendly U, severely limits your options. Playing with a six-letter rack is much, much more restrictive than a seven-letter rack.
Secondly, if the Q remains on your rack when your opponent uses up the last of their tiles, you will be hit with a double whammy of 20 penalty points! Many a Scrabble game has been lost by less than that.
For these reasons, even though the Q can sometimes score well, it is generally best to play it off as quickly as possible, even if it means taking a mediocre score.
Fortunately, the Scrabble dictionary is rather generous when it comes to the Q without U rack, and it is usually possible to play off the Q quickly for a reasonable score, and occasionally a high one, without waiting for that elusive U. This has especially been the case since the word QI was introduced into the game in the 1990s. But there are plenty of others too.
To help you avoid the dreaded Q-stick, this page lists every possible word containing a Q that is not followed by a U (although a handful, like UMIAQ, have a U elsewhere in the word). Since there are only 84 'Q without U' words in total, most expert players learn all of them before too long.
Let's start with the 'Q without U' words containing 2 to 5 letters. These are the ones you'll come across frequently, and should know inside out. Here they are...
Next come the 'Q without U' words containing 6 letters. You won't see them played very often, except as plurals of fives, but they will occasionally make or break a game.
I once won an important game by extending QI to QIGONG on an otherwise closed board, and another by scoring 60+ points for the unusual YAQONA. Don't be one of those players who finds out QWERTY is a word after you had the very rare opportunity of playing it.
The next list of 7 to 8 letter U-less Q words brings us into bingo territory. Again, such plays are rare, but most top players will have their very satisfying INQILAB story to tell.
Here's a real example. It comes from Round 13 of the 2009 World Scrabble Championships, in which two of the best players in the world faced each other - David Boys and Nigel Richards. On move 3, David faces a rather unpleasant looking rack. Think about what you would play in his situation, and then click on the board to see what David played...
With the 9 to 10 letter 'Q without U' words we are entering the regime of once-in-a-lifetime plays. This would normally recommend against bothering with these words, if it weren't for the fact that there are so few of them it seems silly not to memorise the final 11.
I know of at least one player who got to extend QI to QINGHAOSU in a tournament game, and I've had Quackle (a free Scrabble game) respond to my opening play of DI with TZADDIQIM. So it can happen. Provided you've devoted a few minutes to this list of course...
And finally, just to convince you that these 'Q without U' words are not made up, here are all the definitions in alphabetical order...
Q-without-U Word Meanings
a monetary unit of Yemen [n -S]
pl BUQSHA [n]
a coverall worn by Muslim women, also BURKA, BOORKA, BOURKHA [n -S]
pl BURQA [n]
a religious ascetic in India, also FAKIR, FAKEER, FAQUIR [n -S]
pl FAQIR [n]
in India, revolution [n -S]
pl INQILAB [n]
South African music [n -S]
pl MBAQANGA [n]
an Indian leader, also MOKADDAM [n -S]
pl MUQADDAM [n]
a type of veil worn by some Muslim women [n -S]
pl NIQAB [n]
a Jewish doctrine based on hidden meanings in sacred texts, also CABALA, CABBALA, CABBALAH, KABALA, KABBALA, KABBALAH, QABALAH [n -S]
a Jewish doctrine based on hidden meanings in sacred texts, also CABALA, CABBALA, CABBALAH, KABALA, KABBALA, KABBALAH, QABALA [n -S]
pl QABALAH [n]
QABALA, a Jewish doctrine based on hidden meanings in sacred texts, also CABALA, CABBALA, CABBALAH, KABALA, KABBALA, KABBALAH, QABALAH [n]
a sect based on qabala, also KABALISM, KABBALISM, CABALISM, CABBALISM [n -S]
pl QABALISM [n]
someone who finds hidden meanings in sacred texts, also CABALIST, KABALIST, KABBALIST [n -S]
relating to QABALA [a]
pl QABALIST [n]
a Muslim judge, also CADI, KADI [n -S]
pl QADI [n]
a Muslim leader, also CAID [n -S]
pl QAID [n]
a Turkish officer, also KAIMAKAM [n -S]
pl QAIMAQAM [n]
a Persian writing-case, also KALAMDAN [n -S]
pl QALAMDAN [n]
an underground water tunnel [n -S]
pl QANAT [n]
an Arabic poem of praise or mourning [n -S]
pl QASIDA [n]
an evergreen shrub, also KAT, KHAT [n -S]
pl QAT [n]
a male singer of qawwali [n -S]
devotional Sufi music [n -S]
pl QAWWALI [n]
pl QAWWAL [n]
a life force in Chinese medicine, also KI [n -S]
(QI is not only the most frequently played Q without U word, but is in fact the most frequently played word in tournament Scrabble!)
the direction Muslims face when praying, also KIBLAH, KEBLAH [n -S]
pl QIBLA [n]
a deep breathing exercise [n -S]
pl QIGONG [n]
an Albanian currency, also QINTAR, QUINTAR [n QINDARS or QINDARKA]
pl QINDAR [n]
pl QINDAR [n]
a chemical compound extracted from the plant artemisia [n]
an Albanian currency, also QINDAR, QUINTAR [n -S]
pl QINTAR [n]
pl QI [n]
wool of the arctic musk-ox [n -S]
pl QIVIUT [n]
a Hebrew letter, also KOPH [n -S]
pl QOPH [n]
a mild Indian curry, also KORMA [n -S]
pl QORMA [n]
pl QWERTY [n]
the usual keyboard layout [n QWERTIES or QWERTYS]
pl QWERTY [n]
pl SHEQEL [n]
an ancient unit of weight and money, also SHEKEL [n SHEQELS or SHEQALIM]
pl SHEQEL [n]
a marketplace in the Middle East [n]
n a form of divorce [n -S]
pl TALAQ [n]
a drug that tranquilizes, also TRANK [n]
a person of extreme piety in Judaism, also TSADDIK, TZADDIQ, TZADDIK, ZADDIK, ZADDICK [n]
a person of extreme piety in Judaism, also TZADDIK, TSADDIQ, TSADDIK, ZADDIK, ZADDICK [n]
an open Eskimo boat, also UMIAC, UMIAK, UMIACK, OOMIAC, OOMIAK, OOMIACK [n]
a donation for pious purposes in Islam, also WAKF [n -S]
pl WAQF [n]
the Fijian name for kava [n -S]
pl YAQONA [n]
And before you go, make sure you grab a copy of this cool freebie...
Word Buff's FREE Downloadable
Mini Scrabble Dictionary
As part of my effort to compile a free library of Scrabble cheats, I've put together a 39 page mini online Scrabble dictionary containing all the short Scrabble words. As I explain in the book's introduction, the short words are by far the most important ones to learn first.
Here's a snippet...
I've carefully highlighted which words are from which dictionaries to help you avoid learning phonies. I've put a downloadable copy in the Members Area. If you'd like to get your hands on it right now...