Anatomy of a Scrabble Game

One of the best ways to learn to play a Scrabble game like an expert, is to peek over the shoulders of real experts while they play. So I'm going to show you a real tournament game that was played between two world-class Scrabble players: Andrew Fisher (AF) and Bob Jackman (BJ). Here they are now...

Andrew FisherBob Jackman
Andrew FisherBob Jackman

Both of these players have been previous National Champions and have represented their country at previous World Scrabble Championships. So let's just say they are no slouches when it comes to Scrabble. If you'd like to know more about either of these experts, just click their picture.

The player whose moves we'll be watching is Andrew Fisher, who went on to win both this particular game and the tournament. For each move, you'll see...

  • The position Andrew was faced with
  • The move he decided to play
  • The thoughts that led him to that play
  • A post-mortem analysis of his play
NOTE — For experts, I've also included a computer analysis of selected moves, using a widely respected free Scrabble game simulator.
If you'd like to test your wits against the board, scroll down just enough to see each move, and then scroll a little further to read the analysis.

A word of warning before we dive into our first game, though. If you're not a very experienced player, many of the words you see in this game will be alien to you, and probably a bit intimidating. Remember though that this annotated game is about strategy rather than word knowledge.

The question you have to ask yourself as you work your way through this Scrabble game is not whether you knew this word or that word, but whether you understand why Andrew chose the word he chose. You'll obviously need to learn these words as soon as you can, but we'll talk more about word-learning on other pages. Right now, it's about strategy.

Ok - it's time to start the clock!

Bob Jackman is awarded the start, and opens with UNI at 8F for 6 points...

MOVE 1: AF = 0 Vs BJ = 6

BJ responds with 6D QAID for 20 points.

MOVE 2: AF = 10 Vs BJ = 26

BJ responds with J2 YITIES for 23 points.

MOVE 3: AF = 56 Vs BJ = 49

BJ responds with A7 VAWTED for 45 points.

MOVE 4: AF = 129 Vs BJ = 94

BJ responds with 12A DRAWL for 18 points.

MOVE 5: AF = 164 Vs BJ = 112

BJ responds with K1 GONOF for 35 points.

MOVE 6: AF = 188 Vs BJ = 147

BJ responds with 11E ATEBRIn for 86 points.

MOVE 7: AF = 221 Vs BJ = 233

BJ responds with H11 BICEP for 36 points.

MOVE 8: AF = 257 Vs BJ = 269

BJ responds with 14H ENTOMBS for 26 points.

MOVE 9: AF = 289 Vs BJ = 295

BJ responds with 4B TEX for 43 points.

MOVE 10: AF = 309 Vs BJ = 338

This is the pivotal point of the game, with only one play giving a good chance of winning from 29 in arrears. Andrew finds it! Can you?

Holding I-J-N-O-R-S-U, Bob tries a phony in a desperate attempt to secure the win. It’s challenged off, but even his best of JOR at I3 for 42 would be insufficient.

MOVE 11: AF = 341 Vs BJ = 338

Andrew is awarded 14 points for the tiles remaining on Bob's rack, and wins a very tight Scrabble game by a deceptively large 63 points.

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