Scrabble Challenge #12: Can You Unscramble the Derivative Words?
Last week's challenge brought up a good question (thanks Lisa) regarding the functionality of the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, 4th Edition, both online and in print form. The word TACTICAL was the answer to the first puzzle in that challenge, but when you search for the word directly in the print version, it can't be found. Likewise, when you search the online dictionary on Hasbro's site, you won't find it either. Go ahead, try it. You won't find it looking for TACTICAL specifically.
Now if you look up TACTICAL with the Collins Scrabble Checker below, you'll find it without any problems. That's because it contains each word individually, whereas the online version of the OSPD4 follows its print equivalent to the tee.
What does that mean exactly?
To make everything easier to find and use on the Scrabble board, the print equivalent of the OSPD4 lists main entries in boldface type, as well as all inflected forms of the main entries listed after the parts of speech (n, v, adj, adv, etc.).
Aside from that, there's something called "run-on" entries, which are one or more derivatives of a root word that have a different part-of-speech label. These are located on the same line as the root word, also in boldface type, after the brief definition. Run-on entries are not defined since their meanings are readily derivable from the meaning of the root word.
Here are a few examples:
CAUDAL adj taillike CAUDALLY adv
EXEQUY n pl. -QUIES a funeral procession EXEQUIAL adj
POKE v POKED, POKING, POKES to push or prod POKABLE adj
If you looked up the words CAUDALLY, EXEQUIAL, and POKABLE in the print version, looking for them directly, you won't find them. And you won't find them on the online version, either. You have to look up the root word for all of them, just like...
TACTIC n pl. -S a maneuver for gaining an objective TACTICAL adj
Okay, now the tricky part.
Using the online version, you can search for anything that's bold EXCEPT the run-on entries. So, you can search for POKE, POKED, POKING and POKES and it will take you to the main entry POKE which has all of the words listed in boldface type. However, for some reason the run-on entry was left out of the search equation. It's listed after the definition provided, but it is not in bold. So it seems the OSPD4 online only provides search capabilities for main entries and root words with their inflected forms, not their derivatives.
Why is it like this? I have no idea. Somebody just goofed up the algorithm. That's why it's best to use the Collins Scrabble Checker or a program like Zyzzyva, which lets you load different lexicons including OSPD4, OWL2, CSW12, etc.
Okay… now for the puzzles…
This week's puzzles are a little easier than some of the previous ones. In the ten puzzles below, simply unscramble the letters to spell out a seven-letter bingo word that is listed in the OSPD4 as a derivative, meaning it won't be easy to find unless you're looking for the root word in the dictionary. Bonus points for anyone who can find additional bingos. Here's a hint… there's one that's a noun in both the OSPD4 and CSW12, and another that's a noun in just the CSW12.
Spoiler Alert: Comments below may reveal answers, so figure it out first before scrolling all of the way down!
And here's the answer for last week's Scrabble Challenge #11:
Q1: You have the first move and you have ACCLTT? on your rack. What's your first move?
A1: The best option is to pass your turn. The highest possible score for a word you can play (TACT or TALC) will only be 12 points. You should aim to get at least a 20-point score on the first turn, otherwise you should look into exchanging or just passing.
You could exchange the letters C and T and pass your turn, hoping to get some better letters. There are 184 seven-letter words that you can make if you get the right combination of tiles from the bag, and depending on what your opponent plays, you might be able to spell one of 400 eight-letter words with the right letters. If you get rid of C, T and T, there's a possibility of being able to spell 885 seven-letter words and over 1,500 eight-letter words. But this all depends on chance, and your mental lexicon.
What if you traded C and T for a U and U or a W and an E? What about a J and an E? F and S? You couldn't make any seven-letter bingos from those letters (though your odds greatly improve with an eight-letter bingo, if the letter you need is on the board).
Instead, just pass your turn without exchanging, hoping that your opponent plays either an A or I on the board so you can spell TACTICAL for a bingo. In my simulation game (below), it worked.
The chance that the other player drew an A from the bag is about 48 percent, and there's about a 52 percent chance they drew an I. But you only need one of them, so the chances of them having either an A or I on their rack is roughly 77 percent. Those are some pretty good odds.
Now, whether they play one of those letters or not is a whole different story. But chances are they're going to play some kind of vowel if they have the option. If they do play an A or I, you have a chance of getting a 94-point bingo for TACT(I)CAL (lowest score being 62) or 80 points for TACTIC(A)L (the lowest being 63).
*These calculations do not take in the probability of them playing an A or I with a blank tile. And please, correct me if I'm wrong (I'm better with words than numbers).
Q2: You have the first move and you have AEMORTY on your rack. What's your first move?
A2: Just like above, if you got the right letters from your opponent, you could spell a bingo, but in this case it's not worth it. You would need a C or an N played on the board to spell out an eight-letter bingo (COMETARY or MONETARY), and the chances of getting those letters are slim since there's only 2 C and 6 N tiles left altogether.
You could exchange a few letters, like M and Y and hope for something good to come back to your rack, but again, it all depends on chance and how many words you actually know.
The best move would be to just play ATOMY for 28 points (with the Y on the DLS), leaving you with the precious E and R tiles. It's a great word because it can't be extended by more than 2 letters (A and N in this case, for ANATOMY), so there's no risk of the other playing hitting the TWS square.
However, if you played something like MATEY instead, there is a chance they could reach it with MATEYNESS or MATEYNESSES, though unlikely since you'll probably playing the Y on the DLS.
Also when playing ATOMY, leave the A and O away form the DLS, in case your opponent has a premium letter like J, X or Z. By placing the Y on the DLS and getting max points, you're putting the T by the DLS, a good defensive move. If you were to play your other options with the Y on the DLS, like MATEY, as well as MEATY, MORAY and MOTEY, you'd have problems with the vowels next to the premium square. That's why ATOMY is the best play.