Being able to spell a seven-letter word on the board is one of the most enjoyable things about playing Scrabble. It's even better when those seven letters are all from your rack, giving you a bingo—those 50 bonus points in addition to your regular score.
But just because you can spell a word with all of your letters doesn't mean there will be an open spot on the board for it. Unless you're playing first, in order to get rid of all of your letters to spell a seven-letter word, you have to hook onto something else already played. Otherwise, you'll be shooting for an eight-letter or longer word.
There are over 24,000 seven-letter words in the Official Tournament and Club Word List (OWL) and over 33,000 in Collins Scrabble Words (CSW). For eight-letter words, there's over 29,000 in the OWL and over 40,000 in CSW. Add another letter to the mix and the numbers go back down, at least in the North American lexicon with just over 29,000 in OWL, whereas the CSW rises slightly with 41,000 nine-letter words. Go up to ten letters and they both drop back down.
With so many different words available for bingo plays, why are they so hard to find sometimes? Well, because there are so many of them! So, sometimes it's better to take a step backwards. If you have a seven-letter word and can't find a spot for it on the board and you can't immediately find a longer word using an open letter or letters, then you might be better looking for something smaller. Scrabble isn't all bingo plays.
That's why it's good to recognize the next best thing in your letters. Where you couldn't hook onto a letter with a seven-letter word, you might be able to with a six-letter one, which could come in handy when it involves a Triple Word Score square. You wouldn't want to leave it open for your opponent, right?
But not all seven-letter words have a six-letter word, too. There isn't even 16,000 six-letter words in the OWL and barely 22,000 in CSW, which is a significant difference compared to seven-letter words. The word ZYGOSIS has zero six-letter words within, while GAMETES has at least four. The word COWPATS has at least two six-letter words within, while COWPLOP has none.
In this challenge, look at the pairs of seven-letter words below. See if you can identify which words out of the pairs also have a six-letter word and which don't. What are the six-letter words you can find? Post your answers in the comments.
And here's the answer for last week's Scrabble Challenge #15:
Q: Keeping in mind the differences in point values, dictionaries, bonus points, etc., what would be your first move in a game of Words with Friends and what would it be in Scrabble if you had the letters AAHMSTZ? Which scores the most points?
A: In the Scrabble game, your best option would be the word HAZMATS, with the Z on the DLS square for a total of 112 points.
10 (Z) x 2 [DLS] = 20
+ 11 (HAMATS) = 31
x 2 (HAZMATS) [DWS] = 62
+ 50 [bonus] = 112 points
In the Words with Friends game, all of the tiles are worth the same, except the H and M, which switch values. But it doesn't matter because the only premium square to land on is a DWS, which you can use with practically any letter of... not HAZMATS, but MATZAHS. Remember, Words with Friends uses the ENABLE dictionary, not the OWL2 word list, and HAZMATS is not a valid word in ENABLE, but MATZAHS is valid in both lexicons. And here, it's only worth 77 points.
21 (MATZAHS) x 2 [DLS] = 42
+ 35 [bonus] = 77 points
So, keeping in mind letter values, premium squares, lexicons and bonus points, Scrabble would definitely have a better and higher scoring word if you were playing, compared to Words with Friends. If you were to play MATZAHS in Scrabble instead of HAZMATS, you're highest score would be 100 points, still way above the move in Words with Friends. In fact, the lowest score you could get in Scrabble for using up all of you letters spelling either HAZMATS or MATZAHS would be 92 points.