Scrabble

I used to be really bad at Scrabble, because I thought it was a word game. I thought the goal was to make the most interesting words or the longest words. Maybe themed words. I lost every time, and I never understood why. Hadn't I made some very nice words? Shouldn't that strategy lead me to victory...sometimes? My Scrabble performance improved instantly and dramatically with one, key realization. Scrabble is not a word game. It's a math game. It's a game about scoring points. The most important aspect of a letter tile is the little point score in the corner. That number can be added or multiplied by its placement on the board. A 'Z' is worth 10 points. That's good. A 'Z' on a triple letter score tile is worth 30 points. That's better.

So, for example, 'zephyr' is a nice word. A pretty word. An impressive word to form from a pool of seven tiles. But play it without any multipliers, and it's worth 10+1+3+4+4+1=23 points. 23 points is nothing special in Scrabble.

But 'zoos', which is a boring and short word, could be positioned to cover a triple word tile and a triple letter tile, and so worth 30+1+1+1=33x3=99 points. Four times as much.

I think life can be like that sometimes. You think you understand what it's all about, you think you understand the goal, when really all you're meant to be doing is scoring points.