Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Z is for Zyzzyva

I recently decided to start participating in a fun blog project that involves posts featuring the sequential letters of the alphabet.

So, for the time being, on Wednesdays I'll be blogging with a focus on certain letters, as well as talking a little about some of the basics of competitive scrabble. Stay tuned!

Zyzzyva is the most widely used word study program (as far as I know) when it comes to tournament scrabble players. Anytime you see words listed here, they are likely generated via the Zyzzyva program. As you may imagine, there are a lot of smart people who play competitive scrabble. (Yes, even smarter than me. I know, it's hard to believe.) So it goes to reason that there are more than a few computer programmers out there who have come up with useful software and websites to study words, analyze games, and even track tournament performance and rankings. I'll highlight some of these in other months when the right letter shows up.

The word zyzzyva itself (pronounced [ziz-uh-vuh], in case you were wondering) means 'a tropical weevil', and has the distinction of being the last word in the scrabble dictionary, as well as the least probable 7 letter word in scrabble. I'm pretty certain it has never been played in an official club or tournament game, as there would be much talk of it in the scrabble email list and blog world. (Yes, such a thing does exist.) It's so unlikely to be played because you would need the Z, both blank tiles, and both Y's to play it.
But let's get to some more Z words...

ZZZ used to suggest the sound of snoring [interj] This word was added the most recent edition of the scrabble dictionary. Not that it will ever be played by anyone, for the same reasons listed above.

ZA a pizza [n] This word was also added to the most recent edition, and is probably the most played Z word in scrabble. If you catch the triple letter score space right, you can score 60+ points for it.

ZANIEST and ZEATINS (a chemical compound found in maize) are the two most probable 7 letter "Z" words. In fact, the letters AEINST can be combined with every letter except J, Q, and Y to form a scrabble word. (more on that another time.)

A few of my favorite 4 letter "Z" scrabble words: ZOEA (a larval form of certain crustaceans), ZEBU (an asian ox), and ZORI (a type of sandal).

ZEE is the word which means the letter Z.

And to finish off, two awesome Z extension words (playable in scrabble if one word was already on the board):

ZWITTERIONIC and ZEPTOSECOND! A zeptosecond is a apparently a little longer than a yoctosecond. Thanks for reading.


Roger Owen Green said...

Imagine having a Z two Ys and two blanks; the last thing I'd think of would be to use the blanks as more Zs! Didn't know zzz was a word; not useful, as you note, but interesting.

ROG, ABC Wednesday team

Wanda said...

Thanks Roger!!

Georgia said...

um this blogs existence changed my life! my mom and i are avid scrabble players, i've been playing since i was 13 yrs old and have memorized all the good "cheater" words. can't wait to explore your blog and show it to my mom :0)

mrsnesbitt said...

Wow! This could be very useful when I next play scrabble. Great to have you join in - hope to see you for Round 8?
ABC Team!

Halie Santos - Dayo said...

this is really interesting. i'm your newest follower.

abc wednesday team

Kay L. Davies said...

I'm going to have to save this so I can study it well. Some words I've never seen before, and I've been playing Scrabble for more than 50 years.
-- K

Kay, Alberta, Canada
An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

Tumblewords: said...

I'm a casual scrabble player but I may become more competitive after I learn all you post! :) Excellent!

john wood said...

Good to know about something good about scrabble tricks. I need scrabble dictionaries. Please mention some.