It's time again for the ABC Wednesday entry, where I try and cover some of the basics of competitive scrabble, while somehow trying to relate it to the current letter of the week. Up this week: F!
Fishing, in scrabble, is the (usually erroneous) practice of playing only 1 or 2 tiles for very few points in the hopes of 'fishing' out the tiles from the bag that will give you what you're looking for on your next turn.
This often results in NOT getting exactly what you were looking for, in which case, the temptation is often to 'fish' again, and before you know it, you have a string of turns in which you've racked up single digit scores and your opponent has racked up a double digit lead.
So for the most part, if you are making a two tile play, make sure it's one that scores decently! (i.e. 20 points or more) You'll have to use a parallel play and one of the premium tile squares for this to happen, usually.
There are a few instances, however, when fishing is acceptable or even the best play. Here are just a few examples:
1. You have a rack such as AEINQST, (and there's no U to play through- can you find the word?), and there are no places to play the Q for a lot of points. You're still usually better off just playing Q(I) somewhere (yes, even for only 11 points) and keeping the rest of the letters. In this case, your chances of 'bingoing' on your next turn are very high.
2. You are losing by 50 or more points, and there are very few tiles left in the bag. You realize that the only way for you to win the game at this point is to figure out what tiles might be in the bag, and play off the right tiles on you rack in order to bingo. With just the right luck (and skill at setting up spots to bingo on the board), you can come back and win the game.
3. You have a dream word, say 'QUIXOTRY' that you've always wanted to play, and you have IOQUX already on your rack, so you play off the other two tiles in the hopes ofgetting a T and Y and playing through an R on the board.
Ok, actually example number 3 is pretty silly, but it actually happened during one of the highest scoring scrabble games on record.
There are other times when fishing is acceptable, but the general rule is: don't do it.
I will leave you with a poster of all the 7 and 8 letter '-FISH' words that are currently acceptable in scrabble. It's actually for sale on cafepress and was done by a very talented scrabble player/ artist. Thanks for reading!