Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Facebook Scrabble

A week or two ago, Child got interested in playing Scrabble on Facebook, so I signed up as well so I could play.

Facebook Scrabble is a little different from regular Scrabble. You're not allowed to play incorrect words, so there's no challenging of words. In addition, there's a built-in dictionary that you can check words before you play them.

Scrabble purists might squirm, but I can see why Hasbro changed the rules. In a potentially non-real-time game, and with no face-to-face playing, there's no way to prevent people looking up words, and as many words as they want, in a dictionary.

Child takes full advantage of the new rules. On the Scrabble homepage, you can enter in the letters in your hand and the webpage will spit out all possible words you can build from them. I lost miserably to Child, so I decided to build a program to help me.

My new Scrabble program will track the board and the letters in your hand, and on your turn, it will sequence through a dictionary of 174,000 words and find the highest scoring one. It takes bewteen 20 to 30 minutes to run on each turn, depending on how full the board is, which is acceptable since there's no time limit between turns.

A couple things I've learned:

1. If your letters are bad (read: 1 point letters, instead of the nice Vs, Qs, Ms, etc.) then no amount of help will get you good scores.

2. Those high point letters are better used on a triple letter score than a double word score. It's obvious in retrospect, but I've always shot for the double word without stopping to consider whether a triple letter might actually get me a better score.


prin said...

So then you're not really playing scrabble at all? lol

Ken MacDonald said...

About to make my first move in my first game but there's a tab that says "Title?" as if that's a clue as to what word I should use. What does this "Title" prompt mean? Can't seem to find the rules on Google.