Scrabble Strategy: Opening Moves for Beginners

As you sit down to play Scrabble, you’re about to embark on an intellectual journey where words become the building blocks of victory. Scrabble is not just a game; it’s a wordy battlefield where strategy, vocabulary, and a keen sense of positioning come into play. Your opening moves in Scrabble can set the tone for the entire game, potentially giving you a significant advantage. In this guide, we’ll explore effective opening moves for Scrabble beginners and how they can pave the way for a triumphant wordplay adventure.

The Significance of Opening Moves

Just like in chess, the first few moves in Scrabble can be pivotal in shaping the course of the game. A strong opening move can:

  • Maximize Points: It’s your opportunity to earn a substantial number of points, giving you an early lead.
  • Strategically Position Tiles: You can set up your tiles in a way that facilitates future high-scoring moves.
  • Control the Board: A well-planned opening move can secure essential premium squares and restrict your opponent’s access to them.
  • Set the Tone: It establishes the tone for your game, showing your opponent that you mean business.

Now, let’s dive into some effective opening moves for Scrabble newcomers.

1. Plurals and Compound Words

Plurals: Starting with plurals is a solid opening move. If you have a word like “SHEEP,” you can pluralize it by adding an “S” to form “SHEEPS,” effectively using all your letters and scoring points for both “SHEEP” and “SHEEPS.” Plurals can be an excellent way to start strong and get a quick point boost.

Compound Words: Consider words that can be extended with common prefixes or suffixes. For example, if you have “CAT,” you can easily extend it to “CATS,” “SCAT,” “CATER,” or “CATTY” in subsequent moves. These compounds can set you up for future success.

2. Seven-Letter Bingos

If you have a seven-letter word (also known as a “bingo”) in your opening rack, it’s a golden opportunity. Playing all seven tiles in your first move not only earns you a 50-point bonus but also sets the stage for a powerful game. Look for words that can fit well on the board and employ all your tiles, like “CRATERS,” “TINKERS,” or “ENDINGS.” This move not only scores high but also demonstrates your commitment to dominating the game.

3. Utilize Premium Squares

Double Word Score (DWS): One of the most coveted premium squares is the DWS. If you can create a word that starts or ends on this square, you can earn double the points for that word. A great opening move could be to use a high-value letter like “X” or “Z” on a DWS and connect it with another word for a hefty score.

Triple Word Score (TWS): The TWS is the holy grail of Scrabble. Placing a word that utilizes the TWS in your opening move can be a game-changer. Combining high-value letters with the TWS can lead to a massive early lead.

Double Letter Score (DLS): If you can’t hit the word multipliers right away, focus on the DLS. Use it to capitalize on high-value letters. For instance, the word “AX” can be played on a DLS, effectively scoring extra points.

4. Block Premium Squares

Part of playing offensively is also playing defensively. If you can’t directly benefit from premium squares, consider moves that block them for your opponent. For example, you can create a word that crosses a TWS, making it challenging for your opponent to access it later.

5. Parallel Plays

Parallel plays involve creating a word perpendicular to an existing word, allowing you to score points for both the new word and the one it connects to. This strategy can help you maximize your points while extending existing words on the board. Look for opportunities to place words across existing ones, such as adding “QI” to make “QIN” and “IX” simultaneously.

6. Connect to Existing Words

Connecting your opening word to an existing word on the board is a smart move. It scores points for your word while utilizing existing tiles. Look for opportunities to extend words that are already in play.

7. Two-Letter Words

Don’t underestimate the power of two-letter words. In many cases, a short, high-value word can set you up for future plays. Words like “QI,” “XI,” “ZA,” or “JO” can be incredibly handy, especially if they can connect to existing words.

8. Strategic Vowels

If your opening rack is vowel-heavy, you can use vowels to your advantage. Start by creating words that open up opportunities for you to place consonants on premium squares in later moves. For instance, playing “AE” can set you up for “HAZE” on a Triple Word Score.

9. Don’t Play All High-Value Letters at Once

While it’s tempting to play all your high-value letters in the opening move, it’s often more strategic to save some for later. Playing a “Q” or “Z” early can limit your options in subsequent turns, so consider starting with just one high-value letter and keeping the others for when they can be used more effectively.

10. Learn the Opening Move List

Experienced Scrabble players often have memorized lists of effective opening moves. These lists can be invaluable for beginners, as they provide a strong starting point for each game. Familiarize yourself with these lists to enhance your opening move strategy.


Your opening move in Scrabble is your opportunity to make a strong statement and gain an early advantage. By employing these strategies, you can maximize your points, position your tiles strategically, and control the board’s premium squares. As you gain experience, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of Scrabble strategy and discover new and creative ways to kickstart your games. So, next time you pick up those letter tiles, remember that your opening move can set the tone for a victorious wordplay adventure. Happy Scrabbling!

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