Thursday, April 09, 2009

Placement of a Different Kind

I am worried about placement. At the ripe old age of 62? Yes.

So was Andre Agassi, going by what he is supposed to have said. ‘Placement is everything’, he said, talking about winning strategy in Roland Garros.

And my son Gautam, when in the last trimester in the B-School, too was worried about placement.

Yes, gentle reader, we are talking about placements of different kinds.

The placement in question right now is in the game of Scrabble. The number of points you garner is everything and at each stage, it varies with placement. It could fetch just the sum of the face-value of the tiles, or a lot more, depending on where you get to place the tiles. The over-all image, the big picture, is what drives and dictates where to place what tiles.

To me, the points that the placement gives is all that the tiles mean. Smutty words are perfectly par for the course in Scrabble for me, as long as they fetch points and help me on my way to winning another game.

Like if I have K and F, I would pray for a C and a U (rather than an O and L, or an O and R) so that I can put the F on the red square at the top left or the bottom left corner, the K in the light blue square three squares away to the right of or below F, and fill the intervening squares with U and C. F means 4 points, K is 5, and C is 3 and U, as a vowel, has only one point. That makes it 13 points, but the placement gives you 54. Get what I mean? But then you should be so lucky.

I prefer tiles of lesser value like H, Y and V to the high Z or Q or even X or J, sometimes. The latter fetch lots of points, yes, but you are stuck with them until you find the exact spot to place them to get a triple word score or double letter score.My personal strategy is to hold on to a tile of U until the queen of the lot, Q, has put in an appearance. Because, The humble one-point U is a valuable tile. Without U, you can't make many words using Q. There are only four of them. Until the Q is played, I do not let go of the first U that I get.

Of course, this requires some cerebration and calculation. If you stand to make some 30 points and also get the bonus of 50 points for using up all seven tiles, you should go for it. That sort of lead is hard to beat, unless your opponent chances upon a big one too.As a rule, I try to hold on to at least one S, one D and a blank tile till near the end of a game, because that's when the going gets tough and your options get limited. I don't use up my blank tile quickly either. It is precious; I hold on to it and go on playing small simple words until I lay the killer word on board and slay'em.

I am talking about leisurely Scrabble games with friends like Santanu. We play a fairly open game, not minding giving the other player a chance to open a new area of the board. As a result of the cooperation, we toted up a combined score of over 932 points. We got Bhawani to immortalise that moment through a photograph with the two of us flanking the board, much like the shikaris with the trophy – the carcass of a tiger or a wild bison that was the game of the day!

1 comment:

Chanchal said...

That was so intelligent..
I have been reading your posts for the last couple of months and I have never had the nerve to comment wisely, every time I tried to, I had so many diverse things to bring together, I gave up.

Anyways, be fine.