The term "bingo" is a slang term for gaining a 50-point bonus for playing all seven tiles on your rack. Clearly, the more of these you can play during a game, the better your score will be. Here are some tips for playing a bingo.
Pay Attention to Your Leave
Leave refers to the letters that are left on your rack after you make your play, but before you draw replacement letters. By paying attention to what you're leaving behind, you supplement your odds of having a decent rack after you draw. For example, if your rack has three I's, it would be a good idea to play a word that has one or more I's in it, even if this gives you a lower score. By sacrificing a few points on the current turn, you improve your odds of a bingo on the next turn. Here are some strategies for improving your leave:
- Play high-point tiles as soon as you get them. In general, bingos are easier to make with low-point tiles than with high-point tiles.
- With few exceptions, do not leave more than one copy of a tile on your rack.
- The letter S is silver. Blanks are gold. Don't ever use them to pick up fewer than an extra 10 points. They are often far more valuable on your rack than they are on the board.
- Hang on to any of the letters that appear in the word "RENTALS". If half your rack consists of letters in this word, you have a very good chance of playing a bingo.
- Don't hang on to a U waiting for a Q. Instead, memorize the list of Q-no-U words. (See Playing the Q) for the list.
- Don't "save up" for a killer word. Waiting to draw a particular letter (even a common one) is a great way to keep your score depressed for play after play. The odds of drawing a particular common letter are generally only about 10%, so if you're saving for an E, you might have to wait a while, and all that time you are waiting, you are not scoring well. It's better to work with what you have. The strategy here is to "pay attention" to your leave, not "be ruled by" your leave.
Look For Common Prefixes and Suffixes
There are some letter combinations that when recognized and segregated on your rack will make it easier to find a bingo. If you have a common three-letter prefix or suffix, finding a four-letter word to pair with it is a lot easier than finding a seven letter word via brute force. Here are a few such combinations:
- A prefix that can be paired with hundreds of verbs (OUTRUNS, OUTRAGE, OUTTAGE, etc).
- A suffix that can be appended to countless verbs.
- A suffix to form superlatives of verbs normally ending with Y. FUNNIER, HAPPIER, etc
- Another superlative suffix, but be careful. Sometimes the superlative is formed by preceding an adjective with the word most rather than adding the -EST suffix.
If you don't find any three-letter prefixes or suffixes (or if you can't play a bingo with them), look for two-letter prefixes.
- Can make a verb into a noun (TRACKER), or form a superlative (LIGHTER).
- Makes a verb past-tense.
Keep the Board Open
Few things in Scrabble are more frustrating than having a seven-letter word on your rack, and nowhere to play it. Try to keep the board open by playing long words, but be careful - opening the board to your opponent can also be costly. If you find that the board is closing up and there are very few places to play, it may be better to concentrate on strategies that do not rely on playing a bingo.
If the board is closed, you may still be able to play a bingo by playing the first few (or last few) letters of your word parallel to a word on the board. To do this, you will need to know the two-letter words.