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How important is tile counting in playing the game? Do very many people do it?

+1 vote
asked 9 years ago in Strategy by anonymous

2 Answers

0 votes
The closer the came is the more important it can be in influencing your defensive play.  I don't know of a poll that would tell how many players count tiles.  Though, I believe the more skilled players keep track of the power tiles, at the very least - blanks, j, q, x, z.
answered 9 years ago by Word Freak (2,280 points)
Wondered if the TileCounter app was worth it. Turns out it was. I had an opponent who left me a TW run with a word that could only be reached with an S. If you count the board it says five S. Turns out, one is a blank. I had the last S. She was kicking herself. Also, when i saw from it that I had the last A, I played JAR right below the TW run and nothing could stop me next turn for 72 points. I think more than the Q, J X Z matters. Thank you for your response.
Yes, good point, I should have included s to the list.

I'm not familiar with the tilecounter app.  Not sure if that would be considered outside help or not since a person should be able to look at the board and count for themselves.  Perhaps admin can weigh in on using that.
Good point, except then a paper and pencil might be considered outside help, too. After all, an accurate count isnt a cheat, is it? But a tool to aid your own ability to strategy. As long as it doesn't play the game for you (like cheat apps do) Its specifically marketed as NOT a cheat app--more like to tile counting as a calculator to math. So I think it’s a very interesting question you raise: if i use pencil and paper to figure out your final rack, that’s not cheating. But if I use TileCounter app as substitute for paper/pencil to figure it out---is that cheating?
Like I said, I'm not familiar with the app.  And if all it does is count tiles, it probably should be allowable.

Though I have to admit you'll always have ppl who will get upset, even if not justified.  I had a player get upset at me for joking around asking if they had a certain tile I could borrow at the end of the game.  What's funny is that I hadn't counted tiles and it wasn't going to be a game breaker, but the tile I asked about is the tile they had left and they accused me of cheating.  You can't please all the ppl all the time lol!!!
True that! Truth is, wwf players are in general a more casual bunch than, say, regular Scrabble players for whom tile counting is a given strategic 'must-do' and, bottom line, it's simple math and common sense.

Check out the app here: http://tile-counter.com/

It's free right now. Decide for yourself. And thanks for the exchange.
The tile app tells you what tiles are left in such a way that you can work out what is in your opponents rack. Eg, the z has gone, I don't have it, so you must have it. Knowing what is in your opponents rack is definitely outside help I would say.
Jadefish9 - I see where you're coming from, yet anyone can count tiles and figure out their opponents rack at the end, and its especially easy to figure out the j k, ,q,  x,  z since there's only one of each or blanks, only two of each.    Granted more work to figure out other letters, but can be done without too much work.  So I'm not totally convinced its to be considered outside help.
Jadefish9—Perhaps I misunderstand your statement about how ‘knowing what’s in your opponent’s rack’ is definitely outside help.

Tiles played + the 7 tiles in your rack minus total distribution available = tiles still out there. When the tiles in the bag are down to 0 what's left is 7. And those seven are, by mathematical necessity, in your opponent's rack. No one ‘needs’ an app to figure it out, right? That’s not ‘TileCounter’, that’s simple math. That's 'tile counting.'

TileCounter can’t tell you the Z is ‘gone’ unless it’s on the board, or in your rack, or calculated via the mathematical logic explained above. It can’t ‘peer into the bag’ nor does it have the capacity to look over your opponent’s shoulder—it only knows your perspective, and it only knows what anyone could know from that perspective tracking with paper and pencil.

Tracking tiles is an accepted practice sanctioned by the National Scrabble Association. Pre-printed paper is provided to tourney players.  World champions bring their own customized tracking systems to the table. And if Scrabble is all about anything, it's about rules.

So I’m surprised to find it more of a gray area than I thought. My research suggests the best players in the world consider tile tracking an essential part of the strategic elements of the game. So I appreciate you taking the time to share your perspective with me. I really do. It's enlightening.

Now, maybe some people will say it’s okay to use paper and pencil but not a calculator—but in this digital age when millions of people use their mobile apps to play with total strangers thousands of miles away while waiting in the grocery line, insisting one drop what their doing to figure out some simple math with paper and pencil doesn’t sound very….mobile.

What bothers me more is the seemingly acceptable practice of dragging various tiles onto the board in a random order until something ‘works.’ I know my grandma would reach across and whack me on the head if I ever tried that over a Scrabble game at her kitchen table…

What are your thoughts about that?
from Noel's Scrabble Tips http://newportiwsc.org.uk/tipsa7.html

"The novice player who is shocked by the discovery of the practice of "tile-tracking", i.e. the noting down of all the tiles that have been played, is, perhaps, likening it to the noting down of which cards have been played in Black Jack, something likely to get you unceremoniously ejected from a casino, even if it is thought that you are only doing it mentally! But the parallel is unfair. After all, the cards in such a card-game are returned to the bottom of the deck, where they are out of sight. In Scrabble the evidence lies before you on the board. Tile-tracking is simply a question of saving time in weighing-up the threats still facing you. It allows the game to be played at a faster pace, which is, in the end, of benefit to both players. You will find that tile-tracking is the norm at tournaments, and possibly, even in the club. It is usual to find that such players have prepared sheets of letters from which they strike the tiles as they are played. This simply saves making up new ones at the start of every game. Provided that the sheets contain no other information, the practice is perfectly within the rules."
4xacharm - "What bothers me more is the seemingly acceptable practice of dragging various tiles onto the board in a random order until something ‘works.’ I know my grandma would reach across and whack me on the head if I ever tried that over a Scrabble game at her kitchen table…

What are your thoughts about that?"

This is one of the big things that distinguishes wwf from scrabble.  There's online scrabble games and a scrabble app that you can play if you don't enjoy words with friends.  Personally, I think it makes the game more fun to be able to plug.  I learn more words this way.

Though I know other scrabble players who have suggested that words with friends be modified to limit the number of tries, or whatever.  So you are not alone.
0 votes
Tile tracking is allowed in tournament Scrabble, and nearly all experienced players do it (including myself). It is crucial in close endgames, as knowing what your opponent has can help you determine what to play or which areas of the board to block. Even in games when you're ahead by 70-80 points, if you see that your opponent has an out bingo on his rack, you're going to do everything you can to block it, or score as much as you can to secure the win.

Contrary to popular belief, tracking is not considered outside help, as you could still track tiles in your head. On the other hand, consulting a word list during a game is.
answered 8 years ago by anonymous

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