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> Scrabble cheating: A how to recognize guide
arf
post Mar 15 2011, 10:40 AM
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First off, this is going to be a guide for how to recognize some obvious forms and not so obvious forms of cheating in the game of Scrabble. More members of Hard Drop are starting to show more interest in this word-puzzle game. Thus, I've decided to come up with this guide. In no way am I trying to accuse anyone of cheating, but the purpose of this thread is to educate the casual Scrabble player and to teach them to at least be able to recognize a cheating opponent.

The following is an introduction and bio of my Scrabble history. For skeptics, this is to prove my reliability as a source. It's not a necessary read so you can skip down to the guide below:

from my 12 years of experience, I have rarely ever encountered a cheater that doesn't hold back and at least tries to not look suspicious. People cheat using an anagrammer. Several websites offer an anagrammer that will unscramble your tiles into every single word combination possible. But how can you tell the difference between someone that's cheating and someone that just has a really huge vocabulary? You can usually tell by the difficulty level of unscrambling a word which I will get into more detail later. Why should you read this guide? Because before I was arfarf, before I played tetris, I played Scrabble.

I studied strategies and would scheme my own for hours during my free time in middle school and high school. As I became more of a serious player in high school, I would study my Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary 3rd Edition for up to eight hours a day on weekends. Being a serious member of the National Scrabble Association and also frustrated at the fact that there were no high school clubs for Scrabble, I began my unsuccessful attempt with the help of the NSA's president and staff into bringing competitive Scrabble to high school. I failed because I started too late and there was no one else that I could find to replace me as I went on to college.

Is it possible to memorize all the words in the dictionary? From what I can conclude, no matter how how much you study, only a few people have the gift of even coming close to completing such a task--similar as to how only a few people in the world have the gift of perfect pitch in music.

Now, the guide:

Introduction to Types of Cheaters: The Difference Between a Casual Cheater and an Advanced Cheater
Firstly, cheaters can be recognized by their ability to cheat. Usually, if a cheater does not know all the rules to the game, then these are the cheaters that can be labeled as a casual cheater.

A casual cheater will use an anagrammer. Trying to cheat using the dictionary is pretty much useless and time consuming. What a casual cheater may NOT do is take into account of all the bonus squares. They will also NOT recognize any defensive styles of play and simply create big words and bingos while creating vulnerable openings that allow the opponent to even the game with the next turn.

An advanced cheater would, of course, be someone more knowledgeable of all the rules. They know where to place down their words while making use of the bonus squares. They realize that sometimes making a bingo isn't always the best strategy. And they will have enough knowledge of 2 to 3 letter words to create defensive blocks by hooking words parallel to other words placed on the board to decrease the amount of openings available. In sum, these types of cheaters are a pain to play against.

1. How to Tell the Difference Between a Word-Puzzle Master and an Online Anagrammer
The fastest way to recognize a cheater is by the bingos they play. That does not necessarily mean that if someone can play four or even five bingos in one game, we should be quick to label them a cheater. But the biggest clues are the types of words they play and HOW FAST they play these words.

Lets do an example:
Take these seven letters - A I N E R S T

What kind of words can we make with these letters? Plenty, in fact, I can recognize at least three different bingos that are possible in about 15 seconds. With these seven letters, the first words that come to my mind are STAINER, RETAINS, and NASTIER. Maybe later I'd see the word RETINAS or even notice that I can hook this word up to another letter on the board to make TRAINERS, PAINTERS, STRAINED, etc. Basically, these are common letters. Obviously, the point here is that bingos with common letters are common.

Take these seven letters - S T O C I Y U

I'll look at these words and think... my best bet here is to save as much of the S, T, O, and I because these are common letters used in a lot of bingos. A cheater would go to his anagrammer and find out first that these seven letters can't make a bingo. Well, not a problem, they can just add a blank tile to see what possible letters they can build off of to get that desired bingo. Doing this, they find out that M is the only letter they can build off of to get a bingo. The word they build is MUCOSITY. A computer can figure it out in a second. For a human, it's not impossible--especially for world-class players. It would just take a lot longer for them to notice it. To be able to notice the bingo within two minutes is already insanely fast. So just like how I mentioned before, the biggest clue isn't just the type of word played, but HOW FAST they are played. Is it suspicious if this word is found in a relatively short amount of time? Yes. Why? Because the seven letters-"S, T, O, C, I, Y, U" ONLY connect to ONE letter out of the 26 letters in the alphabet to make ONE possible bingo--MUCOSITY. Genius? Unlikely. Cheater? Probably.

Usually, I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they just got really lucky finding that one word. But if it's something that happens consistently with letters that aren't very common, it gets too suspicious.

2. An analysis of the final board from a National Scrabble Championship

Here is a picture of the final board in a recent National Scrabble Championship event.
IPB Image




By looking at the board, there are six 7-8 letter words. There are four bingos in this match--SOARERS, COWHEEL, UPDATES, and OBEISANT. Of course, it is impossible to cheat since this game is played at a live event. But this is what a game would typically look like between two world-class players. A lot of words are placed parallel to each other for a strong offensive and defensive play. A wide vocabulary of 4 letter words is shown and we see interesting words involving the Q and the Z. When a professional Scrabble player studies, they will learn all of the three letter words and move on to four letter words. A big vocabulary of four letter words can be extremely useful especially if it's in a CVCV (consonant-vowel-consonant-vowel) format because of the parallel hook strategy. QUIDS became EQUIDS once UPDATES was placed above it. Basically, there is a lot of strategy and genius going on in this game and you don't see one player playing four bingos alone.

3. What Is the Cheater's Scoring Range?
I'm going to use a comparison for this one. I am taking the scores from first place of the top division in a recent tournament that took place in Berkeley, CA. His scores were W534, W397, L352, W505, W461, L442. This is an average score of 448.5 taken from five games. So basically, if someone is consistently getting 450 or over, they could either be competing in the game at competitions in live events or they could just be behind the screen using an online anagrammer. Lucky games happen from time to time, and I've had games where I've had over 500 points and even one with over 600 points. But considering I've played thousands of games, some of them are luck. Afterall, the game does depend on a luck factor somewhat as to what kind of tiles you will grab from the bag.

Anyways, I was planning on adding more to this guide but I'm kind of tired right now. I hope this kind of gives an idea at the moment but I'm planning to add more later, maybe even a strategy guide.


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ohitsstef
post Mar 15 2011, 12:09 PM
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wow we need to play


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Shizi
post Mar 15 2011, 12:12 PM
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TLDR man

i'll tell you how to detect cheating: when people make ridiculous words in ridiculous spots! (and get 600 points)
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Corrosive
post Mar 15 2011, 01:42 PM
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my girlfriend plays scrabble on her phone I will relay this vital information to her


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Tt_edward
post Mar 15 2011, 02:00 PM
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:o Aaron got 616 points against me :o is he cheating?


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Ravendarksky
post Mar 15 2011, 03:23 PM
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So what do you think of the games so far arf?

I know nothing about scrabble but I always think CHEATERS when I look at a scabble board and see: IPB Image



Obviously that game isn't cheated as it was played by our HD Scabble organiser.... but just looking at the words... I'd see 8+ I don't know what they are and think OMG CHEATERS.

Real MAN scrabble you have to say what your word means, and no online play... it's (nearly)impossible to moderate online.

I guess i'd rather it being about making words from your vocabulary rather than making words from lists you've memorised <_<


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coolmaninsano
post Mar 15 2011, 03:24 PM
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QUOTE(Tt_edward @ Mar 15 2011, 07:00 AM) *
:o Aaron got 616 points against me :o is he cheating?
No, you suck and got 75 points and your best word was RANK. You also left almost every premium square open.


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Noogy
post Mar 15 2011, 03:54 PM
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i don't think cheaters use anagrammers anymore; last time i checked (this was years ago), they had those websites where you could replicate your board and it would give you like the top 10 plays or so...how would you detect that?
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caffeine
post Mar 15 2011, 05:57 PM
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This is why I only play in person nowadays. It's gotten to the point where cheating is just expected. It's a joke.
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dkorn725
post Mar 15 2011, 08:47 PM
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i cheat by typing in on google "Anagram Solver" here's a link to a good one-http://homepage.ntlworld.com/adam.bozon/anagramsolver.htm

Another one specificly designed for scrabble-
http://www.anagrammer.com/

This game is genuis! play it(you'll c what i mean!)
http://www.miniclip.com/games/anagram-magic/en/

Aaron im better than TT and he's 2 years older than me hah!!


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