To Play or Not to Play a Big Move…That Is the Question


Actually, I’ve got two questions for you on this one…see below ↓↓















First of all, do you see the 86 point move?

Secondly, would you play the 86 point move?

It seems like an obvious “yes” doesn’t it? After all, any of us would play an 86 point move if we had the chance…right? Scroll down to see the 86-point move and the following move, which more than doubled it.

After playing around with these letters, you’ll eventually see that you’ve got the word OVERTONE by using one of the two E’s of RACLETTE. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it? You get 65 points if you use the first E and 86 points by using the second E, which hits the upper-right TW.

However, both of these moves present a problem. They set up the opponent for a monster move, a move that is potentially much more than 86 points. Ordinarily, I’ll play an 86-point move with no fear of how it might set up my opponent. Even if it sets him up for 50 or 60 points, I’m still netting a 26-36 gain on the turn.

But this situation is different. Playing OVERTONE on the far right (hitting the upper-right TW) creates a rare opportunity for him to use a TW in two directions on his next move. If he’s got the right letters, his next move could easily be more than 100 points. If he’s got an S, he’ll just play a word that ends with the S, which will be right on the TW for big points. And that same S will make OVERTONES, tripling all the points of that word also.

So let me ask you again…do you play an 86-point move if it gives your opponent the high potential for more than 100 points? Remember, the goal is to win, not just to score points. To win consistently, you must create separation between your score and the opponent’s score, which requires offensive AND defensive moves. And setting up the opponent to use a TW in two directions is some bad defense.

overtone 86

But of course…that’s exactly what I did. I played OVERTONE for 86 points on the far right. It had to be done. I had to know if it was a good risk or a bad risk. A wise man once said “You gotta know when to hold ’em, and know when to fold ’em.” I think he was talking about situations like this. Anyhow, I took a big gamble by playing this move…especially considering that the opponent was an extremely competitive player who often wins tournaments.


My opponent came back with LAICIZING (a word no one’s ever used or heard of) for 60 points. As you can imagine, this was quite a relief for me. Not only did he not play OVERTONES, but I ended up with an S and the perfect letters to play KIDS and OVERTONES for 99 points. I was laicizing with excitement!


I most certainly would’ve played that 99 point move if my next letters had not perfectly appeared on my rack to make me think of SILKWEED, a word that’s been used against me a few times for big points. On a side note, isn’t it interesting how we learn these rare words? We get crushed by better opponents who seem to have insane vocabularies. But then their deep vocabulary becomes our deep vocabulary! It’s like the circle of life, or something…

Anyways, back to SILKWEED. Not only was the K on the TL and not only did it reach the top-right TW, but it also connected with the DW under RACLETTE (another word that no one’s ever heard of) for a grand total of 173 points. By this time, I had fully laicized my pants!

My worthy opponent fought hard to come back, but my first 4 moves totaled 341 points, which is nearly impossible to keep up with. It won’t be long before I’m playing a game where it’s the complete opposite. I’ll have none of the luck. I’ll be down by 200 points and my letters will be IIOIVUV. But that’s the game and that’s what makes it fun. In my opinion, it’s 70% skill and 30% luck.


By the way, I eventually used an S to play OVERTONES. It was a good win against a great opponent. I celebrated that evening with a fine red wine and a plate of raclette.