In tournament Scrabble, how often do players pass or exchange tiles?
Most inexperienced Scrabble players do not consider exchanging tiles. In fact, many people are unaware you have the option of exchanging tiles. Nevertheless, it’s right there in the rulebook: at any point during the game, a player can replace any number of letters on their rack with new ones from the bag as long as there are at least seven left.
Since exchanging tiles means you score zero points for that turn, many players dislike the idea. However, there are many situations in which exchanging tiles makes sense.
Consider that it is your first turn of the game, and you see the letters AEFIIOO on your rack: With these letters, you can’t make many words. If that player is inexperienced, they may be compelled to play a short term like “if” or “foe” for 10 or 12 points (since the first move is always doubled). However, that’s not what an expert would do.
A good Scrabble player doesn’t just think about the current turn – they also consider how their moves will affect their score on future turns. You would drastically reduce your chances of scoring well on your next turn if you played a word like “if” or “foe.”. Rather than exchange all seven of their letters, top-level Scrabble players prefer to start over with brand-new tiles.
Experts know they can make up for the first turn’s loss by trading tiles on the second turn – by doing this, they will likely score enough to cover the loss. After all, if your first two turns deliver you zero points and 30 points, you are in better shape than having scored 10 and 10.