The secret to playing the big bonus-scoring words is … you’ve got to know them! Obvious really, but you won’t always get a nice simple word like RETAINS or ENTAILS popping onto your rack. You might end up with a rack like ETESIAN (a Mediterranean wind), GENITOR (biological father, as in progenitor) or VENTILS (valves on a musical instrument). But if you don’t know it’s a word, you won’t be able to play it.
The trouble is there are over 34,000 seven-letter words to learn … A lot of players have embraced the concept of six-letter stems as a way of learning seven-letter words that are likely to come up. This means taking a combination of six letters which you are likely to get on your rack, and which combine with a lot of other letters to make a seven-letter word, and learning those sevens.
To take the best of the six-letter stems, RETAIN goes with every letter except A, Q, V, X, Y and Z to form at least one seven-letter word. Learn them all, and you will automatically have your seven if your rack reads RETAIN with any of the other twenty letters. Here are some of them – a deﬁnition is given for the more unusual anagrams.
+B: ATEBRIN malaria drug
ANTIRED a particular colour of antiquark
ARENITE type of rock
FENITAR plant with spurred ﬂowers
GRATINE cooked au gratin
THERIAN from Theria, a subclass of mammal
+J: JANTIER. from janty, an old word for jaunty
TRENAIL peg used in carpentry
MERANTI Malaysian wood
TRANNIE transistor radio
OTARINE from otary, a type of seal
ANESTRI from anestrus, a period of infertility in some animals
By Barry Grossman
Barry is a leading UK Scrabble player and winner of several tournaments. He is the author of Scrabble for Beginners (Chambers), Need to Know Scrabble, Scrabble – Play to Win and The Little Book of Scrabble Trickster. He has also contributed to numerous other books on the subject of words and word-games, has been a series champion of Channel 4’s Countdown, and has written four comedy series for BBC Radio 4. He lives in Hertford.
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