The xkcd opening: CILORST

Wednesday, 22 October 2008 — 3:04am | Scrabble

I beg to differ from the caption: I don’t think a veteran player would consider OSTRICH down to the H (leaving an L) an option. Playing off the S for 13 points? No way. The available bingos, apart from the suggested CLITORIS, are COISTRIL, LICTORS, and TROCHILS. The highest-scoring play is LICTORS for 71 with the C hooking onto HI to make HIC, but don’t forget that placement matters, and that the greedy strategy may not get you very far.

CLITORIS (in either position) is not only one of the lower-scoring plays, but puts the O right next to a TLS—leaving ample room for OX for 52 points, or a less devastating but still competitive response using the F, H, M, or P. It’s probably the easiest of the bingos to spot, but the least strategically sound.

Naturally, I thought it would be fun to simulate the position. After 1000 iterations, Quackle equally favours LICTORS with the T hooking onto HI for HIT (69 points): LICTORS/HIC has a win percentage of 67.00%, and LICTORS/HIT is at 66.92%. (Compare CLITOR(I)S at 62.77% and CL(I)TORIS at 61.59%.) LICTORS/HIT has the advantage of opening two double-double lanes instead of one: if your opponent takes one, you can capitalize on the other. But that kind of wisdom—and most competitive wisdom, for that matter—only applies to two-player situations. In a four-player game, wherein one’s control of the board position goes out the window, I’d go for LICTORS/HIC and take the 71 points. It’s a safe play, and neither double will be open by the next turn anyhow. Besides, HIC is not as vulnerable as HIT to a certain family-unfriendly front hook.

Also worth noting: CLITORIS is not one of the offensive words expurgated from the home/school/ESPN-friendly Official Scrabble Players Dictionary. In the ever-squeamish OSPD, it is defined somewhat ambiguously as “a sex organ”.

What I’d really like to see is Scrabble on a roller coaster.

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2 rejoinders to “The xkcd opening: CILORST”

  1. Tsunoba

    I find it both amusing and fascinating that you actually took the time to think this out.

    That statement, incidentally, is in no way intended to make fun of you. Because if I knew enough about Scrabble, I probably would have done the same thing.

    Wednesday, 22 October 2008 at 4:31am

  2. *laughs* I was wondering if you’d reply to that comic… if you didn’t I would have probably mentioned it… it’s humorous though…

    Wednesday, 22 October 2008 at 5:04pm

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