This is the updated and revised edition from 2001, a make-over of the book from 1994. This is a much better book than Edley's The Official Scrabble Puzzle Book from 1997. There are puzzles here as well, but there is just so much more INFORMATION that I would put this book in another league. No aspiring tournament player can afford to be innocent of the knowledge in Everything Scrabble.
Of course authors Edley (three-time national Scrabble champion) and Williams (National Scrabble Association executive director) do NOT tell all. I mean something has to be held in reserve, some tricks and traps and secret knowledge just in case they get the itch to play tournament Scrabble again. In a way I am reminded of poker books rather than chess books. Chess book authors can go ahead and tell all (except for their opening preparations!) because in chess it isn't so much what you know as to what depth and how fast you can calculate. The authors here are more like poker players in that they tell you some of the tricks but they hold back the really esoteric stuff because in Scrabble, knowledge really is power, including knowledge of your opponent.
Scrabble is a game that can be seen as intermediate between poker and chess as far as luck and skill go. Unlike chess there is a clear element of chance involved in any given game--although not as much as in a comparable amount of poker playing. And unlike poker there is a considerable element of calculation needed on any given move. Tournament games run 25 minutes for each player, but there are situations that arise where you could spend half an hour on a play and still not exhaust the possibilities.
Where Scrabble differs from the other two games is in the amount of pure, before-game knowledge needed to play a strong tournament game. This book helps in that department. For example you absolutely need to know all the 96 two-letter words by heart (pages 19 and 20 and again on page 324 for good measure). And don't even think about playing without knowing a whole slew of Q-words, with and without the "u." But what really separates the tournament players from the amateurs is knowledge of a large number of esoteric and unusual Bingo words like (Lord help us) "areolae" or the ever-popular (NOT!) "zooecia." (From the lists in Appendix 4).
The first part of the book is "Getting Better Quickly." This is for beginners and near beginners: using the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (essential, by the way, for settling disputes and normalizing play); shuffling the tiles in your rack to make words appear; using the twos; introduction to rack management, etc.
Part 2 is called "Advanced Play" and gets deeper into rack management, what to leave for the next turn and what to play, when to exchange tiles; how to spot "phoneys"; and whether to open the game or keep it closed.
Part 3 is devoted to puzzles. Part 4 introduces the reader to the world of Scrabble tournaments and clubs (a nice feature) and Part 5 contains the appendices: word lists, history, trivia and some psychology. There's even a glossary. Very interesting is Chapter 22 with 28 "Examples of Outstanding Scrabble Game Play." Included (Example 27) is an eight-tile overlap play (two words side-by-side eight letters long so that each letter is a hook!). Also included are some psychological plays that turned the game around or almost did. Some insight into actual endgame play is featured.
Some interesting facts: the highest scoring tournament game was the 1,108 points put up by Mark Landsberg (770) and Alan Stern (308) in Los Angeles in 1993. (I just noticed that the numbers don't add up: so Stern's "308" is probably a typo and instead should be "338.") Landsberg's 770 points was also the highest single score in a tournament game. In home games we used to play that you could recycle the blanks if you had the letter in your rack and it was your turn. In those games scoring 700 points happened a time or two. :-) Top single tournament play was BRAZIERS for 311 points by T.A. Sanders in a Tyler, Texas tourney in 1997. (I would like to see how that arose. I presume a corner triple word score was left hanging with a word to hook the "s" to, while running the other way was a single letter at the side of the board allowing the eight-letter play to cover two triple word scores. Obvious tip: never, but never (or only when you absolutely must) should you make a word that leaves a single letter tantalizingly out there along the triple letter score sides of the board. Trust me on this one: that is gambling big time. However, if you're a hundred points down, what the hey. Maybe you can set YOURSELF up!
What this book does NOT contain is any information on how to beat the infamous "Maven" from the computer Scrabble program. If you crank that baby up to "Champion" (a 2100 rating), Maven simply uses her entire vocabulary and "Bingos!" like somebody's Aunt Hilda with twenty cards at the Friday night church fund-raiser.
Okay, is this book worth the plastic? Trust me, it is. Get two, and give one as a present, but only after YOU have read it first!