It is the cause of many a family row, and defeat by a smug relative can leave even the most uncompetitive Scrabble player smarting.
So the disclosure of a long list of tips for winning will bring relief to more than a few who have been badly beaten at the popular board game.
Barry Grossman, one of the UK’s top Scrabble players, has shared some of his best tricks, including how to play a “Benjamin”, the importance of the suffix “ish”, and remembering that some four letter words have no vowels.
In his new book, 101 Ways to Win at Scrabble, the former Countdown winner spells out the secrets to a successful performance, some of which are sure to prompt protests from one’s opponents.
Deploying an ‘x’ with a vowel can bring an easy high score, he notes, adding that ax, ex, ox, xi and xu are all legitimate words.
If you manage to place the ‘x’ on a double- or triple-letter score tile, your opponents will be left trailing, he adds.
While attempts to spell out a person’s name are generally met with cries of foul play, Grossman points out that some are valid words.
“Barry”, meaning a blunder, “danny”, meaning a hand, “gloria”, meaning a halo and “laura”, meaning a type of monastery are among his examples.
A “Benjamin”, meanwhile, is a crafty three-letter extension to the front of a five-letter word. So brick becomes “airbrick” and jumps becomes “outjumps”.
Appending “ish” to the end of existing words can also yield a bumper score, Grossman says, citing “childish”, “warmish” and even “pixyish” among his examples.
There are few four-letter words with no vowels, but remembering those that do exist will stand you in good stead, he suggests.
“Brrr,”, “grrl,” “pfft” and “psst” all count, he insists, even if using them sparks outrage around the Scrabble table.
Other words likely to arouse suspicion – or awe – among one’s opponents include those that involve combinations of letters one would not have thought possible to place side by side.
Remembering that an “epopoeia” is an epic poem, a “pschent” is an ancient Egyptian crown and “tchick” is to make a clicking noise will stand you in good stead, Grossman says.