Beating the Scrabble CPU: Whatever it Takes!


I have a new nemesis: CPU, aka central processing unit,  my on-line Scrabble opponent.   images

Thanks to my tech-savvy daughter, who bought, set up and  downloaded apps I’d  like on an Ipad mini, I’m playing lots of Scrabble.

I’ve been a Scrabble lover since childhood, when I played with me three siblings.

Living about 35 minutes by train from New York City, I’m in and out of the city a lot- for family, work, and entertainment. Train travel used to be my magazine time- I’d catch up on the New Yorkers and others that had accumulated. This month, I’m doing a lot of flying—it’s our daughter’s last college tennis season  and I’ll be back and forth to Ohio a couple times before her graduation in May. The Ipad, complete with its eReader capabilities, are in my carry-on.  The Scrabble is what lures me; I find it hard to do much of anything else while on the train or plane.

As kids, my siblings and I would accuse each other of looking at the letter racks if one of the players left the room for the bathroom.  I don’t cheat when playing against real live humans. I obey the rules, take my turn, try to use the dictionary only to check spelling of a word, not to go on a fishing trip as we always called it.

I can’t really cheat against CPU.  I can’t see its letters or anticipate its next move. It irritates me that CPU knows all the 101 two-letter   words. CPU rarely passes, and needs only about a second of thinking time. 

Yet I’m as competitive as ever against CPU, whether it knows it or not.  So I cheat, a little.

I frequently see what the “Best Word” feature will produce; and sometimes use the words if I’ve heard of them. If I haven’t, I don’t.  I’ll experiment with my own two-letter combinations, hoping they’re on the approved list. Like a GPS informing me I’ve made a wrong turn, CPU quickly tells me if a word doesn’t exist.

I try to convince myself that I’m not really cheating; just using the available tools designed to make me a stronger player.  If a game isn’t going well, I’ll delete and start over; CPU never calls me a sore loser. CPU doesn’t gloat about winning or complain about losing; it never blames the poor letters it receives or the order of play. Not a bad opponent.

What about you? What games do you play and how do you beat the CPU?


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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12 Responses to Beating the Scrabble CPU: Whatever it Takes!

  1. must look into this CPU – my only game and opponent has been my daughter in ‘words w friends’ – have just inherited Bob’s old iPad so may have to update!


    • I haven’t played against a human in ages. In the summer, one of my sons will play. His wife is a Boggle expert- can’t get into that game. I haven’t done any other virtual opponents– happy to play you Chris, if you can explain to me how to do it!

      On Mon, Apr 8, 2013 at 9:44 AM, cyclingrandma


  2. Patti Winker says:

    My Hubby and I are big scrabble players. We’ve been away from the board for a while, but really need to get it back out. We have a fancy swivel board that’s pretty ancient and even have the original dictionary… the one with the naughty words in it. We bought a new dictionary years ago when we were playing every Sunday with the Hubby’s mother and I stumbled on a couple words that were accepted in Scrabble World, but wouldn’t play out quite so well in a family situation. I haven’t gotten into any games on my iphone/computer/etc yet. I steer clear because of my rather obsessive/compulsive nature. I could see myself missing my train stops and ending up two states away! 😉


  3. I love Scrabble. We played during the power outage after Hurricane Sandy. My son was happy that he was able to win a few games. When the kids were younger we played all the time. They all still remember. Have not done the CPU. Have fun.


  4. I’ve always loved Scrabble, but admit to a horrible Lexulous addiction. It has ruined my Scrabble game, because of all the words it accepts that Scrabble does not. Oh, those triple word scores get my heart racing! 🙂


  5. I love that I can play word games wherever I am, and whatever else is going on. Abble-Dabble on my iPhone is even better than Scrabble, but Scrabble is definitely the classic game, and it’s fun to have opponents from all over the world!


    • Thanks for stopping in! This post has generated quite a few suggestions of other great word games– I’m afraid if I start, I’ll never do anything else! Glad to have company in the addiction — can’t get any more harmless than this!

      On Tue, Apr 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM, cyclingrandma


  6. Huffygirl says:

    I like Scrabble too, but I’ve never played on an app or with an electronic opponent. Just trying to beat my kids is enough.


    • Of course it’s more fun against people. I get annoyed at the computer- it seems to have made up words and then doesn’t accept ones that I know are real words. But it’s still addicting.

      On Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 8:54 PM, cyclingrandma


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