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2010 March 15
by admin

Note: The com­ments are about the TWOS JQXZ file (Beginner, 1.1).

The 8 words on this list will yield more ben­e­fit per word that any other list you’ll learn.

The first word is AX.  Here are the hooks:

AXE to ax (to work on with an ax (a type of cut­ting tool)) [v AXED, AXING, AXES]
FAX to trans­mit and repro­duce by elec­tronic means [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
LAX not strict or strin­gent [adj LAXER, LAXEST]; a vowel artic­u­lated with rel­a­tively relaxed mus­cles [n –ES]
MAX to reach the upper limit [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
PAX a cer­e­mo­nial embrace given to sig­nify Christian love and unity [n –ES]
RAX to stretch out [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
SAX a sax­o­phone [n –ES]
TAX to place a tax (a charge imposed by author­ity for pub­lic pur­poses) on [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
WAX to coat with wax (a nat­ural, heat-sensitive sub­stance) [v –ED, –ING, –ES] : WAXABLE [adj]
ZAX a tool for cut­ting roof slates [n –ES]

Sure, these are three-letter words, but you’re going to have to learn them any­way, so you might as well start to get famil­iar with them as hooks.  Notice that AX takes a E as a back hook (AXE).  Of the front hooks, PAX, RAX and ZAX are prob­a­bly unfa­mil­iar.  Think PAX Romana, the rack (as in “Not the Rack!”), and Dr. Suess (a north-going ZAX and a south-going ZAX).  The other front hooks should be famil­iar, although you may not have real­ized they were accept­able Scrabble words (e.g. FAX, LAX, MAX).

EX is a verb (EXED, EXING, EXES).  It’s front hooks are:

DEX a sul­fate used as a cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem stim­u­lant [n –ES]
HEX to cast an evil spell upon [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
KEX a dry, hol­low stalk [n –ES]
LEX law [n LEGES]
REX an ani­mal with a sin­gle wavy layer of hair [n –ES]; king [n REGES]
SEX to deter­mine the sex (the prop­erty by which organ­isms are clas­si­fied accord­ing to repro­duc­tive func­tions) of [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
VEX to annoy (to be trou­ble­some to) [v VEXED or VEXT, VEXING, VEXES]

It doesn’t have any back­hooks.  VEXT is a handy word to know (it’s one of those “sur­prise” hooks that you don’t expect – a T on the back of VEX).

A JO is a sweat­h­eart, and no indi­vid­ual who knows what’s good for them would want two of them, so a plural here is out of the ques­tion (in other words, *JOS is not an accept­able play).  JOES, how­ever, is (i.e. JOE, as in an “every­day” JOE, does take an S).  JO has no front hooks, and most of it’s back hooks are famil­iar (except JOW):

JOW to toll (to col­lect or impose a toll (a fixed charge for a ser­vice or priv­i­lege)) [v –ED, –ING, –S]

OX is another X word with numer­ous hooks:

BOX to put in a box (a rec­tan­gu­lar con­tainer) [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
COX to coxswain (to steer a rac­ing row­boat) [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
FOX to out­wit (to get the bet­ter of by supe­rior clev­er­ness) [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
GOX gaseous oxy­gen [n –ES]
LOX to sup­ply with lox (liq­uid oxy­gen) [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
POX to infect with syphilis [v –ED, –ING, –ES]
SOX SOCK, a knit­ted or woven cov­er­ing for the foot [n]
VOX voice [n VOCES]
OXO con­tain­ing oxy­gen [adj]
OXY con­tain­ing oxy­gen [adj]

Oxygen shows up quite a bit in these def­i­n­i­tions (GOX, LOX, OXO, OXY).  The mes­sage here (as you work your way through the two-letter X-word hook lists) is that X is a fairly ver­sa­tile high-point tile (the other high point tiles – J, Q, Z are gen­er­ally more dif­fi­cult to play).  You need to be care­ful about play­ing let­ters that com­bine with X to form tw0-letter words around DW and TW bonus squares because your oppo­nent may be able to make a par­al­lel play with words like AX, EX or OX in one direc­tion and OX, AX, EX, XI or XU (or longer words) in the other direc­tion, thereby earn­ing a 4 or 6 mul­ti­ple on the X tile – see the Strategy page for more on Scrabble strategy.

QI was added, along with ZA and other words, in the OWL06.  There were a num­ber of play­ers that felt adding these words was “dam­ag­ing” to Scrabble because it facil­i­tates Q and Z plays (but left the point val­ues for these tiles unchanged).  An arti­cle appeared in the The Wall Street Journal (WSJ), of all places, about the addi­tion of QI and ZA: WSJ Scrabble Article.

The are three more JQXZ two-letter words: XI, XU and ZA.  XI, the Greek let­ter, should be famil­iar.  It’s impor­tant to remem­ber that XU (a mon­e­tary unit of Vietnam) DOES NOT take an S.  ZA has already been men­tioned above (as a front hook of AX).

That’s it for the first list (Beginniner 1.1, TWOS JQXZ).  It’s just 8 words, but it’s a start (and if you’re going to learn just 8 Scrabble words, these 8 are the words to learn).

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