WHAT with Scrabble® (16-Aug-16)

WHAT, Wolfberg's Helpful Anagramming Tool, is really a toolbox of powerful tools, with many facilities. You can make effective use of WHAT right away by using just a few of its features, and this document introduces how to work with tiles on Scrabble® or Super Scrabble® boards. If you have not yet read any documentation for this program, you may find it better to first read "WHAT's First - Getting Started Using WHAT", but if you are specifically interested in working either of these game boards, read this document.

WHAT supports working on a 15 x 15 Scrabble® board or a 21 x 21 Super Scrabble® board. Both regular Scrabble® and the variant Clabbers are supported. In Clabbers, words are acceptable as long as they anagram to an acceptable word; CLABBERS is an (acceptable) anagram of SCRABBLE. You can:

In order to bring up the Board Dialog, menu-pick either of the following: Tools->Play 15 x 15 Game... or Tools->Play 21 x 21 Game...
For convenience, you may instead use one-character WHAT commands of P (for play) or S (for super). Lowercase forms of these one-character commands are equivalent. Once you bring up the Board Dialog, you must stick with using it with a that size of board until you choose to switch to the other size and then lose any state of what you are doing on that board.

When you start up the Board Dialog, you will see the various choices of activities you have for working on the board:

To the right of where you specify your choice of activity there are some buttons where you can make requests:

Below that part of the Board Dialog, you will see some tabs where you can see output and also specify options. Here is a list of the options:

On the Options tab you may also adjust the colors of premium squares displayed on the game board; however, it is unlikely you will find a need to use this feature.

Notice on the right edge of the Board Dialog, there is an Unseen Tiles table, where you have the option of using alphabetical order or segregating the vowels at the beginning of the table. When working on a 15 x 15 board, the set of tiles which is used is WHAT's set (B), and when working on a 21 x 21 board, the set of tiles which is used is WHAT's set (P). These set names are based on words "bag" and "super". (B) and (P) are sets built-in to WHAT, but you can alter them. See the Sets tab at the upper right of the WHAT window. These sets specify the non-blank tiles in use in the Board Dialog. Two blanks are used by default for 15 x 15 boards, and four blanks are used by default for 21 x 21 boards; these correspond to the games of Scrabble® and Super Scrabble®. You can adjust the number of blanks being used by clicking on the button below the Unseen Tiles table.

Placing Tiles

When working with the activity of placing tiles on a board, you can click the cursor where you want to add tiles and then adjust the orientation of that cursor, if necessary. You can then type lowercase letters to represent tiles; they are shown in uppercase on the board, along with their point values. If you type an uppercase letter, a blank is placed, and the letter it represents is shown in lowercase on the board, along with the point value of zero.

If you click on a square when there is no cursor there, it appears there. If you click on the square where the cursor is shown, you change the orientation (vertical or horizontal) of the cursor. You can use Delete and Backspace keys to remove placed tiles. You can use arrow keys to move the cursor around the board, square-by-square.

You can drag and drop tiles from the Unseen Tiles table to board squares according to where you drop the tile.

You can turn off the placing-tiles cursor by pressing Enter. When there is no cursor showing you can type the coordinates of where you want the cursor.

In any of the activities, when the option to adhere to tile distribution is on, which is the default, you are warned when attempting to place a tile of which there are no more available (among the unseen tiles). You are given the option to place such a tile anyway. If you do this, the Unseen Tiles table shows the situation with a negative count.

You can freely move from the Placing Tiles activity to the Making Moves activity and vice versa. You cannot move to any of the other activities from these activities without a fresh start of the board contents.

Making Moves

The Making Moves activity is similar to the Placing Tiles activity, with a few differences. When making moves, the cursor is different - it is an orange arrow rather than the black partial square for placing tiles. As you place tiles when making moves, the new potential tiles are shown in orange, and the potential score of the move is shown below the Unseen Tiles table. That score is colored black for a legal (acceptable) move or orange for an illegal move. When you are ready to add the move to the board, press Enter. If the move is legal, those tiles are placed, but if it is not, you are then given the choice of whether to place the tiles anyway.

You may drag and drop tiles among the Unseen Tiles table, the rack, and the board. When dropping on the board, if there is no cursor showing you choose where to place the tile, but when a cursor is showing, it indicates where the dragged tile will be placed.

The only way to place a blank on the board is by typing the character it represents in uppercase; you may not drag blanks to the board.

When making moves or from any of the other activities other than placing tiles, you can have WHAT tell you what tiles are acceptably placed on the board based on already placed tiles. To see this info, press the Alt key. The info is shown in a yellow box at the lower right of the Board Dialog. The reported info is based on the orientation of the cursor. Asking for this info is helpful in finding out the possible hookable letters based on the already placed tiles.

When the board has tiles on it, you may click the right mouse button over a board cell to present a small menu which allows you copy either the horizontal word (if there is one) or vertical word (if there is one) to the workspace. The workspace is shown after the Board Dialog is minimized. You may then use WHAT to check on various characteristics of that word, such as its definition or hooks.

Outputting the Board

If you have built up a board with placed tiles or from showing moves of a game, you can output that board in one of three ways:

For the second and third options, you can specify a number of spaces to be used to indent the board.

It is expected you will use the second of the above options to output a board, and that same kind of file can be read back into WHAT in order to set up a board position. These features are especially handy if you are making presentations in a lecture about the games.

When outputting to a .txt file, you also have the option to include in that file all the move choices being shown. When this is done, some extra info is included in the output to indicate the rack being used and how many choices are shown.

Recording a Game

When you click on the Record Game radio button, a dialog comes up to set various options for the game. This is where you specify whether it is for one or two players, and you can provide player names if you want. If you are just playing a solitaire game with two players, it is easy to name them ONE and TWO. If you are recording a real game which has been played, you can provide full names and nicknames of the players, and you can provide both a title and a description of the game which will be recorded in a .gcg file later when you choose to output it.

At the right in the middle of the game options dialog, you can set the options to require specified racks for the players individually. When you are playing a solitaire game, you would likely not request these options, but you would depend on WHAT to provide racks randomly from the virtual tile bag, as you play the game.

At the bottom of the Recorded Game Options dialog, you can use the default of having various options chosen by default, or you can uncheck the small box to choose options individually.

If you are having WHAT supply racks, you will see the current rack below the board at the bottom of the Board Dialog. Next to the rack are four clickable buttons to control the rack:

You may also use the cursor to drag a tile in the rack to another position.

You may enter letters into the rack by typing them, or you can drag a tile from the Unseen Tiles table into the rack.

When placing tiles on the board, you may drag a tile other than a blank from the Unseen Tiles table onto a board square. You may also drag a tile on the board back to the Unseen Tiles table.

When making a move on the board you can type letters, or you drag tiles from the rack, dropping them anywhere on the board - they will be placed at the cursor if there is one; you need not drag all the way to the where the cursor is. When there is no cursor, you may drag a tile to the board position where you want it. As rack tiles are moved onto the board, they are shown in orange in the rack. When you done with placing tiles, press Enter to commit the move. Used rack tiles are removed from the rack at this time.

You may remove tiles from the rack by selecting a tile and pressing the down-arrow key. You may drag rack tiles to the Unseen Tiles table when they are not involved with forming the current move.

A powerful and useful feature available for any of the activities other than placing tiles is to have WHAT provide all the possible moves from the rack tiles. To request this info, click on the Show Move Choices button. The answer is given on the Choices tab to the right of the board. You can ask for these possible choices for the number of moves to show:

Listed plays are in order by decreasing score, so seeing the top 50 possible moves is typically sufficient for working with the regular 15 x 15 board.

While looking at the move choices, if you double-click on a choice, that word's definition will be shown in the Definitions Window.

While looking at the move choices, you may right-click the mouse over a choice and use the small menu to copy that word to a new line in the workspace, and the workspace is shown after the Board Dialog is minimized. You may then use WHAT to check on various characteristics of that word, such as its definition or hooks. As usual, you may then return to the Board Dialog by requesting to work with the 15 x 15 or 21 x 21 board.

Similar to the feature described above for placing a word into the workspace, you may also do this for words already on the board and for the tiles in the rack. Use the right mouse button to bring up a small menu supporting this.

You can also click the check box labled Hide Moves, and when you do this you are shown the scores only. You might want to try to find highest-scoring plays on your own, knowing what their scores are.

The common command to be made when recording a game is called a move, and this means you place tiles on the board and add the score of that move to your running total. There are other kinds of commands which you can do, which are available by clicking on the Non-move command button near the bottom of the Board Dialog. These are the kinds of non-move commands:

Missing from the above kinds of non-move commands is a command to specificy a player's turn was lost due to an unsuccessful challenge. This is because the standard specifying .gcg files does not include such a command. To support this situation, you can employ a command to pass your move. It also helps to include a comment in the recorded game at that point.

Also, there is no way to indicate which words are being challenged. If you want to note this, use a comment.

Showing a Game

WHAT can read a previously recorded game as encoded in a file of type .gcg. This file format was developed by John Chew in August, 2000, and it has become a standard for recording games. The three-letter format name is short for "Generic Crossword Game. The file format is specified on the web at: http://www.poslfit.com/scrabble/gcg

When WHAT creates a .gcg file, it places a note on the first line identifying the fact that WHAT created it and the version and release of the program which was used.

WHAT has adopted using a pragma of
#size 21
for use in files recording games played on a 21 x 21 board.

cross-tables.com has many .gcg files of games deemed worthy of remembering, and WHAT, among other programs, can be used to observe these games.

When you read in a game, you can look at it move-by-move, and consider what you might play from a given rack, before looking to see what was actually played in that game. The commands of the game can be viewed in the History tab of the Board Dialog. Click on a move listed in the history, or select one of the buttons which can move you around the history:

While looking at the history, if you double-click on a history line, that word's definition will be shown in the Definitions Window.

While looking at the history, you may right-click the mouse over a history line and use the small menu to copy that word to a new line in the workspace, and the workspace is shown after the Board Dialog is minimized. You may then use WHAT to check on various characteristics of that word, such as its definition or hooks. As usual, you may then return to the Board Dialog by requesting to work with the 15 x 15 or 21 x 21 board.

When making moves, when looking at a recorded game, or when playing moves after looking at a recorded game, WHAT is able to show you all the possible moves with the current rack tiles.

While showing a recorded game, you may switch WHAT's activity to Play Moves, and then you can take over from some point forward and make moves to become part of the game. Moves to be added must be done at the tail end of the list of moves. If you want to take over not at the current tail end, you must first truncate the game by selecting a move and then clicking on the Truncate Game button at the lower right. The remainder of the game which was being shown is lost. As usual, you can output the new extended game whenever you want. Once you switch to the Play Moves activity, you may not return to the Read/Show Game activity, not even immediately.