Q&A: Reigning Scrabble Champion Reveals His Favorite Letter, Fun Tricks And Embarrassing Stories

Stumble upon him in Portland, Oregon, and you’d be excused if you mistook Conrad Bassett-Bouchard for just another 20-something. After all, the University of California-San Diego graduate spends a lot of his days working at a popular food truck and playing Settlers of Catan with his roommates. He fits the mold.

But Bassett-Bouchard, 25, isn’t your normal 20-something. He’s the reigning North American Scrabble champion, and he is in Reno, Nevada, this weekend to defend his crown after unexpectedly taking down Scrabble legend Nigel Richards last summer.

In the lead up to the tournament, we spoke with Bassett-Bouchard over the phone about the letter he loves, the letter combinations he hates, his tips for casual players, that awkward feeling when your best word is one that makes you blush and more.

The main thing people wanted me to ask you for is maybe one or two tips or philosophies for the casual Scrabble player.

Number one is definitely learning the two-letter words, it’s pretty much essential. And from there you can use your knowledge of two-letter words to make parallel plays, so you can play two, three, four, five words at once instead of one and then your score will go up drastically.

In terms of two-letter words, what do you think are the one or two out of the ordinary ones that people should memorize?

I guess people are pretty good at thinking about it now, but “QI” is pretty essential because [Q is] the worst tile and it’s a really good way to get out of having the Q. And then probably “JO” because the J is not actually a very good tile and people don’t necessarily know that, so I think it’s a helpful one to just get of it quickly.

I wonder if there’s a favorite —> Read More