I hate doing eights - they are so much harder than sevens - but a certain amount of study is an unfortunate necessity.
I have started with the single solution sets in probability order. I was not impressed with my progress after completing the top 2500, but I was pleased to get quite a few of the ones that normally trip me up or take what seems like an eternity, so it is not all doom and gloom.
I started over again. The second time through is a lot better, but this is probably short term memory. I think the key to eights for me is repetition, repetition, repetition. This can be extremely boring and the danger is that I just switch off. However, the quicker I get the less time to get bored. My target is that a set of 500 should take up to 50 minutes - this is a good time for concentration as it is the length of a game.
In a game you do not have someone tapping you on your shoulder saying 'hey - you've got an 8 with that A on the board'. Unlike sevens, when all the tiles are sitting in front of you, with eights you have to mentally anagram your rack with what tiles are 'floating' (i.e. available to play around) on the board. This makes eights even harder to find and play.
According to the book 'How To Win at Scrabble', written by my friends Andrew Fisher and David Webb, 82% of eights will be played from the top 40% probability, 89% from the top 50% probability.
I freely admit to being very lazy with eights at the board - if my tiles do not look promising (i.e. not high probability) I will often not even look to see if there is a possibility of one if I do not desperately need one. I may lose the occasional game from this strategy, but I think I may also win some by better general rack management to steer my tiles to what I have studied, and time saved in searching when there is none to be found.
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