A blog for fans of Bananagrams, word games, puzzles, and amazing things

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sightseeing in the WordSquared world

I have posted several previous articles about WordSquared, which is essentially simultaneous multiplayer Scrabble on an infinite grid. The interesting thing about WordSquared is that it can be played in so many different ways. Some players focus on maximizing their score with rack-clearing words that hit lots of bonus squares. Others take a more defensive approach, working to build away from anyone who might try to encircle or entrap them. And then there are those who, amidst everything else that is going on, find the space and time to build some wonderful things. In this post, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite WordSquared creations.

For those who want to navigate to the sights and see whether they are still there, I give the (x,y) coordinates for each location which you may use to locate features in the WordSquared world, as I previously described.

Let's start with this elegant chain of linked diamonds around (1600,-3800).
Note that it is formed almost entirely from two-letter words.

Then there is RON at (1300,2950):

What seems like someone's name has been rapidly covered in word kudzu, like some ancient relic.

What is the biggest designed structure in all of Word2? The hugest one I could find is this pair of parallel lines, stretching across hundreds of 15-by-15 boards like the Great Wall of WordSquared. They are located near y=-320; the longer one stretches from x=-5530 to x=-630 (over 300 Scrabble boards in length), though there are some gaps in there (just like in the Chinese version).

The area below caught my attention because it is unusually spindly. I initially dubbed this area Longwordia until I realized their was a fancier-pants (and more appropriate) name for it: Sesquipedalia.

Since the WordSquared "rack" consists of 7 tiles, obviously not every long word can easily be constructed. Either one must choose a long word that can be formed by starting with a medium length word and extending it as the letters become available, or one must separately form two or more carefully placed words and then link them up to form one superword.

Admittedly, art is not the only motivation for building Sesquipedalia. Making those long words (and, more specifically, making them on top of triple word score squares) must have earned the architect a lot of points.

Once you think through this process, you can better appreciate the challenge of assembling a bunch of interlocking long words like this. An even better example of a construction challenge is this 6-by-6 word square at (-45,-1480):
It's not enough to just accumulate letter and start building words. If you play DIAPERS horizontally and then IGNORE underneath it, you will have made several invalid vertical words (like DI, IG, and PO). I'm close to solving the puzzle of how this square can be made, but solutions are still welcome.

This impressive spiral form at (2300,1200) must have been made from the outside in, winding down, fittingly, with the word SPIRALS.

Above and to the left of the spiral is a huge triangular structure, best appreciated up close: Notice how the words snake around in a pattern that is always one tile wide, while leaving empty space that is also everywhere only one tile wide. A pattern of this scope and complexity makes me wonder whether it is the work of one of the few "bots" that have been programmed to play Word2. Or, possibly, aliens are responsible...

These are just some of the wonders you can find while playing WordSquared. And as the WordSquared world continues to boom, the number of amazing things will grow along with it. Stay tuned!

Further reading:

Monday, December 6, 2010

The new crop of games from the makers of Bananagrams: Zip-It, et al.

First they brought us Bananagrams. Last year they introduced Appletters and Pairs in Pears. This fall, they released so many new items that I feel like I am going to have to make a list:
  1. Zip-It is like an accelerated version of Bananagrams, except instead of tiles, you get twelve letter cubes. And unlike in Boggle, you can turn each of those cubes and use whichever side you want. A typical time for forming those cubes into a grid of words is reported to be about twenty seconds! It sounds super-frenetic, like playing Bananagrams on a roller coaster. Zip-It comes with Weords, a small book containing game-winning weird words.
  2. The 4th Bananagrams book has been released: 10-Minute Bananagrams, in which each puzzle is designed to be solved in 10 minutes or less.
  3. The Bananagrams 2011 Page-a-day Calendar - perfect for your favorite Bananagrams addict.

2014 UPDATE: More recent games from the makers of Bananagrams: Bananagrams WildTiles - a new version of Bananagrams with extra monkey-themed wildcard tiles.

Also available through Amazon are the French version of Bananagrams, for the family Francophile or polyglot, and the German version of Bananagrams.

If that isn't enough Bananagrams fun for you, take a look through the word games and other items I have collected together in the Bananagrammer Amazon store. I've tried to pick things that I thought readers of this blog would like the most.

UPDATE 2: The release of Oh-Spell is apparently not as imminent as I had wishfully thought. But in the meanwhile we have, coming very soon... Fruitominoes, the first non-word-game game from the makers of Bananagrams.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Unbananagrammable words

In my search for the longest word that you can make in a Bananagrams game, I found a few words (like "floccinaucinihilipilification") which can't be spelled with a standard 144-tile set of Bananagrams because there aren't quite enough of one letter or another. For instance, there are only two Ks in a bag of Bananagrams, and there are at least two words with three or more Ks in common use today.

I started off by studying the letter distribution for a Bananagrams set, shown here:

And then I decided to compile a sampling of unbananagrammable words (leaving out some obscure or questionable ones), beginning with the letter...


Which word has more than three Bs? It appears in The Sound of Music. It's in a song (naturally). It's that "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" song. Answer: The word is flibbertigibbet, meaning a flighty person, and it's generally used in a critical fashion. I kind of like this word and vote that the nuns try to cut flibbertigibbets some slack.


There are about 100 words that would require more than three C tiles to construct, but most of them are highly technical, like "diplococcus" (a kind of bacteria) or compound words like "sacrococcyx" that have to do with things near or connecting to the tailbone. (As a corollary, you can make the word coccyx in Bananagrams (if you ever wind up with all 3 Cs).)

A concrescence is a collection of parts that have grown together, like a bunch of cells in a biological context. The verb meaning to grow together is "concresce".

My new favorite C-laden word is scacchic. It's a very obscure word meaning "pertaining to chess". And it is the shortest word in English that contains four Cs.


riffraff - The people who are to be kept out. Used in a dismissive fashion. Depending on who's using the word, the riffraff may contain flibbertigibbets.


Yes, we are already at K! The two common words with more than two Ks are kickback and knickknack (4 Ks!).

A third example is knickerbockers. Knickerbockers are short pants for men that come down below the knee, but not all the way down to the ankle. They have mostly gone out of fashion, but a variant of knickerbockers can still be seen as a part of the uniform worn by baseball players.


metagrammatism - This means the practice of forming anagrams. It more commonly goes by the term "anagrammatism".

mummiform - Shaped like a mummy. There are a lot of cool -iform words like "igniform", meaning shaped like fire and "cucumiform", meaning shaped like a cucumber.


whippersnapper - An inexperienced yet cocky kid. The term was originally coined to describe 17th-century slackers who hung out on the street, snapping whips for no reason. Somewhere along the way the meaning morphed to its current form. No thanks to the whippersnappers!


stresslessness has an amazing 7 Ss AND it is a word that people actually use sometimes.

possessionlessness, in contrast, seems a little unwieldy and virtually never appears in print. But it does have 8Ss, and that counts for something.


pizzazz is kind of amazing for being over 57% Z (not to mention 71% pizza). "Pizzazz" is the shortest word that you cannot spell with one set of Bananagrams tiles.

That's it! There are really very few words you can't spell with Bananagrams. And maybe a spell checker.

Further reading:

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Boggle + Jenga = Konexi

One new game that caught my eye is called Konexi . It has the word formation aspect of Boggle and the balancing act aspect of Jenga. But instead of Jenga-style (also Operation-style, I suppose) delicate removal of parts, in Konexi you have to carefully add letters to an existing tree-like structure without causing it to collapse.

Gameplay is simple. You start by laying out the twenty-six plastic letters in a big circle. Then on each turn, you throw a die and move a special marker the indicated number of positions around the circle. The letter you land on is the one that you have to place in the tree. The object is to position the letter so that it connects to a set of letters that you can anagram to form a word. So for instance, in the illustration on the box, you can see that the words WORD and GAME could have been claimed (by the players who played the W and the E respectively), but if the D had already been there when GAME was formed, a better play would have been to claim GAMED since you get an extra point for each letter in the word. First player to twenty wins. Knocking down the tree loses a player three points and requires a new tree to be started.

And yes, it's not just a trick of perspective; the game box really is a trapezoid.

I really like the dual challenge of forming anagrammed words while maintaining a balanced structure. This may wind up being my new favorite game.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Meet Kigonagrams: Bananagrammy thing & online haiku toy

The simple, elegant design of Bananagrams tiles lends them to a wide range of activities. They are perfect for rapidly sliding around a table as you race to build words faster than your opponents in a frenzy of QATs and JETs and ZOOs. And they are also perfect for less focused, more creative play, like building little Bananagrams sculptures or composing Bananagrams poetry.

It was this last activity that inspired a design student named Fred Truman to program an online environment for rearranging letter tiles into haikus. It's called Kigonagrams, a name that Truman explains as
the combination of anagrams (or obviously bananagrams) and kigo, which are words or phrases associated with a particular season used in Japanese poetry.
Kigonagrams starts off by giving you a randomly selected haiku, like this: And then it sets you loose to play with the tiles, so you can make something like this:
The controls for resetting the tiles to their original positions and requesting a new set of tiles are way at the bottom of the page.

The grayed-out "tweet your haiku @kigonagrams" is an encouragement, but also an indication of a possible future feature.

The most fun part for me was dragging one tile into others and watching as a bunch of tiles got pushed out of position. This kind of physics modelling is a feature that would be cool to see in other online word games someday.

Further reading:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Totally Unofficial WordSquared/Scrabb.ly FAQ

The massively multiplayer word formation online game formerly known as Scrabb.ly is now called WordSquared. I previously posted an introduction to Scrabb.ly/WordSquared and then some more tips. I'm posting this unofficial FAQ to answer any other questions that crop up. The world of WordSquared is evolving rapidly, so this information may become dated fast!

How can I find my words when I've wandered away from them?

Click on the home icon in the upper-left hand corner of the minimap and you will jump to the last word you made. Or click on your avatar icon (next to your username) which will pull up your profile which includes the words in your history (underneath your score) and you can jump to any of those positions by clicking on the words. Or check whether you have previously set any placemarks that can take you back to your words.

If none of these methods work, your words are basically lost, and your only recourse is to search for them, which could take a ridiculously long time. The official advice in these situations is to set placemarks, so you can reorient yourself in the future.

If my words are surrounded by others, how can I escape?

a) You can use the new teleport option. This allows you to move to anywhere else on the map and start building off of someone else's tiles (or your own). You can teleport once every 24 hours for free. If you want to teleport again within 24 hours, it costs 100 stars(!!!).

b) If you prefer to do it the old-school way, read about the breakout method.

Which words can I play in WordSquared?

Any word which is on the TWL06 (the Scrabble Tournament Word List for the U.S., Canada, and Thailand) is WordSquared-legal. There are 178,691 words in the TWL, and the longest possible words are 15 letters long (for now).

I've seen words in Word2 which are unconnected to anything else. How were they made?

These islands formed in December 2010 when the WordSquared code briefly had a bug which allowed players (just new players, I think) to build words not connected to any other words.

How can I keep track of locations on the WordSquared map?

Use the new built-in Placemarks. The interface is visible when the map is expanded to fit your whole browser window.

What does the entire WordSquared world look like?

Courtesy of Aaron Parecki's Flickr photo, on September 5th, the Scrabb.ly map looked like this: It's way more complex now. You can see a time-lapse animation of the growth of the Scrabb.ly world here.

In February 2011, /dev/joe made an amazing world map for WordSquared.

In November 2011, DoctorPeaks posted to Twitter a link to this zoomed-out version of the WordSquared map:

Another WordSquared map courtesy of DoctorPeaks, capture on November 23, 2013, about one week before WordSquared shut down.
I made a chart of the tile count of the entire board as a function of time, based on numbers from the official WordSquared Twitter account and blog:

A zoomed-out plot showing the last known tile count for the WordSquared world:

The 42.2 million tiles played in Word^2 as of March 10th, 2011 made 14.86 million words.

As of January 26, 2012, 63 million words had been played, corresponding to 141 million tiles. (If the tiles-to-words ratio had held at 2.8 tiles per new word, it would have corresponded to 179 million tiles. Instead it fell to 2.2 tiles/(new word). It may make sense for this number to decrease as the number of words increase and word chains lengthen, as there are increasingly more places that people can easily build short words. I'll have to think about this.)

The last tally I am aware of was shortly before WordSquared was closed for good. As of about November 22, 2013, 1,543,257 players had played 264,768,058 tiles, forming 123,148,431 words (2.15 tiles/(new word)).

Outdated questions:

What is the deal with the new version of WordSquared?

It's live! Here is my review.

You can still sign up to be a beta tester for new features by clicking here.

Blanks don't work. What's the deal?

This question is now kind of irrelevant since blanks now have to be bought.
There is a bug that is affecting older browsers. A browser that supports HTML5 fully should allow you to use blanks. Otherwise, just swap tiles when you get too many blanks.

I lost my game in the switchover from scrabb.ly to wordsquared.com. What do I do?

First, visit http://scrabb.ly. Your browser should then forward you back to wordsquared.com, but with your scrabb.ly cookies duplicated over to restore your game. If your score and username and tiles show up in WordSquared, but you can't find the words that you made, try clicking on the new home button in the upper left hand corner of the minimap:

That should take you back to the last word you made. If that doesn't work, try reading about tracking locations.

How do I end the game so I can start over in a new spot?

Since the teleportation feature means you can never really get stuck, your game never ends. You can just pick up and move to a different spot.
Either delete your wordsquared.com cookies or log out.

How can I keep track of locations on the WordSquared map?

Old answer (retained for backward compatibility with old posts):
If you look through the cookies that your web browser has stored (generally buried in the web browser preferences, under some heading like "Privacy" or "Security"), you will find a few cookies set by wordsquared.com. One is called "grid_origin" (it was called "gridOrigin" in previous versions). It looks something like this: [wordsquared.com browser cookies] The two numbers (separated by "%2C") are coordinates in columns and then rows. A grid_origin of 1992%2C-1202 should be read as (1992,-1202) and means that WordSquared is currently set to look at a position 1992 columns to the right and 1202 rows up from some reference point. (The reference point (0,0) is an area where the tiles are very dense and is almost certainly where the first WordSquared word was played.)

If you open up WordSquared in your browser, drag the map to a new position, and then recheck the cookies, you will find that the grid_origin value has changed. (Note that you now have to drag the map instead of the board in order to update the grid_origin cookie. Dragging just the board will update the worldOffset cookie. It may be a better reference, but those numbers are horribly long!)

If you lost your position in the switchover from scrabb.ly to wordsquared.com, you can just look at your grid_origin cookie for scrabb.ly and then drag the board in wordsquared.com until you get the WordSquared grid_origin cookie close to matching the scrabb.ly grid_origin coordinates. Then (like magic!) you will be back where you were when last playing Scrabb.ly.

If you want more official answers to your questions, you can get in touch with the WordSquared team, either through their customer service site or their Twitter account or by mailing support at [the name of the site for the game]. WordSquared now also has a blog!

[Last updated,February 2014]

Further reading:

Friday, October 22, 2010

Advanced Scrabb.ly/WordSquared techniques

I recently posted an introduction to Scrabb.ly (now called WordSquared). Since then, I have still been playing, loading up Scrabb.ly from time to time and extending my original chain of words. Here are a few survival tips that I have learned:

When you see other players encroaching, run away! It's pretty easy to just keep forming words on a grid with open space. You can generally find some place in your grid to fit nearly any letter, and in the worst case, you can hit "swap tiles" and start off with a new set of letters. The biggest threat to your survival is being boxed in by other players (but see below about how to deal with that).

Start in a relatively empty part of the board. New players will be randomly placed near recent activity, but you don't really want to be within sight of another player. They might perceive you as a threat and try to box you in. It's better to backtrack from the front a little and find a quiet place where you can start building on your own. That way you can get your bearings and build up a big enough grid that you can always find some place to dump letters.

To be sure that your part of the board is open, keep in mind that...
The map is not the territory. Currently, the little map up in the left hand corner (which can be expanded by clicking on the box with the arrows in it) is not up to date. It seems like it is updated maybe once a day (if that). Note that this is likely to change in the future, as the site is improved. For now, it means that if you want to scope out the competition, you have to drag around the board (which can also be done by dragging on the map) to see where the tiles actually are.... [OK, the map updates more quickly now, at least for a player's own tiles which appear in a chunkier white trail dynamically added as another layer over the main map]. In addition to checking out the big version of the map from time to time, it also helps to keep an eye on the little expanding circles that appear on the map whenever someone plays a word.

It is possible to break out when surrounded! This technique was written up by SPAZIN who is currently third on the leaderboard (for human players). He explained his technique here. (You can tell he is an expert from how concisely he explains it). I thought it would benefit from a bit more description, so I decided to expand on it a little below.

Step 1: Identify a place to break through:

Here I decided that I could build to the left through another player's DEN to make a word like INDENT.

Step 2: Build over in that direction.

Step 3: Plan your approach.

At this point I was close enough to map out a specific path. I imagined hanging an O off of the S to make SO, and then constructing a three-letter word like AGO from that O, and finally a three-letter word like SEA, where the S would form the end of the eventual word INDENTS.

I then had to go off to some other part of my grid to dump a lot of letters before I got the tiles I needed to make INDENTS.

Step 4: Break out.

Note that the DEN tiles now have dark letters, indicating that I now have a partial claim to them. I believe this means that I could build off of any of them, even if none of my original tiles are involved.

Step 5: Run away!

You can now escape the blockade and continuing playing Scrabb.ly as usual.

Have fun!

Further reading:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Scrabb.ly/WordSquared - Massively Multiplayer Online Word-formation Game

The biggest word game ever is slowly growing still bigger over at Scrabb.ly (recently renamed "WordSquared"). Created by four programmers over 48 hours for a competition, it's effectively an infinite grid (though currently limited to a giant square with each side being about 200 million tiles long) on which people all over the Internet are simultaneously laying down tiles to build words. You can play it in most recent web browsers at http://wordsquared.com.

For your first move, you can build a word (using a subset of your seven available tiles) off of any available tile on the board. For all subsequent moves, you need to build off of your own words.

Scoring is like in Scrabble. The tiles have values on them, and the grid has been formed by putting a bunch of Scrabble boards together, overlapping the rows and columns on the edges, so that the triple word score squares are shared with the neighboring boards.

Additionally, you have a certain number of available "lives" like in a video game. If you swap out your rack for new letters, you lose a life. If you form a word that overlaps one of those bonus squares in the center (the ones with the star on them), you gain a new life.

Probably my favorite part about this game is exploring the map of the grid. A lot of the overall structure of the interlocking words looks rather organic, but there are a few places on the grid where someone (possibly automated scripts) have constructed long staircases of two-letter words or other regular structures.

One downside is that the site is a bit slow to load, and even just when I switch over to the browser tab that has Scrabb.ly in it, the browser hangs for a while. Every time you enter a word, the game takes several seconds to update and give you your new letters. [This is no longer an issue, as the updated version of the game is much faster.] Also, the large scale map seems to be updated very infrequently (maybe every few hours or once a day), so by exploring the apparent frontier (by switching back from the map view to the zoomed-in grid view), you will find that there may be words several board lengths beyond where the map suggests they will be.

If you stop playing and come back later, your previous position on the map and tiles should be restored, assuming you are using the same web browser... Player identification is done through cookies. "Claiming" your words by adding a username (or Twitter username (preceded by the "@" symbol)), just makes public your position on the high scores list... it does not enable you to set a password or log in from another computer or browser. I would guess that this will be changed in Scrabb.ly 2.0. If you are lost on the board, you can find your words by clicking on them in the word history bar on the right hand side.

The game is still a bit buggy. If it gets confused about what tiles you have or anything else, you can always reload the page in your browser. And I have found that the blanks can never be used to form words in all but the most recent browser versions. If I try to use them, I get prompted to enter what letter they represent, but then the word never gets accepted. There were reports that blanks would be accepted if used as the final letter in a word, but that's not working for me either. Basically, I save up blanks until my rack becomes unusable and then hit the "Swap Tiles" button.

One other caution about this game: It can be kind of addictive.

If you want a lot more Scrabb.ly information, you can watch this YouTube video of one of the Scrabb.ly programmers giving a talk about the game. There are some fairly technical details between about minutes 5 and 10, but most of the rest of the talk is pretty accessible.

The designers have apparently considered making a similar gigantic chess or checkers game (with appropriate rule modifications) or giving some classic 8-bit Atari games the Scrabb.ly treatment. A planned Scrabb.ly 2.0 will have some social features and additional new game mechanics. They might also incorporate play in foreign languages, but still on the same grid as the original game, though possibly starting each language in a different sector of the board, just for the fun of watching what would happen when two language grids collide.

Further reading:

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Scrabble Flash: An entire game in 5 electronic pieces

Last year, a cool new technology from the MIT Media Lab called "Siftables" was demonstrated in a TED Talk. It consists of little computerized blocks that you can move around with your hands. Touching them together makes them interact, and they can give feedback via their built-in screens and speakers.

At around 2:40 in the TED Talk video (below), the speaker shows how these Siftables can be used to play a word-formation game, referred to as being "like a mash-up of Scrabble and Boggle".

Now this technology has been licensed to Hasbro for a game called Scrabble Flash. There are three games that you can play with these tiles:
  1. Scrabble Flash is similar to Boggle. The tiles are locked into a random set of five letters for 75 seconds, during which time you try to make as many 3-, 4-, and 5-letter words as possible. Whenever you form a new word, the tiles flash at you and make a pleasant reward sound. At the end of the round, the tiles will display the number of words you formed and also the maximum number of words you could have formed.
  2. Scrabble Five-Letter Flash is an anagramming game in which you're just supposed to find one single 5-letter word, after which the tiles will flash and then switch to a different set of five letters.
  3. Scrabble Pass Flash is a multi-player version of Scrabble Five-Letter Flash. If someone fails to find the five-letter word within a set time, they will be knocked out from the game. The speed of the game increases, and the player who avoids elimination wins.

The speed and simplicity of these games reminds me of Bananagrams. It might be even more fun to have one set for each player, so you could play head-to-head. This looks to be easily the most fun new Scrabble-branded game in years.

UPDATE: It is now possible to buy the Siftables blocks shown in the TED Talk. They are sold under the name Sifteo Cubes. They are expensive ($149 for a set of 3), but they are much more colorful, dynamic, and amazing. You can buy "apps" for them, and in principle, program your own games or uses for them.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Scramble: Part word game, part scavenger hunt, part Easter egg hunt

If you travelled back in time to the 2010 ARGfest in Atlanta (a conference for Alternate Reality Game designers and fans), you could have played in an original mutated word game called Scramble, masterminded by ARG designer Brooke Thompson.
Large letters have been scattered around the park and it is your job to find one. Once you do, you've got to find enough other people who have found letters so that you can form a word... a real word... not just one of those made up ones... well, not unless you can convince the Word Master that it’s a real one. Once you've gathered a word, head to the Word Master. Simple, right?

Not so much! Like Scrabble, each letter is worth a certain number of points... do you keep that Z you found or trade it in for an E? How many words, real words, can you spell with your letters? How many little tasks you were able to compete on the way? And... how quickly did you get back to the Word Master? Oh yes! It’s a battle between time & creativity. And it’s up to you to win.
Further event details may be found here. The exact rules of the game are not specified, but given that it was an experimental game, I don't think they need to be. The essence of the idea is enough for anyone who wants to try this. It seems like it would be well-suited to a party or also in a classroom, as it is the kind of challenge that also has educational value and teaches kids how to work together and think creatively.

I'd probably modify the game to make it more Bananagrams-like, requiring each group to form a single grid, and getting points for each word that they also can find a physical example of. Even I would like to play in that game!

I found a blog posting from someone who played in this game who writes:
The game was called Scramble, and the letters were valued like Scrabble tiles, the goal being to grab a group of people and get good letters to maximize your Scrabble score with them. Given that you could get credit for multiple words with the same letters, I picked up pretty quickly that the thing to do was to get 4-5 people, nab some good letters, and make lots of anagrams. You also got a double score for taking a picture of your word with an example of the word. My team went for C-O-D-E-S (and coeds, decos, and edocs), got pictures for all our words, and totally stomped on the other team, who only had one word, even though it was longer.
High marks to that team for devising a winning strategy on the fly, though if I were Word Master, I would have given the thumbs-down to the dubious "decos" and the hideous "edocs". A few more words like that, and I might think this was part of the ARGHfest.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Defensive strategies for Appletters

Since Appletters involves building a zigzagging snake-like line of words, where new words can only be built off the beginning or end of the snake, the options for play can be sometimes highly constrained. Devious players can use this to their advantage.

For instance, you can position words such that you are able to form words from a position that others are unlikely to be able to. As in the example below, where the presence of the word SLIP forces new words starting from the V to be built only to the left, making the V tricky to deal with.
Among the very few words that end with V are rev and shiv.
Similarly, there are few words that start with X. Examples include xenon (the atomic element), xi (the Greek letter), xebec (a kind of three-masted Mediterranean ship), xylem (the part of a plant that transports water - like a plant's circulatory system), and xeric (super dry, desert-like).

I think that the only people who will be able to generate words that end in a J or Q are people who have deliberately memorized such words for such purpose as they all look like questionable Scrabble jibberish to me. By properly constructing the snake, one or both ends can almost be completely cut off using this tactic.

There's also what I call the Ouroboros stratagem.

Suppose you have manipulated the situation so the snake looks like this:

A really fiendishly clever thing to do is to build a word that joins up the beginnings and end of the snake, like so:

If it is allowed (and I can find nothing in the instructions that forbids it), finding a way to make the Appletters snake into a closed loop pretty definitively ends the game. In my book, whoever pulls off such a stunt should instantly win, as when you sink the eight-ball on the break in pool.