Elise Menu Options and Commands

"File" menu

Open game... (Ctrl+O)

This opens a game previously saved in GCG format. The GCG format is commonly used for recording tournament Scrabble® games.

Save game (Ctrl+S)

This saves the current game to disk in GCG format. The standard GCG format does not preserve game information for non-Scrabble® games, so this option is not available in non-Scrabble® crossword games.

Save game as...

Saves the current game to disk with a specified path and filename.

Analyze game...

Elise will analyze every move in a GCG game, and output its analysis to a text file you specify. Here is an example of Elise's game analysis. Information on tile inferences and heat map data can be included in the file.

Open position...

Load a game position previously saved by Elise from disk.

Save position

Saves the current game position to disk under its filename. If the current game has not been previously saved, Elise will prompt for a path and filename.

"Save position" works for all crossword games supported by Elise.

Save position as...

Saves the current game position to disk with a specified path and filename.

Save game recap...

Outputs an HTML game recap. The game recap includes an image of the board, all of the plays made, as well as rack information for each player and move simulation information (when available).

The format is the same as the game recaps linked on this page.

Save rack draw ratings...

Outputs a text report rating each rack draw in the game. Each rack draw is rated as a percentile, giving the proportion of all possible rack draws that it outscores.

Each player is given an overall rack draw rating, representing approximately what percentage of players would have worse rack draws (on average) throughout the game, given the same rack leaves.

Save image of board...

Saves an image of the game board to a PNG-format file. The game board will be the same size it appears in the Elise window.

Save image of screen...

This saves a screenshot of the entire Elise window client draw area to a PNG-format file.


Closes the Elise session.

"Game" menu

Start game...

Begins a new game of a specified type and with a specified number of players. The game types are defined in the file "games.definition" in your Elise install directory. New game types can be added by editing this file. See this page for more information about the game definition format.

New game (same type)

Begins a new game of the same type and with the same players as the current game. Helpful if you have changed the current lexicon and do not wait to have the default word list load again.

New game (same type) against Elise...

Begins a new 2 player game of the current type, you against Elise. You may choose whether to go first and how much time total Elise has to make its moves.


Plays a game of the current type using "best fast" move find. The moves played are put on the undo stack, so you can undo or redo to step to any position in the auto-play game. The ESC key can break end game searches if desired. Helpful if you are doing testing and just want to get a realistic late game or end game state quickly.

Beep on move

This option, if checked, will cause Elise to emit a short beep on committing any move (except in autoplay). This may be helpful, for example, in a timed game, to hear when Elise has made its move and started its opponent's clock.

Set clock...

Sets the time remaining on the current player's clock.

Well contents (Shift+W)

Prints the well (bag) contents, along with tiles on opponent racks in hidden-rack crossword games, to the text pane.

Concise well contents

If this is checked, Elise will display unseen tiles in a compact format ("A: 4 B: 2 C: 1" etc.) If this is unchecked (the default), Elise will display the unseen tiles on lines (one line for each different tile) in the text pane.

Auto-show well contents

If this option is checked, Elise will show the unseen tiles in the text pane automatically after each move is committed.

Set scores...

Allows you to modify the score for any player. Helpful in setting up a game state for analysis.

Player names...

Allows you to set the name (displayed in the upper-right) for any player.

Game history (Ctrl+H)

Prints the moves made in the current game to the text pane.

Jump to start (Home)

Jumps to the beginning of the current game.

Jump to end (End)

Jumps to the end of the current game.

Annotate last move... (Ctrl+A)

Allows you to add comments, or edit existing comments, for the last move played. These comments will be saved out as #note pragmas in GCG save.

Analysis enabled during game

If this option is checked, then during a game against Elise you can use any of the analysis options (such as quick move find or simulation) or the lexicon options (check word, anagrams, pattern match, etc.) You can also, during Elise's turn, force it to move by pressing the ESC key. If this option is not checked (the default setting), during a game against Elise analysis and lexicon options are greyed out, and you must wait for Elise to move on its turn.

Forfeit game

You can stop a game in progress with Elise with this option. After confirmation, this option will drop you out of game play mode and into analysis mode.

"Board" menu

Show row/column labels (Shift+L)

Draws row and column labels around the perimeter of the game board.

Force wide text pane (Ctrl+T)

Causes the text pane to draw wider in small windows.

Print board to text pane (Shift+B)

Copies a text representation of the current game board to the text pane. The characters used to represent bonus squares are those defined in the game definition.

View simulation results (Tab)

Instead of drawing the board, this option will show the current simulation calculations. Use this option to watch any simulation in progress.

Note that, along with the arithmetic average of the maximized variable (win probability or point spread), the median value will also be shown.

Draw bonus square labels

If checked (default), Elise draws descriptive labels ("TRIPLE LETTER SCORE", e.g.) on each bonus square.

"Move" menu

Move (ENTER)

Commits tiles placed on the board, checking the move for validity first.

Quick move find (Shift+Q)

Generates all legal moves in the current board position, and prints them to the text pane twenty at a time. Moves are sorted by quality according to Elise's "best fast" move evaluation algorithms.

Quick move uses endgame code

If this option is checked (it is by default), then Elise will use an exhaustive search to find a winning move in a 2-player end game (empty bag) game state. If this option is unchecked, Elise will use the standard "best fast" move evaluation algorithms.

Fast lookahead... (Shift+F)

Use simulation to determine the best moves from the current position, according to either win probability or point spread (score difference). Elise will generate a pool of candidate moves and simulate until it has narrowed the field of candidates down to one move.

Lookahead performs pre-endgame search

When checked (it is by default), Elise in fast lookahead will perform a thorough search for the optimal move when only a few tiles remain in the bag. Note that, as of version 0.0.1, Elise does not use tile guesses in pre-end game searches.

Track heat maps

When checked (it is by default), Elise will keep track of "heat maps" based on where your opponent is likely to respond in simulation moves. While previewing a simulated move, you can hold down the SHIFT key to see the heat map data. More information about heat maps.

Lock heat maps on in preview

When checked, heat maps are the default view when previewing simulation moves. If you hold down the SHIFT key while previewing a simulation move, the normal board view will appear. More information about heat maps.

Moods sub-menu

From this menu you can set Elise's "mood" during simulation. Moods bias Elise's perception of opponent's tiles. When pessimistic, Elise assumes that its opponent's tiles are better than the average, and when optimistic Elise assumes that its opponent's tiles are worse than average. Pessimistic Elise plays a very defensive, closed game, while optimistic Elise plays an aggressive, open-board game. Elise's play is usually strongest when it is neither pessimistic or optimistic (this is the default), but it may be of interest to examine a position under pessimistic or optimistic assumptions.

Sort opponent racks in pre-endgame

Elise generates a large set of opponent racks to use during simulation. By default, it sorts this set so that each group of 80 racks has a roughly equal number of good racks and bad racks (according to the rack statistics for the current lexicon.) This improves simulation stability and accuracy in most situations. In certain pre-end game states (particularly those in which the distribution of the last remaining tiles is very unusual, like no vowels, for instance) these values are not as indicative of the true value of a rack -- the actual playability of the rack on the late game board is more important than its average value -- and it may be stronger to skip the rack sort before simulation. Sorting the racks is still results in more stable simulation even in that case, and in most cases it will be just as strong or stronger than not sorting, so by default, this option is checked.

Use greedier (but slower) endgame code

If this option is selected (it is off by default), Elise will attempt to be more spread-greedy (that is, in the endgame it will attempt to maximize its final point spread.) This option will cause the endgame move search to take a lot longer; you can use the ESC key to terminate any endgame search in progress.

Word knowledge...

Normally, Elise simulates under the assumption that its opponent has perfect word knowledge (i.e., knows every valid word in the current lexicon.) Using this option, you can specify words that Elise should assume its opponent does not know. This is useful if you're examining a position where a move might open a valuable hook that your opponent does not (or might not) know, and you would like to see how the move simulates under the assumption that your opponent does not know the hook.

XPF sub-menu

This menu allows you to turn on or off experimental features in Elise. The experimental features that are available may change from version to version. See the versions page for more information.

Analyze move... (Shift+A)

Elise will simulate a selected move (either one of the top "best fast" moves or a move already placed, but not committed, on the board) at the specified depth until you tell it to stop by pressing the ESC key. Updates are printed approximately every 1,000 simulations giving an updated expected win probability and point spread value.

During the analysis, if you press SHIFT you can view the heat map of opponent's response to the analyzed move, and if you press TAB, you can see your opponent's most likely moves, your opponent's most dangerous moves (based on frequency times score above average), your most frequent moves next turn, along with estimates of your probability of bingoing next turn, your opponent's, and your opponent's probability of passing or exchanging.

Clock move (Shift+M)

Elise will make a move, choosing the move generation algorithm and settings according to the game situation and the amount of time left on its clock. If no time has been set on Elise's clock, it will give itself 20 minutes.

Recall all tiles (ESC)

If tiles are placed on the board, but not committed, this option will remove them from the board.

Pass (Shift+P)

Passes the turn to the next player.

Exchange... (Shift+X)

Use this option to exchange tiles and then pass your turn. You will be prompted for the tiles that you want to keep on your rack.

Challenge last

Challenge the last move. If your challenge is correct (that is, the last move contained a word not in the current lexicon) then the last move will be removed from the board. If your challenge is incorrect, you will be assessed a penalty according to the current challenge settings (see below.)

Challenge settings...

This option allows you to view or change the current challenge rules. Elise can play with no challenges, single challenges (no penalty for an incorrect challenge), double challenge (an incorrect challenger loses his or her turn), penalty challenges (a specified point bonus is given to the challenged player on an incorrect challenge), or strict challenges (combining both a point penalty and loss of turn on an incorrect challenge).

Highest scoring move (any rack)...

Elise will attempt to find the highest-scoring move in the given board position, using any legal rack. Press ESC to stop the search.

Highlight tiles already on board

When this option is checked, Elise will display tiles already on the board (in move lists) in inverse video. This makes it easy to see how many tiles are played (and exactly which tiles are played) in each different move.

Use static endgame in simulation

When this option is checked, Elise, in simulation, will perform a static end game evaluation to determine whether the position is won when the end game is reached. If this option is unchecked, the end game will be played out in simulation using the "quick move" end game heuristics. Elise's simulation may be stronger with this option checked, but it is also considerably slower in the late game.

Abort (ESC)

This option will stop currently running simulations, end game searches, clock moves, move analysis, or highest-score move searches. (Note that the ESC key will recall tiles from the board, if a move is placed but not committed on the board.)

"Rack" menu

Set rack... (Ctrl+R)

Sets the contents of the current player's rack (or, in open-rack crossword games, any player's rack.) If you choose, you may disregard the rules of the current crossword game by placing fewer or more tiles than prescribed, or by using more tiles of a specified type than exist in the bag.

Free-form mode

If free-form mode is not selected (the default), then only tiles that appear on the current player's rack may be typed onto the board using the arrow cursor. If free-form mode is selected, any tiles can be typed onto the board, whether they are on the current rack (or even in the current bag) or not. In free-form mode, the only way to type blanks onto the board is to press the "?" key.

Note that, for moves typed onto the board in free-form mode, Elise does not know the player's actual rack, and so the rack for that move will not be displayed in game recaps or the game history, nor will Elise rate the player's rack draw.

Fill from well

Fills a partially-full rack with tiles from the well.

New rack from well

Gives the current player a completely new rack from the well.

Known tiles on opponent rack...

In crossword games with hidden opponent racks, use this option to set the known contents of Elise's opponent's rack. This information will be used in simulation.

Shuffle rack (Shift+H)

Randomly shuffles the order of the tiles in the current rack.

Rate current rack draw

Elise will produce an estimate of the percentage of rack draws that are worse than your last rack draw.

Run tile leave guess

Elise will attempt to guess the opponent's rack leave distribution (for its previous move), and will print the results into the text pane.

Estimated value of rack leaves

Elise will print out its estimated value (above or below the average rack) for every possible rack leave using the current rack. The rack leaves are sorted from least valuable to most valuable. These estimates take into consideration the composition of the remaining unseen tiles.

Give median rack draws

Instead of randomly drawing tiles from the bag, Elise will give (after a non-exchange play) a tile draw with the median value, according to rack statistics for the current lexicon. See the versions page for a more thorough explanation.

"Edit" menu

Undo (Ctrl+Z)

Undoes the play of the last move committed. Undo may be repeated to remove more moves.

Redo (Ctrl+Y)

Redoes the last undone move.

Copy text pane to clipboard (Ctrl+Insert)

Copies the contents of the text pane (all the way to the beginning of the current Elise session) to the clipboard.

Copy visible text to clipboard (Ctrl+C)

Copies the visible contents of the text pane to the clipboard.

Copy simulation pane to clipboard (Ctrl+P)

Copies the contents of the simulation results pane (viewed using the TAB key) to the clipboard.

"Lexicon" menu

Look up definition... (Ctrl+D)

Look up a definition for any word. The definitions come from the DEFINITIONS file provided with Elise, and are primarily based on Wiktionary data.

Check word...

Check that a specified word is legally playable in the current lexicon.

Select current lexicon...

Changes the word list currently in use by the game. This can be done in the middle of a game, but if words played on the board are illegal in the new word list, you will receive warnings about them. (Also, as of version 0.0.1, changing the lexicon is not undoable.)

Possible front hooks...

Gives words that are legal front hooks for the specified word or string according to the current lexicon. The words are printed in the text pane 20 at a time, and are sorted shortest to longest. Clicking on a word in the list gives a dictionary definition.

Possible back hooks...

Gives words that are legal back hooks for the specified word or string according to the current lexicon. The words are printed in the text pane 20 at a time, and are sorted shortest to longest. Clicking on a word in the list gives a dictionary definition.


Gives words that are (perfect) anagrams for the specified word or string according to the current lexicon. "?" can be used as a wildcard. The words are printed in the text pane 20 at a time. Clicking on a word in the list gives a dictionary definition.

Pattern match...

Gives words that match a specified pattern string.

The pattern string may include wildcards. The wildcard "?" represents "any letter", and the wildcard "*" represents "a sequence of zero or more letters".

You can also match one character to any of a set of characters by surrounding the set in square brackets [], so "[act][act][act]" would match ACT, ATT, CAT, and TAT.

There are also special matches that use parentheses. "(V)" matches to any vowel. "(C)" matches to any consonant. "(#)", where # is any number, matches to any tile with that point value.

The matching words are printed in the text pane 20 at a time, and are sorted shortest to longest. Clicking on a word in the list gives a dictionary definition.

Highlight words by lexicon

When playing English-language games, this option, when checked, will display CSW-only words with an '#' at the end of the word. Phonies (or words appearing only in the UNABRIDGED English lexicon) will also be displayed with an '*' at the end of the word.


When playing a game with phonies, this option will allow you to tell Elise the shortest length phony it should consider. By default, this option is set to 5 letters, so Elise will not generate moves including phonies of 4 letters or shorter.

You can set this as low as 2 letters, but Elise is very unlikely to play a phony shorter than 5 letters, and having the phony setting very low will significantly increase the number of moves generated and the number of candidate moves in simulation.

"Tiles" menu

Texture options

Several different tile textures are included with Elise. Choose the one you like the best from this menu.

Use custom tiles

If you select this option, the custom tile colors and letter colors will be used when drawing tiles.

Blank tiles sub-menu

Choose the color in which to draw letters represented by played blank tiles, or choose not to draw the letter on played blank tiles.

Custom tiles sub-menu

This sub-menu allows you to select a custom (solid) tile color and a custom tile to draw letters. If "Use custom tiles" is selected, these custom colors will be used to draw your tiles.

Show tile value

If checked (default), this option will draw the tile value for (non-zero value) tiles in the lower right corner.

"Testing" menu

Run benchmarks...

This option will run benchmark tests to measure Elise's performance on your hardware. These tests can take between 20 and 60 minutes to complete (they should not take longer than an hour even on a very slow machine, as each test has a time limit.)

Elise will use the benchmark results to choose its simulation settings during a timed move. Elise's clock management is better with benchmark data than it is without benchmark data.

Last benchmark results

This option will print the results of the last benchmark test suite in the text pane.

Run strength tests...

This option will cause Elise to play games against itself using experimental features. The finished games will be uploaded to the Internet in GCG format and are available from this page. By examining the results of these tests, I may be able to improve Elise's play strength.

While running strength tests, Elise runs simulations single-threaded. This allows Elise to be set to work in the background.

Help build opening book...

If you select this option, Elise will run simulations of opening moves. These will contribute to an "opening book" of Scrabble® moves.

"UI Language" menu

Language options

These options allow you to set the UI language for Elise. This does not affect the language of the current game, but only the language of Elise's UI. (You could play a Swedish language Scrabble® game using Spanish language UI if desired, for example.)

"Help" menu

About Elise...

Displays the copyright information and version number.

Elise website

Launches Elise's website in your default web browser.