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Scrabble
Players 2–4
Age range 8+
Setup time 2–5 minutes
Playing time NASPA tournament game: ~50 minutes
Random chance Medium (Letters Drawn)
Skills required Vocabulary, Spelling, Anagramming, Strategy, Counting, Bluffing
Current Scrabble logo by Hasbro, Inc. used in the USA and Canada, since March 2008
Former Scrabble logo by Hasbro, Inc. used in the USA and Canada, until March 2008
Scrabble brand logo by Mattel, Inc., used throughout the rest of the world

Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a game board marked with a 15-by-15 grid. The words are formed across and down in crossword fashion and must appear in a standard dictionary. Official reference works (e.g. The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary) provide a list of permissible words. The Collins Scrabble checker can also be used to check if a word is allowed.[1]

The name Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. in the United States and Canada and of Mattel elsewhere. Scrabble was a trademark of Murfett Regency in Australia, until 1993 when it was acquired by J. W. Spear & Sons (now a Mattel subsidiary). The game is also known as Literati, Alfapet, Funworder, Skip-A-Cross, Scramble, Spelofun, Square-write, Palabras Cruzadas ("crossed words") and Word for Word.

The game is sold in 121 countries in 29 different language versions. One hundred and fifty million sets have been sold worldwide, and sets are found in one out of every three American homes.[2][3][4]

Contents

History

Alfred Butts manually tabulated the frequency of letters in words of various length, using examples in a dictionary, the Saturday Evening Post, the Herald Tribune, and the New York Times. This was used to determine the number and scores of tiles in the game.

In 1938, architect Alfred Mosher Butts created the game as a variation on an earlier word game he invented called Lexiko. The two games had the same set of letter tiles, whose distributions and point values Butts worked out meticulously performing a frequency analysis of letters from various sources including The New York Times. The new game, which he called "Criss-Crosswords," added the 15-by-15 game board and the crossword-style game play. He manufactured a few sets himself, but was not successful in selling the game to any major game manufacturers of the day.[5]

In 1948, James Brunot,[6] a resident of Newtown, Connecticut — and one of the few owners of the original Criss-Crosswords game — bought the rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty on every unit sold. Though he left most of the game (including the distribution of letters) unchanged, Brunot slightly rearranged the "premium" squares of the board and simplified the rules; he also changed the name of the game to "Scrabble," a real word which means "to scratch frantically." In 1949, Brunot and his family made sets in a converted former schoolhouse in Dodgington, a section of Newtown. They made 2,400 sets that year, but lost money.[7] According to legend, Scrabble's big break came in 1952 when Jack Strauss, president of Macy's, played the game on vacation. Upon returning from vacation, he was surprised to find that his store did not carry the game. He placed a large order and within a year, "everyone had to have one."[8] In 1952, unable to meet demand himself, Brunot sold manufacturing rights to Long Island-based Selchow and Righter (one of the manufacturers who, like Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley Company, had previously rejected the game). Selchow & Righter bought the trademark to the game in 1972.[9] JW Spears began selling the game in Australia and the UK on January 19, 1955. The company is now a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.[5] In 1986, Selchow and Righter sold the game to Coleco, who soon after went bankrupt. The company's assets, including Scrabble and Parchesi were purchased by Hasbro.[9]

In 1984, Scrabble was turned into a daytime game show on NBC. Scrabble ran from July 1984 to March 1990, with a second run from January to June 1993. The show was hosted by Chuck Woolery. The tagline of the show in promo broadcasts was "Every man dies, not every man truly Scrabbles."

Game details

The board of the deciding game in the World Scrabble Championship 2005.
A full English-language set.

The game is played by two to four players on a square (or nearly square) board with a 15-by-15 grid of cells (individually known as "squares"), each of which accommodates a single letter tile. In official club and tournament games, play is always between two players (or, occasionally, between two teams each of which collaborates on a single rack).

The game contains 100 tiles, 98 of which are marked with a letter and a point value ranging from 1 to 10. The number of points of each lettered tile is based on the letter's frequency in standard English writing; commonly used letters such as E or O are worth one point, while less common letters score higher, with Q and Z each worth 10 points. The game also has two blank tiles that are unmarked and carry no point value. The blank tiles can be used as substitutes for any letter; once laid on the board, however, the choice is fixed. The board is marked with "premium" squares, which multiply the number of points awarded: dark red "triple-word" squares, pink "double-word" squares, dark blue "triple-letter" squares, and light blue "double-letter" squares. The center square (H8) is often marked with a star or logo, and counts as a double-word square.

Notation system

In the notation system common in tournament play, columns are labeled "A-O" and rows "1-15". A play is usually identified in the format xy WORD score or WORD xy score, where x denotes the column or row on which the play's main word extends, y denotes the second coordinate of the main word's first letter, and WORD is the main word. Although unnecessary, additional words formed by the play are occasionally listed after the main word and a slash. In the case where the play of a single tile formed words in each direction, one of the words is arbitrarily chosen to serve as the main word for purposes of notation.

When a blank tile is employed in the main word, the letter it has been chosen to represent is indicated with a lower case letter, or, in handwritten notation, with a square around the letter. Parentheses are sometimes also used to designate a blank, although this may create confusion with a second (optional) function of parentheses, namely indication of an existing letter or word that has been "played through" by the main word.

Example 1:

A(D)DITiON(AL) D3 74

(played through the existing letter D and word AL, using a blank for the second I, extending down the D column and beginning on row 3, and scoring 74 points)

Sequence of play

A Sample of Scrabble game in a different language.

Before the game, the letter tiles are either put in an opaque bag or placed face down on a flat surface. Opaque cloth bags and customized tiles are staples of clubs and tournaments, where games are rarely played without both.

Next, players decide the order in which they play. The normal approach is for players to draw tiles: the player who picks the letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet goes first (with blank tiles ranked higher than A's). In North American tournaments, the rules of the US-based North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA) stipulate instead that players who have gone first in the fewest number of games in the tournament have priority, or failing that, those who have gone second the most. In the case of a tie, tiles are drawn as in the standard rules.

At the beginning of the game, and after each turn until the bag is empty (or until there are no more face-down tiles), players draw tiles to replenish their "racks", or tile-holders, with seven tiles, from which they will make plays. Each rack is concealed from the other players.

During a turn, a player will have seven or fewer letter tiles in their rack from which to choose a play. On each turn, a player has the option to: (1) pass, forfeiting the turn and scoring nothing; (2) exchange one or more tiles for an equal number from the bag, scoring nothing, an option which is only available if at least seven tiles remain in the bag; or (3) form a play on the board, adding its value to the player's cumulative score.

A proper play uses any number of the player's tiles to form a single continuous word ("main word") on the board, reading either left-to-right or top-to-bottom. The main word must either use the letters of one or more previously played words, or else have at least one of its tiles horizontally or vertically adjacent to an already played word. If words other than the main word are newly formed by the play, they are scored as well, and are subject to the same criteria for acceptability.

When the board is blank, the first word played must cover H8, the center square. The word must consist of at least two letters, extending horizontally or vertically. H8 is a premium square, so the first player to play a word receives a double score.

A blank tile may take the place of any letter. It remains as that letter thereafter for the rest of the game. Individually, it scores no points regardless of what letter it is designated, and is not itself affected by premium tiles. However, its placement on a double-word or triple-word square does cause the appropriate premium to be scored for the word in which it is used. While not part of official or tournament play, a common "house rule" allows players to "recycle" blank tiles by later substituting the corresponding letter tile.

After playing a word, the player draws letter tiles from the bag to replenish their rack to seven tiles. If there are not enough tiles in the bag to do so, the player takes all of the remaining tiles.

After a player plays a word, their opponent may choose to challenge any or all the words formed by the play. If any of the words challenged is found to be unacceptable, the play is removed from the board, the player returns the newly played tiles to their rack and their turn is forfeited. In tournament play, a challenge is to the entire play rather than any one word, so a judge (human or computer) is used, and players are not entitled to know which word or words caused the challenge to succeed. Penalties for unsuccessfully challenging an acceptable play vary within club and tournament play, and are described in greater detail below.

With North American rules, the game ends when (1) one player plays every tile in their rack, and there are no tiles remaining in the bag (regardless of the tiles in their opponent's rack); or (2) when six successive scoreless turns have occurred and the score is not zero-zero.

When the game ends, each player's score is reduced by the sum of his/her unplayed letters. In addition, if a player has used all of his or her letters, the sum of the other player's unplayed letters is added to that player's score; in tournament play, a player who "goes out" adds double this sum, and the opponent is not penalized.

Scoreless turns can occur when an illegal word is challenged off the board, when a player passes, when a player exchanges tiles, or when a word consists only of blank tiles. This latter rule varies slightly in international play.

Scoring

Each word formed in the play is scored this way:

  • Any tile played from the player's rack onto a previously vacant square that is a "double-letter" (light blue) or "triple-letter" (dark blue) premium square has its point value doubled or tripled as indicated.
  • Add the normal point value of all other letters in the word (whether newly played or existing).
  • For each newly played tile placed on a "double-word" (light red) premium square, the total of each word containing that tile is doubled (or redoubled).
  • For each newly placed tile placed on a "triple-word" (dark red) premium square, the total of each word containing that tile is tripled (or re-tripled).
  • Premium squares affect the score of each word made in the same play by constituent tiles played upon those squares. Premium squares, once played upon, are not counted again in subsequent plays.

If a player uses all seven of the tiles in the rack in a single play, a bonus of 50 points is added to the score of that play (this is called a "bingo" in Canada and the United States, a "Scrabble" in Spain and a "bonus" elsewhere). These bonus points are not affected by premium squares.

When the letters to be drawn have run out, the final play can often determine the winner. This is particularly the case in close games with more than two players. The player who goes out first gets the sum of all remaining unplayed tiles added to their score. Players with tiles remaining on their rack have the sum of their remaining tiles subtracted from their score.

Acceptable words

Acceptable words are the primary entries in some chosen dictionary, and all of their inflected forms. Words that are hyphenated, capitalized (such as proper nouns), or apostrophized are not allowed, unless they also appear as acceptable entries: "Jack" is a proper noun, but the word JACK is acceptable because it has other usages (automotive, vexillological, etc) that are acceptable. Acronyms or abbreviations, other than those that have been regularized (such as AWOL, RADAR, and SCUBA), are not allowed. Variant spellings, slang or offensive terms, archaic or obsolete terms, and specialized jargon words are allowed if they meet all other criteria for acceptability.

There are two popular competition word lists used in various parts of the world: TWL and SOWPODS. The North American 2006 Official Tournament and Club Word List, Second Edition (OWL2), became official for use in American, Canadian, Israeli and Thai club and tournament play on March 1, 2006 (or, for school use, the bowdlerized Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition (OSPD4)). Early printings of OWL2 and OSPD4 must be amended according to corrigenda posted at the National Scrabble Association web site. North American competitions use the Long Words List for longer words.

The OWL2 and the OSPD4 are compiled using four (originally five) major college-level dictionaries, including Merriam-Webster (10th and 11th editions, respectively). If a word appears (or historically appeared) in at least one of the dictionaries, it is included in the OWL2 and the OSPD4, unless the word has only an offensive meaning, in which case it is only included in the OWL2. The key difference between the OSPD4 and the OWL2 is that the OSPD4 is marketed for "home and school" use, and has been expurgated of many words which their source dictionaries judged offensive, rendering the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary less fit for official Scrabble play. The OSPD4 is available in bookstores, whereas the OWL2 is only available from the National Scrabble Association's retail website wordgear.com (as of July 2009, NSA membership is no longer required to purchase the OWL).

In all other countries the competition word list is the Tournament and Club Word List (Collins) published in May 2007 (see SOWPODS), which lists all words of from 2 to 15 letters and is thus a complete reference. This list contains every word in the OWL2 mentioned above plus words sourced from Chambers and Collins English dictionaries. This book is used to adjudicate at the World Scrabble Championship and all other major international competitions outside of North America.

Challenges

The penalty for a successfully challenged play is nearly universal: the offending player removes the tiles played and forfeits the turn. (However, in some online games, an option known as "void" may be used, wherein unacceptable words are automatically rejected by the program. The player is then required to make another play, with no penalty applied.)

The penalty for an unsuccessful challenge (where all words formed by the play are deemed valid) varies considerably, including:

  • The "double challenge" rule, in which an unsuccessfully challenging player must forfeit the next turn. This penalty governs North American (NASPA-sanctioned) tournaments, and is the standard for North American, Israeli and Thai clubs. Because loss of a turn generally constitutes the greatest risk for an unsuccessful challenge, it provides the greatest incentive for a player to "bluff," or play a "phony" – a plausible word that they know or suspect to be unacceptable, hoping their opponent will not call them on it. Players have divergent opinions on this aspect of the double-challenge game and the ethics involved, but officially it is considered a valid part of the game.
  • A pure "single challenge" or "free challenge" rule, in which no penalty whatsoever is applied to a player who unsuccessfully challenges. This is the default rule in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, as well as for many tournaments in Australia, although these countries do sanction occasional tournaments using other challenge rules.
  • A modified "single challenge" rule, in which an unsuccessful challenge does not result in the loss of the challenging player's turn, but is penalized by the loss of a specified number of points. The most common penalty is five points. The rule has been adopted in Singapore (since 2000), Malaysia (since 2002), South Africa (since 2003), New Zealand (since 2004), and Kenya, as well as in contemporary World Scrabble Championships (since 2001). Some countries and tournaments (including Sweden) use a 10-point (or 5-point) penalty instead. In most game situations, this penalty is much lower than that of the "double challenge" rule; consequently, such tournaments encourage a greater willingness to challenge and a lower willingness to play dubious words.

Historic evolution of the rules

The North American "box rules" (that are included in each game box, as contrasted with tournament rules) have been edited three times, in 1953, 1976 and 1989.[10]

The major changes in 1953 were as follows:

  • It was made clear that words could be played through single letters already on the board.
  • It was made clear that you could play a word parallel and immediately adjacent to an existing word provided all crosswords formed were valid.
  • It was made clear that the effect of two word premium squares were to be compounded.
  • The previously unspecified penalty for having one's play successfully challenged was stated: withdrawal of tiles and loss of turn.

The major changes in 1976 were as follows:

  • The game was renamed from "SCRABBLE" to alternately "SCRABBLE® Brand Crossword Game" or just "Scrabble Crossword Game".
  • It was made clear that the blank tile beats an A when drawing to see who goes first.
  • A player could now pass his/her turn, doing nothing.
  • A loss-of-turn penalty was added for challenging an acceptable play.
  • If final scores are tied, the player whose score was highest before adjusting for unplayed tiles is the winner.

The editorial changes made in 1989 did not affect game play.

  • Currently in club and tournament play if final scores are tied, the game is ruled a tie and each player is credited with half a win.

Club and tournament play

Tens of thousands play club and tournament Scrabble worldwide. The intensity of play, obscurity of words, and stratospheric scores in tournament games may come as a shock to many parlor players. All tournament (and most club) games are played with a game clock and a set time control. Almost all tournament games involve only 2 players; typically, each has 25 minutes in which to make all of his or her plays. For each minute by which a player oversteps the time control, a penalty of 10 points is assessed. The number of minutes is rounded up, so that if a player oversteps time control by two minutes and five seconds, the penalty is 30 points. In addition, the players use special tiles called Protiles which are not engraved, like wooden tiles are, thereby eliminating the potential for a cheating player to "Braille" (feel for particular tiles, especially blanks, in the bag).

Players are allowed "tracking sheets", preprinted with the letters in the initial pool, from which tiles can be crossed off as they are played. Tracking tiles is an important aid to strategy, especially during the endgame, when no tiles remain to be drawn and each player can determine exactly what is on the opponent's rack.

The most prestigious (regularly held) tournaments include:

  1. The World Scrabble Championship: held in odd years, the last was in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in 2009.[11]
  2. The National Scrabble Championship: an open event attracting several hundred players, held around July/August every year or two, most recently in Dayton, Ohio on August 1-5, 2009.
  3. The Thailand International: the largest tournament in the World. Held annually around the end of June or beginning of July.

Other important tournaments include:

  1. The World Youth Scrabble Championships: entry by country qualification, restricted to under 18 years old. Held annually since 2006.
  2. The National School Scrabble Championship: entry open to North American school students. Held annually since 2003.
  3. The Canadian Scrabble Championship: entry by invitation only to the top fifty Canadian players. Held every two to three years.

Clubs in North America typically meet one day a week for three or four hours and some charge a small admission fee to cover their expenses and prizes. Clubs also typically hold at least one open tournament per year. Tournaments are usually held on weekends, and between six and nine games are played each day. Detailed statistics on tournaments and players in North America can be found at www.cross-tables.com.

There are also clubs in the UK and many other countries. A list of internationally rated SOWPODS tournaments can be found here.

During off hours at tournaments, many players socialize by playing consultation (team) Scrabble, Clabbers, Anagrams, Boggle and other games.

Strategy and tactics

The object of the game is to score more points than one's opponents. The key skills are knowing which words are acceptable or unacceptable (according to the official tournament reference) and being able to find them from a jumbled set of letters. Almost all serious tournament players study word lists extensively and practice solving words from alphagrams or randomly jumbled letters. Only a few players know all the acceptable words for international play. But it is almost certain that the premier players know almost all, if not all, of the words they are likely to come across in their lifetime. For instance, there is no practical advantage in knowing a word like ZYZZYVA, as this would require an extremely improbable rack containing both Ys, both blanks, one of the two V's, and the only Z (or their unlikely correct positioning on the board). By contrast, there is great value in learning and reliably finding the word ATRESIA, which uses a very common group of letters.

For a beginning club player, the most important list to memorize is the 101 (TWL) or 124 (SOWPODS) acceptable two-letter words because these allow one to play parallel to existing words, often scoring more points than merely extending or crossing a word. More serious players can take this a step further, and try to also memorize the 1015 or 1292 acceptable three letter words. After mastering the two-letter words, a beginner can greatly benefit by studying the shorter words containing high scoring tiles (e.g. JEUX, QAT, QUA, ZAX, ZEK), as well as "hook" lists which show what letters can be added to the front and back of words and are therefore essential for forming multiple words in a turn. Until March 2006 and the release of the OWL2, which for the first time included QI as an acceptable word, an important strategy was to memorize the words which have a Q but no U, in case they had a Q on their rack without a U. The addition of QI has made the U-less Q words less important, since the probability that a player will have an unplayable Q has been significantly reduced. Another important tip for beginners is to strategically utilize Ss and blanks, which are by far the most useful for hooks and for all-tile bonuses ('bingos' in the US). Above a certain level of play, a good rule of thumb is that holding onto an S is worth 8 to 10 points, and a blank upwards of 25 points.

The word CWM is quite famous for being a three-letter word with a Welsh W vowel, rather than any of the usual English vowels - AEIOU and sometimes Y.

Experienced players often choose to forgo points on an individual turn in favor of practising good rack management.

Letters that are worth four or more points should be played on premium squares if possible, and letters such as X, H, and Y are powerful if they can score in both directions, for four or six times their face value. A vowel next to a double- or triple-letter score creates a hot spot where a valuable consonant can potentially be played for many points. A good strategy for intermediate players is to memorize all the words that involve the "power" tiles (K, J, Q, Z, and X) that are five letters long or shorter. Knowledge of these words can increase a player's scoring by 10 to 20 points per game when applied correctly.

Rack management is the strategic element most overlooked by beginners. It is disadvantageous to keep duplicates of most letters or to have a large imbalance between vowels and consonants. For example, the highest-scoring whole word that can be formed with the letters AADIIKR is DARK. However, this leaves the player with no consonants and a double I. Because vowels are more commonly represented in Scrabble, it is entirely possible that the player will enter the following turn holding the unpromising letters AIIEUAO, for example. If the player had instead played RADII – which scores fewer points than DARK – he or she would have been left with an A and K, a combination which is common. Experts who know all the four-letter words might also have played KADI or RAKI to good effect, leaving an R or a D.

Defense is another important part of strategy. Experienced players consider how opponents could exploit their tiles and avoid creating easy setups. For instance, the word QUIT provides a 14-point hook to any opponent who has the letter E (thus making QUITE). A seasoned player would rather put a consonant next to a bonus square than a vowel. Experienced players take care to place the letter U in inconvenient locations if the letter Q has not yet been played.

Because of the 50-point bonus for using all seven tiles in one turn, many players manage their racks specifically to score as many bingos as possible. Making seven- and eight-letter words is generally the fastest way to achieve a high score. The letters A, E, I, N, R, S, and T are the most useful letters for this purpose, and so a good player will be reluctant to play off these letters without some benefit in return. Conversely, good players will strive to play off undesirable tiles, at times even if that play is not the highest scoring one available, and will use a turn to exchange tiles if necessary.

"Vowel dumps" such as LIRI and MUMU are useful in ridding one's rack of excess vowels. There are some words, such as INIA, that consist of 75% or more vowels. It is particularly important to get rid of excess I's and U's, because in the North American word list there are no three-letter words that contain multiple I's, and only one three-letter word that contains multiple U's (ULU).[12] Players using the international word list, Collins, have more options to play through racks with multiple unwanted vowels.

A good tactic for intermediate level players is to memorize "bingo stems," or groups of six letters that combine well with almost any seventh letter to form a bingo. The best bingo stem to have is TISANE, followed by SATIRE and RETINA. With TISANE on the rack, any seventh letter except for Q or Y (or, in North America, J) will create a seven letter word (TISANE + A = TAENIAS or ENTASIA; TISANE + B = BASINET or BANTIES; TISANE + C = CINEAST or ACETINS; etc.) Since many of these seven-letter words are obscure, it is useful to memorize not only the stem, but all the possible bingos that may be created with it. Players may also learn seven-letter bingo stems, which can combine with an eighth letter already on the board. In order to speed up this process both for memorization and during play, some players utilize mnemonics, including a specific type known by the coined term "anamonics" (see links below).

Another strategy that players use to increase bingos is to keep together three-to-four-letter combinations that form many bingos. Common examples of these combinations include "ING," "ERS," "IES" and "IED." An intermediate player is likely to hold on to "ING" to build a bingo later at the expense of points on the current play. "ING" bingos in particular tend to be easy for players to find because they only have to rearrange four letters rather than seven to try to find a play.

Experts at the highest level average over two bingos a game, and four bingos by a player in a single game is not at all uncommon. Given that a bingo conveys a 50-point bonus, at the tournament level the number of bingos is often the determining factor in a game. At the highest level of competitive Scrabble, knowledge of the words that are acceptable for gameplay – along with their "hooks" – is by far the most important factor. Scrabble experts tend to play games that provide ample openings for their opponents to utilize premium squares, unlike intermediate players, who tend to be more concerned about blocking their opponents. The need for defensive strategy decreases as word knowledge increases.

As in many games, when a player is behind he or she should gamble and take more risks to try to make up the difference, as losing by 20 points is the same as losing by 40. The converse is also true; players who are ahead should play more defensively.

It is a good idea to manually "shuffle" one's tiles while searching for playable words, as a study has proven that players who physically manipulate tiles using their hands generate more possible words than those who do not.[13]

Computer players

Scrabble has been an object of interest for many artificial intelligence researchers and enthusiasts. Even though a computer player can freely consult a database of all legal words, playing the word with the highest score is not always the best strategy, and programming a computer to play well requires knowledge of a number of much more subtle methods.

The game is especially interesting to implement because it can be broken down into two phases that are, from a computer's perspective, fundamentally different. The first lasts from the beginning of the game up until the last tile in the bag is drawn. During this phase, it is not known what the other players' tiles are, and the game has an element of randomness. However, when the last tile is drawn and the bag is empty, the computer can deduce from the overall letter distribution what letters must be on the other players' racks. In particular, when playing against a single opponent, the computer can deduce exactly the tiles on the opponent's rack and thus what moves are possible for the rest of the game.

The best-known Scrabble AI player is Maven, created by Brian Sheppard. The official Scrabble computer game in North America uses a version of Maven as its artificial intelligence and is released by Atari. Outside of North America, the official Scrabble computer game is released by Ubisoft. Quackle is an open-source alternative to Maven of comparable strength.[14]

Console and computer video game versions

Several computer and video game versions of Scrabble have been released for various platforms, including PC, Mac, Amiga, Commodore 64, Sinclair ZX Spectrum, Game Boy, Game Boy Color, Game Boy Advance, Nintendo DS, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, iPod, Game.com, Palm OS, Amstrad CPC, and mobile phones.

The Nintendo DS version of Scrabble 2007 Edition made news when parents became angry over the game's AI using coarse language during gameplay.

Scrabble on the Internet

A number of sites offer the possibility to play Scrabble online against other users. The game is available to play for free at www.pogo.com, part of Electronic Arts. The Internet Scrabble Club (ISC) "www.isc.ro" , which is free of charge, is frequented continuously by thousands of players, including many of the game's most renowned experts. The social networking site Facebook had offered an online variation of Scrabble called Scrabulous as a third-party application add-on. On January 15, 2008, it was reported that Hasbro and Mattel were in the process of suing the creators of Scrabulous for copyright infringement. On July 24, 2008, Hasbro filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against the creators of Scrabulous.[15] On July 28, 2008 the Scrabulous Facebook application was disabled for users in North America,[16] eventually re-appearing as "Lexulous" in September 2008, with changes made to distinguish it from Scrabble. On December 20, 2008 Hasbro withdrew their lawsuit against RJ Softwares.[17]

Mattel launched its official version of online Scrabble, Scrabble by Mattel on Facebook in late March 2008.[18][19] The application was developed by Gamehouse, a division of RealNetworks who has been licensed by Mattel.[19] However since Hasbro controls the copyright for North America with the copyright for the rest of the world belonging Mattel,[18] the Facebook application is available only to players outside the United States and Canada.[19] Ownership of the rights to Scrabble by multiple companies is limiting the introduction of the game to Facebook[19] and, between its launch date and April 6, 2008, fewer than 2000 users had registered, compared with 600,000 registered Scrabulous users.[19] As of November 3, 2008, the official Facebook Scrabble game has 203,644 monthly active users. The new "official" application has been heavily criticised in Facebook reviews, particularly by former users of the Scrabulous application which allowed American and Canadian users to play opponents in other countries, which is no longer possible: the Scrabble Beta application is only available in the USA and Canada, whereas Scrabble Worldwide is only available to other countries. Some have complained that they have been unable to use the new application due to technical bugs and glitches, and many have criticized Hasbro for failing to reach an agreement with Scrabulous developers.[20]

RealNetworks has stated that the application is currently in its beta stage and there have been reports of a number of bugs and limitations.[19] The Original Scrabble now exists on Facebook, and was developed by Electronic Arts.

Scrabble "TV game show" board game version (1987)

In 1987, a board game was released by Selchow & Righter, based on the Scrabble game show which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1990 (and for six months in 1993). Billed as the "Official Home Version" of the game show (or officially as the "TV Scrabble Home Game"), game play bears more resemblance to the game show than it does to a traditional Scrabble game, although it does utilize a traditional Scrabble game board in play.

Super Scrabble

A new licensed product, Super Scrabble, was launched in North America by Winning Moves Games in 2004 under license from Hasbro, with the deluxe version (with turntable and lock-in grid) released in February 2007. A Mattel-licensed product for the rest of the world was released by Tinderbox Games in 2006. This set comprises 200 tiles in slightly modified distribution to the standard set and a 21x21 playing board.

Records

The following records were achieved during competitive club or tournament play, according to authoritative sources, including the book Everything Scrabble by Joe Edley and John D. Williams, Jr. (revised edition, Pocket Books, 2001) and the Scrabble FAQ. When available, separate records are listed based upon different official word lists: 1) OSPD or OCTWL, the North American list also used in Thailand and Israel; 2) OSW, formerly the official list in the UK; and 3) SOWPODS, the combined OSPD+OSW now used in much of the world. To date, new editions or revisions of these lists have not been considered substantial enough to warrant separate record-keeping.

  • High game (OSPD) – 830 by Michael Cresta (Mass.), October 12, 2006. Cresta defeated Wayne Yorra 830-490.[21][22]
  • High game (OSW) – 793 by Peter Preston (UK), 1999.[23]
  • High game (SOWPODS) – Nicholas Mbugua set a new Kenya record with 789 on June 3, 2007 at the 2nd WSC Qualifier in Machakos. Russell Honeybun set a new Australian record with 764 in August 2007.
  • High combined score (OSPD) – 1320 (830-490) by Michael Cresta and Wayne Yorra, in a Lexington, Mass., club, 2006.[21][22]
  • High combined score (OSPD) in a tournament game – 1134 (582-552) by Keith Smith (Tex.) and Stefan Rau (Conn.), Round 12 of the 2008 Dallas Open. (Rau's losing score of 552 included three phony words which were not challenged.)[24]
  • High combined score (OSPD) in a tournament game with no phony words played – 1127 (725-402) by Laurie Cohen (Ariz.) and Nigel Peltier (Wash.), in a tournament in Ahwatukee, Arizona, February 16, 2009.[25]
  • High combined score (SOWPODS) – 1157 (627-530) by Phillip Edwin-Mugisha (Uganda) and Vannitha Balasingam (Malaysia), at the 2009 World Scrabble Championship.[26]
  • Highest losing score (OSPD) – 552 by Stefan Rau (Conn.) to Keith Smith's (Tex.) 582, Round 12 of the 2008 Dallas Open.[24]
  • Highest tie game (OSPD) – 502-502 by John Chew and Zev Kaufman, at a 1997 Toronto Club tournament.[2]
  • Highest tie game (SOWPODS) – 510-510 by Michael Gongolo (Kenya) and Patrick Mpundu (Zambia), at the East and Central Africa Scrabble Championships 2007 in Kampala, Uganda[3]
  • Highest opening move score (OSPD)MUZJIKS (with a blank for the U) 126 by Jesse Inman (S.C.) at the National Scrabble Championship, 2008.[27] The highest possible legal score on a first turn is MUZJIKS 128, using an actual U rather than a blank.
  • Highest opening move score (SOWPODS)BEZIQUE 124 by Joan Rosenthal.[28] BEZIQUE 124 by Sally Martin.[28]
  • Highest single play (OSPD)QUIXOTRY 365 by Michael Cresta (Mass.), 2006.[21][22]
  • Highest single play (SOWPODS)CAZIQUES 392 by Karl Khoshnaw.[29]
  • Highest average score, two-day tournament (OSPD) – 471 by Chris Cree (Tex.) over 18 rounds at the Houston, Tex. Tournament, 2007.[30]

In the absence of better documentation, it is believed that the following records were achieved under a formerly popular British format known as the "high score rule", in which a player's tournament result is determined only by the player's own scores, and not by the differentials between that player's scores and the opponents'. As a result, play in this system "encourages elaborate setups often independently mined by the two players",[23] and is profoundly different from the standard game in which defensive considerations play a major role. While the "high score" rule has unsurprisingly led to impressively high records, it is currently out of favor throughout the world; associating its records with normal competitive play is misleading.

  • High game score of 1,049 by Phil Appleby of Lymington, Hants, UK, on June 25, 1989 in Wormley, Herts, UK. His opponent scored just 253 points, giving Appleby a record victory margin of 796 points.
  • High single-turn score of 392, by Dr. Saladin Karl Khoshnaw[29] in Manchester, UK, in April 1982. The word he used was CAZIQUES, meaning "native chiefs of West Indian aborigines".

Hypothetical scores in possible and legal but highly unlikely plays and games are far higher, primarily through the use of words that cover three triple-word-score squares. The highest reported score for a single play is 1780 (OSPD) and 1785 (SOWPODS) using oxyphenbutazone.[31] When only adding the word sesquioxidizing to these official lists, one could theoretically score 2015 (OSPD) and 2044 (SOWPODS) points in a single move.[31] The highest reported combined score for a theoretical game is 3,986 points using OSPD words only.[32]

Other records are available for viewing at Total ScrabblePDF, an unofficial record book which includes the above as sources and expands on other topics.

International versions

Versions of the game have been released in several other languages.

The game was called Alfapet when it was introduced in Sweden in 1954. However, since the mid-90s the game is also known as Scrabble in Sweden. Alfapet is now another crossword game, created by the owners of the name Alfapet.

For languages with digraphs counted as single letters, such as Welsh and Hungarian, the game features separate tiles for those digraphs.

Variations

Duplicate Scrabble is a popular variant in French speaking countries. Every player has the same letters on the same board and the players must submit a paper slip at the end of the allotted time (usually 3 minutes) with the highest scoring word they have found. This is the format used for the French World Scrabble Championships but it is also used in Romanian and Dutch. There is no limit to the number of players that can be involved in one game, and at Vichy in 1998 there were 1485 players, a record for French Scrabble tournaments.

Game board formats

The game has been released in numerous game board formats appealing to various user groups. The original boards included wood tiles and many "deluxe" sets still do.

Travel editions

Editions are available for travelers who may wish to play in a conveyance such as a train or plane, or who may wish to pause a game in progress and resume later. Many versions thus include methods to keep letters from moving, such as pegboards, recessed tile holders and magnetic tiles. Players' trays are also designed with stay-fast holders. Such boards are also typically designed to be folded and stowed with the game in progress.

Travel Scrabble boards.
  • Production and Marketing Company, 1954 – metal hinged box, Bakelite tiles inlaid with round magnets, chrome tile racks, silver colored plastic bag and cardboard box covered with decorative paper. The box, when opened flat, measures 8½″ x 7¾″ and the tiles measure ½″ x ½″ each.
  • Spear's Games, 1980s – boxed edition with pegboard, plastic tiles with small feet to fit snugly in the pegboard. Racks are clear plastic, allowing some sorting while holding tiles fairly snugly. Set comes with a drawstring plastic bag to draw tiles and a cardboard box. It is possible to save a game in progress by returning the board to the box. There is risk of players' trays being mixed and upset, and the box lid, held on by friction, is subject to upset.
  • Selchow & Righter, 1980s – pocket edition with plastic "magnetic" board and tiles. Tile racks are also plastic with asymmetrical shape to provide handhold. All elements fit in a plastic envelope for travel and to permit a pause in the game. Plastic letters are very small and tend to lose their grip if not placed with slight lateral movement and if they are not perfectly clean. Game format is extremely small, allowing Scrabble games for backpackers and others concerned about weight and size.
  • Hasbro Games, 2001 – hinged plastic board with clear tile-shaped depressions to hold tiles in play. Board is in a black, zippered folio such that board and tiles may be folded for travel, even with game in play. Reverse side of board contains numbered mounts for racks, holding tiles face down, allowing secure and confidential storage of tiles while game is paused. Some versions have tile racks with individual tile slots, thus not permitting easy sorting of tiles in rack.

Deluxe editions

At the opposite end, some "deluxe" editions offer superior materials and features. These include editions on a rotating turntable so players can always face the board with the letters upright. More serious players often favor custom Scrabble boards, often made of Lucite or hardwood, that have superior rotating mechanisms and personalized graphics.

Large Print edition

An edition has been released (in association with the RNIB) with larger board and letters for players with impaired vision. The colours on the board are more contrasting and the font size is increased from 16 to 24 point. The tiles are in bold 48 point.

Works detailing tournament Scrabble

An introduction to tournament Scrabble and its players can be found in the book Word Freak by Stefan Fatsis. In the process of writing, Fatsis himself progressed into a high-rated tournament player.

There have been numerous documentaries made about the game, including:

  • Word Wars (2004) by Eric Chaikin and Julian Petrillo, about the "tiles and tribulations on the Scrabble game circuit".
  • Scrabylon (2003), by Scott Petersen, which "gives an up-close look at why people get so obsessed with that seemingly benign game..."
  • Word Slingers by Eric Siblin and Stefan Vanderland (produced for CBC, 2002), which follows four expert Canadian players at the 2001 World Championship in Las Vegas.

See also

References

  1. ^ "Collins Scrabble Checker". Collins. 2009. http://www.collinslanguage.com/extras/scrabble.aspx. Retrieved 2009-02-15. 
  2. ^ "History of Toys and Games: Scrabble". http://www.history.com/minisite.do?content_type=Minisite_Generic&content_type_id=57162&display_order=4&sub_display_order=4&mini_id=57124. 
  3. ^ "http://www.msoworld.com/mindzine/news/proprietary/scrabble/features/history.html". http://www.msoworld.com/mindzine/news/proprietary/scrabble/features/history.html. 
  4. ^ "Spell bound". The Guardian. 2008-06-28. http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2008/jun/28/healthandwellbeing.familyandrelationships. Retrieved 2009-01-02. 
  5. ^ a b Fatsis, Stefan. Word Freak : Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players. ISBN 0-14-200226-7
  6. ^ Hasbro Scrabble - History
  7. ^ Edley, Joe with Williams, John D Jr., Everything Scrabble, Simon and Schuster 2001. ISBN 0671042181
  8. ^ AskOxford: Scrabble
  9. ^ a b History of SCRABBLE
  10. ^ Scrabble - a Brief History and Evolution of the Rules, 1949–1989
  11. ^ "2009 World SCRABBLE Championship". Mattel. 2009. http://www.wscgames.com/2009. Retrieved 2009-12-09. 
  12. ^ Baron, Mike. The Scrabble Wordbook. Sterling. p. 13. ISBN 978-1402750861. http://books.google.com/books?id=9Asxqv6VxhUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=scrabble+wordbook&cd=1#v=onepage&q=&f=false. 
  13. ^ Interactive Skill in Scrabble. Paul P. Maglio, Teenie Matlock, Dorth Raphaely, Brian Chernicky, David Kirsh. 1999.
  14. ^ "A Computer Program Wins Its First Scrabble Tournament". The Chronicle of Higher Education. 2007. http://chronicle.com/blogPost/A-Computer-Program-Wins-Its/2800. Retrieved 2009-09-13. 
  15. ^ "Legal Troubles Mount for Scrabulous Hasbro Sues for Infringement" efluxnews July 27, 2008
  16. ^ Reported in Los Angeles Times July 29, 2008 http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-facebook30-2008jul30,1,6306391.story,
  17. ^ http://www.reuters.com/article/marketsNews/idUSN1541432720081215
  18. ^ a b "Mattel takes on Scrabulous in war of the words". The Independent. 2004-04-08. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/mattel-takes-on-scrabulous-in-war-of-the-words-805825.html. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  19. ^ a b c d e f "Scrabble Tries to Fight a Popular Impostor at Its Own Game". The New York Times. 2004-04-07. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/07/technology/07scrabulous.html?ex=1365220800&en=84df098d42df01ee&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink. Retrieved 2008-04-08. 
  20. ^ Facebook Scrabble Beta reviews http://www.facebook.com/reviews/see_all.php?of=14916117452,
  21. ^ a b c 830-point Game at the Lexington Scrabble Club
  22. ^ a b c 830! How a carpenter got the highest Scrabble score ever. - By Stefan Fatsis - Slate Magazine
  23. ^ a b Scrabble FAQ
  24. ^ a b World Record: Highest Losing Score
  25. ^ World Scrabble record set in Ahwatukee tournament
  26. ^ [1] 2009 World Scrabble Championship live coverage
  27. ^ 2008 NSC Live Coverage, Round 5
  28. ^ a b Tournament records - All-time best
  29. ^ a b "WSC Player Information: Karl Khoshnaw". http://www.wscgames.com/cgi/player.cgi?given=Karl&surname=Khoshnaw&country=Germany&exact=1. Retrieved 2006-04-27. 
  30. ^ Results within a single tournament
  31. ^ a b Record for the Highest Scoring Scrabble Move at scrabulizer.com
  32. ^ Highest combined score at Scrabble FAQ

External links


Wiktionary

Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

See also scrabble

Contents

English

Pronunciation

Proper noun

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Wikipedia

Scrabble

  1. A board game in which players draw letter tiles and take turns to make interlocking words like a crossword, scoring points according to the letters played and their positions on the board.

Quotations

  • 2000, Eric T. Olson and Tammy Perry Olson, Real-Life Math: Statistics, Walch Publishing, ISBN 0825138639, page 56
    Start by asking students if they ever watch Wheel of Fortune, or play games like Hangman or Scrabble.® Ask whether they have ever noticed any patterns in the frequency with which letters appear.

Usage notes

Scrabble is a registered trademark of Hasbro Inc.

Translations

See also

Anagrams


Gaming

Up to date as of February 01, 2010

From Wikia Gaming, your source for walkthroughs, games, guides, and more!

The verb "to scrabble" also means to scratch, scramble or scrape about: see Wiktionary:scrabble.

A typical scrabble board

Scrabble is a popular word game and boardgame in which 2 to 4 players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a 15-by-15 game board. The words are formed across and down in crossword fashion, and must appear in a standard dictionary. Official reference works (e.g. The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, now in its 4th edition) that provide a list of permissible words, some of which are rarely found in standard English writing, are also available.

The name Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. in the US and wikia:world:Canada and of J. W. Spear & Sons PLC elsewhere. Scrabble was a trademark of Murfett Regency in wikia:world:Australia, until 1993 when it was acquired by Spear. The game is also known as Alfapet, FUNWORDER, Skip-A-Cross and Palabras Cruzadas.

History

The game was created by architect Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938, as a variation on an earlier word game he invented called Lexiko. The two games had the same set of letter tiles, whose distributions and point values Butts worked out meticulously by counting letter usage from the various sources including The New York Times. The new game, which he called "Criss-Crosswords", added the 15-by-15 game board and the crossword-style game play. He manufactured a few sets himself, but was not successful in selling the game to any major game manufacturers of the day.[1]

In 1948, lawyer James Brunot, a resident of Newtown, Connecticut, bought the rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty on every unit sold. Though he left most of the game (including the distribution of letters) unchanged, Brunot slightly rearranged the "premium" squares of the board and simplified the rules; he also changed the name of the game to "Scrabble", a real word which means "to grope frantically," and sold sets to, among other customers, Macy's department store, which created a demand for the game.[1]

In 1953, unable to meet demand himself, Brunot sold manufacturing rights to Selchow and Righter (one of the manufacturers who, like Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley Company, had previously rejected the game). J. W. Spear & Sons began selling the game in Australia and the UK on January 19, 1955. They are now a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.[1] In 1986, Selchow and Righter sold the game to Coleco, who soon after sold the game to Hasbro.[1]

Game details

The game is played by 2 to 4 players on a square (or nearly square) board with a 15-by-15 grid of cells (individually known as "squares"), each of which accommodates a single letter tile. In official club and tournament games, play is always between two players (or, occasionally, between two teams each of which collaborates on a single rack).

Each letter is worth a set number of points, with the value depending on the letter's frequency in standard English writing; commonly used letters such as E or O are worth one point, while less common letters score higher, with Q and Z each worth 10 points. The board is marked with "premium" squares, which multiply the amount of points awarded: dark red "triple-word" squares, pink "double-word" squares, dark blue "triple-letter" squares, and light blue "double-letter" squares. The center square (H8) is often marked with a star or logo, and counts as a double-word square.

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Fatsis, Stefan. Word Freak : Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players. ISBN 0-14-200226-7
Smallwikipedialogo.png This page uses content from Wikipedia. The original article was at Scrabble. The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Wikia Gaming, the text of Wikipedia is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 (unported) license.

This article uses material from the "Scrabble" article on the Gaming wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

Simple English

Scrabble is a game that is played by 2, 3 or 4 people. It uses a board with squares on it (15x15) and a large number of letters on small tiles. Each player, when it is his turn, has to put a word on the board, using any of the seven letters (seven tiles) that they have in front of them. Their word must join on to what is already on the board.

How to play

The players decide who is going to start by taking one letter (one tile) from the bag. The person with the letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet may start.

Each player takes seven tiles from the bag (without looking at what they are). The player puts these tiles on a rack in front of him so that he can see them, but the others cannot see which letters he has. After each turn a player can take some new letters out of the bag so that he has seven letters again for his next turn.

The first player puts a word on the board using some, or all, of his seven letters as possible. He must include the square in the middle. It is then the next player's turn. His word must join on somewhere to what the other player has already put. Sometimes it is possible to make two or more words in one turn by touching other letters, but each word on the board reading horizonally (left to right) or vertically (top to bottom) must be a proper word (no abbreviations or names). It should read like a crossword.

Each tile (each letter) has a number of points. The common letters such as A, B, T, etc are worth one point. Unusual letters such as Q and Z are worth 10 points. There are also two blank tiles which can be used for any letter. A player must say what the letter is when he puts it down, e.g. he might say that "C" "A" "Blank" spells "CAT". During the rest of the game that blank tile must be treated as a letter "T".

There are several squares on the board where a player can get extra points. Some squares allow the player to count that letter twice (light blue) or three times (dark blue), other squares allow him to count the whole word twice (light red) or three times (dark red).

The aim of the game is to get as many points as possible. A long word will not always get as many points as a shorter word. It depends which letters are used. It is also a good idea not put a word which will let the next player make a high score.

There are special Scrabble dictionaries available in which all allowable words are listed. When playing according to the proper rules one is not allowed to use a dictionary to find a word. However, if one of players challenges another (i.e. if he says: "The word you have put down is not allowed"), then the players may check it in the dictionary. If the word does not exist, the player must take his letters back and he loses his turn.

After a while there are no more letters in the bag. The game finishes when one player has no more letters. The other players have to count the points for the letters they still have in front of them, and take them away from their total score.

Other languages

Scrabble is available in many languages. Even if a language uses the same letters as English, some of the common English letters may be unusual in another language, and common letters there may be unusual in English. There are versions in languages with other alphabets, such as Russian.

History

Scrabble was invented in 1938 by an architect called Alfred Mosher Butts. He had previously invented a similar game called Lexiko. He worked out how many points should be given for each letter by looking at books and newspapers and counting how often particular letters are used in the English language. He called the game "Criss-Crosswords". However, he was not successful in selling the game. In 1948 a lawyer called James Brunot bought the rights to make to game. Brunot made some of the rules easier, and changed the name to "Scrabble", which is a real word meaning: “to scratch around frantically”. Soon other firms around the world were buying rights to make the game. It had become so popular by 1984 that it was made into a daytime TV show on NBC television.

The name Scrabble today is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. in the US and Canada and of J. W. Spear & Sons PLC in other countries.

All over the world people play Scrabble in clubs and tournaments. People who play in serious tournaments are given a time limit. They lose points if they spend too long thinking about their moves.

There are websites where one can play Scrabble online.

On Facebook, there is a version of Scrabble called Scrabulous.








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