From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Scrabble (disambiguation).
Scrabble brand logo by Mattel, Inc., used outside North America
Former Scrabble logo by Hasbro, Inc. used within North America, until March 2008
|Manufacturer(s)||Mattel (outside North America)
Hasbro (within North America)
|Designer(s)||Alfred Mosher Butts|
|Setup time||2–6 minutes|
|Playing time||NASPA tournament game: ~50 minutes|
|Random chance||Medium (Letters Drawn)|
|Skill(s) required||Vocabulary, Spelling,Anagramming, Strategy,Counting, Bluffing|
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.
The name Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. in the United States and Canada. Elsewhere, Scrabble is trademarked by Mattel. The game is sold in 121 countries; there are 29 different language versions. One hundred and fifty million sets have been sold worldwide, and sets are found in roughly one-third of American homes.
Alfred Butts manually tabulated the frequency of letters in words of various length, using examples in a dictionary, theSaturday Evening Post, the New York Herald Tribune, and the New York Times. This was used to determine the number and scores of tiles in the game.
In 1938, American 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.
In 1948, James Brunot, 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 Dodgingtown, a section of Newtown. They made 2,400 sets that year, but lost money. According to legend, Scrabble’s big break came in 1952 when Jack Straus, 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.” 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. JW Spears began selling the game in Australia and the UK on January 19, 1955. The company is now a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. In 1986, Selchow and Righter sold the game to Coleco, who soon after went bankrupt. The company’s assets, including Scrabble and Parcheesi, were purchased by Hasbro.
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.” In 2011, a new TV variation of Scrabble, called Scrabble Showdown, aired on The Hub cable channel, which is a is a joint venture of Discovery Communications, Inc. and Hasbro.
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 board is marked with “premium” squares, which multiply the number of points awarded: eight dark red “triple-word” squares, 17 pink “double-word” squares, of which one, the center square (H8), is marked with a star or other symbol; 12 dark blue “triple-letter” squares, and 24 light blue “double-letter” squares. [In 2008, Hasbro changed the colors of the premium squares to orange for TW, red for DW, blue for DL, and green for TL. The original premium square color scheme is still the preferred scheme for Scrabble boards used in tournaments.]
In an English-language set 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. Other language sets use different letter set distributions with different point values.
Further information: Scrabble letter distributions
The official Scrabble board design.
2×LS = Double letter score 3×LS= Triple letter score
2×WS / ★ = Double word score 3×WS = Triple word score
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, ydenotes 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 forms 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.
- A(D)DIT I ON(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)
The parentheses can be omitted, though, if each play states how many tiles were laid on the board in that play.
Sequence of play
Before the game, a resource, either a word list or a dictionary, is selected for the purpose of adjudicating any challenges during 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.
A game of Scrabble in Tagalog.
Next, players decide the order in which they play. The normal approach is for players to each draw one tile: The player who picks the letter closest to the beginning of the alphabet goes first, with the blank tiles taking precedence over 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 previous games in the tournament go first, and when that rule yields a tie, those who have gone second the most go first. If there is still 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 fill 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 on their rack. On each turn, a player has three options:
- Pass, forfeiting the turn and scoring nothing
- Exchange one or more tiles for an equal number from the bag, scoring nothing, an option available only if at least seven tiles remain in the bag
- Play at least one tile on the board, adding the value of all words formed to the player’s cumulative score
A proper play uses one or more of the player’s tiles to form a contiguous string of letters that make a word (the play’s “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 formed by the play, they are scored as well, and are subject to the same criteria of 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: the first player to play a word receives a double word score.
A blank tile may take the place of any letter. It then remains that letter for the rest of the game. It scores no points regardless of what letter it is designated or its placement on a premium square. But its placement on a double-word or triple-word square does cause the corresponding premium to be scored for the word in which it is used. While not allowed in 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 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 the remaining tiles.
After a player plays a word, their opponent may choose to challenge any or all the words formed by the play. The player challenged must then look up the words in question, and if any one of them is found to be unacceptable, the play is removed from the board, the player returns the newly played tiles to their rack and the turn is forfeited. In tournament play, a challenge is to the entire play rather than any one word, and judges (human or computer) are used, so players are not entitled to know which word or words made a challenge succeed. Penalties for unsuccessfully challenging an acceptable play vary in club and tournament play, and are described in greater detail below.
Under North American rules, the game ends when (1) one player plays every tile on their rack, and there are no tiles remaining in the bag (regardless of the tiles on their opponent’s rack); or (2) when six successive scoreless turns have occurred. (For several years, a game could not end with a cumulative score of 0-0, but that is no longer the case, and such games have since occurred a number of times in tournament play.)
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 twice that sum, and the opponent is not penalized.
Scoreless turns can occur when a player passes, when a player exchanges tiles, or when a player loses a challenge. The latter rule varies slightly in international tournaments.
Premium square colors
Original and Mattel version
Current Hasbro version
|Double letter||Light blue||Blue|
|Triple letter||Dark blue||Green|
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” or “triple-letter” premium square has its point value doubled or tripled as indicated.
- The normal point value of all other letters in the word (whether newly played or existing) is added.
- For each newly played tile placed on a “double-word” premium square, the total of each word containing that tile is doubled (or redoubled).
- For each newly placed tile placed on a “triple-word” 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.
- Players occasionally achieve quadruple (4×) or nonuple (9×) word scores by spanning two double-word (called a “double-double”) or two triple-word premium squares (called a “triple-triple”) with a single word. Septenviguple (27×) word scores spanning three triple-word squares are possible, if only in constructed games. (A hexuple [6×] or octodecuple [18×] word score is also possible under the rules, but only remotely so, since it would require that the opening play have missed the center square and not have been challenged off as a result. Game-construction enthusiasts have disavowed this ruse.)
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 added after totaling the score for that turn.
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 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 as a common noun (automotive,vexillological, etc.) and verb that are acceptable. Acronyms or abbreviations, other than those that have acceptable entries (such as AWOL, RADAR, LASER, 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. Foreign words are not allowed in the English language Scrabble unless they have been incorporated into the English language – for example, the words “patisserie” and “glace”.
Proper nouns and other exceptions to the usual rules are allowed in some limited contexts in the spin-off game Scrabble Trickster.
A near-ending game board, tiles and racks of the magnetic Pocket Scrabble (International, Mattel, Inc.)
OWL2 and OSPD4
The North American 2006 Official Tournament and Club Word List, Second Edition (OWL2) went into official 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 have to 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, at least historically, in any one of the dictionaries, it will be included in the OWL2 and the OSPD4. If the word has only an offensive meaning, 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, with expurgated 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).
Collins Scrabble Words
In all other countries, the competition word list is the Tournament and Club Word List (Collins), also known as Collins Scrabble Words. It was published in May 2007 (see SOWPODS) and it lists all words of length 2 to 15 letters and is thus a complete reference. This list contains all OWL2 words 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.
Collins Scrabble Words 2012 Edition will be used from 1 January 2012 for countries currently using the Tournament and Club Word List (Collins).
Main article: Challenge (Scrabble)
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:
- “Double Challenge”, 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.
- “Single Challenge”/”Free Challenge”, 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.
- Modified “Single Challenge”, 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 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 four times: in 1953, 1976, 1989, and 1999.
The major changes in 1953 were as follows:
- It was made clear that:
- words could be played through single letters already on the board.
- a player could play a word parallel and immediately adjacent to an existing word provided all crosswords formed were valid.
- the effect of two word premium squares were to be compounded multiplicatively.
- 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:
- 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.
The major changes in 1999 were as follows:
- It was made clear that:
- a tile can be shifted or replaced until the play has been scored.
- a challenge applies to all the words made in the given play.
- Playing all seven tiles is officially called a “Bingo”.
- A change of wording could be inferred to mean that a player can form more than one word in one row on a turn.
Club and tournament play
Main article: English language Scrabble
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. Although casual games are often played with unlimited time, this is problematic in competitive play among players for whom the number of evident legal plays is immense. 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, for example, if a player oversteps time control by two minutes and five seconds, the penalty is 30 points. Also, most players use molded plastic tiles (of which Protiles is one major brand), not engraved like the original wooden tiles, 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:
- The World Scrabble Championship: held in odd years, the last was in Warsaw, Poland in 2011.
- The National Scrabble Championship: an open event attracting several hundred players, held around July/August every year or two, most recently in Dallas, Texas in 2011.
- The Brand’s Crossword Game King’s Cup: the largest tournament in the World. Held annually around the end of June or beginning of July.
Other important tournaments include:
- The World Youth Scrabble Championships: entry by country qualification, restricted to under 18 years old. Held annually since 2006.
- The National School Scrabble Championship: entry open to North American school students. Held annually since 2003.
- 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.
Maven is a computer opponent for the game, created by Brian Sheppard. The official Scrabble computer game in North America uses a version of Maven as its artificial intelligence and is published by Atari. Outside of North America, the official Scrabble computer game is published by Ubisoft. Quackle is an open-source alternative to Maven of comparable strength.
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, PlayStation Portable, iPod, iPad, Game.com, Palm OS, Amstrad CPC, Xbox 360, Kindle and mobile phones.
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 http://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 siteFacebook 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. On July 28, 2008 the Scrabulous Facebook application was disabled for users in North America, 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. There is also a version in Turkish as a Facebook application named “SKRABL Turkce” which offers only 2 player game.
Mattel launched its official version of online Scrabble, Scrabble by Mattel on Facebook in late March 2008. The application was developed by Gamehouse, a division ofRealNetworks who has been licensed by Mattel. However since Hasbro controls the copyright for North America with the copyright for the rest of the world belonging Mattel, the Facebook application is available only to players outside the United States and Canada. Ownership of the rights to Scrabble by multiple companies is limiting the introduction of the game to Facebook and, between its launch date and April 6, 2008, fewer than 2000 users had registered, compared with 600,000 registered Scrabulous users. 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. In addition, the Facebook version only allows automatic verification of words, making it impossible to play invalid words, and making challenges redundant.
RealNetworks has stated that the application is currently in its beta stage and there have been reports of a number of bugs and limitations. The Original Scrabble now exists on Facebook, and was developed by Electronic Arts.
Scrabble “TV game show” board game versions
Main article: Scrabble (game show)
In 1987, a board game was released by Selchow & Righter, based on the Scrabble game show hosted by Chuck Woolery, which aired on NBC from 1984 to 1990 (and for five 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.
Main article: 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 21×21 playing board.
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:
- OSPD or OTCWL, the North American list also used in Thailand and Israel;
- OSW, formerly the official list in the UK;
- 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.), at the Lexington (Mass.) club, October 12, 2006. Cresta defeated Wayne Yorra 830-490.
- High game (OSPD) in a tournament game – 803 by Joel Sherman (N.Y.), at a tournament in Stamford, Conn., December 9, 2011. Sherman defeated Bradley Robbins 803-285.
- High game (OSW) – 793 by Peter Preston (UK), 1999.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.
- High combined score (SOWPODS) – 1157 (627-530) by Phillip Edwin-Mugisha (Uganda) and Vannitha Balasingam (Malaysia), at the 2009 World Scrabble Championship.
- Highest losing score (OSPD) – 552 by Stefan Rau (Conn.) to Keith Smith’s (Tex.) 582, Round 12 of the 2008 Dallas Open.
- Highest tie game (OSPD) – 502-502 by John Chew and Zev Kaufman, at a 1997 Toronto Club tournament.
- Highest tie game (SOWPODS) – 522-522 by A Webb and N Deller, at the Peterborough Free Challenge Event 2009 
- Highest opening move score (OSPD) – MuZJIKS (with a blank for the U) 126 by Jesse Inman (S.C.) at the National Scrabble Championship, 2008. 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 Sam Kantimathi (1993), Joan Rosenthal. BEZIQUE 124 by Sally Martin.
- Highest single play (OSPD) – QUIXOTRY 365 by Michael Cresta (Mass.), 2006.
- Highest single play (SOWPODS) – CAZIQUES 392 by Karl Khoshnaw.
- Highest average score, multi-day tournament (OSPD) – 484 by Doug Brockmeier (N.Y.) over 12 rounds at Elmhurst, Ill., 2011. 474 by Suhas Rao (N.C.) over 29 rounds at the 2011 National Scrabble Championship. 471 by Chris Cree (Tex.) over 18 rounds at the Bayou Bash in Houston, Tex., 2007.
- Highest average score, multi-day tournament (SOWPODS) – 499.94 by Nigel Richards (MY) over 16 rounds at the 7th Lim Boon Heng Cup, Singapore, 2009.
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”, 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 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. When only adding the word sesquioxidizing to these official lists, one could theoretically score 2015 (OSPD) and 2044 (SOWPODS) points in a single move. The highest reported combined score for a theoretical game is 3,986 points using OSPD words only.
In August 1984, Peter Finan and Neil Smith played Scrabble for 153 hours at St Anselms College, Birkenhead, Merseyside, setting a new duration record. A longer record was never recorded by Guinness Book of Records, as the publishers decided that duration records of this nature were becoming too dangerous, and stopped accepting them.
Further information: Scrabble letter distributions
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-1990s, the game has also been known as Scrabble in Sweden. Alfapet is now another crossword game, created by the owners of the name Alfapet. A Russian version is called Erudit. Versions have been prepared for Dakotah, Haitian Creole, Dakelh (Carrier language), andTuvan.
Main article: Scrabble variants
Variations of the game include AlphaJax, Literati, Alfapet, Funworder, Skip-A-Cross, Scramble, Spelofun, Square-write, Palabras Cruzadas (“crossed words”), Word for Word, Lexulous, Wordipelago, Wordfeud, and Words With Friends. While these games are similar to the original Scrabble game, they include minor variations. For example, Literati draws random tiles instead of providing a finite number of tiles for the game, assigns different point levels to each letter and has a slightly different board layout whereas Lexulous assigns eight letters to each player instead of the customary seven.
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 andDutch. 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.
In one variation of Scrabble, blanks actually do score points corresponding to the letter which the blank is used to represent. For example, if one played blank to represent a “Z”, it would get ten; a blank to represent a V or an H would get four; a blank to represent a D would get 2 and blank to represent a T, N, L, S or R or any of the vowels would get one.
A junior version, called “Junior Scrabble”, has been marketed. This has slightly different distributions of frequencies of letter tiles to the standard Scrabble game.
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.
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.
- 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″ × 7¾″ and the tiles measure ½″ × 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.
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 and a raised grid that holds the tiles in place. 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
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.