Active Controversies in the Scrabble-playing Communities in various countries
For explanations of terms used below, see the
North American competitions use TWL98,
a successor to OSPD.
A move is on, started by but no longer restricted to
players who have participated in the
World [English language] Scrabble Championship,
to use the combined NA (OSPD, now called TWL98)
and UK (OSW) lexicons, called "SOWPODS".
The NSA has held one informal referendum on whether
to "go SOWPODS." It came out somewhere near even.
During 1999, it is encouraging clubs to experiment
with a "SOWPODS month" to find out whether they like
it. Later, NSA probably will hold some kind of
referendum, which will not be binding, as NSA is
answerable to Hasbro, the game's NA manufacturer.
For other rule differences, uniformization is not as actively discussed,
as the memorization factor doesn't prevent players from playing up
to their ability when crossing boundaries. Still, these factors
could be standardized to make the game closer to identical everywhere it
is played in English:
NA tournaments are rated under a system derived from
the Elo rating system created for chess.
This system assumes that the probability of one
player defeating another is a function of the
difference between their ratings, but the function creates
too high a probability for the higher-rated player.
- Challenge rule
- In NA, an challenger risks loss of turn if unsuccessful,
just as the challenged player does, hence the term
"double challenge rule."
Most SOWPODS countries also use "single challenge"
(only a word's player risks a turn).
Some suggest that if NA goes SOWPODS, it should
also shift to single challenge, either because it
is better suited to SOWPODS, or to ease the
- End-of-game scoring
- In NA, when the bag is empty, double the value of
opponent's tiles is added to the score of the player
using up all his tiles. In the UK, the value is
respectively subtracted from and added to their scores.
Of course, this has no effect on the game,
but it makes high-scoring records not strictly
NSA has created a Ratings Committee which is
researching changing the curve of expectations, or
using a different system.
See also the notes on the Scrabble FAQ maintainer's
[ up to the FAQ homepage ]
Steven Alexander (email@example.com)