Scrabble FAQ

Scrabble Frequently Asked Questions

If you are interested in the world of competitive Scrabble, you should read Word Freak, the 2001 book that goes a long way toward obsoleting this FAQ, and is far more entertaining.

What this FAQ covers

This article is about competitive English language Scrabble, the popular crossword game. It is North American-centric (and to a lesser extent covers the UK), but information regarding English language or competitive Scrabble played anywhere is welcome. It is not concerned with old Scrabble sets as collectors' items or anything else outside the competitive aspects of the game. Even the inclusion of Scrabble-related foofaraw stretches its intended coverage.

Although about Scrabble, it is not provided or authorized by the owners of the various rights to that game (including Hasbro and Mattel).

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The trademark Scrabble

Scrabble is a registered trademark owned in the United States and Canada by Hasbro, Inc., and in Great Britain and everywhere else in the world, by J.W. Spear & Sons PLC, a subsidiary of Mattel.

Selchow & Righter, listed as the US owner on many of your boards, was bought -- in good health -- in 1986 by Coleco, which shortly went into bankruptcy due to the collapse of the market for their Cabbage Patch dolls. Coleco also led itself to bankruptcy in 1987 by losing a fortune on the Adam home computer flop, and the unexpected (to them) slowdown in Trivial Pursuit sales. (Trivial Pursuit was marketed in the US by Selchow & Righter). Scrabble was sold off to Milton Bradley, which was in turn gobbled up by Hasbro. Hasbro since has transferred Scrabble to its Parker Brothers division, itself a fierce Milton Bradley competitor before its absorption.

In North America, Hasbro needs it to appear that the public thinks that the term Scrabble refers to any game or related product Hasbro cares to label that way, while the popular board game is Scrabble Crossword Game. Most people -- including Hasbro's own publication before their lawyers clamped down -- use the term Scrabble to refer to the game itself, and so will this FAQ. To most, it is "the crossword game Scrabble" (although the "crossword game" part is far from almost everyone's mind), rather than "the Scrabble Crossword Game."

The magazine Financial World (July 8, 1996, p. 65) estimated the value of the Scrabble brand to Hasbro as $76 million, and 1995 sales under that brand at $39 million.

Organized Scrabble activity

North American Scrabble Players Association, Word Game Players Organization and Association of British Scrabble Players

The North American Scrabble Players Association ("NASPA") is successor to the National Scrabble Association ("NSA") as the only organization running licensed Scrabble activity in North America. (NSA, which operates at the direction of Hasbro, still handles school clubs and tournaments and casual clubs.) NASPA, an independent nonprofit, operates under license from Hasbro, and in turn licenses tournament and club directors. Club and tournament play, except for national championships, is sanctioned but not run by NASPA. Only members may play in NASPA tournaments.

As noted, NASPA is not a true membership organization. It has said it plans to involve players in its governance to an extent not yet clear. Also unclear is the degree of freedom it has from Hasbro under its license agreement.

Membership is $30 (USD) per year in the US, Canada, and elsewhere.

		    North American Scrabble Players Association
		    homepage

Because of various kinds of dissatisfaction with how the Hasbro-authorized entity, NASPA, is run, the Word Game Players Organization ("WGPO"), an independent organization to promote tournament and club play, has been formed. Although not incorporated, it has bylaws and conducts elections. Membership currently is free.

		    Word Game Players Organization
		    homepage

In the UK, the Association of British Scrabble Players ("ABSP"), while not owned by the UK copyright and trademark holder, is bound to it by a licensing agreement. The ABSP organizes many tournaments. It may be reached at

		    ABSP
		    homepage

Membership in ABSP costs #15 per year. Members receive a newsletter six times per year. Its chairman, Allan Simmons, may be reached by e-mail at abspchair@aol.com.

Philip Nelkon handles Scrabble matters for Mattel in the UK, including relations with the ABSP. Elsewhere, Mattel's interests are handled by David Schwartz,

Other national organizations are listed in a separate document.

Clubs

Clubs normally play Scrabble according to tournament rules, although sometimes accommodation for newcomers includes allowing them to refer to lists of two- and three-letter words for their first couple of visits.

NASPA maintains a list of competitive North American clubs, while NSA maintains one of casual cubs. WGPO also has a list of competitive clubs. The current roster of active North American clubs is an Appendix to this FAQ. Some of the listings are more up to date than the most recent listing from the National Scrabble Association, but some are out of date, so call the person listed before trying to attend.

A list of clubs in the UK is available. For further information on them, contact

		Philip Nelkon
		Mattel (UK) Ltd
		Mattel House
		Vanwall Business Park
		Vanwall Road
		Maidenhead
		Berks.
		SL6 4UB
		+44 1628 500283
		+44 1628 500288 fax
		philip.nelkon@mattel.com

Steve Oliger has written an IBM PC program, Focus (currently in version 2.18), to maintain club statistics. It comes highly recommended by others who have used it. $20 plus shipping ($3 in US).

		Steve Oliger
		P.O. Box 7003
		Lancaster, PA 17604-7003
		(717) 284-2274
		goshawk@pngusa.net

Tournaments

North American, UK and world championships

"National Scrabble Championship", really for North America, is held by the National Scrabble Association in even years. In 2004 it was held in New Orleans, LA. North American players are eligible for entry if they have played in at least one rated tournament. Players from elsewhere may enter without condition.

In odd years, an invitational "World [English language] Scrabble Championship" is held, organized by Mattel. (It had been alternately organized by Hasbro and Mattel, and held within their respective trademark territories until in 2005, Hasbro declined.) Since its inception in 1991, it has allowed words from both North American and British play (which now is the standard for British play).

In the UK, Mattel runs the National Scrabble Championship, which dates to 1971, and was a high-score competition at first. Several regional events (apparently open only to UK residents) are used as qualifiers for the national final.

Also in the UK, the ABSP organizes a 17-game British Matchplay Scrabble Championship held each August. It is open to all.

Winners of the North American championships
Year Dates City Type # Contestants Lexicon # Games Winner Winner's Record
1978 May 19-21 New York invitational 64 Funk & Wagnalls 1973-74 16 David Prinz 173 credits
1980 Nov 14-16 Santa Monica invitational 32 OSPD1 17 Joe Edley 14-3
1983 Aug 10-12 Chicago qualifiers 32 OSPD1 17 Joel Wapnick 13-4
1985 Jul 28-31 Boston open 302 OSPD1 22 Ron Tiekert 20-2
1987 Jul 5-7 Las Vegas open 300+ OSPD1 21 Rita Norr 17-4
1988 Jul 31-Aug 5 Reno open 323 OSPD1 27 Robert Watson 20.5-6.5
1989 Jul 29-Aug 3 New York open 221 OSPD1 27 Peter Morris 21-6
1990 Aug 5-9 Washington open 300+ OSPD1 27 Robert Felt 24-3
1992 Aug 9-13 Atlanta open 320 OSPD2 27 Joe Edley 22-5
1994 Aug 14-18 Los Angeles open 294 OSPD2 27 David Gibson 23-4
1996 Jul 21-25 Dallas open 412 OSPD2+ 27 Adam Logan 24-3
1998 Aug 8-13 Chicago open 535 TWL98 31 Brian Cappelletto 26-5
2000 Aug 6-10 Providence open 628 TWL98 31 Joe Edley 22-9
2002 Aug 18-22 San Diego open 696 TWL98 31 Joel Sherman 25-6
2004 Aug 1-5 New Orleans open 837 TWL98* 30† Trey Wright 26-4
2005 Aug 20-24 Reno open 682 TWL98* 28† Dave Wiegand 21-7
2006 Aug 5-9 Phoenix open 632 OWL2* 28† Jim Kramer 21-7
2008 Jul 26-29 Orlando open 662 OWL2 28† Nigel Richards 22-6
2009 Aug 1-5 Dayton open 486 OWL2 31 Dave Wiegand 25-6
2010 Aug 7-11 Dallas open 407 OWL2 31 Nigel Richards 25-6
2011 Aug 6-10 Dallas open 317 OWL2 31 Nigel Richards 22-9
2012 Aug 11-15 Orlando open 302‡ OWL2 31 Nigel Richards 22-9
2012 Aug 11-15 Orlando open 37‡ CSW 31 Sam Kantimathi 24-7

Notes:

* In 2004, 2005 and 2006, the two-person final used an expurgated list akin to ESPD.

† From 1988 forward, there were two or more divisions, with only division 1 contending for the top prize. Number of contestants includes all divisions. Number of games shown is for the top division, excluding any final games played only by the top 2 (as occurred in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008). Open tournaments have had minimal qualifications, such as membership in NSA or NASPA.

‡ From 2012, there is a separate Collins division.

Winners of the Canadian (English language) championships
1996, Oct 18-21, Toronto: invitational, 40 contestants (OSPD2+)
Adam Logan
1998, Oct 16-19, Toronto: invitational, 50 contestants (TWL98)
Joel Wapnick
2000, Nov 17-20, Toronto: invitational, 50 contestants (TWL98)
Ron Hoekstra
2003, December 5-8, Toronto: invitational, 50 contestants (TWL98)
David Boys
2005, June 9-11, Toronto: invitational, 50 contestants (TWL98)
Adam Logan
2008, April 4-7, Toronto: invitational, 52 contestants (OWL2)
Adam Logan
2008, June 10-13, Toronto: invitational, 52 contestants (OWL2)
Joel Wapnick
Winners of the World (English language; SOWPODS) championships

Each was an invitational tournament played using the current SOWPODS lexicon.

1991, September 27-30, London: 48 contestants
Peter Morris (USA)
1993, August 27-30, New York City: 64 contestants
Mark Nyman (UK)
1995, November 2-5, London: 64 contestants
David Boys (Canada)
1997, November 20-24, Washington: 80 contestants
Joel Sherman (USA)
1999, November 3-7, Melbourne: 98 contestants
Joel Wapnick (Canada)
2001, December 14-17, Las Vegas: 88 contestants
Brian Cappelletto (USA)
2003, October 21-24, Kuala Lumpur: 90 contestants
Panupol Sujjayakorn (Thailand)
2005, November 17-20, London: 102 contestants
Adam Logan (Canada)
2007, November 9-12, Mumbai: 104 contestants
Nigel Richards (New Zealand)
2009, November 26-29, Johor Bahru, Malaysia: 108 contestants
Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (Thailand)
2011, October 12-16, Warsaw

How club and tournament Scrabble differs from the rules in the box

NSA, ABSP and ASPA rules for competitive play are available on the Web, as are the rules that come in the box.

Club and tournament Scrabble games are always two-player games.

Both players must keep score. A bag is used for tiles (not the box lid). Chess clocks are used to time the game and each player is allowed a total of 25 minutes to make all of his or her moves in the game. If a player's time limit is exceeded, the game continues but the player is penalized 10 points for each minute over the time limit.

When a player challenges one or more words in his or her opponent's move, the clock is stopped while a third party (usually a club or tournament director) looks up the challenged words (which the challenger must specify) to determine whether the move is valid. If a challenged word is unacceptable, the play is removed and the player loses that turn. In North American play, the maker of an erroneous challenge loses a turn; in the UK, and most of Australia, they do not.

For the lexicon used for determining word validity, see the section on OSPD, OSW and their successors.

There are no "house rules" that many social players use, such as free exchange of four of a kind, or claiming blanks off the board by substituting for them.

Once there are fewer than seven tiles left in the bag, no exchanging of tiles is allowed. Passing is allowed at any time.

At the end of a North American game, when one player uses all his or her tiles with none remaining in the bag, he or she receives double the value of the opponent's remaining tiles. In the UK, as specified in the box, that value is added to and subtracted from the players' respective scores. Both methods result in the same spread.

Ties are not broken. (The North American box rules give the win to the player with the higher score before leftover tiles are considered; UK box rules don't mention this possibility.)

If the two players take six consecutive turns without successfully placing any tiles on the board -- due to any combination of challenges, passes and exchanges -- the game ends, and both players lose the value of the tiles on their racks. A game in which neither player can make a play ends this way, although the players may simply agree that the game is over without going through all six turns. In the UK, exchanges do not count toward the six turns.

The box rules do not mention whether one may make written notes during the game. In tournaments and clubs, players are allowed to write anything they wish on their score sheet. One use of written notes is to keep track of which tiles have been played, allowing one to know which tiles remain to be played. This is known as tile-tracking, and players may use preprinted score sheets that show the tile distribution as an aid to tile-tracking.

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and Official Scrabble Words

The validity of words is determined, in North America (and Israel, which uses NSA rules) by the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (and successors), and in the UK and most other places by Official Scrabble Words International, which was formed by merging the OSPD and the former British standard, OSW.

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary ("OSPD"), published by Merriam-Webster (and available in bookstores -- see below), has been the basis of the official lexicon (word list) used for all North American tournament and club play since its first edition was published in 1978. It included all words of eight or fewer letters, and simplified the settling of Scrabble word arguments by specifically showing those words' inflections (plurals of nouns, conjugations of verbs, comparatives and superlatives of adjectives). For root words longer than eight letters, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth edition, was used until the advent of the Official Long Words List ("OLWL"). (The Tenth came out in May 1993 and replaced the Ninth on May 1, 1994. The Eleventh, out in July 2003, is not yet in use.) The OSPD included inflected forms of up to eight letters whose root words are longer.

In 1990, a second edition of the OSPD came out in hardcover. A paperback of the OSPD2 came out in June 1993. Words were added (and the handful removed).

A third edition of the OSPD came out in October 1995. See the section on expurgation for a discussion of its contents. The new words in it were allowed in competitive play as of February 1, 1996. Only SPAZES and HERPESES were removed. A list of the additions is available. OSPD2 plus the new words in OSPD3 commonly is called OSPD2+. (OSPD3 is available in a large print edition.)

Effective March 1998, the Official Tournament and Club Word List (commonly called "TWL98", sometimes "OTaCWL"), published by Merriam-Webster, although largely based upon OSPD, supplanted it.

The OSPD was created because in the 1950s Selchow & Righter sold the right to put out Scrabble word lists to Jacob Orleans and Edmund Jacobson, authors of Scrabble Word Guide, a 1953 book based on the Funk and Wagnalls Dictionary. The official publication, Scrabble News, is still circumspect about publishing word lists, tending to print them in small chunks to conform to some idea of their remaining rights.

Mattel announced in December 2003 that henceforth Harper Collins would publish lexicons and other books that would fill the same role as OSWI and related books do now, i.e., they will be official for Scrabble outside North America. The Collins English Dictionary will be the primary source for words (other than the current North American lexicon, which shall continue to supply the "International" in "OSWI"), but by methods not yet clear, no more than about 150 words will be deleted in the change. Collins will publish an OSPD-style dictionary with concise definitions for every base word.

Collins' new book, titled Collins Scrabble Tournament and Club Word List, was published March 2007. The UK switched as of May 15, 2007. Associations around the world (outside North America) switched around the same time.

Parallel to the OSPD for North America, the UK has Official Scrabble Words ("OSW"), which lists all rules-acceptable words in the Chambers Dictionary ("Chambers") whose uninflected roots have nine or fewer letters, and words of nine or fewer letters which are inflections of longer words. The third edition of OSW, including words from the 1993 edition of Chambers, came out in 1994. Chambers' 1998 edition was followed by OSW4 in September 1999. At the end of 2001, the UK completed a transition to SOWPODS, after which time OSW was replaced by OSWI (OSW International), containing words up to 9 letters from either source, first published that year. Challenges of longer words were looked up in Chambers.

For trademark reasons, the OSPD is not legally sold outside North America, and OSWI is not sold in North America.

Here are the relative sizes of the lexicons of OWL2 and CSW12, showing that CSW12 is a richer lexicon at all lengths. "SOWPODS" was a common abbreviation for the union of the two, combining the letters of OSPD and OSW.

		length     OWL2   CSW12
		2           101     124
		3          1015    1310
		4          4030    5526
		5          8938   12646
		6         15788   22410
		7         24029   33274
		8         29766   40622
		9         29150   41210

	       total 2-8  83667  115912
Why are all those stupid/non-English/indecent words allowed?

The OSPD was formed according to the rules of Scrabble, allowing all non-capitalized words without apostrophes or hyphens which are not designated as foreign. In a compromise between the number of words in a standard college dictionary (such as Funk & Wagnalls, in use before the OSPD) and an unabridged dictionary, the OSPD includes all words found in at least one of five major US college dictionaries, including a total of ten editions, which in the judgment of Merriam-Webster's lexicographers (contracted by the trademark holder to do this) meet the rules.

The dictionaries used for OSPD2 are: Funk & Wagnalls Standard College Dictionary (1973 printing), American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (First and Second College Editions), Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary (Merriam-Webster; Eighth thru Tenth Editions), Webster's New World Dictionary (Second and Third College Editions), Random House College Dictionary (Original Edition and Revised Edition).

To some extent, this succeeds at capturing the language, not as some set of Scrabble players would have it, but as it is -- according to professional lexicographers.

Words removed from OSPD 1st ed. in 2nd ed.

		    AINE
		    AINEE
		    ALIYAHS
		    AUTARKIK
		    BABBOOL BABBOOLS
		    BORAZON BORAZONS
		    DIALOGGED DIALOGGING
		    DUC DUCS
		    ECOLE ECOLES
		    ENFIN
		    INVAR INVARS
		    IODOL IODOLS
		    MISENROLL MISENROLLS
		    NEGRO NEGROES
		    NOIR
		    ONCES
		    PAPULAN
		    PERE PERES
		    PHYTIN PHYTINS
		    SITI
		    SLIVOVICS
		    STETSON STETSONS
		    SULFONAL SULFONALS
		    SURVEILED SURVEILING
		    THERMIT THERMITS
		    UIT
		    WAEFU
		    WITEN
		    WOSTTETH WOTTETH
		    XANTHATE XANTHATES
Current corrections to the OSPD 2nd ed.

The cumulative corrections to the OSPD2, all (except for DIDDLEYS) corrected in the final printing, are:

		    p16   ALIYAH: -YAHS (not -YAS)
		    108   CLAUGHT: -ING (not -INT)
		    109   CLEEK: CLAUCHT (not CLAUGHT)
		    155   DIDDLEY: DIDDLEYS, DIDDLIES
		    213   FLANKEN: pl. FLANKEN
		    272   HONDLE: -DLED, -DLING, -DLES (not -DLIED or -DLIES)
		    273   insert HOOTY adj HOOTIER, HOOTIEST
		    321   LEAP: add LEPT as third past
		    359   insert MISENROLL v -ED, -ING, -S
		    364   MOJO: add MOJOES
		    424   PECORINO: -NOS, -NI
		    436   PINYIN: delete PINYINS
		    451   delete PREFROZE; insert PREFREEZE v -FROZE,
		          -FROZEN, -FREEZING, -FREEZES to freeze beforehand
		    481   delete REARMICE; insert REARMOUSE n pl. -MICE
		          reremouse
		    477   REFALL: add REFALLS
		    488   delete REREMICE; insert REREMOUSE n pl. -MICE a bat
		          (a flying mammal)
		    537   SJAMBOK: definition should be "to flog"
		    635   UNMESH: -ES (not -S)
		    638   UPFRONT adj
		    639   URB: pl. URBS
		    643   delete VANIR
		    675   insert XANTHATE n pl. -S a chemical salt

Some of these "corrections" muddy the rule that all uninflected words in the OSPD have eight or fewer letters.

9-letter root words in OSPD

Despite the plan for OSPD, that the only uninflected words it contains should be those of eight or fewer letters, a few 9-letter words have been inserted. These are:

		    GRUELLING
		    KIDNAPPER
		    MISENROLL
		    PREFREEZE
		    RAVELLING
		    REARMOUSE
		    REREMOUSE
Final corrections to the Franklin Electronic OSPD2

These are the final corrections to the old Franklin Electronic Scrabble Dictionary that contained OSPD2.

		    additions   deletions
		    ---------   ---------
		    AMNIA       AMNIONIA
		                BRITISH
		    CAUDILLOS   CAUDILLLOS
		                CHEERLEADED
		                CHINESE
		                CHRISTMAS
		    CLUBBERS
		    CRACKLES    CRACKLEES
		    CRIOLLOS    CRIOLLLOS
		    DIDDLEYS
		    EXPIATING
		                GONIONIA
		    GRAMS
		    HALAZONES
		    HIGGLED
		    HONDLES     HONDLIES
		    HORNBEAMS
		                IRISH
		                ITALIAN
		    MACHES
		                MISEATE
		    OPALESCING  OPALESCESCING
		    OUTDRAGGING
		                OUTEATE
		                OVEREATE
		    OVERLIT
		    PECORINI
		                PINYINS
		    REFALLS
		                S
		    SISSIES     SIES
		    UNCLOGGING
		                UNDEREATE
Corrections to the OWL2

		    additions   deletions
		    ---------   ---------
		                CRABABBLE
		                CRABABBLES
		    CRABAPPLE
		    CRABAPPLES
		    DEVELOPPES
		                GODAMNDEST
		    GODDAMNDEST
		    MUNCHABLES
		    VIREONINES
		                WEAPONEERED
Expurgation of OSPD and OSPD 3rd ed.

In October 1995, NSA "endorsed" an Expurgated Scrabble Players Dictionary ("ESPD"), calling it OSPD3, omitting approximately 167 words labeled as offensive to specific ethnic, racial, sexual and other groups, such as the words "dago", "jew" and "fatso". (NSA had "sponsored" previous editions.) Hasbro, the NSA's parent, gave as major reasons for the change its desire to promote Scrabble in elementary schools using the OSPD and complaints by offended ethnic groups.

Facing much opposition by competitive players who did not want their playing vocabulary restricted to those words considered safe for children, NSA has made the ESPD not the official reference for club and tournament play. (It says on the dust jacket, "for recreational and school play.") Instead, starting February 1, 1996, competitions used OSPD2 plus the words added in ESPD. (A few words which reappeared in the first printings of ESPD because of its sloppy basing on early printings of OSPD2 -- before some corrections -- were not added back, though.)

Although published by Merriam Webster, TWL98 is sold only by NSA to its members.

It's anomalous to have the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary not be official.

Successor to OSPD - TWL98, TWL06

From March 1998, club and tournament play in North America has used an unexpurgated lexicon, including all two- to nine-letter words and inflections, titled "Official Tournament and Club Word List" (but more often known as "TWL" or "OWL" than "OTaCWL"), sold only to members of NASPA (with membership number), from Merriam-Webster Inc., (800) 828-1880.

There were 12 deletions in the two- to eight-letter range: DA DEI DES HANGULS KEV LEZES LICENTI SKIWEARS STRID VIN VINS VON, and 38 additions: BACKSTAB BASSETT BASSETTS BEDSIT BEDSITS CHEMO CHEMOS DECLAW DECLAWED DECLAWS FINALISE IGNORAMI ILLER ILLEST LATTE LATTES LEZZES LOUVRED MAGLEVS PETRALE PETRALES PINEALS PREMIXT PYROLIZE REDTAIL REDTAILS RHYTONS SEVRUGA SEVRUGAS SILKIES SMOOTHES TENIASES TRAPEZII UNSELL UNSELLS VOGUER VOGUERS WHINGING.

See the Dictionary Committee page for explanations.

As of June 2003, the "Official Long Words List", compiled from MW10, is the sole reference for words longer than 9 letters not appearing (as inflections) in TWL. (The printed list may available from Merriam-Webster, as with the OWL.) The list itself is available as a free download.

Successor to TWL98 - unnamed

The NSA dictionary committee created the Official Tournament and Club Word List, 2nd ed., as successor to TWL98. It is the the first descendant of OSPD1 to be updated using dictionaries other than Merriam-Webster's Collegiate. OWL2 incorporates words and their inflections from any of the current Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th ed.), American Heritage College Dictionary, Random House Webster's College Dictionary and Webster's New World College Dictionary.

Tournament pairings

Most North American tournaments are ranked according to win-loss record first, followed by the total of point spread in each game. A few tournaments score according to a predetermined number of credits for winning and for each ten points of margin. UK tournaments sometimes use sum-of-scores (the sum of the number of wins by one's opponents), and Australian tournaments variously use total game score or spread as the secondary factor.

In small tournaments or ones in where the field is sufficiently divided, each player plays every other once. This is called a round robin.

In all the other tournament designs, whom one plays depends on where one stands in the tournament so far. In the first round, generally the players' pre-tournament ratings temporarily stand in for the tournament rank.

The modified form of Swiss pairing used at North American Scrabble tournaments is best described by example. Suppose 64 players are at the tournament. In round one, the first player plays the 33rd, the second plays the 34th, etc., and the 32nd plays the 64th. In round two, the same top-plays-middle is used for the top and bottom halves of the tournament separately: 1 plays 17, 2 plays 18, down to 16 plays 32, and 33 plays 49, down to 48 plays 64. This continues with groups shrinking by a factor of two at each round.

Because determining the pairings between rounds can take so long in this method (computers are fast, but data entry can be slow), often the field is divided into four groups, instead of two. So with 64 players, 1 17 33 49 would be grouped together, as would 2 18 34 50, and 16 32 48 64. These groups of four then each play a round robin.

Note that this "speed-pairing" method provides the better players an advantage. Denote the four quartiles in order as A, B, C, D. Then the A player plays a B, C and D, while the D plays an A, B and C; this tends to reinforce the pre-tournament estimate of the players' strengths, and thus detracts from the aim of a tournament -- to recognize performance, not rank. A simple improvement has rarely been tried, to have each A player also matched against an A from another group, etc. This models the round robin in small, and seems inherently fairer. (If anyone has references to scholarly treatments of the fairness of tournament designs, I would be grateful to be supplied with them.)

In the UK, most tournaments use a version of the Swiss method in which at each round players are paired within groups consisting of those with the same win-loss record.

See also the section on tournament running software.

Tournament ratings

Using a system based on the Elo system used in chess, North American tournament players get a rating in the range 0 to ~2150 which indirectly represents the probability of winning against other rated players. This probability depends only on the difference between the two players' ratings as follows:

		  rating     probability
		 difference  of winning
		    400       .919
		    300       .853
		    200       .758
		    100       .637
		     50       .569
		      0       .500
		    -50       .431
		   -100       .363
		   -200       .242
		   -300       .147
		   -400       .081

This represents the area under the standard bell-shaped curve where 200*sqrt(2) points are taken as one standard deviation. (The table shows some sample points on this curve, adequate for good approximations of rating calculations by interpolation, although actual calculations use the exact curve.)

To keep current on a player's actual quality of play, the rating is updated after every tournament played. First, the number of games one is expected to win is calculated. Let's use as an example a two game tournament, in which player P begins with an 1800 rating, and plays opponents rated 1900 and 1725. P's rating is 100 below the 1900 player's, so P is expected to win .363 fraction of a game; P's rating is 75 above the other player's, so P is expected to win .603 of a game (halfway between .637 and .569).

So in the two games, P is expected to win a total of .966 games. Let's say P won one game. That's .034 more than expected. P's rating goes up some constant multiple of this number. Well, actually it's not a constant, but depends on how many tournament games P has ever played and how high P's rating is.

				games played
	                         1-49    50+
	   Pre-     below 1800    30      20
	  tourney    1800-1999    24      16
	  rating     2000 & up    15      10

See also explanations by John Chew, Paul Sidorsky, and ASPA, and a novel numerical approach from Joey Mallick.

The UK ratings are somewhat similar but simpler: the probability of the better player winning is taken as 50% plus the rating difference as a percent, but no larger than 90%.

The Australian and New Zealand rating systems are the same as the North American, and South Africa has adopted the Australian system. Each operates independently, so player ratings are not directly comparable, although they tend to be comparable at an offset.

Current North American, UK, Australian, New Zealand and South African ratings are available.

Organizations conducting Scrabble activity outside North America and the UK

Spear, which sells Scrabble sets in 31 languages and 120 countries, organized a Spanish and has considered organizing German and Dutch Scrabble tournaments. Contact David Schwartz. There are now Scrabble competitions in many languages.

The remainder of the information in this section is about English language Scrabble.

Membership in the Australian Scrabble Players Association, which is independent of the trademark holder, is $10 per year, $15 overseas. Its quarterly newsletter, Across the Board, has columns on playing and tournament listings. It may be reached at

		    The Scrabble Enquiry Centre
		    PO Box 405
		    Bentleigh Australia 3204
		    +61 3 578 6767

		    Bob Jackman
		    Australian Scrabble Players Association
		    PO Box 28
		    Lindfield NSW 2070
		    Australia
		    02 9416 9881
		    02 9416 9479 fax
		    rjackman@ozemail.com.au

In Israel, English language Scrabble is played in several clubs, including a very large one in Jerusalem. Play is under North American rules, and the occasional tournaments are rated under a copy of the North American system. All contact information is at

		    homepage

The Thailand National English language Scrabble tournament has drawn more than 1000 contestants, including many top players from elsewhere. For information on the (OSPD-based) yearly tournament usually held around the end of January, contact

		Mr. Ravee Joradol
		Thailand Crossword Club
		645/1 Petchburi Rd
		Payathai, Bangkok 10400
		Thailand
		(662) 252-9607, 252-8147
		(662) 252-8147 fax
		crosword@ksc.th.com

In Thailand, sets are sold without regard to Spear's rights, resulting in its players not being invited to the 1995 World [English language] Scrabble Championships. Similarly, before the change in Rumania's regime, unauthorized sets were sold, and in the ensuing vacuum, Rumania was invited to the 1995 WSC only as an observer. Similar unauthorized sets have at various times been sold in Russia ("Erudit") and Malaysia/Singapore ("Sahibba"). (A Swedish game, "Alfapet", apparently was licensed for sale before Mattel or its predecessors entered the Swedish market.)

Nigeria and Japan each have an active English language Scrabble tournament scene.

For addresses of many English and other language Scrabble organizations and contacts, see the Appendix.

Who plays with which dictionary and which rules?

The following is a summary of which lexicon and challenge rules are used in competitive English language Scrabble play in various countries.

OSPD, OSW, OSWI and SOWPODS are described above. Under single challenge, a turn is lost only by a player making an invalid word that is challenged, so challenges are free. Double challenge has a challenger also risking loss of turn if all the words are valid. Under Singapore's rule, often discussed as a basis for unification, the maker of a bad challenge loses five points. (In Swedish and English language play, Sweden uses ten.)

A movement is afoot, especially strong among top players who have played or have some prospect of playing in the World [English language] Scrabble Championship toward merging the rules. Most suggestions center on using SOWPODS and some middle-ground challenge rule, such as Singapore's or one penalizing a challenger only for the second and succeeding bad challenges in a game. The WSC used SOWPODS and single-challenge until 2001, when five-point challenges were used. (Because the rules are chosen at the discretion of whichever of Hasbro and Mattel is the current host, there is no assurance that future WSCs outside North America will use this rule.) Most players worldwide think convergence is desirable, although this is not so clear for North America.

                           OSPD       OSW         Collins(was "SOWPODS")

    double-challenge      Canada
                          Israel%
                          Mexico
                         Thailand@
                            US
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      10pt-challenge=                              Nigeria~
                                                   Sweden
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
       5pt-challenge+                               India
                                                   Israel%
                                                    Japan
                                                    Kenya
                                                  Malaysia
                                                    Malta
                                                 Netherlands
                                                 New Zealand*
                                                  Pakistan
                                                   Romania
                                                  Singapore
                                                  Sri Lanka
                                                South Africa!
                                                   Zambia
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    single-challenge                Gibraltar     Australia&
                                                   Bahrain
                                                   Ireland#
                                                 Philippines
                                               United Kingdom#
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
             unknown                               Bermuda
                                                    Ghana
                                                  Hong Kong
                                                   Kuwait
                                                    Oman
                                                    Qatar
                                                Saudi Arabia
                                                  Trinidad
                                            United Arab Emirates

@ While most competitions in Thailand use OSPD, several prestigious international tournaments use Collins, and there is pressure among youth to use the international reference for all.

% Israel outside of Tel Aviv and affiliated tournaments uses OSPD and double challenges; Tel Aviv and its affiliated tournaments use Collins and 5-point challenges.

= Countries using 10-point challenges assess only one 10-point penalty, and only if all words are valid.

+ Most countries using 5-point challenges assess 5 points per word incorrectly challenged only if all words are valid. Except for Singapore, adoption of 5-point challenges has followed its first use, in 2001, in the World [English language] Championship.

~ Nigeria changed briefly from double to 5-point challenges, but then almost immediately to 10-point.

* New Zealand changed from double to 5-point challenges in 2004.

# The UK and Ireland migrated to SOWPODS over 2001, with the adoption of this transition plan.

! South Africa uses 5-point challenges without regard to how many words are played or challenged.

& In Australia, tournaments run under rules other than single challenge can be rated, and a small but increasing number of high-prestige tournaments do use 5-point challenges.

Crossword games on the Internet

Crossword games servers

Telnet-based

A MUD-like server, MarlDOoM, dedicated to playing crossword games (with boards configurable by the players) is available, as is a FAQ for it, and a FAQ for MUDs generally. A robot normally is on-line to play there. A Windows graphical interface has been created.

Other MUDs have crossword-game play among their services.

IRC-based

Using Internet Relay Chat, the Internet Scrabble Club is quite well done. All you need is a recent browser.

WWW-based

Several servers unlicensed by the rights holders have been closed. Some or all were removed after letters from Hasbro's attorneys.

For now, at least, still running are:

Some mirrors of Net-Scrabble may move from one server to another guerilla-style. Try this one. Scribble is another non-matchplay game.

Crossword games mailing lists

The international mailing list crossword-games is open to anyone, crossword-games-pro to active tournament players ("cgp"), and wordgame-programmers to anyone interested in design of computer programs for crossword games. The administratrix has a homepage for cgp, and Jim Geary maintains a list of frequently misunderstood things for it. There are also a UK-centred list, a SOWPODS list, and lists for OSPD, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Sweden (for Swedish language play).

Crossword games related newsgroup

No Scrabble-specific Usenet newsgroup exists, and all indications are that such a group wouldn't generate enough traffic. The best newsgroup for discussing crossword games is rec.games.board. The flat-text version of this FAQ is posted there monthly, and occasional questions are asked and answered there.

Chat

The Hasbro CD-ROM game and Networdz are discussed on IRC Undernet in #scrabble, on DalNet in #scrabble and #scrabbleparlor and at NewNet. These IRC servers may, and ISC does (in English, French, Romanian, Italian or Dutch), facilitate on-line play.

Differences between Scrabble in North America and in the UK

OSW and Chambers govern Scrabble play in the UK. Australia is moving toward "double-dictionary" play, where words from either Chambers or OSPD are accepted. A few clubs in North America have made this at least optional. An added impetus for this trend is the expurgation of OSPD.

In the UK, a player erroneously challenging suffers no penalty.

The UK had a second form of Scrabble play that faded away in the 1990s: high-score tournaments, where only the total of one's own scores matters. Since one's "opponents'" scores are irrelevant, play in this system aimed for open boards and encouraged elaborate setups often independently mined by the two players.

Publications and Tools for Scrabble

Tools

Game Viewer
Andrew Cook provides a tool showing the progress of a game on a graphic board, given a suitably formated game log, and another that simply turns a text image of a board graphical.
ScrabbleScam (Windows)
Shows all legal moves given a rack and board state, using the OTaCWL. $14, hampered version free.

	    homepage
    

Periodicals

The Last Word
General newsletter for North American competitive Scrabble, by the former NASPA newsletter editor. Free for now.
		homepage
The Center Star
Humor. Not yet reviewed. Bimonthly, $18 per year ($15 until 17 Mar 2005).
		Stephanie Steele
		27 Summit Ct
		St Paul, MN 55102
		flamingjune40@hotmail.com
		homepage
Scrabble News
This is a publication of the National Scrabble Association, and comes with membership.

Puzzles, contests, gossip, intermediate and advanced tactics, official information from NSA and Milton Bradley, tournament listings and tournament results.

Non-North American periodicals
Onwords
Billing itself as the "Scrabble Enthusiasts' Magazine", this is the only publication substantially written by more than one person. It features numerous columns, lists, analyses, letters and tournament reports. Subscriptions are #8 for 6 issues in the UK, #12 elsewhere. It is now produced by the only known "Scrabble consultancy".

		    Allan J Simmons
		    Onwords Magazine
		    Onwords Ltd
		    Edington House, The Bow
		    Coldingham TD14 5NE
		    Scotland
		    01890-771430/771785
		    onwordsmag@aol.com
		    homepage
The Last Word
The newsletter of the ABSP.

		    homepage, archived here
Forwords
The quarterly official magazine of the New Zealand Association of Scrabble Players, including news, tournament results, comments and competitions.

		    Jeff Grant
		    1109 Allenby St
		    Hastings
		    NZ
Scrabble Club News
Published by Spear, #8 for 6 issues. News about clubs in the UK.
Defunct periodicals
WORDGAME Magazine
This highly praised SOWPODS-based newsletter followed in the footsteps of Rack Your Brain, Medleys and JG Newsletter, with strong analyses, informed by his computerized player with built-in sophisticated simulation, BobBot. 2000-2001.

		    Mark Watkins
		    mwatkins@math.uga.edu
		    homepage
Letters for Expert Players
This letter-form publication, which ceased in December 1986, still forms a rich mine of top expert opinion on interesting positions. Back issues may (possibly) still be available from:

		    Albert Weissman
		    11 White Rock Road
		    Westerly, RI 02891
Matchups
Matchups specialized in detailed tournament results, while its supplement, Matchups Extra, picked up from the Letters in using a panel of experts to annotate interesting positions. Published 1984-1991. Back issues available.
Medleys
Probably the highlight of this well-edited, entertainingly written monthly were the game annotations. One game per month was annotated in full. Three interesting positions were analyzed by readers, with quotes. Word lists, study techniques, anecdotes, humor and opinions rounded out the publication. The only drawback was a long-running two-page tournament advertisement in this 12 page newsletter.

For the 12 issues of 1991 and 1992, $34 each; for 1993, $36; plus $2 shipping ($3 USD in Canada).

Also, compiled from the pages of Medleys, "The Art and Science of Anamonics" and "Complete 7+1 Anamonics #1-2100".

$5 and $29 respectively; plus $0, $2 shipping.

"Expert Analysis -- Consensus Game" #1, #2, #3, #4, and "Expert Analysis -- Consensus Extras" vol. 1, vol. 2, $29 each; plus $2 shipping.

The second and subsequent least expensive items are charged half the above shipping costs.

The entire run of Medleys has been reissued as part of Archive: Two Word Game Classics.

Rack Your Brain
Subtitled "Analysis of your favorite crossword game", Brian Sheppard's series of booklets deeply analyzed specific positions. By the author of the program Maven, which is an important tool for move analysis.
JG Newsletter
This excellent publication followed in the footsteps of Letters for Expert Players and Medleys in its thorough position analyses. Also included some puzzles. Bound reprint of all issues is expected in 2004.

		    Jim Geary
		    31 West Cochise Dr
		    Phoenix, AZ 85021-2484
		    (602) 943-5281
		    jimgeary@jimgeary.com
Tourney News
This provided mostly tournament results listings, with bits of discussion of tactics, issues and occasional word lists.

Books and CD-ROMs

(Out-of-print books listed can be located, among other ways, through Advanced Booksellers Exchange.)

The outstanding books below are The Scrabble Player's Handbook, How to Play Scrabble Like a Champion How to Win at Scrabble (the 2004 Fisher/Webb book, not the 1953 book of that title) and Can-Am 2002. Also superb, with more elementary material, is Everything Scrabble (3rd ed.). Word Freak is just as good at illuminating the North American competitive Scrabble scene.

The Scrabble Player's Handbook, by a team of World [English language] Championship competitors, 2012.
A sophisticated, comprehensive look at how to play at a high level. Free e-book.
How to Play Scrabble Like a Champion, Joel Wapnick. Puzzlewright, 2010.
A revised and updated edition of his The Champion's Strategy for Winning at Scrabble Brand Crossword Game, featuring always insightful, modern analyses by Wapnick, 1983 North American and 1999 World [English language] champion.
A Complete Dictionary for North American Scrabble Players (for Kindle), Mohan Chunkath, Anuttama Sheela Mohan.
Not reviewed. Collins edition planned.
Letterati: An Unauthorized Look at Scrabble and the People Who Play It, Paul McCarthy. Ecw Press, 2008.
Not yet read by this reviewer; however, other descriptions suggest it to be excellent.
Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius, and Obsession in the World of Competitive Scrabble Players, Stefan Fatsis. Houghton Mifflin, 2001. (Also in paperback.)
Fatsis, sports business reporter for the Wall Street Journal, set out to become a competitive Scrabble player -- and along the way, met many of the most extraordinary personalities who play in the top ranks. This terrific book captures much of the flavor of competition.

(At Hasbro's last-minute insistence, the title was changed from "... Competitive Scrabble" to "... Competitive Scrabble Players," the significance to them being the use of "Scrabble" as an adjective. This required gluing in a replacement cover page in the first US printing. The UK edition did not require this change.)

Pat's Picture Book, Patrick Suglia
A PDF file, currently covering words beginning with A-C, projected to cover the whole alphabet, with links to websites containing full descriptions of the meanings. $12.50. homepage.
Can-Am 2002, Joel Wapnick and Brian Sheppard. 2004.
Superb, insightful, modern analyses. Annotates 17 of the 72 games from an invitational tournament between elite players from Canada and the US, with transcripts of the remainder. Analyses include results of simulation with an advanced version of Maven. Also 32 endgame problems and chapters by Sheppard on using Maven to analyze games and on rack-leave evaluation. $25 CAD + $7.50 shipping ($10 air), $20 USD + $7 ($9 air) to US. International shipping USD $8.75 ($19 air). Include Archive for $6.50 CAD or $5 USD. Joel Wapnick, 4851 Cedar Crescent, Montreal PQ H3W 2J1 Canada, homepage.
Everything Scrabble, Joe Edley & John D. Williams, Jr., 3rd ed. 2009, Gallery Books. The author was the 1980, 1992 and 2000 North American champion.
Practical advice for finding good plays plus practice word puzzles on and off board.
Archive: Two Word Game Classics, Joel Wapnick and Nick Ballard. CD-ROM (for Windows 95/Macintosh), 1999.
This consists of (1) a revision of Wapnick's already excellent 1986 The Champion's Strategy for Winning at Scrabble Brand Crossword Game, by Joel Wapnick, 1983 North American and 1999 World [English language] champion, in light of later learning and insight, plus (2) the entire run of Ballard's periodical "Medleys" (which includes contributions from other players). $26 CAD + $4 shipping within Canada, or $18 USD + $3 shipping to the US, $5 shipping overseas (shipping in any quantity), from Joel Wapnick, 4851 Cedar Crescent, Montreal PQ H3W 2J1 Canada, purchase, archive51@hotmail.com, homepage.
The Official Scrabble Puzzle Book, Joe Edley. 1997, Pocket Books.
In bookstores, $14. Designed to increase board skills. The author was the 1980, 1992 and 2000 North American champion. ESPD-based, although that is not a serious drawback in this case.
One Wordy Guy, William R. Webster. 1995, WilMar Pub.
A novel on Scrabble; includes puzzles. $6 postpaid from WilMar Publishing, c/o William R. Webster, Box 5023, Carefree, AZ 85377.
The Literate Puzzler, Rita Norr & Audrey Tumbarello. 1994, Sterling Pub. Co.
More puzzles using words from OSPD. In bookstores, $5.
The Word Game Power Workout, Rita Norr & Audrey Tumbarello. 1993, Perigee, Putnam Publ.
Endeavors to teach words "through trivia, word meanings, riddles, mnemonics, and geography." This book appears useful for breaking the reader through to thinking in terms of anagrams, hooks, prefixes, suffixes and extensions. Also includes four pages of well thought out, dense suggestions for better Scrabble play. $12.
Scrabble Tournament Success, Darrell Day.
A booklet focusing on the thought processes which can help intermediate players improve. Available from the author, who finished fifth in one North American Championships, for USD $25. Darrell Day, P.O. Box 835128, Richardson, TX 75083 or darrell@archsearch.biz.
The Ultimate Guide to Winning Scrabble Brand Crossword Game, Michael Lawrence & John Ozag. 1987, Bantam. Out of print.
Good for beginners to intermediates; covers many of the basic approaches to analysis.
The Champion's Strategy for Winning at Scrabble Brand Crossword Game, Joel Wapnick. 1986, Stein & Day. Out of print.
Best for advanced players, with sophisticated analyses of many positions and good study techniques. The author was the 1983 North American and 1999 World [English Language] champion. Reissued on CD-ROM as part of Archive: Two Word Game Classics.
A Guide to Playing the Scrabble Brand Word Game, Gyles Brandreth. 1985, Simon & Schuster. Out of print.
The Ultimate Guide to Winning Scrabble, Derryn Hinch. 2001
A revision (with the help of top Australian player John Holgate) of his 1976 The Scrabble Book (Mason/Charter), but known so far only to be available in Australia.
The Official Scrabble Player's Handbook, Drue K. Conklin. Harmony Books. Out of print.
Scrabble Players Handbook, Selchow & Righter Company. 1974. Out of print.
More Fun with Scrabble, Jacob S. Orleans & Edmund Jacobson. 1954, Grosset & Dunlap. Out of print.
How to Win at Scrabble, Jacob Orleans & Edmund Jacobson. 1953, Grosset & Dunlap. Out of print.
British and Double-Dictionary Scrabble books:

Until Collins began publishing books useful to competitive Scrabble, Chambers had the license from Mattel to publish Scrabble titles. Some of these are still in print, but be aware that those providing word lists, as these are based on the superseded Chambers official Scrabble Words International, and beware of their Family Scrabble Dictionary (2001), as it "omits vulgar, obsolete and offensive terms."

Need to Know? Scrabble, Barry Grossman. Collins, 2006. 192 pp, ISBN: 0007235097/978-0007235094
See the favorable review by Steven Gruzd.
How to Win at Scrabble, Andrew Fisher, David Webb. 2004, B.T. Batsford
Almost certainly the best exposition for the benefit of existing experts and others this reviewer has read. Expert strategies, including how to learn words and which to focus on, how to find and evaluate moves, and endgames. 160 pages, paperback. (Impossible to confuse in sophistication with the 1953 book of the same title.) (Still listed at many stores under its original title, The Art of Scrabble.)
Short Scrabble Words (2003, Chambers)
Useful tips on and definitions of the 2- and 3-letter words from OSWI. £3.50
Starting Out in Scrabble, Allan Simmons. 2002, Everyman Mindsports (UK); 2003 Everyman Chess (US)
A thorough grounding in the essentials of play for newcomers. 128 pages paperback. ISBN 1857443179.
Top Scrabble Tips, Allan Simmons. 2000, Chambers.
Compilation of tips for players from beginner to "professional". One reviewer said it shows a gift for explaining the thought process involved in expert play.
100 Scrabble Puzzles (Improve Your Game), Paul Lamford and Allan Simmons. 1999, Carlton Books, #4.
Unreviewed, but Simmons is a highly-skilled player and expositor.
Scrabble Hints, 1999, Chambers.
A free e-book from Chambers, adapted from parts of Scrabble for Beginners, The Scrabble Puzzle Book and Official Scrabble Lists.
Scrabble for Beginners, Barry Grossman. 1998, Chambers.
"Lively and humorous ... most .. players will find something of value." (Onwords.)
The Ultimate Scrabble Book, Philip Nelkon. 1995, Stanley Paul, #15.
Tips on tactics illustrated with tournament situations; explanation of the British rules. Quizzes and puzzles. Credit card orders in the UK at 01279 635377.
World Championship Scrabble, Gyles Brandreth & Darryl Francis. 1992, Chambers.
Twenty-two annotated games from the 1991 World (English language) Scrabble Championship, which was played using words in OSW or OSPD.
The Scrabble Companion, Gyles Brandreth & Darryl Francis. 1988, David & Charles. Out of print.
Play Better Scrabble Video, Darryl Francis.
#11 including shipping to the UK, from Spear.
How to Play Better Scrabble, Darryl Francis. Chambers. Out of print.
Some good strategy tips, reportedly.
A Guide to Playing the Scrabble Brand Crossword Game, Gyles Brandreth. 1985, Simon & Schuster.
Play Better Scrabble, Michael Goldman. 1983.
Focuses on obsolete high-score version of competition.
The Scrabble Book, Gyles Brandreth
Covers both British & North American Scrabble. $6 + $4 shipping, from Cahill & Co., (800) 755-8531.
The Scrabble Puzzle Book, Gyles Brandreth. Futura, 1981.
Championship Scrabble, Alan Richter. 1980, Kay & Ward.
Focuses on obsolete high-score version of competition.

Word lists

Lexicons

Since the list of words from a dictionary has uncertain copyright status, people having such lists for personal use shy away from sharing them. However, a copies can be found using Web searches.

Also available are a Palm-formatted file of all TWL definitions and a large list of Anamonics, compiled by John J. Chew III. SOWPODS also is available. One site currently offers TWL + Long Words in one file, SOWPODS, and the French reference ODS.

The Enable word list, from Mendel Cooper includes a copy of TWL98 accurate for 2- to 8-letter-words except for the spurious "REPTILIA".
OSPD2+ is still available.

Internet anagram finders and word listers

Printed lists

Numerous lists and other items are available from Cygnus Cybernetics.
Bob's Bible: Word hooks and anagrams, Robert Gillis
Annotated word list of 2-8 letters, plus 8-to-make-9-letter hooks. $20 + $2 shipping from:

	Robert Gillis
	P.O. Box 9124
	Huntsville, AL 35812-0124
	homepage
	bible@hiwaay.net
Brow-Raisers: A User Friendly Guide to Building A Winning Scrabble® Vocabulary, Tony Rasch (2001)
A variety of lists presented in a recommended study program. Aimed at players up to the intermediate level. Stated to be "ideal for living room players." $20, homepage.
Short Words; Long Words, John J. Chew III
All 2- thru 8-letter, and 9- thru 15-letter words accepted in North American play, updated for OSPD3. CAD $14 or USD $10 each plus shipping from John Chew.
Tournament Blank Book, Alan Frank
Shows all letters with which each set of six and seven letters anagrams to make a word, updated for TWL98. Also specifies whether more than one word can be formed. Spiral bound. $24 + $3 shipping from Matchups.
Tournament Anagram Book, Alan Frank
All 2- to 8-letter words anagrammed according to their alphabetized letter sets, updated for TWL98. Two volumes, the second of which handles 9- to 11-letter words. $15 + $3 shipping each (or $49 + $6 shipping together with the Tournament Blank Book, above) from Matchups.
The Weird Book, Alan Frank
Features such retrograde lists as words with weird trigrams, high probability racks forming 7- and 8-letter words with only one low probability tile, and words displaying all ways of forming plurals (e.g. LIKUTA MAKUTA, ZLOTY ZLOTYCH). Out of print. $10 + $2 shipping from Matchups.
The Complete Wordbook for Game Players: Winning Words for Word Freaks, Mike Baron
Successor to The Complete Wordbook, below. Not yet reviewed. 2004
The Complete Wordbook, Mike Baron & Brian Sheppard
Out of print. Contains (1) specialty word lists: the most efficient lists to study (vowel heavy words; JQXZ 2..6s; -S and non-S surprise shorts; 7s & 8s grouped by studying priority; -INGS, -LIKE, -ABLE, -IBLE lists); (2) hooks: 2-to-make-3s ... 8-to-make-9s; and (3) alphagrams: all 3s ... 8s unscrambled, for OSPD2.
The Complete Blankbook, Mike Baron & Jim Homan
Out of print. Lists all 6- and 7-letter sets forming 7- and 8-letter words and all bingos formed, for OSPD2.
All Words, Jim Homan
All 2- thru 9-letter words accepted in North American play, updated for OSPD3, with new words marked. $12 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, but availability unconfirmed.
Back-Words, Jim Homan
All 2- thru 9-letter words accepted in North American play alphabetized from the back, updated for OSPD3. $12 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, but availability unconfirmed.
9-Letter Hooks and Anagrams, Jim Homan
Shows what letters extend 8- to 9-letter words, and letter sets forming all 9-letter words. $10 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, but availability unconfirmed.
High Probability Bingos, Jim Homan
The 1000 most likely 7- and 8-letter words to draw to an empty rack. Also, the 1000 7- and 8-letter words most often played by a computer in a substantial sample of games. $3.25 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, but availability unconfirmed.
JQXZ Words, Jim Homan
2- through 9-letter words containing the four top tiles. $3.50 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, but availability unconfirmed.
The Family Bingo Tree, Randy Hersom
Similar to the two above, it groups together all 7- and 8-letter words formable from each 6-letter set. $45 from Randy Hersom.
hookiesT, Randy Hersom
2-to-make-3 thru 7-to-make-8 hooks. $22 from Randy Hersom.
Hooklets, John Babina
Traces chains of words each hooking the one before. Also has lists of non-hook words and prefix and suffix lists. $12 plus $3 shipping, at Northeast tournaments or by arrangement for postal mail, from John Babina, babina@cs.sunysb.edu.
BigDoggy Book of Word Lists, Brian Wagner
All 7- and 8-letter words, vowel dumps, JQXZ words, and various prefix and suffix lists. $20 plus $4 shipping, plus $5 outside North America.

	    Brian Wagner
	    815 E Fremont Ave #53
	    Sunnyvale, CA 94087
	    bigdoggy@dsp.net
	    homepage
New Words Study Guide and Definitions, Pat Cole
Lists words added due to OSPD3, with inflections and brief definitions, plus some important lists of new words and hooks, study hints, variant spelling and anagrams. $10 plus $2 postage from Pat Cole, 5816 Eastpines Dr, Riverdale, MD, (301) 927-5537, 249-2609 fax, patcole@lancnews.infi.net. The definitions also are offered on line.
Double List Word Book, Ethel Cannon Sherard
OSPD1 based, alphabetically by word length and by last letter. Has numerous omissions. Gwethine Publishing Co, P.O. Box 41344, Los Angeles, CA 90041.
The Scrabble Word-building Book, Saleem Ahmed; $6
Not based on any standard word list.
The Official Scrabble Word Finder. Macmillan, Robert W Schachner; $7
Revised edition due out March 1998. The 1988 edition of this was useless for competitive Scrabble. ESPD-based -- in this case, a serious drawback.
Official Scrabble Word Guide. Grosset & Dunlap, Jacob Orleans; $7
This 1953 book, still found in stores, is based roughly on the Funk & Wagnalls dictionary then current.
Redwood International Word List, Barry Harridge, Lesley Mack and Geoff Wright. Redwood Editions. Out of print. See OSWI instead.
Lists all words of 2 to 9 letters in either Chambers/OSW or TWL98 marked according to source.

		    Hinkler Book Distributors Pty Ltd
		    20-24 Redwood Dr
		    Dingley, Victoria 3172
		    Australia
		    (03) 9558-0611
		    barry@axs.com.au
Distribution was halted by an injunction issued in Australia at the behest of Chambers, after which Hinkler and Chambers announced plans to collaborate on future Scrabble-related titles.
Official Scrabble Words International2001, Chambers.
Comprehensive listing of 2- to 9-letter words in OSW or TWL98, with TWL98-only words marked.
Official Scrabble Words, 3rd ed. 1994, Chambers.
Comprehensive listing of 2- to 9-letter words in the official Scrabble word reference, the Chambers dictionary.
Official Scrabble Lists, 2nd ed. 1994, Chambers.
Numerous lists based on OSW3; useful playing hints. Available in the same places as OSW.
Griffon Word List 1995
Based on OSW + OSPD, listing all words up to 8 letters in length. #15, US $24, Aus $28 includes international air mail, Aus $20 each for ten.

		    Geoff Wright
		    PO Box 13
		    Brunswick Australia 3056

		    Barry Harridge
		    barry@axs.com.au
Celebrity Scrabble, Lois Kahan
Proper names acceptable under OSPD.

		    Lois Kahan
		    392 Central Park West
		    New York, NY 10025
English Jus Ain Twat Tizwas, Arlene Fine
Humorous and, the goal is, memorable mispronunciations of many double-dictionary words in short narratives and lists. SOWPODS. Real definitions are given in a glossary.

		    Arlene Fine
		    87 Sandler Rd
		    Percelia Estate
		    Johannesburg
		    2192
		    South Africa
		    fines@netactive.co.za
The Consogram Book, Barry Harridge
Seven- and eight-letter words, showing racks alphabetized first by consonants and then vowels. SOWPODS, marked if OSW- or OSPD-only. For example, DMNSAEE shows DEMEANS, #AMENDES and $SEEDMAN.

		    Barry Harridge
		    barry@axs.com.au
		    free copy for personal use (980K)
Six-Letter Words, Bob Jackman
$16 AUD (+ $1 AUD if ordering only one) Shows end-hooks. 50 of its 80 pages are devoted to defining most 6lw.
SOWPODS Five-Letter Words, Bob Jackman
Unusual double-dictionary fives defined and organized by common characteristics as an aid to learning. $18 AUD within or $16 AUD outside Australia.
Four-Letter Words Allowable in Scrabble, 2nd ed., Bob Jackman
Unusual double-dictionary fours defined and organized by common characteristics as an aid to learning. OSW with OSPD supplement. $10 AUD.

		    Bob Jackman
		    P.O. Box 28
		    Lindfield NSW 2070
		    Australia
		    rjackman@ozemail.com.au
		    homepage
Official Scrabble Words on Compact Disk
This is supplied for Sony's Data Diskman. Search facilities are reportedly poor.
Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, 4th ed. (handheld, model SCR-228 by Franklin)
Franklin and NSA sell a revised version of this after withdrawing a problematic first run (model SCR-226).

As shipped, this device provides the expurgated OSPD4. To convert it to use OWL2, enter these codes:

	    * press CLEAR
	    * type **OTCWL at the READY screen
	    * press ENTER
	
This must be done after every battery change.

There may be a few corrections to this device. So far, only CINEPLEX (which comes from OSWI) has been confirmed as a mistaken inclusion.

		    Franklin information page
		    (800) 266-5626, (609) 386-2500
		    Word Gear information page
Official Scrabble Players Electronic Dictionary, 2nd ed. (handheld, model SCR-30 by Franklin)
No longer being produced by Franklin, this credit-card sized device contains OSPD2. It does anagram queries and queries with blanks in fixed position. Some proper nouns have crept in as acceptable words, apparently from careless scanning of the printed OSPD2. Availability uncertain, as his former Web site has been taken over by someone far less reputable, but perhaps still available for $60 in person, plus $3.75 shipping for 1-4 units from

		    Bob Smith
		    1785 O'Farrell St #7
		    San Francisco, CA 94115
		    (415) 931-0141
		    (415) 968-7297 fax
		    bobsmith@gamewareco.com
		    GameWare homepage
although I have heard complaints about Smith's service. Smith ships each device with a card listing all the current corrections. Although it is becoming less useful, Smith raises its price as time passes.

The Franklin OSPD2 was withdrawn, possibly because of wrangling between Franklin and Milton Bradley about its proceeds. See the successor version.

The manual is provided by Franklin.

The Official Scrabble Page-a-Day Calendar, John D. Williams, Jr., Joe Edley. Workman Publishing.
One word, puzzle, or tip per day from OSPD in a yearly calendars. $9, $11 CAD. ESPD-based, although that is not a serious drawback in this case.
Scrabble Roll-A-Puzzle, Herbko
For one low price of $20 ($35 for a back-lit version), you get 24 (48) high-score puzzles like those you can get for free by reading the crossword-game mailing lists. Herbko Intl, Inc. 301 W Hallandale Beach Blvd, Hollywood, FL 33023, (954) 454-7771.

Word study/lookup software and tapes

See also Barry Harridge's list.

Zyzzyva (Windows, Mac, Linux, iPad)
Provides word study by a spaced repetition method, and a judging function that has set the standard for handling challenges in tournaments, Desktop versions are free; iPad app has a free Lite version. TWL, Collins, ODS (French), FISE (Spanish), Zinga (Italian), Words With Friends. To use it with the current (2012) Collins Scrabble Words, download the lexicon.

	homepage
	users' mailing list
	iPad version
	iPad Lite version
JudgeWord (Android)
By John O'Laughlin, codeveloper of Quackle. Does software self-lookups. TWL and Collins. homepage
Barrett Study Tapes (cassette tapes)
Expert Pat Barrett's mild Texas voice recites racks and their solutions in sets ($25/$50 for 3/6-tape sets, $5/$3 shipping):
  • unusual 5s (2 tapes) plus no-S and weird-S 4s and 5s (1 tape), both with printed lists
  • 7s and 8s having word anagrams, by number of anagrams, then by probability (6 tapes each for 7s and 8s)
  • hooks of 5s, 6s, 7s and 8s (6 tapes)
LAMPWords (PalmOS)
Free. Anagrammer. Others have found it excellent as an adjudication device. homepage
Word Judge (PC)
Free, by John Babina, has both OTaCWL and OLWL. In version 1.3. It boots on a PC without using MS-DOS or Windows, and thus should work normally on even most old laptops. Also runnable with extra-large fonts. Found very suitable for performing tournament word judging duties.
TileBag (Windows)
A screen saver and word list generator, based on OTaCWL. Unreviewed.

	homepage
WordFind {Lite, ++ and Pro} (Palm OS)
The Lite version uses only OSPD3; Pro ($10) comes with OTaCWL and ++ ($15) additionally and dictionary customization tool. homepage
Metagrams (Windows CE)
"Video flashcards" for studying TWL, OSW and SOWPODS word lists, with definitions and hooks. homepage
LexAbility (IBM PC)
Besides an anagram study system, includes a feature allowing play of Scrabble by modem. $50 postpaid in US and Canada.

		  Randy Hersom
		  115A Rhyne St
		  Morganton, NC 28655
		  (704) 437-6841
		  randyhersom@hci.net
Puzlpack (IBM PC), $25 + $3 shipping.

		  Chuck Fendall
		  Recroom Recware
		  P.O. Box 307
		  Pacific Grove, CA 93950
WordFinder (Windows)
Free. Provides either or both of TWL and OSW.

	homepage
LeXpert (Windows, Windows CE, Smartphone)
Free. Updated to February 2006 North American and international lexicons. Tests on or presents a timed slide show of anagram and hook lists, using predefined or customized word sets; lists words containing patterns or letter sets. TWL, OSPD, OSW and SOWPODS versions.

		archived LeXpert homepage
	       (archived Windows download)
		third-party home for Windows LeXpert
		third-party executable and update for Collins
		data files for Collins
WordFind (Palm OS)
Finds words matching templates, anagrams, substitution ciphers and cryptograms. WordFindLite is simpler in use and features. WordFind++ ($10) uses OSPD3, and is more complex but much more powerful. WordFindPro ($15) uses TWL98, and adds support for multiple resident dictionaries and a Windows dictionary maintenance program. Demo versions have 30240 word dictionary.

		Dr Graham Wheeler
		gram@bradygirl.com
		homepage
WordLexica (Windows95+)
$15 registration fee. Tests on lists, remembering the user's previous performance. Refuses to use the naughty words, otherwise TWL98.

		homepage
Wordy (IBM PC)
$2 registration fee. More useful for its set of list construction tools than its word-formation game.

		Mendel Cooper
		P.O. Box 237
		St David, AZ 85630-0237
		thegrendel@theriver.com
		Wordy Web page
		Judge Web page
Judge (Unix, X11, DOS)
Free. Has to be compiled for the target machine. Performs lookups for challenges. From Mendel Cooper, above.
qz (Unix, Macintosh, DOS)
Free. Tests on questions and answers supplied by the user individually or inserted from a file. By John J. Chew III, jjchew@math.toronto.edu.
Word Ear-Obics (cassette tapes)
$10 for each of three cassettes, which contain high-frequency seven-letter words from common six-letter stems, eight-letter words from the stem AEINST, and four and five letter JKQXZ words with hooks.

		4414 Sparta Way
		N Las Vegas, NV 89030
		(702) 656-7570
Four Star (Windows)
Free. Word study program for learning 4-letter words. By Will Cooper.
WordWise (Windows)
Free. Tests on 7- and 8-letter stems and 4-letter words. Version 1.2, by Will Cooper.
Video Flashcards (IBM PC)
Tests on anagrams and hooks. The flashcards of this well done program's paradigm can be chosen, sorted, filtered and saved straightforwardly. Words solved needn't be typed. Shows definitions from a user-supplied file. Excellent visual reinforcement. Version updated for OWL2 free.
Flash (IBM PC)
#18.50 in the UK. For studying OSW bonus (bingo) word lists starting from the top 99 6-letter racks. (The program is licensed to use OSW; its author is considering an OSPD or double-dictionary edition.)

		Ian Burn
		8 Cromer Close
		Reading, Berks
		England RG31 5NR
Look (IBM PC)
Free. Performs lookups in both OSPD and OSW, making membership in each lexicon explicit. It is used for official adjudications in Australia, and is beginning to be used in North America.

		Barry Harridge
		1B Gladstone St
		Windsor VIC 3181
		Australia
		(03) 9510 9381
		barry@axs.com.au
TEA (Windows)
The Electronic Alveary, shareware, #20. Finds anagrams and other restricted lists. Scrabble edition includes a dictionary based on the ENABLE 1.0 word list.

		Bryson Limited
		10 Wagtail Close
		Twyford
		Reading RG10 9ED
		United Kingdom
		+44 118 9344153
		+44 118 9344153 fax
		ross@bryson.demon.co.uk
		homepage
Frances (Windows 95), $26 on CD-ROM. Builds and prints lists, or displays them in a slide show.

		Carlene Wallis
		1968 Fieldcrest Dr
		Sparks, NV 89434
		carlenew@juno.com
Whiz Cards (paper)
Flash cards, $3 to $35 per set, from Gary Moss.

Tournament Software

All listed tournament software is free to use.

tsh (any system)
By John Chew. Runs on any system supplied with perl. Highly flexible and sophisticated. Assigns firsts and seconds. Calculates ratings changes. Connects directly to submit results to NASPA.
	    homepage
	
Director! (Windows)
By Marc Levesque. From its homepage description, appears quite sophisticated and comparable to tsh.
	    homepage
	
TourneyMan (Windows)
By Jeff Widergren. Long used by the NSA for national and other large tournaments.
	    homepage
	
TMENU (MS-DOS)
By R.A. Fontes. Very well regarded and widely adopted.
	    homepage
	

Scoresheets

A preprinted scoresheet's main advantage over a blank page is a preprinted list of the 100 tiles with which the bag starts. Most players will freely let others copy the printed scoresheet they use. The following are freely available on-line:

Basic tactics and methods

John Holgate of Australia has encapsulated what is needed to play well as:

The following short exploration of some of this is not meant to be a guide to everything needed to play well, only to suggest the kind of thinking required.

Rack Balance
Some groups of letters combine well, others poorly. Most obviously, racks full of vowels or of consonants usually are hard to play. Also, racks with duplicate letters -- even "good" letters (except most often S and sometimes E) -- reduce flexibility. Therefore, give weight in evaluating possible plays to how well the leave combines.

As a corollary, also consider what replacement tiles you're likely to draw. For example, if the choice between playing FARM and FORM is otherwise indifferent, and there are many "A"s unplayed but few "O"s, use the A to minimize the likelihood of duplication on the next rack.

The simplest application of attending to leave is attempting to keep good tiles. On average, S, E, R, and so on, form words most flexibly, and are particularly conducive to bingos. Choices between letters lower down also matter: P is better than B. But racks with Z or X tend to score high without playing long words. Which type of "good" letter is best to keep varies.

In applying all these ideas, consider the board situation. If there is a prime spot for a T, not used by the candidate plays, but none for an S, prefer to play off the S. If the letters available to be played through are mostly consonants, lean further toward keeping vowels.

Tile-tracking
Since the set of tiles in a game is always the same, knowing what is left is as useful to the Scrabble player as to the card-counting blackjack player -- only easier. While some find tracking hurts their concentration, after practice, most do it without disruption. Others count only when they see a specific need.

Tracking allows better rack balancing: knowing there are many more "A"s than "O"s outstanding allows one to lean toward playing an A. It keeps one aware of whether the Q is outstanding, and of the risk and opportunity in other tiles which fit particularly well or poorly with the board.

Finally, once no tiles remain in the bag, tracking determines what exactly is on the opponent's rack. Just before the bag is empty, it allows fairly confident guessing what the opponent has. These allow all kinds of end-game play: set-ups, plays to assure the opponent cannot go out and enable one to throw out all rules of thumb and simply analyze cases for how to win.

Challenging
One of the tactical considerations for challenging is not special to Scrabble. If the only way you can lose is to challenge your opponent's word, refrain. If winning requires a successful challenge (plus perhaps some further luck) and there is any chance the word is phony, challenge.

It is generally best not to challenge a bingo if an alternative bingo was playable. I once played (P)SCHENT for several fewer points than CH(A)STEN because I knew my opponent would be outraged that I'd try such a stupid word on him. He should have calmed his emotions and considered my alternatives. Of course, had he found the over ten point better play, he might have inferred I had missed it, and challenged.

Consider the possibility that you are better off with the (possibly) phony word on the board. If it creates a lucrative opening for you, makes especially good use of your rack, or wastes your opponent's blank, offset the point benefit to you against the benefit to opponent of not losing this turn. Weight this calculation using your degree of certainty as to whether the word is good.

Use your right to challenge all words formed. Since the director gives only one ruling on the acceptability of all challenged words, your opponent may be uncertain which word was phony and try the bad word again.

Study
The great variety in learning styles prevents any definitive recommendation of study methods, but there are some principles.

Study the words most likely to occur. Know the two-letter words cold, since they are essential to common parallel plays. On the way to learning the three-letter words solidly, learn all front and back extensions for the twos. Learning the part of speech and the meaning of the two-letter words helps many people assimilate this; it is a technique that allows many to derive dual benefit from all kinds of study.

Also extra likely to occur because of the reward, as well as worthy of special study simply because of the reward, are the seven- and eight-letter words. Many techniques are possible.

One top player has memorized an ordered list of these words each of which is the first element of one of a set of subsidiary lists which encompass the entire set of bingos. That method is only for the very dedicated. Practice anagramming by matching the remaining letters to a common suffix or prefix. Some claim success in extending this technique to allow recognition of words which, for example, contain the letters ING but form only a non-"-ING" word, such as LINGOES.

Unless you have a photographic memory, try to learn words in small enough sets that you can master them to the point that you recognize both when you can and cannot anagram to one of them. For example, learn the list of all eight letter words containing exactly the vowels EEIIO (EOLIPILE and others). Then the phony OLEINIZE will not get by you, nor will you try it yourself.

Try Anamonics, a memory-efficient technique for learning, positively and negatively, which letters 6- and 7-letter sets anagram with to make words. For example, the letters of SLANDER make an 8-letter word with each of the letters in CALL GOD A PIOUS CHUMP. For this and other very effective techniques, see back issues of Medleys.

Practice anagramming at any time there are words around you on whose meaning you do not need to concentrate. This will soon take over your life so that even reading the newspaper, SENATOR will translate to TREASON and ATONERS, deeply affecting your world-view.

Typical games

Typical scores

In the 1998 and 2004 North American championships, the four and seven divisions from expert down had the following statistics for points scored per side:

              1      2      3      4    overall
    mean    387.5  369.8  359.1  341.5   364.7
    stddev   60.5   57.4   54.7   55.4    59.3
    median  371    367    348    326     363

              1      2      3      4      5      6      7    overall
    mean    391.3  380.3  369.6  362.4  353.2  342.0  327.8   368.3
    stddev   62.1   59.8   56.9   55.0   53.6   51.9   54.2    59.9
    median  389    378    368    360    351    340    326.5   366

As the expert division grew from 126 to 173 and the whole field from 535 to 837, the increases in mean and median appear to support the widely held belief that the standard of play has risen.

Frequency of bingos

In the 1983 North American championship among 32 selected players, players got 2.9 bingos per game between them in games that happened to be annotated. John O'Laughlin has calculated the probability of having a playable bingo on the first rack as 12.92% (or 1/7.74) for OWL2 and 15.07% (1/6.64) for OWL2+OSWI.

Scrabble records

Actual

The following records are for sanctioned (that is, in an official club or tournament) North American play. Some UK and other records are mentioned, but not those occurring under high-score rules. Note that scores from North America are not strictly comparable with others because there the first to play out receives the value of opponent's tiles twice rather than once. Games played under SOWPODS allow higher scores.

Score

The high individual score was obtained in a Massachusetts club by Michael Cresta, who scored 830 against his opponent's 490. Joel Sherman holds the high tournament score record, with 803, in a 2011 Connecticut tournament. (In the 2012 Northern Ireland Championship, Toh Weibin scored 850, the world tournament record. In a Malta club in 1986, Godfrey Magri Demajo scored 792 using OSPD; the UK club record is Peter Preston's 793, in 1999 using OSW; is 785, by Jackie McLeod in 2002 under SOWPODS; in a 2007 SOWPODS tournament in Australia, Russell Honeybun scored 764; in a 1993 Auckland, New Zealand, club game, John Foster scored 763; Evan Cohen scored 738 in Israel.) (Nick Ballard scored 792 at a Chicago club, but used 4 phony bingos, and did not report it. Australians generally agree not to count Edward Okulicz's 750 in 2004 against an uncooperative opponent.)

The high combined score of 1320 was achieved in the above-mentioned game by Michael Cresta and Wayne Yorra, 830-490. (The North American tournament record is 1134, by Keith Smith against Stefan Rau, 582-552 -- also the record high loss -- in a 2008 Texas tournament. In the 2009 WSC, 1157 was reached by Phillip Edwin-Mugasha and Vannitha Balasingam of Malaysia, 627-530. The UK club record of 1134 was reached by Noel Turner and David Reading, 698-436 in 2006 in a Newport, England, club, the tournament record of 1129 by David Webb, 627-502 over Nigel Richards in the 2011 UK Open, the Australian, 1224, by Edward Okulicz and Michael McKenna in 2014, and the Zambian by Aaron Chong and Pui Cheng Wui at 1106 (including 25 points in 5-point-challenge credits).)

The highest losing score of 545 was achieved or suffered by Kevin Rickhoff of California in the 2006 US Scrabble Open. (In New Zealand, John Foster has lost with 513, in the UK, Craig Beevers lost with 545 in a 2011 tournament, and in Australia, Karen Richards lost with 517 in a 2009 tournament.)

The high margin of victory including phonies was by Ken Lambe of Michigan, who scored 716 versus his opponent's 147, using a single phony.

The high single turn, 365 points for QUIXOTRY, was achieved in a club game by Michael Cresta of Massachusetts. (Randy Amatoeng scored 374 in Ghana, Magri Demajo 392 in Malta in 1986, Neil Talbot 347 in a Wellington, New Zealand club in 2003, Marjorie Smith 320 points in a Nottingham, England tournament in 1998, and Wilma Whiteford 329 in a Hillcrest, South Africa, club in 2004.) The high opening turn, 126 for MUZJIKS, was reached by Jesse Inman of South Carolina in the 2008 North American championship; Joan Rosenthal of New South Wales achieved 124 for BEZIQUE in 1997.

Bingo

Longest consecutive opening sequence of bingos by one player is six, by Kevin Fraley and Jerry Lerman, both of California, in 2006 and 2011 tournaments, respectively, in Nevada.

The most bingos by one player is eight, by Jerry Lerman in a 2011 Nevada WGPO tournament. Counting only tournaments and clubs licensed by the trademark holders, it is seven, in tournaments by Joel Sherman in 2011 in Connecticut, Bobor Edewor in 2011 in India, Nigel Richards in 2010 in Johor Bahru, Malaysia, and Nigel Peltier in a 2010 Nevada, tournament, and in clubs by Judy Levitt in 2011 in California, Robert Kahn in 2010 in Florida, Russell Byers in 2006 in Nottingham, England, and Jeff Grant in 1997 in Hastings, New Zealand.

The most by both players combined is 11, by Jerry Lerman and Kenji Matsumoto in a 2011 Nevada WGPO tournament. Elsewhere, the most is nine, by Mark Nyman and Nigel Richards in a 1999 Thailand tournament, Dave Wiegand and Carl Johnson in a 2008 Nevada tournament, and Adam Logan and Jesse Day in a 2008-2009 New York tournament.

Theoretical

These records allow words only from the OWL2 and OLWL.

The highest-scoring single play, found by Benjamin Woo of Vancouver, B.C., shown with the hooked words:

		 A1 OXYPHENBUTAZONE  1458
		 1A OPACIFYING         63
		 2A XIS                10
		 4A PREQUALIFIED       30
		 8A BRAINWASHING       63
		11A AVOIDABLE          15
		12A ZOOgAMETES         30
		15A EJACULATING        63
		   +bonus              50
		                     ----
		                     1782

The highest combined score, found by Nathan Hedt of Australia:

		 8C ROUSING            68
		 B6 ALAMEDA, AROUSING  70
		 A4 ROT, TA             6
		 A4 ROTE, EL            6
		 4A RE                  2
		 3B OD, OE              8
		 2A IT, TOE            10
		 9A Hm                  4
		11A ID                  3
		12B AT                  2
		13A US, ALAMEDAS       10
		 A1 MICROTECHNIQUES  1277
		    COD, CAROUSING,
		    QAT, NE
		12A QATs               24
		 H5 IDENTIFY           69
		 5E RAVIGOTE           98
		11E WOLFLIKE          122
		 L4 REINJURES         146
		 8L JIB                12
		 N7 AB                  4
		 6N WE, WAB            29
		 05 HE                  5
		 05 HEN, AN             8
		10L RE                  2
		12L SPA                 5
		13N MO, AM              8
		11N LA, LAM             7
		10L REF, FLAM          31
		10L REFT, TA            9
		 O9 UTA                 3
		14N EN, FLAME, ON      26
		N10 FLAMED             12
		 O1 OXYPHENBUTAZONE  1587
		    DE, JIBB, SPAZ
		 2N AX                 18
		 H1 OVERIDENTIFYING   293
		  +2 times "A"          2
				     ----
				     3986

		M             O             O
		I T           V           A X
		C O D         E             Y
		R E           R       R     P
		O       R A V I G O T E     H
		T A           D       I   W E
		E L           E       N   A N
		C A R O U S I N G     J I B B
		H m           T       U     U
		N E           I       R E F T
		I D     W O L F L I K E   L A
		Q A T s       Y       S P A Z
		U S           I           M O
		E             N           E N
		S             G           D E

A comparable effort has been made Johan Rönnblom in Swedish.

Blocked games

The position from which no play is possible no matter what tiles are held, which is reached with the fewest plays and tiles (found by Kyle Corbin of North Carolina) is:

		     (J)
		    J U S
		      S O X
		       (X)U

Without using or allowing blanks, the smallest, found by Rick Wong of California, is:

		      F
		     HUP
		    FUCI
		     PIU

Scrabble variants

In Anagram Scrabble (Clabbers, to some), where in the usual game, a word in the dictionary may be used, the adjacent tiles need only anagram to such a word. A player when challenged must come up with a single word to which the challenged set of letters anagrams. Tiles are still fixed in position once placed.

In an idea discussed in Medleys, called New Scrabble, the role of luck in the draw of blanks is reduced in that both players have one blank, not in the bag, which they may use to replenish their rack once during the game.

Ecology Scrabble allows recycling blanks, in accordance with a common "house rule".

In Duplicate Scrabble, players all play the same board, competing for high score on each move. Duplicate tournaments are held in France.

Open Sequence Scrabble, which has been used as the basis for English language duplicate competition, is easy to play by e-mail. Two players have an ongoing game on the Web.

Play-by-mail games

Open-book Scrabble by snail mail used to be run by Medleys. Perhaps suggestions on how to run such games are available from there.

Nate Hekman runs e-mail games with an automated intermediary.

Matchups resumed running play-by-mail competition early in 1997. Contact playbymail@matchups.com.

In the UK, the Postal Scrabble Club is very active.

Scrabble paraphernalia

Tiles

Hasbro will replace without charge individual lost tiles from in-print sets sold in North America. Contact

		    Hasbro, Inc.
		    Consumer Affairs
		    (888) 836-7025
		    (401) 431-8697
		    consumer_support@hasbro.com
		    info
Mattel will do the same for sets sold outside North America. Contact

		    Mattel UK
		    Consumer Response
		    Mattel House
		    Vanwall Business Park
		    Vanwall Road
		    Maidenhead
		    Berks. SL6 4UB
		    01628 500306
		    helplineuk@mattel.com

Standard-issue tiles are "braillable", that is, particular letters (and especially blanks) can be distinguished inside the bag by feel, and "false blanks" may be played, since the back of all tiles is the same as the front of a blank. Protiles, which are preferred according to tournament rules, prevent this. They are long-lasting, and the seller replaces lost tiles without charge. Available for $19 or $15, depending on style, with discounts for bulk purchases negotiable, from

		    Robert Schoenman
		    PO Box 6549
		    Bellevue, WA 98008
		    b.schoenman@comcast.net
		    homepage

A variant of these with the seller's initials gracing the face of the blanks is sold by SamTimer.

Protiles in a 3-piece design (front and back encasing a paper letter), in standard and jumbo fonts, $25 + $4 shipping, are made by Marsha Peshkin.

For $8.50 per set, Nate Kates will imprint the back of plastic Protiles with a name of up to 4 or 5 letters.

		    Nate Kates
		    8170 Reche Canyon Rd
		    Colton, CA 92324

A version of Protiles for Armenian Scrabble is available, at least in North America, from:

		    Onnig Dombalagian
		    odombala@law.tulane.edu

In the UK, Spear makes Tournament Tiles, which besides having thinner, harder-to-braille ink than the regular Spear tiles, do not wear as quickly, nor smudge when wet. Available from Philip Nelkon for #6.

Imran Siddiqui of Pakistan makes comparable tiles, but may not be exporting them out of Pakistan.

Extra-long maple racks are $10/pair with shipping from

		    Jack's Better Racks
		    Jack Jones
		    6291 Chimney Rock Trail
		    Morrison, CO 80465
		    (303) 697-4754, 697-9805 fax

Clocks

Chess clocks, used to time games at clubs and tournaments, are available where chess paraphernalia is sold, but avoid analog models on whose faces the individual minutes past zero are not marked, and digital models which do not show seconds past zero.

A table comparing attributes of various models is available.

Analog quartz clocks are sold by Matchups, $70 + $5 shipping, wind-up clocks for $42.

The following clocks all are well suited to Scrabble, and are assigned equal highest preference by NSA rules.

The US Chess Federation sells various clocks. Their Game Time, at $120 to non-members, seems to be their best suited digital.

A wood-housed precision analog quartz clock may still be for sale, at $125 with padded case. It features a second hand which stops at discrete positions to assure rulings as precise as those using a digital clock.

		    Richard Buck
		    10 Gilkey Ct
		    Watertown, MA 02472
		    (617) 923-8909
		    cyqlist@juno.com
		    homepage

A digital model, called the "Adjudicator 3000," is $110 USD plus $6 shipping. It has a slanted face with one-inch numbers showing seconds of overtime and 60-second courtesy draw and low-battery indicators, and is reprogrammable.

		    Gene Tyszka
		    1060 Argus Dr
		    Mississauga ON  L4Y 2L8
		    Canada
		    (905) 270-9662
		    gene.tyszka@tdsb.on.ca
		    homepage

The "2Timer" is similar to the above, and has a 20-second hold indicator. It is $90, but introductorily $80 for chess and Scrabble club members.

		    2Timer
		    c/o McIntosh Electric Co. (MELCO)
		    10101 SE 3rd. St. Box 304
		    Bellevue, WA 98004-607
		    carlb@seanet.com
		    homepage

The "SamTimer", a similar model sold for $109 (+ $10 for padded bag + $6 shipping), long was the only choice for one-inch numbers showing seconds of overtime. It has a slanted face and a 60-second courtesy draw indicator and is larger than competing models because it shows an hours digit, since it is also sold for chess.

		    Sam Kantimathi
		    300 Salmon Falls Rd
		    El Dorado Hills, CA 95762-9786
		    (888) SAM-TIME
		    (916) 933-5000, 933-5222 fax
		    sam@samtimer.com
		    SamTimer homepage

In the UK, available for £74 postpaid from

		    Tilefish
		    12 Northfield Terrace
		    Edinburgh EH8 7PX
		    0800 043 0059
		    info@tilefish.co.uk
		    homepage

In Australia, for AU$100 plus postage from

		    Marjorie Miller
		    25 Alfred Street
		    Lower Templestowe
		    Victoria 3107
		    (03) 9850 2366

Out of production but still in circulation is a light, simple digital clock with the minimum features to make it one of the models preferred by NSA rules. It is fixed to start at 25 minutes per side.

Playing equipment

In addition to various plain, deluxe (rotating) and travel editions sold by the trademark holders, a few types of circular rotating boards are sold. These generally incorporate an authorized deluxe board's plastic grid for positioning tiles and usually its paper markings. Cymbal bags fit most of them well. For information, write to any of

* = cannot confirm product availability
Mike Connally P.O. Box 420
Bulverde, TX 78163
(210) 422-5165 roundgameboards@yahoo.com
Sam Kantimathi 300 Salmon Falls Rd
El Dorado Hills, CA 95762
(916) 933-5000
(916) 933-5222
(888) 726-8463
sam@samtimer.com
Eric Pivnik    
Ossie Mair 5420 NW 78th Ave
Lauderhill, FL 33351
(954) 741-5516
(954) 817-8392 cell
calmar32@aol.com
uniquely compact, lightweight
nesting "Star Board"
 
Peter Manzolillo 2526 S St Marks Ave
Bellmore, NY 11710
(516) 249-7772 shop customscrabbleboards@gmail.com
Eugene Murray   (317) 924-9427 eugenehmurray@hotmail.com
personaboards@hotmail.com
round boards personalized with fabric
Kelly Smith     kelly@sparkyenterprises.com
Gene Tyszka 1060 Argus Dr
Mississauga ON L4Y 2L8
Canada
(905) 270-9662 gene@adjudicator3000.com
Roy Blizzard* 2132 Marwood Ln
Albemarle, NC 28001
(704) 982-4723 roybliz@aol.com  
Evi Pike*   (905) 793-3477 evip@home.com  
Phil Rosenberg* 864 Colonial Ave
Union, NJ 07083
     
Eileen Willis* 3664 Danielle Ct
North Liberty, IA 52317
(319) 626-6391    

Krylon No. 1310 Dulling Spray should serve to remove the deluxe board's glare for those who find it annoying.

Blind players do play in tournaments, bringing their own Braille sets, which have visible printed letters. Aids include "Megawords", a Scrabble clone with both Braille board and tiles, sold by Independent Living. They also sell tactile tile overlays, while Columbia and Badger sell Braille tiles alone, and Protiles are sold in a special jumbo, high-contrast version. Braille and Low-Vision Scrabble, variants of the deluxe turntable edition, are the most widely sold alternative. Independent Living sells a Mattel Large Print Scrabble. Prices vary greatly and sellers change often, but currently include:

		    Independent Living Aids
		    200 Robbins Ln
		    Jericho, NY 11753
		    (800) 537-2118
		    can-do@independentliving.com
		    homepage

		    Badger Assn of the Blind and
			Visually Impaired, Inc.
		    912 N Hawley Rd
		    Milwaukee, WI 53213
		    (414) 615-0111
		    (414) 256-8744 fax
		    (877) 258-9200
		    homepage
		    info@badgerassoc.org

		    LearnMore Shop
		    MaxiAids, Inc.
		    42 Executive Blvd
		    Farmingdale, NY 11735
		    (800) 522-6294 (order)
		    (631) 752-0521 (info)
		    (800) 281-3555 TTY
		    (631) 752-0738 TTY
		    (631) 752-0689 fax
		    sales@learnmoreshop.com
		    homepage

		    Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually
		      Impaired of San Francisco
		    214 Van Ness Ave
		    San Francisco, CA 94102
		    (415) 431-1481
		    (415) 431-4572 tty
		    homepage

		    Sight Connection
		    Community Services for the Blind and Partially Sighted
		    9709 Third Ave NE #100
		    Seattle, WA 98115-2027
		    (800) 458-4888
		    (206) 525-5556
		    csbstore@csbps.com
		    homepage

		    Visionary Store
		    Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind
		    6200 Baltimore Ave, Suite 100
		    Riverdale, MD 20737
		    (240) 737-5190
		    store@clb.org
		    homepage

		    Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind
		    Equipment Resource Centre
		    201 High Street
		    Prahran
		    Victoria 3004
		    Australia
		    03 9520 5588
		    03 9520 5585 fax
		    visequip@rvib.org.au
		    homepage

The Franklin Mint sells a Scrabble set (complete with a copy of the OSPD2), with wooden board and shiny metal tiles, for $495, even higher in the UK. No serious player I know owns one except a few who have won this garish item as a Franklin-donated tournament prize.

Evi Pike also sells game carrying bags, $16-25; tile bags, $6-$14; round board covers $7-$18; and book covers, $5-$6. Prices vary due to specialty fabrics; matching sets on request. Mike Connally sells Protiles, bags and nameplates.

Luise Shafritz sells lined tile bags with a spring device to prevent tiles from falling out, clock protectors, TWL98 covers and other items. Bags are $12 including US shipping.

		    4431 Angelo Rosa St.
		    Las Vegas, NV 89134
		    (702) 254-9103
		    lushaf@yahoo.com

Peter and Trudy Olson sell silk tile bags with rounded corners for $21, by money order, including postage. P.O. Box 236, McKenna, WA 98558, (360) 894-1340.

Punch bound books of 100 score-sheets in various colors and tracking orders, with or without board diagrams, are available for $5 each plus $3 shipping for up to 3 books from

		    Danny Gatlin
		    191 Lakeshore Rd
		    Jackson, MS 39212

Miscellaneous

Here are listed various somewhat fetishistic objects not usable for playing Scrabble.

Spear (shipping is to UK and Ireland only)
T-shirts, standard #6, deluxe #8; baseball caps, #6; pins #1.25; tournament tiles #6; pens #.30 each, plus #1 shipping.
Word Gear
Trinkets and a few more useful items from the store of the NSA: Word Gear
Magnificent Mouchoirs
Boxer shorts, #13; handkerchief, #7; silk tie, #20; braces (suspenders) #25; bow tie, #15; cuff links, #15. Shipping #2 within UK, #4 within Europe, #6 outside Europe.

The cuff links are of individual Scrabble tiles; Q, U, V, X, Y and Z are not available. The others depict the board from the deciding game of the 1993 World [English language] Scrabble Championship; on the handkerchief, the board is exact, on the others, it is taken from a continuous fabric of that board, resulting in distortions. The players (and authors?) of that game (Mark Nyman and Joel Wapnick) are not credited and are not being compensated.

		Magnificent Mouchoirs
		Quayside Lodge
		William Morris Way
		London SW6 2SY
		+44 171 371 7017
		+44 171 371 7115 fax
Scrabble area rug
$109 from SamTimer.

Computer versions of Scrabble

There are (1) Scrabble-playing programs licensed in the US and UK; (2) "crossword game" programs which can be configured to play Scrabble; and (3) programs which ignore the trademark and copyright issues. All are represented below.

Often programs written independently of Hasbro and Mattel are withdrawn because of threat of legal action by one of them. Sometimes, the program is acquired and redeveloped by them (e.g. Maven and Niggle). Links for withdrawn programs will sometimes be left here because knowing the filename can help find the file somewhere on the Internet despite the author's care not to provide it. Filenames are gradually being added to the listings for the same reason.

Only programs which themselves play Scrabble or provide on-line intermediaries are listed, not those which solely provide an electronic set. Most allow or require configuration to the same board layout, tile distribution and values as is standard.

The most recent and advanced published research on writing strong computer Scrabble players is the 2002 dissertation (apparently not deliverable to the US) of Brian Sheppard, author of Maven:

		    Towards Perfect Play of Scrabble
		    IKAT/Computer Science Department
		    Universiteit Maastricht
		    ISBN 90-5278-351-9, €22.50
		    info@icga.org
		    purchase page, hellemon@cs.unimaas.nl

The description of CRAB includes a reference on efficient Scrabble move finding. An improvement on the method described there appears in:

		    A Faster Scrabble Move Generation Algorithm
		    Steven A. Gordon
		    Software Practice and Experience, 24:2, Feb 1994, pp.
		      219-232

The following paper compares approaches for move selection:

		    A Comparison Between Probabilistic Search and Weighted
		      Heuristics in a Game with Incomplete Information
		    Steven A. Gordon
		    AAAI Fall 1993 Symposium on Games: Playing and Learning,
		      AAI Press Technical Report FS9302, Menlo Park, CA

Mark Wutka explains the data structures suited to word-finding and provides other utilities in his excellent page.

Candidates for game log file formats are John Chew's gcg (used by Quackle), or for readability in two columns, James A. Cherry's log2 and comm_log.

Scrabble (iPhone, iPod touch, PSP, Kindle, Facebook)
A Hasbro-licensed, Electronic Arts production. The iPhone/iPod Touch version reportedly is slow and not at all strong. $10.
		homepage
Quackle (Linux, Mac, Windows)
A superior player, proper successor to Maven.
		homepage
		users' mailing list
Frank (Windows, Mac)
Version 3.0, by Gunnar Andersson and Lars Ivansson. In Swedish only. Computer uses simulation, and plays most endgames perfectly. Free.
		homepage
DzWords (Windows)
Version 2.00. Provides 10 levels of computer opponent and official French (ODS) and English ("OSPD") dictionaries. Includes a network play (saved after each move) with chat and play-by-mail mode. Program updates via Web. $20.
		    homepage
SSCrabble, (Web browser) by The Man in Blue
Generally, only programs and servers providing a computer opponent are listed here, but SSCrabble is such an interesting project (that someone else might like to augment) not to have a mention. It is a working one-player functional Scrabble board which serves random tiles and scores the player's move, using no Java or Flash.
Scrabble 2003 Edition, by Ubi Soft [Mattel] (Windows)
Due out 29 November 2002, will use OSWI and have some form of intelligent computer play. Available outside North America.

		    homepage
English Pro Skrabel (Windows)
Version 2.0. Played in English, with facilities for learning English by Malay speakers. English lexicon comprises words in a Malay-English dictionary. Also offered as Jawi Pro Skrabel.

		    homepage
Letter Rack 3D (Windows)
Not yet reviewed, but very professional-looking, $30/#20 + VAT. Uses TWL or SOWPODS. However, there is no sign of a license by Mattel or Hasbro, so not expected to remain long.
		    SoftSpot Software
		    214, Chorley New Road
		    Bolton
		    Lancashire BL1 5AA
		    United Kingdom
		    sales@softspotsoftware.com
		    homepage
Scrabbit (Windows)
Networked play, in German or English. Has previously been withdrawn because of legal threats. Free.

		    homepage
Scrabble by Heizmann (Windows)
Version 2.51, free. Includes a computer player at various strengths. Dictionaries in English, Dutch, French, German or Spanish, though the author, Arne Heizmann, does not claim the latter two are any good.

		    homepage
CrossWise (Windows)
A ridiculously fast player which plays at the highest level, twice having won the international Computer Olympiad at Scrabble. Highly configurable, with a professionally programmed interface. Contains all TWL98 words (dictionary updates for older version), but no others over eight letters. (An augmentation of the dictionary to cover 9 letter words is $5, SOWPODS $10.) No setup capability; hinting ability is "limited" to showing all moves in score order. $20 plus shipping.

		    
		    Cygnus Cybernetics Corporation
		    147 N Washington Ave
		    Fort Collins, CO 80521
		    (970) 221-2614, 493-5370 fax
		    homan@cygcyb.com
		    Cygnus homepage
A variant of CrossWise is sold in the UK.

Note that the shipping charge for orders of multiple items is $3.50 for the first $30 of merchandise, plus $.50 for each $10 up to a maximum of $6.

Scrabble (Palm OS, Pocket PC)
From Handmark, allows infrared play between (among?) palm-tops, uses OSPD3. Computer player has three levels. On expansion card for Palm (with the Palm SD and MultiMedia Card expansion slot), CD-ROM for other Palm OS devices. $30.

		    homepage
Gameboy Super Scrabble (Nintendo)
Based on an American Heritage Dictionary, not OSPD. Plays for high score, and never bingos. A version for Gameboy Color is available from UbiSoft outside North America.
Scrabble (Sony Playstation)
North American version by Hasbro Interactive, non-NA by UbiSoft.
Maven (Macintosh, Windows)
An extremely strong and intelligent player. Never having entered the now discontinued international Computer Olympiad, its strength can't reliably be compared to CrossWise's. It includes excellent facilities for position analysis, including simulations. The program keeps track of various statistics about the player. All rights to Maven have been sold to Hasbro, which made it the engine for its own official version, so it is no longer sold or supported.
Monty Plays Scrabble (hand-held)
Ritam Corporation. Originally available for the IBM PC and Apple II, since 1987 only as a hand-held unit. Comes with 20,000 words from OSPD1, upgradable to about 40,000, which is still incomplete. Deplorable strategy. The hand-held version requires scrolling around a small screen to find the board area of interest. Reportedly sometimes changes the letter represented by a played blank. Apparently no longer licensed by Milton Bradley, its current availability is unknown.
Scramble/Literati (IBM PC/Windows)
These are very pretty games. But note this from the documentation of Scramble, available for ftp, (which applies as well to Literati, the Windows port): "Q. How come I can see my opponent's rack? Shouldn't it be hidden? A. You must be thinking of some other crossword game. This is Scramble. In Scramble, you get to see your opponent's rack." The machine player plays for high score on each turn. While substitution of a user-provided dictionary for the quite incomplete one supplied is provided for, this slows down an already slow game. French version available, too.

		    Ted Gruber Software
		    P.O. Box 13408
		    Las Vegas, NV 89112

The unregistered version of Literati v1.15, available there or thence, is limited to using the provided small dictionary and a non-Scrabble board; registering at $25 plus shipping ($4 in the US) brings a full dictionary but still not a standard board.

		    MVP Software
		    1035 Dallas S.E.
		    Grand Rapids, MI 49507-1407
Tyler (IBM PC, Macintosh)
Written for the IBM PC and ported to the Macintosh (reportedly not very smoothly), this version is distinguished by a complete OSPD2 and Merriam-Webster dictionary up to 15 letters, with a UK dictionary also available, by good strategy and by good setup and hint facilities. (I long used it to automatically critique my tournament games.) Unfortunately, the latest version, 3.04 is flaky, and the author has not been upgrading as frequently as he had. $50 + $2 shipping. TWL98 version due out "soon".

		    Matchups
		    c/o Susi Tiekert
		    tiekert@mindspring.com sales
		    alf@world.std.com support
		    Matchups Price List
The Scrabble Player (IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Psion)
This is essentially similar to CrossWise, but comes with the complete contents of the OSW. Reviews in the ABSP newsletter say "a splendid opponent ... speed is quite astonishing ... graphics and facilities are excellent." Cost is around #20, but availability uncertain, as its license for sale in the UK has expired.

		    Eidos Interactive
		    +44 121 356 0831
Vic Rice's Game (IBM PC)
This goes under the name "Scrabble" but for clarity, I'm denominating it according to its author's name. Available from

		    Vic Rice
		    4026 Bayou Grove Dr
		    Seabrook, TX 77586
and from the bulletin board system (BBS) where the author resides:

		    Ed Hopper's PC Board
		    (713) 782-5454
Virgin Mastertronic (IBM PC, Macintosh)
Licensed for sale in the US. Sold in three versions, about $15, $25 and $35. The standard version has about 20,000 words from the OSPD1. The two deluxe versions have the complete OSPD1 with some errors. In the IBM PC program, the deluxe version adds VGA graphics. The $35 version is the deluxe for Windows, which stops running when in the background. Reportedly plays at the level of a middling tournament player, but with no discernible strategy. Also reportedly very slow, with the deluxe versions, holding the full OSPD1, taking two to three minutes per move on a 386/33. Windows deluxe version was available at $19 from Surplus Software, (800) 753-7877, or more recently, on eBay. Mac version may be available from MacPlay.
WordsWorth (IBM PC, Windows)
Free and highly configurable, version 2.2 (or search for "ww32v2_2"), use OSPD3 and OSPD2, respectively, restricted to words of up to six letters. Registration of the latest version at 75 S. African Rand, $25 USD or #20 brings the complete OSPD and Merriam-Webster; the earlier version no longer is supported.

		    Dr Graham Wheeler
		    gram@bradygirl.com
XWord (RiscOS/Acorn)
By Alan Trewartha. No review, but the help files reveal that it allows play with North American or British lexicons current as of 2001, is configurable as to board, tiles and lexicon, and assumes simple leave values for tiles, so must have some sophistication as an opponent.

	homepage
STrabbler (Atari)
Shareware by Warwick Allison, it is available for ftp, although it was withdrawn under threat from Spear. It requires at least 1MB of memory. Words are played by click-and-drag using the mouse. The program plays solely for high score. It contains a 45,000 word editable and browsable dictionary.
Unix Scrabble (Unix)
This program, by James A. Cherry, has to be compiled for the target machine. It comes with an American Scrabble dictionary, for which a single word file in simple ASCII may be substituted. Currently in version 1.31. The player faces from one to three computer opponents which play for highest score at each move. Available here.
CRAB (Unix, Sun, Vax and Macintosh)
Based on their article in a research journal:
The World's Fastest Scrabble Program
Andrew W. Appel and Guy J. Jacobson
Communications of the A.C.M. v.31 no.5, May 1988, pp. 572-578, 585
review
paper
paper
this product from Jacoppel Enterprises (the Unix, Sun and Vax version of which stopped at version 1.3) appears primarily designed to demonstrate the speed of their move-finding method, but does permit a real, player-versus-machine game to be played. Their method is no longer the fastest (their timings on more sophisticated machines are far outdone by CrossWise on a lowly IBM PC), but illuminating nonetheless. The Mac version is available by ftp at any mirror of the Info-Mac archive, in the file x-words-10.hqx; the Unix source code is available by ftp from the Crossword Archives, in crab.sh.
Scrabble Door (IBM PC BBS)
When installed by the system operator, allows playing others on an IBM-PC based BBS. Player, logged on to the BBS, need not be using a PC. Shareware, $25 payable by sysop. Registered version includes built-in dictionary based on OSPD3, and allows sysop-supplied ASCII dictionary. Rather than challenges, plays with phonies are rejected, costing a player's turn only after 3 bad attempts.

		    Christopher Hall
		    1007 Cable Creek Dr
		    Grapevine, TX 76051
		    chrish@why.net
		    Scrabble Door homepage
Hilda's Family Scrabble (Web)
Offers a web interface and poor computer opponent.

		    homepage
Scrabble by Pham Thanh Phong (Windows)
Version 2.0, unreviewed. Includes a computer opponent, OSPD or OTaCWL, and networked play.

		   homepage
ScrabOut/Networdz (Windows 3.1 and 95)
User-installable dictionary. ScrabOut played merely for high score and didn't see parallel plays. Networdz, the successor, is more sophisticated in strategy and configurability, and allows play over the Internet (but even there, phonies are not allowed) and in 16 languages. In both versions, having to drag tiles to the board is annoying.

Hasbro has required the author to withdraw these programs. Until Mattel takes similar action, it is available for use outside North America, from the UK and Australia. Further information is available.

Current information and coordination of Networdz play on the Net is at ScrabbleOn another ScrabbleOn and NewNet (which supplies a substitute SOWPODS dictionary).

X-Words Deluxe (Macintosh, Windows)
Registration of this shareware product by Andrew Trevorrow is $20. Handsome interface, easy to set to common board configuration. Will kibitz high scoring and best play; has setup (a bit laborious) but not simulation capability. Reportedly fast, with strategy somewhat weaker than Maven's, still leaving it fairly strong. Network play by a commercial service.

		    Freeverse Software
		    447 W 24 St
		    New York, NY 10011
		    (212) 929-3549, 647-0562 fax
		    ian@freeverse.com
		    homepage
Amiga Scrabble (Amiga)
Scrabble for the Amiga. Available by ftp. Author and features unknown so far.
Hasbro Scrabble/E-mail Scrabble CD-ROM (Windows, Windows CE, Macintosh)
A version of Hasbro Scrabble with the "Maven" engine released in December 2003 had the most advanced opponent yet - selecting each move by simulating the possible continuations, and making inferences from the human's plays. Its OSPD3 dictionary is replaceable. By Funkitron, $20.
		    producer's information page
		    download page
Although based on Maven, this Hasbro product on CD-ROM falls far short of it. The ability to alter the position has been removed, the board is seen only from a non-perpendicular perspective, it sometimes deals 3 blanks, doesn't show a clock in tournament mode, requires 25MB of disk although 5MB is claimed, and even a human opponent cannot play a phony. It allows play over modem, local network or the Internet, except that this doesn't work yet on the Mac, and Internet users by default are routed through a pay-per-minute service. For related chat, go to Microsoft Gaming Zone or see above. Available at as low as $18, it plays in English, featuring the ESPD, not the full OSPD (but the dictionary is customizable, and there's help for Mac users), French, German or Spanish. Hasbro Interactive is at (800) 638-6927, (617) 746-2903 or (508) 921-3722, and provides web, e-mail/e-mail support.

Being a Hasbro product, it is available only within Hasbro's domain, the U.S. and Canada. Spear's separate CD-ROM game was released in November 1999, at about #30; Support is at 0870 741 6821.

Infogrames (now a division of Atari), which took over Hasbro Interactive in January 2001, provides a patch for version 2. Another apparently official patch fixes play via MSN Gaming Zone, but reportedly disables all other Internet play. Unofficial resources include Nancy Overman's excellent page about using the program over the Internet (she also supplies official patches for versions 1 and 2 of Hasbro's CD-ROM game; filenames scrpatch.exe and Scrabblev2_0Patchv1_2.exe, in case these go missing and a Web search is needed), Nina Gary's on its flaws, help on playing at the Zone, replacement dictionaries from John Chew, Bob Weiss and Mark Wutka (the latter including dictionary utilities and explanations).

A version for Windows CE (including PalmOS) was due out in March 1998, at about $30. How similar it is to the CD-ROM version is not yet known.

A play-by-email version was published by Hasbro. Exchanging tiles can yield back some of the same tiles. Suggestions for how to continue using it despite the shutdown of Hasbro's server are provided by Nancy Overman.

XScrabble (Unix/X Windows)
This program, by Matt Chapman and Matthew Badham, has to be compiled for the target machine. It allows saving and restoring games, and comes with OSPD3. Available on the Web.
Skrable (Windows)
A computer Scrabble opponent in Russian, comes with a 65,000 word dictionary. By Ilya Morozov, apparently free. Available on the Web.
Gary's Computer Scrabble (Unix)
Formerly distributed in source form (requiring python, Tkinter, gcc and shared libraries). Now apparently rewritten in Java.
Ortograf (Macintosh)
Plays in duplicate or match-play modes, in French or English. Shareware, $20. homepage
dupliKta (Windows)
Plays duplicate in French. Trial version. Other French shareware programs, many only for duplicate Scrabble, are in this list.
Vocabble (IBM PC)
Plays duplicate in French. homepage.
PC Scrabble (Windows 95, DOS)
Plays duplicate or match play. homepage. Other French commercial programs are in this list.
Psion/Sinclair Scrabble (Spectrum, Sinclair Z80)
For the Psion Spectrum, 1983, by ftp, and for the Sinclair Z80, by ftp, appearing to be recompilations of the same program. These have no more than about 6000 words.
Sanaset (Windows)
In Finnish.
WinScra (Windows)
In French.
Niggle (PalmOS)
By Steve Bennett; withdrawn because it has been acquired by Hasbro or its licensees, now the basis for the official Palm OS Scrabble from Handmark. Used the Enable word list. May be temporarily available via archive sites in this file.
Scrabble by Strobe (Windows)
Supplied or user-provided dictionary.
Cardwords (Linux with X Windows)
By Tobias Peters, a highly genericized form of the game, currently in alpha release.
Crosswords (PalmOS, eBookman, PocketPC)
Crosswords v. 4.0 By Eric House, allows choice of TWL98 or SOWPODS, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Spanish or Swedish. Plays either for highest score or "to keep the game even". Open source (although other such programs are not necessarily noted.)

		    homepage
		    homepage for eBookman version
Letter Rack (Windows)
Version 3.00, allows human or computer players. In addition to purported "official" US, UK and US/UK dictionaries - although, for example, "QIS" has been found missing - allows play in German, Portuguese and Spanish.

Game Utilities

Adnoto - scoresheet for Scrabble (iPhone, iPad)
Keeps track of scoring in Scrabble. By Eric D'Souza. Version 2.5. $5.
	    homepage
	

Glossary

See also the following reference to Scrabble jargon:

Anamonic:
See study techniques.
Bingo:
A play that uses all seven of a player's tiles, earning a 50-point bonus. Good tournament players average one to two such plays per game. The unlovely term "bingo" is used by North American players. British players say "bonus play" or just "bonus".
Double-Double, Triple-Triple:
A play that covers two double word scores, or triple word scores, respectively, scoring quadruple or nonuple the raw score of the word. In the UK, "4-timer" and "9-timer".
Exchange:
A turn in which a player trades letters rather than playing on the board. This is allowed only when at least 7 tiles remain in the bag. In the UK, "change".
Hook:
A play adding one letter to one end of of a word already played, while creating a main word perpendicular to the extended word.
Leave:
The tiles remaining on a player's rack after their play.
Parallel Play:
A play making several words perpendicular to the main word by extending existing words or inserting letters between existing tiles.
Pass:
A turn in which a player does nothing. Compare with exchange.
Phony:
A word played that is not in the official dictionary or dictionaries.

Litigation

[This is under construction -- sorry about the mess in this section.]

Scrabble's trademark and copyright protections and its owners have been involved in several lawsuits in the USA. This section describes some of those. (None of this is to be taken as legal advice -- anyone needing to know how the law applies to their situation will have to consult an attorney willing to take them on a client.)

Worth v. Selchow & Righter Co., 827 F.2d 569 (9th Cir. 1987) (defendant's trivia game did not infringe copyright of trivia encyclopedia because it copied only a fraction of the game's facts and organized them differently), cert. denied, 485 U.S. 977 (1988).

Landsberg v. Scrabble Crossword Game Players, Inc., 736 F.2d 485 (9th Cir.) (holding that defendant's "Scrabble Players Handbook" did not infringe the copyright on plaintiff's draft book "Championship Scrabble Strategy", submitted by plaintiff to defendant, because, although the lower court found defendant surreptitiously retained copies of and copied from plaintiff's work, what was taken was at most uncopyrightable ideas; for example, defendant "had taken" its "notational system"; but remanding on whether its conduct violated an implied-in-fact contract to compensate him if it used his ideas, and for possible attorneys' fees for "vexatious, oppressive, obdurate and bad faith conduct of [the] litigation," 736 F.2d at 491), cert. denied, 469 U.S. 1037 (1984).

Horn Abbott Ltd. v. Sarsaparilla Ltd., 601 F. Supp. 360 (N.D. Ill. 1984) (temporarily enjoining sale of a book "In Further Pursuit of Trivial Pursuit", which reproduced all 6000 questions and answers in plaintiff's game (plus explanations) and imitated its "trade dress").

Selchow & Righter Co. v. Decipher, Inc., 598 F. Supp. 1489 (E.D. Va. 1984) (defendant's "Real Questions For Your Trivial Pursuit Game" infringed the trademark licensed to plaintiff by imitating the trademarked product's appearance, or "trade dress" and by overuse of the term "Trivial Pursuit," where these were not functional).

Selchow & Righter Co. v. McGraw-Hill Book Co., 580 F.2d 25 (2d Cir. 1978) (preliminarily enjoining publication of defendant's "The Complete Scrabble Dictionary" as tending to render plaintiff's trademark generic; noting however, that "[t]he extent to which it has come into general use to describe a game or games rather than their origin or source of supply is fairly open to proof." 580 F.2d at 28).

Selchow & Righter Co. v. Book-of-the-Month Club, Inc., 192 USPQ 530 (S.D.N.Y. 1976) (denying a preliminary injunction against defendant's "The Scrabble Book" based on plaintiff's failure to show irreparable harm from its publication).

Production and Marketing Co. v. E.S. Lowe Co., 390 F.2d 1013 (Ct. of Cust. & Pat. App. 1968) (denying defendant use of the name "Scribbage" for a crossword game, as infringing on "Scrabble").

Copyright

This article is copyright 1993-2004 Steven Alexander. Except as follows, all rights are reserved. Copies may be made in propagating any of the entire Usenet newsgroups on which this is posted by the copyright holder. Archives accessible by ftp which collect all available FAQs or entire Usenet newsgroups may maintain a copy. Individuals may make single copies for personal, non-commercial purposes. Each copy permitted must be complete. Other than the above, no permission is granted to copy or distribute. No permission is granted to prepare derivative works.

FAQ policy

In an effort to keep the FAQ actually and apparently credible, I don't accept anything of value (other than newsletters) from people who sell things reviewed, although sample pages, manuals, or the like can be helpful.

Credits

Many thanks to Graeme Thomas, John J. Chew III, Jim Homan and Stewart Holden for numerous corrections and improvements. Also to Barry Harridge and Philip F.X. Ryan for information on Australia. Thanks to the late Edith Berman, Gary Dismukes, Steven Gordon, John C. Green Jr., Adam Logan, Maggie Morley, Larry Sherman and Harriet Strasberg for helpful comments, and to the members of the mailing list crossword-games-pro, who ferret out and share much useful information.


If you have suggestions or better information on anything here, please mail me at with "FAQ" in the subject. Street address and fax number are available upon request.


Steven Alexander ()


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