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FAQ

Because Smart People Ask Questions

General
Game Play
Scoring
Tournament Play
Replacement Parts
You'll find here many of the most commonly asked SCRABBLE questions. If you don't find the answer to your particular SCRABBLE question here, visit the customer service area for SCRABBLE.

How can I improve my SCRABBLE game skills?

Learn the 101 two-letter words, as well as the three-letter words that can be formed from these two-letter words by adding a letter either to the front or back (ex: ya, pya, rya, yah, yak, yam, yap, yar, yaw, yay). By learning and taking advantage of these few hundred words you will probably increase your scores at least 50 points per game. Also, read Everything SCRABBLE®, published by pocket books, isbn 0-671-86686-9, written by Joe Edley, three-time national SCRABBLE champion, and John D. Williams, Jr., executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association. This is the only current all-purpose book that can take a novice or intermediate player to a higher plateau of skills. This book has many strategy hints, word lists, puzzles, methods for finding seven- and eight -letter words quickly, examples of master Scrabble® play and more!

My wife scores 400-450 points per game. Would she be considered an expert?

Not necessarily. At SCRABBLE clubs and tournaments, experts average between 330-450 points per game. However, the competition is probably much stiffer than your wife encounters, and she may have to adjust her thinking to adapt to the typical 25 minute time limit per person per game when using a chess clock. A better measure of skill is determining the "average points per turn" score. If your wife averages 30 or more points per turn, not counting tile exchanges, then she may very well be a SCRABBLE expert. The very top SCRABBLE players average 35 or more points per turn, not counting exchanges. We suggest she visit and play at a SCRABBLE club or tournament and see how she fares.

Everyone who plays in a National Scrabble® Association sanctioned tournament earns a rating. Anyone with a rating above 1600 is considered an expert in SCRABBLE. The National Scrabble® Association recognizes over 300 SCRABBLE experts.

I've invented a really good variation of the SCRABBLE game. Would Hasbro or The National SCRABBLE Association be interested in trying it and possibly promoting it in the United States and Canada?

The SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game has the potential to metamorphose into perhaps hundreds of enjoyable variations. Hasbro and the National SCRABBLE Association have heard and seen many of these fine alternate versions of the game. There are no plans to promote any of these variations. The game as it is has shown strong staying power. We'd like to continue to spread the word about SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game.

Is there an "official" dictionary for SCRABBLE Players?

Yes, Merriam-Webster's Official Scrabble® Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition (OSPD4). For club and tournament play, it is the Official Tournament and Club Word List, Second Edition (OWL2), also published by Merriam-Webster, Inc., and sold exclusively through www.wordgear.com. It is derived from the Official Scrabble® Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition, supplemented with nine-letter words and their inflected forms taken from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition (MW11). This book contains words only, no definitions or part-of-speech labels, and includes all inflected forms spelled out in full.

Do you make games for people with special needs?

You may wish to contact Maxi Aid at 1-800-522-6294 or visit their website at: www.maxiaids.com for information regarding games designed for people with special needs. They have thousands of products designed especially for the blind, low vision, visually impaired, deaf, hard of hearing, arthritic, and the physically challenged. Some of our games that they produce and are available in their catalog are: Monopoly, Talking Battleship, Scrabble, Checkers, Connect Four, Aggravation, Perfection, and Upwords.

How many of each letter tile is included in a Scrabble game?

Scrabble tile letter distribution is as follows:

A-9, B-2, C-2, D-4, E-12, F-2, G-3, H-2, I-9, J-1, K-1, L-4, M-2, N-6, O-8, P-2, Q-1, R-6, S-4, T-6, U-4, V-2, W-2, X-1, Y-2, Z-1 and Blanks-2.

What is the total face value of all the Scrabble tiles?

Total face point value is 187.
There are 225 squares on a Scrabble board.
Point value is as follows:

  • (1 point)-A, E, I, O, U, L, N, S, T, R
  • (2 points)-D, G
  • (3 points)-B, C, M, P
  • (4 points)-F, H, V, W, Y
  • (5 points)-K
  • (8 points)- J, X
  • (10 points)-Q, Z

I looked up a legitimate word using the SCRABBLE online dictionary and it wasn't there. Why not?

The SCRABBLE online dictionary offers only words found in the The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition which lists over 100,000 playable two- to eight-letter words. For a word to be included in The Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary, it must be found in two of the five most popular American dictionaries.

Additionally, The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary lists shorter words and longer words are included as inflections of the shorter word. The SCRABBLE online dictionary is only able to search the shorter listings. For example, searching for FOCUS in our online dictionary will also turn up FOCUSED and FOCUSING, but searching for either of the longer words will turn up no results.

What are acceptable plays in SCRABBLE?

  • In SCRABBLE, it is acceptable to simply add one or more letters to a word, to either the front or back or to both the front and back.
  • If you want, you can add just an S to a word already on the board.
  • You may play at right angles to a word.
  • You may play parallel to a word as long as adjacent letters form words horizontally and vertically.

What is an unacceptable play in SCRABBLE?

  • You may not play tiles diagonally across the board in SCRABBLE.
  • Note: The tiles you play must be contained in one word or played in a straight line.

Can you extend a word in two directions simultaneously in one turn? For instance, ARM is on the board, and I'd like to extend it to CHARMED in one turn? Is that within the rules of SCRABBLE?

Yes, it is perfectly acceptable to extend in front of and/or at the end of a word in one turn, as long as all the letters are played in the same turn. So, in this case, since the C, H, E and D are all used to spell CHARMED, it's well within the rules of SCRABBLE to do so.

What happens if a player discovers eight tiles on his or her rack instead of seven?

There is no discussion in the boxed rules of SCRABBLE about what to do in this situation. The National Scrabble Association has devised a rule that seems to work very well for our SCRABBLE clubs and tournaments: The opponent randomly draws three tiles from the offending player's rack, looks at them all, and then chooses which two to return to the pool of letters. The remaining tile goes back to the player's rack. If a player overdraws two tiles, then the opponent randomly draws four tiles from the player's rack, chooses which two to replace in the pool, and returns the other tiles to the player. And so on. In each case, the offending player may see all the tiles seen by the opponent.

This overdrawing penalty influences most players to draw their tiles more carefully. One further note about overdrawing: If the overdrawing player realizes s/he has overdrawn before mixing any of the new tiles with the old ones, then the opponent should randomly choose tiles only from the group of newly drawn tiles, while following the instructions given above.

Are there special rules in SCRABBLE for playing the blank tiles?

The official rules of SCRABBLE do not allow a player, later in the game, to change the letter that the blank represents. Likewise, a player may not replace the blank with the letter it represents and use the blank in another word. At the National Scrabble Association's clubs and tournaments, this rule is strictly enforced. The National Scrabble Association also advises that to avoid later confusion, both players record on his or her score sheet what letter the blank represents at the time it's played.

Those of you who'd like a game with more scoring chances may play the variation that allows players to replace a blank on the board with the letter (from your rack) it represents. The drawback (or advantage) to this version of SCRABBLE is the increased luck factor.

Can I exchange tiles whenever I want?

A player may exchange tiles (from one to seven) as long as there are at least seven tiles still in the bag. Decide which tiles you want to exchange first. Then remove them from your rack and place them facedown on the table. Only then may you draw your new tiles, place them on your rack, and replace the exchanged tiles back into the pool.

When playing Scrabble, how do I challenge a word played by another player? When can I challenge? What is the outcome if the challenge is incorrect?

Any play may be challenged before the next player starts a turn. If the play challenged is unacceptable, the challenged player takes back his/her tiles and loses that turn (and any score.) If the play challenged is acceptable, the challenger loses his/her next turn. All words (not just one) made in one play are challenged simultaneously. If any word is unacceptable, the entire play is unacceptable. Only one turn is lost on any challenge.

When is the game over?

The boxed rules in SCRABBLE mention that the game is over when a player uses all of his or her tiles and there are no more tiles to draw. That player then earns the points still remaining in all the other players' racks, while the others subtract from their point total the sum of the points still on their rack.

In National Scrabble Association Club and Tournament play, we use a slightly different rule. The player who ends the game earns double the sum of the letters on the other players' racks, and the other players subtract nothing from their total. Example: Player #1, with 323 points, ends the game while Player #2, with 320, still has EMP on his rack. Player #1 should receive 2 x (1 + 3 + 3) = 14 points extra. The final total would be Player #1 337, Player #2 320.

How do you score a play that covers two Triple Word Score squares simultaneously?

This is known as playing a “Triple-Triple.” To compute the total score for the play first add up the values of the individual tiles, counting the Double Letter Score bonus if it’s applicable. Then multiply by NINE. If all seven tiles of the player’s rack have been used for this play, then add an extra 50 points. Example: For the play of CRAZIEST, where the C and T are placed on Triple Word Score squares, with the Z falling on the Double Letter Score, using no blanks, the score is 3 + 1 + 1 + (10 x 2) + 1 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 29 X 9 = 261 pt. + 50 pt. = 311 pt. Actually, this play is the current single highest-scoring acceptable play in National Scrabble Association Club or Tournament history. It was played in 1996 at a SCRABBLE club in Michigan.

When do bonus squares increase the score of a play in SCRABBLE?

The bonus is only scored for the player who originally covers the bonus square, and only for the one turn. Subsequent turns that use a letter already covering a bonus square don’t score the bonus points. For example, suppose FAZE is placed with the Z on the Double Word Score square and scores a total of 32 pt. If someone later adds an S to form FAZES, the Double Word Score is NOT counted.

How do the remaining or unplayed tiles in SCRABBLE affect scoring?

When the game of SCRABBLE ends, each players' total is reduced by the sum of his or her unplayed letters. In addition, if a player used all letters, the sum of the other players' unplayed letters is added to that player's score.

Where can I find a copy of the Official Scrabble Tournament rules?

The Official SCRABBLE Tournament rules are available on the SCRABBLE Tournaments page.

How much time do players have to make a play during a SCRABBLE game at a club or tournament?

There are two commonly accepted methods for controlling the time of a SCRABBLE game. First, a three-minute hourglass may be used to time each play. After 54 minutes the game is over and both players now have one more play before totaling the final scores. Second, chess clocks are set up so that each person is given 25 minutes to complete all his/her turns. That way, a player may play quickly for easy plays and save up time in order to take five or more minutes for the difficult plays. If a player uses more than 25 minutes, then s/he is penalized 10 pt. every minute or fraction of a minute used more than the original 25.

What's the official word source for National SCRABBLE® Association Clubs and Tournaments in the United States and Canada?

The Official Tournament and Club Word List (OWL) by Merriam-Webster Inc. This word list contains no definitions and is available to NSA members only.

How do I challenge in SCRABBLE tournament play?

The National SCRABBLE Association has developed a precise definition for when a player may challenge:

  • Using sand timers or no timers:
    Once a player has announced his or her score, the opponent may "Hold!" or challenge. After the player has drawn at least one tile from the pool, the opponent may not challenge or hold anymore. To avoid what we call "speedy-draw syndrome," the player must take a few seconds to record the total score before drawing replacement tiles.
  • Using tournament clocks:
    After the player has started his or her opponent's timer, the opponent may "Hold!" or challenge. As above, once the player has drawn at least one tile from the pool, the opponent may not challenge or hold anymore.
  • Using clocks:
    Once an opponent has called "Hold!" at the proper time, s/he has as long as s/he wants to think about challenging, as long as s/he hasn't yet made the next play. The player can insist on drawing tiles after one minute, as long as s/he keeps the replacement tiles separate from the old tiles. This is called the "Courtesy Rule." If there is a successful challenge, the opponent may see the replacement tiles before the player returns them to the pool.
  • Using sand timers:
    After calling "Hold!" the opponent has only the length of his or her turn - three minutes - to decide whether to challenge or not. The Courtesy Rule is in effect here as well.

Can I purchase a new set of tiles or other replacement parts for my SCRABBLE game?

SCRABBLE replacement parts order forms for both Standard SCRABBLE and SCRABBLE Deluxe Edition for U.S. customers can be found on the Hasbro Customer Care web page. Canadian customers may contact our offices in Canada at 450-670-9820 to discuss the availability and cost of replacement parts.

How can I purchase SCRABBLE replacement score pads in the United States and Canada?

SCRABBLE replacement score pads can be ordered through Hasbro Customer Care.