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Scrabble FAQ - General Information

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Archive-name: games/scrabble-faq/general
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Last-modified: 15 Jan 2000
Copyright: 1993-2000 Steven Alexander

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		Scrabble Frequently Asked Questions

This article is posted monthly to the Usenet newsgroups, rec.puzzles.crosswords, rec.answers and
news.answers.  Other ways to obtain it are by ftp:
and by e-mail (for those without ftp access) send

    To: <>
    Subject: send /pub/faqs/games/scrabble-faq/general
    Subject: send /pub/faqs/games/scrabble-faq/supplement

Changes between versions can be found at
A hypertext version with additional resources is available at

1.    What this FAQ covers

2.    The trademark Scrabble

3.    Organized Scrabble activity
3.1.    National Scrabble Association and Association of British
        Scrabble Players
3.2.    Clubs
3.3.    Tournaments
3.3.1.    North American, Canadian and World championships    Winners of the North American championships    Winners of the Canadian (English language) championships    Winners of the World (English language) championships
3.3.2.    How club and tournament Scrabble differs from the rules in
          the box
3.3.3.    The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and Official
          Scrabble Words    Why are all those stupid/non-English/indecent words
            allowed?    Words removed from OSPD 1st ed. in 2nd ed.    Current corrections to the OSPD 2nd ed.    9-letter root words in OSPD    Current corrections to the Franklin Electronic OSPD    Expurgation of OSPD and OSPD 3rd ed.    Successor to OSPD - TWL98
3.3.4.    Tournament pairings
3.3.5.    Tournament ratings
3.3.6.    Upcoming North American tournaments
3.4.    Organizations conducting Scrabble activity outside North
        America and the UK
3.5.    Who plays with which dictionary and which rules?
3.6.    Crossword games on the Internet
3.6.1.    Crossword games servers    Telnet-based    WWW-based
3.6.2.    Crossword games mailing list
3.6.3.    Crossword games related homepages
3.6.4.    Crossword games related newsgroup
3.6.5.    Chat

4.    Differences between Scrabble in North America and in the UK

5.    Publications on Scrabble
5.1.    Periodicals
5.1.1.    Scrabble News
5.1.2.    Non-North American periodicals    Onwords    ABSP Newsletter    Forwords    Scrabble Club News
5.1.3.    Defunct periodicals    Letters for Expert Players    Matchups    Medleys    Rack Your Brain    JG Newsletter    Tourney News
5.2.    Books and CD-ROMs
5.3.    Word lists
5.3.1.    Lexicons
5.3.2.    Internet anagram finders and word listers
5.3.3.    Printed lists
5.4.    Word study/lookup software

6.    Basic tactics and methods

7.    Typical games
7.1.    Typical scores
7.2.    Frequency of bingos

8.    Scrabble records
8.1.    Actual
8.2.    Theoretical
8.3.    Blocked games

9.    Scrabble variants

10.   Play-by-mail games

11.   Scrabble paraphernalia
11.1.   Tiles
11.2.   Clocks
11.3.   Playing equipment
11.4.   Miscellaneous

12.   Computer versions of Scrabble
12.1.   CrossWise (IBM PC, Windows)
12.2.   Gameboy Super Scrabble (hand-held)
12.3.   Maven (Macintosh, Windows)
12.4.   Monty Plays Scrabble (hand-held)
12.5.   Scramble/Literati (IBM PC/Windows)
12.6.   Tyler (IBM PC, Macintosh)
12.7.   The Scrabble Player (IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Psion)
12.8.   Vic Rice's Game (IBM PC)
12.9.   Virgin Mastertronic (IBM PC, Macintosh)
12.10.  WordsWorth (IBM PC, Windows)
12.11.  STrabbler (Atari)
12.12.  Unix Scrabble (Unix)
12.13.  CRAB (Unix, Sun, Vax and Macintosh)
12.14.  Scrabble Door (IBM PC BBS)
12.15.  ScrabOut and Networdz (Windows 3.1 and 95)
12.16.  X-Words (Macintosh)
12.17.  Amiga Scrabble (Amiga)
12.18.  Hasbro Scrabble/E-mail Scrabble (Windows, Win CE, Macintosh)
12.19.  XScrabble (X Windows)
12.20.  Gary's Computer Scrabble (Unix)
12.21.  Ortograf (Macintosh)
12.22.  dupliKta (Windows)
12.23.  Vocabble (IBM PC)
12.24.  PC Scrabble (Windows 95, DOS)
12.25.  Psion/Sinclair Scrabble (Spectrum, Sinclair Z80)
12.26.  Sanaset (Windows)
12.27.  WinScra (Windows)
12.28.  Niggle (Palm Pilot)
12.29.  Scrabble by Strobe (Windows)
12.30.  Cardwords (Linux with X Windows)
12.31.  Crosswords (Palm Pilot)

13.   Glossary

14.   Litigation


A0.   Copyright

A1.   FAQ policy

A2.   Credits

[In the supplement:]
A3.   Roster of clubs in the US and Canada

A4.   Upcoming North American tournaments

A5.   Contacts for major Scrabble organizations worldwide

1.    What this FAQ covers

This article is about competitive English language Scrabble, or more
properly, Scrabble Brand Crossword Game.  It is North
American-centric (and to a lesser extent covers the UK), but
information regarding English language 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 this is about Scrabble, it is not provided or authorized by
the owners of the various rights to that game.

2.    The trademark Scrabble

Scrabble is a registered trademark owned in the United States and
Canada by Milton Bradley Company, a division of 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.

In North America, technically, the term Scrabble refers to any game
or related product Milton Bradley cares to label that way, while the
popular board game is "Scrabble Crossword Game".  Most people --
including Milton Bradley's own publication -- use the term Scrabble
to refer to that game, and so will this FAQ.

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.

3.    Organized Scrabble activity
3.1.    National Scrabble Association and Association of British
        Scrabble Players

The National Scrabble Association ("NSA") is the only organization
running Scrabble activity in North America.  It is a subsidiary of
Milton Bradley.  NSA licenses tournament and club directors.  Club
and tournament play, except for the national and world championships,
is sanctioned but not run by NSA.  Non-members are required to join
before playing in their second tournament.

As noted, NSA is an arm of the manufacturer, not a true membership
organization.  An advisory board and a rules committee are chosen by
NSA and Milton Bradley.  Ad hoc committees concerning changes in the
dictionary and the ratings system also have been created.

Membership is $18 per year in the US, $20 (USD) in Canada, and $25
elsewhere, by postal money order outside the US.

	    National Scrabble Association
	    c/o Williams & Company
	    120 Front St Garden
	    Box 700
	    Greenport, NY 11944
	    (631) 477-0033
	    (631) 477-0294 fax

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

	    c/o Gareth Williams
	    15 Melbourne Road
	    CF4 5NH
	    United Kingdom
	    +44 1222 758249

Membership in ABSP costs #10 per year.  Members receive a newsletter
six times per year.  Its chairman, Graeme Thomas, may be reached by
e-mail at <>.

3.2.    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

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 at
<>.  For
further information on them, contact

	Philip Nelkon
	Mattel (UK) Ltd
	Mattel House
	Vanwall Business Park
	Vanwall Road
	SL6 4UB
	+44 1628 500283
	+44 1628 500288 fax

Steve Oliger has written an IBM PC program, Focus (currently in
version 2.10), to maintain club statistics.  It comes highly
recommended by others who have used it.  $20 plus shipping ($3 in

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

3.3.    Tournaments
3.3.1.    North American, UK and world championships

"National Scrabble Championship", really for North America, is held
by the National Scrabble Association in even years.  In 2000 it will
be held in Providence, RI.  North American players are eligible for
entry if they had played in at least one rated tournament.  Players
from elsewhere may enter without condition.

In odd years, an invitational "World [English language] Championship"
is held.  The 1999 World Championship was held in November in
Melbourne, Australia.  Words allowable in North American or British
play are allowed.

In the UK, Spear runs the National Scrabble Championship.  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

    1978, May 19-21, New York City: invitational, 64 contestants
	  David Prinz

    1980, November 14-16, Santa Monica: invitational, 32 contestants
	  Joe Edley

    1983, August 10-12, Chicago: qualifiers, 32 contestants
	  Joel Wapnick

    1985, July 28-31, Boston: open, 302 contestants
	  Ron Tiekert

    1987, July 5-7, Las Vegas: open, 300+ contestants
	  Rita Norr

    1988, July 31-August 5, Reno: open, 323 contestants
	  Robert Watson

    1989, July 29-August 3, New York City: open, 221 contestants
	  Peter Morris

    1990, August 5-9: Washington, 300+ contestants
	  Robert Felt

    1992, August 9-13, Atlanta: open, 320 contestants
	  Joe Edley

    1994, August 14-18, Los Angeles: open, 294 contestants
	  David Gibson

    1996, July, Dallas: open, 400 contestants (OSPD2+)
	  Adam Logan

    1998, August 8-13, Chicago: open, 535 contestants (TWL98)
	  Brian Cappelletto    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    Winners of the World (English language) championships

    1991, September 27-30, London: invitational, 48 contestants
	  Peter Morris (USA)

    1993, August 27-30, New York City: invitational, 64 contestants
	  Mark Nyman (UK)

    1995, November 2-5, London: invitational, 64 contestants
	  David Boys (Canada)

    1997, November 20-24, Washington: invitational, 80 contestants
	  Joel Sherman (USA)

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

NSA, ABSP and ASPA rules for competitive play are available at
<> and
<>, respectively, and the
rules that come in the box at

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

The validity of words is determined, in North America (and Israel,
which uses NSA rules) by the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary,
and in the UK by Official Scrabble Words.  Most other places use
both.  (These references are described in section 3.3.3.)

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

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.

3.3.3.    The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary and Official
	  Scrabble Words

The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary ("OSPD"), published by
Merriam-Webster, 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 includes all words of eight
or fewer letters, and simplifies 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, is used.
(The Tenth came out in May 1993 and replaced the Ninth on May 1,
1994.)  The OSPD does include 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.  Matchups ($1 + $1
shipping, see section 12.6) and Cygnus Cybernetics (see section 12.1)
each publish a complete list of the words added (and the handful
removed) in OSPD2.

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

Effective March 1998, TWL98 (see section, 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

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.  Challenges of longer words
are looked up in Chambers.

OSW is available outside the UK from

	James Thin Ltd
	53-59 South Bridge
	Edinburgh, EH1 1YS
	+44 131	556 6743
	+44 131	557 8149 fax


	Margaret & Sarah Browne
	Premier Books and Prints
	65 High Town Road
	Luton, LU2 0BW
	+44 1582 611991
	+44 1582 611911 fax

who is authorized to sell Chambers titles to Scrabble players at some

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

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

    length      TWL     OSW  TWL+OSW
    2            96     109      121
    3           972    1126     1227
    4          3903    4769     5140
    5          8636   10697    11776
    6         15232   18435    20901
    7         23109   26539    31144
    8         28419   30732    37916
    9         24556   30456    36669

   total 2-8: 80367   92407   108225    Why are all those stupid/non-English/indecent words

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

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.

	    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)
	    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
	    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:

	    REREMOUSE    Current corrections to the Franklin Electronic OSPD

	    additions   deletions
	    ---------   ---------
	                UNDEREATE    Expurgation of OSPD and OSPD 3rd ed.

In October 1995, NSA issued 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".  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 reappear
in ESPD because of its sloppy basing on early printings of OSPD2 --
before some corrections -- will not be added back, though.)

It's anomalous to have the "Official Scrabble Players Dictionary" not
be official.    Successor to OSPD - TWL98

As of March 1998, club and tournament play in North America use an
unexpurgated lexicon, including all two- to nine-letter words and
inflections, titled "Official Tournament and Club Word List" (but
generally known as "TWL" or "TWL98"), sold only to members of NSA.
Send $9.95 plus sales tax for AR, CA, MA, OH or WA, specifying
membership number, to

	Merriam-Webster Inc.
	P.O. Box 281
	Springfield, MA 01102
	(800) 201-5029 x100
	(413) 734-3134 x100

or $13.95 CAD in Canada, to

	Thomas Allen & Son, Ltd
	390 Steelcase Rd E
	Markham, ON  L3R 1G2
	(905) 475-9126

There were 12 deletions in the two- to eight-letter range, DA DEI DES

See the Dictionary Committee page for explanations.  <http://>

3.3.4.    Tournament pairings

Most North American tournaments are ranked according to win-loss
record first, followed by the total of point margin 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 use total game score, 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

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.

3.3.5.    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
	     Rating     < 50    >=50
	   below 1800    30      20
	    1800-1999    24      16
	    2000 & up    15      10

See also the explanation by John Chew.

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.

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

3.3.6.    Upcoming tournaments

For a listing of upcoming North American tournaments, see the

3.4.    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 is considering organizing German and Dutch
Scrabble tournaments.  Contact Philip Nelkon (section 3.2).

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 Australia
	    02 9416 9881
	    02 9416 9479 fax

In Israel, English language Scrabble is played by several clubs.
There is a large one in Jerusalem.  Tournaments are rated under a
copy of the North American system.  There are occasional national
tournaments.  Sam Orbaum, who once wrote a weekly Scrabble column for
the Jerusalem Post, runs the Jerusalem club, which meets at ICCY, 12
Emek-Refaim St, Jerusalem at 7:30 pm JST Tuesdays.  He can be reached
at +972-2-587-1003 (H), +972-2-531-5678 (W),

The Thailand National English language Scrabble tournament has drawn
as many as 885 contestants, including some top North Americans.  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
	    (662) 252-9607, 252-8147
	    (662) 252-8147 fax

In Thailand, sets are sold without regard to Spear's rights (section
2), resulting in its players not being invited to the 1995 World
[English language] Scrabble Championships (section 3.3.1).
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.

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.

3.5.    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

OSPD, OSW and SOWPODS are described in section 3.3.3.  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.  In
New Zealand, only one word may be challenged at a time.  Under
Singapore's rule, often discussed as a basis for unification, the
maker of a bad challenge loses five points.  (Sweden uses ten.)

There is a movement afoot, especially strong among top players who
have played or have some prospect of playing in the World [English
language] Championship (section 3.3.1) (at which SOWPODS and single-
challenge have been used to date), toward merging the rules.  Most
suggestions center on using SOWPODS and some kind of middle-ground
challenge rule, such as Singapore's or one penalizing a challenger
only for the second and succeeding bad challenges in a game.
However, there is not agreement that convergence is desirable.

                           OSPD       OSW         SOWPODS

    double-challenge      Canada
                          Mexico                 New Zealand
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
      10pt-challenge      Malta*                      *
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
       5pt-challenge                              Singapore
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    single-challenge                 Ireland      Australia
                                       UK          Bahrain
                                                  Sri Lanka
    - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
             unknown                               Bermuda
                                                  Hong Kong
                                                 Saudi Arabia
                                                 South Africa
                                             United Arab Emirates

* Malta is in transition from OSPD to SOWPODS.  A few more, and you
could appropriately call it a movement.

3.6.    Crossword games on the Internet
3.6.1.    Crossword games servers    Telnet-based

A MUD-like server dedicated to playing crossword games (with boards
configurable by the players) is available by telnet at, port 7777 (meaning to reach it under Unix,
type "telnet 7777").  A FAQ for this server
is available at <>,
and for MUDS generally at
<>.  A robot,
<>, normally is on-line to
play there.  A Windows graphical interface is at

Other MUDs having crossword-game play among their services are listed
at <>.    WWW-based

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

    Net-Scrabble, <>, by Hussein
	Suleman, <>
    US mirror of N-S, <>
    Scrabble Zone, <>,
	by Dylan Nicholson, <>
    Web Scrabble, <>, in German,
    Java Scrabble, <>, by
	Graham Savage <>

For now, at least, there is a Java Scrabble at
<> in German.

Scrabble Challenge, a duplicate contest, by Kevin Cowtan, at the
University of York, UK, is still running.
<>.  Some
mirrors of Net-Scrabble may move from one server to another
guerilla-style.  Try <>.  Scribble
is another non-matchplay game.

3.6.2.    Crossword games mailing lists

The international mailing list crossword-games is open to anyone,
crossword-games-pro to active tournament players, and
wordgame-programmers to anyone interested in design of programs for
crossword games.  To join, send mailto
<>, or
<>.  Jim Geary
maintains a list of frequently misunderstood things for the "pro"
list.  <>.  There are also
a UK-centred list and a SOWPODS list:

3.6.3.    Crossword games related homepages

The Scrabble FAQ's hypertext version has an extensive list.

3.6.4.    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 <>.
The flat-text version of this FAQ is posted there monthly, and
occasional questions are asked and answered there.

3.6.5.    Chat

The Hasbro CD-ROM game (section 12.18) and Networdz (section 12.15)
are discussed on IRC Undernet in #scrabble
<> and on DalNet
<> in #scrabble and #scrabbleparlor.

4.    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.  Some clubs in North America are
considering making this at least optional.  An added impetus for
this trend is the expurgation of OSPD (see section

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

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

5.    Publications on Scrabble
5.1.    Periodicals
5.1.1.    Scrabble News

This is a publication of the National Scrabble Association (see
section 3.1), and comes with membership.

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

5.1.2.    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 #6 for 6 issues in the UK, #10 elsewhere.

	    Allan Simmons
	    Onwords Magazine
	    Shilling House
	    1 Woolmer Hill
	    Surrey, GU27 1LT
	    <>    ABSP Newsletter

The newsletter of the ABSP, section 3.1.    Forwords

The quarterly official magazine of the New Zealand Association of
Scrabble Players, including news, tournament results, comments and

	    Jeff Grant
	    Waipatu Settlement Rd
	    New Zealand    Scrabble Club News

Published by Spear, #8 for 6 issues.  News about clubs in the UK.

5.1.3.    Defunct periodicals    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.  See section 12.6.    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" (section 6).

The entire run of Medleys has been reissued as part of "Archive: Two
Word Game Classics."  See section 5.2.

$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

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

	    Nick Ballard
	    536 Kirkham St
	    San Francisco, CA  94122-3611
	    (415) LOG-NICK
	    <>    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 (section 12.3), which is an
important tool for move analysis.    JG Newsletter

This excellent publication followed in the footsteps of Letters for
Expert Players (section and Medleys (section in its
thorough position analyses.  Also included some puzzles.

	    Jim Geary
	    31 West Cochise Dr
	    Phoenix, AZ 85021-2484
	    (602) 943-5281
	    <>    Tourney News

This provided mostly tournament results listings, with bits of
discussion of tactics, issues and occasional word lists.

	    Tourney News
	    Box 2013
	    Teaticket, MA 02536

5.2.    Books and CD-ROMs

Out-of-print books listed can be located, among other ways, through

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" in light of later
learning and insight, plus (2) the entire run of Ballard's periodical
"Medleys" (section (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,
<>, <>,

The Official Scrabble Puzzle Book, Joe Edley.  1997, Pocket Books.
In bookstores, $14.  Designed to increase board skills.  The author
was the 1980 and 1992 North American champion.

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.

Everything Scrabble, Joe Edley & John D. Williams, Jr.  1994, Pocket
Books.  In bookstores, $14, or from Cygnus Cybernetics, section
12.1.  Practical advice for finding good plays plus practice word
puzzles on and off board.

The Literate Puzzler, Rita Norr & Audrey Tumbarello.  1994, Sterling
Pub. Co.  More puzzles using words from OSPD.  In bookstores, $4.95.

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.  In bookstores, or $10.95 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus
Cybernetics, section 12.1.

Scrabble Tournament Success, Darrell Day.  A booklet focusing on the
thought processes which can help intermediate players improve.
Available from the author, an excellent player, for $15.  Darrell
Day, Marketing Concepts, 1845 Carriage House Cir, #3006, Arlington,
TX 76011, <>.

The Ultimate Guide to Winning Scrabble Brand Crossword Game, Michael
Lawrence & John Ozag.  1987,  Bantam.  Good for beginners to
intermediates; covers many of the basic approaches to analysis.  Out
of print.

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 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 Scrabble Book, Derryn Hinch.  1976, Mason/Charter.  Out of print,
but a reissue is expected, with major assistance from John Holgate, a
top Australian player.

The Official Scrabble Player's Handbook, Drue K. Conklin.  Harmony
Books.  Out of print.

Scrabble Players Handbook, Selchow & Righter Company.  1974.  Out of

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:

Scrabble for Beginners, Barry Grossman.  1998, Chambers.  "Lively and
humorous ... most .. players will find something of value."
(Onwords; see section

The Ultimate Scrabble Book, Philip Nelkon.  1995, Stanley Paul,
  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,
  Twenty-two annotated games from the 1991 World (English language)
  Scrabble Championship, which was played using words in OSW or OSPD.
  In bookstores, or $7.95 + $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics,
  section 12.1.

The Scrabble Companion, Gyles Brandreth & Darryl Francis.  1988,
David & Charles.  Out of print.

Play Better Scrabble Video, Darryl Francis.
  #10.99 including shipping to the UK, from Spear.

How to Play Better Scrabble, Darryl Francis.  Chambers.  Out of
  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.  $5.99 + $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.

5.3.    Word lists

5.3.1.    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 copy of TWL98 is available at
<> plus a
copy of the OSPD2 two to eight letter words is available for ftp from
in files named words.?.Z, for ? from 2 to 8.  Other copies, in one
file, are at <>
and <>.  Also
available is a large list of Anamonics (section 6), compiled by John
J. Chew III, at

A copy of TWL98 (section, accurate for 2- to 8-letter-words
except for the spurious "REPTILIA", is at
<>, by Mendel
Cooper, <>.

OSPD2+ is still available, at
<> and

5.3.2.    Internet anagram finders and word listers

From AA to ZYZZYVAS, <>, by Jonn

The Scrabble Rack, <>, by Jeff

Anagram Finder, <>,
(OSPD, OSW, Websters 2nd), by Paul Dale,

Mag's Word Finder,
<>, by
Tom Magliery, <>.

BigDoggy Word List Page, <>, by
Brian Wagner, <>.

OSPD2+ Word List Generator,
<>, by Jim Miller,

OSPD3 (ESPD) Dictionary Lookup and Anagrammer, from Hasbro,

Unscrambler, <>, by Bill

Telnet to MarlDOoM at 7777, give the command
"help acbot-words1" for how to summon the multitalented robot ACBot
and get it to generate lists to your specifications.  See

5.3.3.    Printed lists

Numerous lists and other items are available from Cygnus Cybernetics
(see section 12.1).

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, section 12.6.

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 Tournament Blank Book, above) from Matchups,
  section 12.6.

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, section 12.6.

The Complete Wordbook, Mike Baron & Brian Sheppard
  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.  In US, $20 including The
  Complete Blankbook and shipping.  Outside the US and Canada, add $5
  per address.  Wordbooks & Listmats, P.O. Box 2848, Corrales NM

The Complete Blankbook, Mike Baron & Jim Homan
  Lists all 6- and 7-letter sets forming 7- and 8-letter words and
  all bingos formed.   $20 including The Complete Wordbook and
  shipping.  Outside the US and Canada, add $5 per address.
  Wordbooks & Listmats, P.O. Box 2848, Corrales NM 87048-2848.

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, section 12.1.

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, section 12.1.

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, section 12.1.

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, section 12.1.

JQXZ Words, Jim Homan
  2- through 9-letter words containing the four top tiles.  $3.50 +
  $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, section 12.1.

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
  (section 5.4).

hookiesT, Randy Hersom
  2-to-make-3 thru 7-to-make-8 hooks.  $22 from Randy Hersom
  (section 5.4).

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, <>.

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

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,
  fax 249-2609, <>.  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; $5.99
  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.

Official Scrabble Word Guide.  Grosset & Dunlap, Jacob Orleans; $6.95
  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.
  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
	    (03) 9558-0611
  Distribution was halted by an injunction issued in Australia at the
  behest of Chambers, but Hinkler and Chambers have announced plans
  to collaborate on future Scrabble-related titles.

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

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
	    South Africa

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

	    Barry Harridge

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

Official Scrabble Words on Compact Disk
  This is supplied for Sony's Data Diskman.  Search facilities are
  reportedly poor.

Official Scrabble Players Electronic Dictionary
  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.
  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
  although I have heard complaints about Smith's service.  Smith
  ships each device with a card listing all the current corrections
  -- for which, see section  Although it is becoming less
  useful, Smith raises its price as time passes.

  It was rumored in 1993 that the Franklin OSPD might be withdrawn
  because of wrangling between Franklin and Milton Bradley about the
  proceeds, but nothing has been heard about this since.  There are
  no plans to manufacture a version for OSPD3 or later.

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 1999 calendar.
  $8.95, $10.95 CAD.

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 list, section 3.6.2.  Herbko Intl, Inc.
  301 W Hallandale Beach Blvd, Hollywood, FL 33023, (954) 454-7771.

5.4.    Word study/lookup software

LexAbility (IBM PC), besides an anagram study system, includes a
feature allowing play of Scrabble by modem.  $50 postpaid in US and

  Randy Hersom
  115A Rhyne St
  Morganton, NC 28655
  (704) 437-6841

Puzlpack (IBM PC), $25 + $3 shipping.

  Chuck Fendall
  Recroom Recware
  P.O. Box 307
  Pacific Grove, CA 93950

Anna (IBM PC), $99 + $5 shipping, quizzes on anagrams without
requiring typing words.  It emphasizes words missed over time, and
allows custom lists as well as functioning as an anagrammer.

  Mary Rhoades
  2325 Shady Grove Dr
  Bedford, TX 76021
  (817) 545-3216

LeXpert (Windows, Windows CE), free, updated for TWL98, 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.  OSPD, OSW and SOWPODS versions.  For download from
<>, or $9.95 shipping + $5 outside
US and Canada.

  Everything's Possible
  39757 Manchester Ct
  Northville, MI 48167
  (248) 305-7770

WordLexica (Windows95+), $15 registration fee.  Tests on lists,
remembering the user's previous performance.  Refuses to use the
naughty words, otherwise TWL98.


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

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, <>.

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

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.  Available from Cygnus Cybernetics, section

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.  <>  Requires a
separate lexicon file.

  Barry Harridge
  1B Gladstone St
  Windsor VIC 3181
  (03) 9510 9381

TEA - The Electronic Alveary (Windows), shareware, #20.  Finds
anagrams and other restricted lists.

  Bryson Limited
  10 Wagtail Close
  Reading RG10 9ED
  United Kingdom
  +44 118 9344153
  +44 118 9344153 fax

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

Whiz Cards (paper).  Flash cards, $3 to $35 per set, from Gary Moss
(section 11.4).

6.    Basic tactics and methods

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.


  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.


  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.


  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 (section

  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.

7.    Typical games
7.1.    Typical scores

In the 1998 North American championships, the four 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

7.2.    Frequency of bingos

In the 1983 national championship among 32 selected players, players
got 2.9 bingos per game between them in games that happened to be
annotated.  Graeme Thomas has calculated the probability of having a
playable bingo on the first rack as 12.63% for OSPD2+, 13.65% for OSW
and 14.87% for SOWPODS.

8.    Scrabble records
8.1.    Actual

The following records are for sanctioned (that is, in an official
club or tournament) North American play.  Some UK records are
mentioned, but not those occurring under high-score rules.  See
section 4.  Note that North American scores are not strictly
comparable with others because there the first to play out receives
the value of opponent's tiles twice rather than once.  See section
3.3.3.  Games played under SOWPODS (section 3.3.3.) allow higher

The high individual score was obtained in a 1993 California
tournament by Mark Landsberg, who scored 770 against his opponent's
338.  (In a Malta club, Godfrey Magri Demajo scored 792 using OSPD.)
(Peter Preston scored 793 in a UK club in 1999, using OSW.)  (Nick
Ballard scored 792 at a Chicago club, but used 4 phony bingos, and
did not report it.)

The high combined score of 1110 was achieved in an Atlanta club in
2000, 664-446, Ray Smith defeating Ron Tiekert.

The highest losing score of 505 was achieved or suffered by Steve
Polatnick of Florida in a 1999 New Jersey tournament.  (In New
Zealand, John Foster has lost with 513.)

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

The high single turn, 338 points, was achieved in a club game by Jeff
Widergren of California.  (Randy Amatoeng scored 374 in Ghana, Magri
Demajo 392 in Malta, and Marjorie Smith 320 points in a Nottingham,
England tournament in 1998.)  The high opening turn, 124 for BEZIQUE,
was reached by Sam Kantimathi of California in a 1993 Oregon

Longest consecutive opening sequence of bingos by one player:
Jeremiah Mead of Massachusetts played five in a 1989 North American
championship tournament game; Joseph Levine of California did the
same in a 1996 club game, and Devonna Gee in the 1996 Nationals.

8.2.    Theoretical

These records allow words only from the OSPD (2nd ed.) and
Merriam-Webster (9th ed.).

The highest-scoring single play, found by Dan Stock of Ohio, shown
with the hooked words:

	1A  OPACIFYING         63
	3A  YELKS              12
	h1  BRAINWASHING       63
	k1  AMELIORATIVE       17
	l1  ZARFS              27
	15A EJACULATING        63
	   +bonus              50

The highest combined score, found by Steven Root of Massachusetts:

	H2  LANKEST            74
	8F  METRICAL           60
	2F  SULTANA(S)         61
	1E  HE, ES              7
	1E  HEN, NU             8
	1I  UT, UT, TA          6
	1I  UTA, AN             5
	1M  ON OS               3
	L2  AR                  2
	L2  ARF                12
	     BLANKEST, ZARF  1576
	B1  XI                 18
	O7  PYRUVATE           67
	N14 WE, WE             20
	D8  VERDITER           76
	13B DIT                 8
	B13 DE                  6
	B13 DEI                 4
	15D ROT                 3
	G14 OE, ROTE            6
	13G JOE, JO            35
	I13 BA, JOB            22
	I13 BAH                 8
	14I AI                  4
	K14 LI, AIL             5
	11D DEADWOOD          106
	     IN, PYRUVATES   1264
	  +2 times "F"          8

8.3.    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 U S
	      S O X

Without using blanks, the smallest, found by Rick Wong of California,


9.    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".  See section 3.3.2.

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,

10.   Play-by-mail games

Open-book Scrabble by snail mail used to be run by Medleys.  (See
section for its address.)  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 <>; see

In the UK, the Postal Scrabble Club is very active.  See the Appendix
for a contact.

11.  Scrabble paraphernalia
11.1.  Tiles

Milton Bradley will replace without charge individual lost tiles from
in-print sets sold in North America.  Call

	    Hasbro, Inc.
	    Consumer Affairs
	    (888) 836-7025
	    (401) 431-8697

with the tiles, set type, and item number of the set.

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 $18
+ $3.50 shipping from Cygnus Cybernetics, section 12.1, or for $18
per set (10% off for 10 or more) from

	    Robert Schoenman
	    3366 NE Oregon St
	    Portland, OR 97232
	    fax (503) 977-5379

Protiles in a 3-piece design (front and back encasing a paper
letter), in standard and jumbo fonts, $25 + $2 shipping, are made by
Roy Peshkin and also sold by Mary Lou Thurman, section 11.3, and
Cygnus Cybernetics, section 12.1.

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

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
(section 3.2) 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, fax 697-9805

11.2.   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.

Analog quartz clocks are sold by Cygnus Cybernetics, section 12.1,
for $76 + $5 shipping, and also by Matchups, section 12.6, $67.50 +
$5 shipping.  Wind-up clocks are sold by Matchups for $41 + $5
shipping and Cygnus for $48.

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

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

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

	    Richard Buck
	    10 Gilkey Ct
	    Watertown, MA 02472
	    (617) 923-8909

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
	    (905) 270-9662

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 MELCO
	    P.O. Box 4026
	    Bellevue, WA 98009

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 (partly because its maker caused that ability to
be removed from a competing model).  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, fax 933-3361

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.

11.3.   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 paper markings taken
from an authorized board.  Cymbal bags fit most of them well.  For
information, write to any of

	    Roy Blizzard
	    2132 Marwood Ln
	    Albemarle, NC 28001
	    (704) 982-4723

	    Mike Connally
	    12488 S US Hwy 181 #7
	    San Antonio, TX 78223
	    (210) 633-3308

	    John Cornelius
	    [current information sought]

	    Roy Peshkin
	    1020 Grande Isle Ter
	    Palm Beach Gardens, FL 33418
	    (561) 691-0220, fax 691-0221

	    Evi Pike
	    (905) 793-3477

	    Phil Rosenberg
	    864 Colonial Av
	    Union, NJ 07083

	    Mary Lou Thurman
	    2627 24th St
	    Lubbock, TX 79410
	    (806) 744-7702

	    Gene Tyszka
	    1060 Argus Dr
	    Mississauga ON  L4Y 2L8
	    (905) 270-9662

or to

	    Eileen Willis
	    3664 Danielle Ct
	    North Liberty, IA 52317
	    (319) 626-6391

A uniquely compact "Star Board," of nesting plastic using the deluxe
board grid is available for $150 from

	    Ossie Mair
	    (954) 741-5516

A lightweight wooden turntable into which the British deluxe board
can be inserted, #32.50, comes from

	    Martin A Reed
	    32 Lauser Road
	    Middlesex TW19 7PT
	    01784-210738 or 0956-436566

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.  Braille and Low-Vision
Scrabble, variants of the deluxe, turntable edition, are sold by

	    42 Executive Blvd
	    P.O. Box #3209
	    Farmingdale, NY 11735
	    (800) 522-6294
	    (516) 752-0521

	    Visionaries Store
	    Columbia Lighthouse for the Blind
	    1421 P Street, NW
	    Washington, DC 20005
	    (202) 462-2900 x3050, fax 667-8095

	    Royal Victorian Institute for the Blind
	    Equipment Resource Centre
	    557 St Kilda Rd
	    Melbourne 3004
	    03 9522 5222
	    1800 33 55 88
	    fax 03 9510 4735

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.

Mary Lou Thurman (above) sells several things, including: a cover of
light plastic mesh for the deluxe edition of Scrabble allowing
collecting tiles from the board all at once, $2.50 square, $3.50
round; tote bags, $15-$20; tile bags, $6-$10; chess clock bags, $7;
OSPD book covers, $6-$7; Wordbook covers, $7; all optionally
decorated or embroidered with names.  7.5% tax and $1.50-$4.00
shipping up for $10-$40 of merchandise.

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 $10 plus $1 shipping ($2 for more than one).

	    2740 Meadowcrest Ct
	    Wexford, PA 15090
	    (724) 935-5896, 935-3072 fax

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

11.4.   Miscellaneous

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

    Spear (section 3.2) (shipping is to UK and Ireland only)

      T-shirts, standard #5.99, deluxe #7.99; baseball caps, #5.99;
      pins #1.25; tournament tiles #6.00; pens #.30 each, plus #1

    Magnificent Mouchoirs

      Boxer shorts, #12.95; handkerchief, #6.95; silk tie, #19.95;
      braces (suspenders) #24.95; bow tie, #14.95; cuff links,
      #14.95.  Shipping #1.95 within UK, #4.00 within Europe, #6.00
      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


      Authorized Scrabble t-shirts, with such sayings as "Scrabble Is
      My Life" spelled out, at least in part, in tiles.  $9.95 each
      plus $2.95 shipping, $1.50 each additional.  Silk scarves $25,
      silk boxer shorts $15, silk ties $20, cloth ties $12, some with
      erroneous tile values.

	84 Greensward Lane
	Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
	(609) 321-1211

    Scrabble area rug

	$100 at various retail outlets, or plus $15 shipping:

	Gary Moss
	1131 Back Bay Dr #5313
	Newport Beach, CA 92660
	(714) 759-4871

12.   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.

Only programs which themselves play Scrabble or provide on-line
intermediaries are listed, not those which solely provide an
electronic set.

For a citation to a publication on efficient Scrabble move finding,
see section 12.13.  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.

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

James A. Cherry (<>) will mail back
computerized critiques of played games, after being supplied properly
formatted game logs.

12.1.   CrossWise (IBM PC, 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, but no others over eight letters.   (An augmentation
of the dictionary to cover 9 letter words is $12.50.)  No setup
capability; hinting ability is "limited" to showing all moves in
score order.  $35 + $4.50 shipping for DOS, $45 + $5.00 shipping for

	    Cygnus Cybernetics Corporation
	    2013 Weathertop
	    Fort Collins, CO 80526
	    (800) 357-8168
	    (970) 490-1288, 493-5370 fax

A variant of CrossWise is sold in the UK.  See section 12.7.

Note that the shipping charge for orders of multiple items is $3.50
for the first $29.99 of merchandise, plus $.50 for each $10 up to a
maximum of $6.

12.2.   Gameboy Super Scrabble (Nintendo)

Based on an American Heritage Dictionary, not OSPD.  Plays for high
score, and never bingos.

12.3.   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 (section 12.18), so it is no longer sold or

12.4.   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.

12.5.   Scramble/Literati (IBM PC/Windows)

These are very pretty games.  But note this from the documentation of
Scramble, available for ftp at
<>, (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 at
<> or
literati.html>, is limited to using the provided small dictionary and
a non-Scrabble board; registering at $24.95 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

12.6.   Tyler (IBM PC, Macintosh)

Written for the IBM PC and ported to the Macintosh (not very
smoothly, I am told), 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.

	    c/o Susi Tiekert
	    PO Box 908
	    Bowling Green Sta.
	    New York, NY 10274-0908
	    (212) 689-4046
	    <> sales
	    <> support

12.7.   The Scrabble Player (IBM PC, Amiga, Atari ST, Psion)

This is essentially similar to CrossWise (section 12.1), 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

	    Eidos Interactive
	    +44 121 356 0831

12.8.   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

12.9.   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 $18.95 from Surplus Software, (800) 753-7877.  Mac version may be
available from MacPlay.

12.10.  WordsWorth (IBM PC, Windows)

Shareware versions 2.2 for Windows 95 and 1.3 for PC/Windows, from
<> and
<>, 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.

	    Graham Wheeler

12.11.  STrabbler (Atari)

Shareware, it is available for ftp from
<>.  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.

12.12.  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 from

12.13.  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


this product from Jacoppel Enterprises (the Unix, Sun and Vax version
of which is currently in 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 at any mirror of the
Info-Mac archive, including, directory
/pub/info-mac/game/word, in the file x-words-10.hqx; the Unix source
code is available by ftp from the Crossword Archives, <ftp://>.

12.14.  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

12.15.  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

Hasbro has required the author to withdraw these programs.  Until
Mattel takes similar action, they are available for use outside
North America from <>
or <>.  See
<> for further

12.16.  X-Words (Macintosh)

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 (section
12.3), still leaving it fairly strong.

	    Freeverse Software
	    447 W 24 St
	    New York, NY 10011
	    (212) 929-3549, fax 647-0562

12.17.  Amiga Scrabble (Amiga)

Scrabble for the Amiga.  Available by ftp from in the
directory /systems/amiga/aminet/game/2play file scrabble.lha.  Author
and features unknown so far.

12.18.  Hasbro Scrabble/E-mail Scrabble (Windows, Win CE, Macintosh)

Although based on Maven (section 12.3), 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, see section 3.6.5 or Microsoft Gaming
Zone, <>.  Available at as low as $18, it plays
in English, French, German or Spanish, but features the ESPD (section, not the full OSPD.  Hasbro Interactive is at (800)
638-6927, (617) 746-2903 or (508) 921-3722, and provides support at
<> and

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.

Unofficial resources include Nancy Overman's excellent page about
using the program over the Internet,
<>, Nina Gary's on
its flaws, <>, help on
playing at the Zone at <>, and
replacement dictionaries,

A version for Windows CE (including Palm Pilot) 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 is now published by Hasbro.  Exchanging tiles
can yield back some of the same tiles.  <>

12.19.  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 at

12.20.  Gary's Computer Scrabble (Unix)

Distributed in source form, it requires python, Tkinter, gcc and
shared libraries.  If this means something to you, you can try it.

12.21.  Ortograf (Macintosh)

Plays in duplicate or match-play modes, in French or English.
Shareware, $25.  <>

12.22.  dupliKta (Windows)

Plays duplicate in French.  Trial version at
<>.  Other French shareware
programs, many only for duplicate Scrabble, are in

12.23.  Vocabble (IBM PC)

Plays duplicate in French.

12.24.  PC Scrabble (Windows 95, DOS)

Plays duplicate or match play.  <>.
Other French commercial programs are in

12.25.  Psion/Sinclair Scrabble (Spectrum, Sinclair Z80)

For the Psion Spectrum, 1983, by ftp from
and for the Sinclair Z80, <
games/strategy/>, appearing to be recompilations of the
same program.  These have no more than about 6000 words.

12.26.  Sanaset (Windows)

In Finnish.  <>

12.27.  WinScra (Windows)

In French.  <>.

12.28.  Niggle (Palm Pilot)

Uses OSPD3 or TWL98.  <>.

12.29.  Scrabble by Strobe (Windows)

Supplied or user-provided or dictionary.

12.30.  Cardwords (Linux with X Windows)

A highly genericized form of the game, currently in alpha release.

12.31.  Crosswords (Palm Pilot)

Version 3.1, allows choice of TWL98 or SOWPODS.

13.   Glossary

Anamonic:  See section 6, Study.

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

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

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

14.   Litigation

Scrabble's trademark and copyright protections and its owners have
been involved in several lawsuits in the USA.  This section (in
draft) 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

	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).

	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).

	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).

	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").

	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

	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).

A0.   Copyright

This article is copyright 1993-2000 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.

A1.   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, except where necessary for me to
understand the product.  In those cases, a hampered version should

A2.   Credits

Many thanks to Graeme Thomas, John J. Chew III and Jim Homan for
numerous corrections and improvements.  Also to Barry Harridge and
Philip F.X. Ryan for information on Australia.  Thanks to 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
(section 3.6.2), 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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