Scrabble® equipment consists of the board, which measures 15 squares by 15 squares, 100 letter tiles and racks on which players keep their tiles. In serious play, a chess clock is used to regulate time. 25 minutes are available for each player to complete the game. If a player's time limit is exceeded, the game continues but the player is penalised 10 points for each minute over the time limit. If chess clocks are not available the tournament director will inform the players as to how playing time is to be regulated.
The 225 squares on the board are of two basic types, premium and non-premium. There are 164 non-premium squares, 24 double letter score squares (light blue), 12 triple letter score squares (dark blue), 17 double word score squares (pink) and 8 triple word score squares (red). The centre of the board, marked with a star is also a double word score square. It is specially marked because the rules require that at least one letter of the first word played must cover this square.
The 100 letter tiles have different letter frequencies and face values. The more common tiles generally have a lower point value or face value. There are far more tiles with the letter E, for instance than there are tiles with the letter Z, since E is a very common letter, and Z quite rare.
In Figure 1, the symbol ¨ represents the blank tile. The blank tile can be used for any letter a player wishes. It is like a joker in a deck of playing cards. The Reference Grid Marks are not present on the board. They are useful for referring to specific plays on the board when analysing games.
After checking that all the 100 tiles are present, the tiles are placed in a deep cloth bag. The tiles are shuffled thoroughly and each player draws one tile to determine who goes first. The player who draws a letter closest to A starts the game. If one player draws a blank it is considered the best and starts even if the other player draws the letter A. If both the players draw the same letter, they must redraw. The tiles are returned to the tile bag and reshuffled. The first player then chooses seven tiles and places them on his rack, not allowing his opponent to see them. As soon as the tiles have been placed on the rack, the opponent starts the first player's clock. The opponent then draws his seven tiles.
1. The first player uses two or more of his letters to form a word and places them on the board to read either across or down. One letter has to be on the pink square marked with an star at the centre of the board. Horizontal words must read from left to right and vertical words must be read from top to bottom. You are not permitted to play a word diagonally.
2. A player completes his turn by counting and announcing his score for the turn. He records his score and replenishes the rack with as many new tiles as he has played, thus keeping seven tiles on his rack. Both players should keep score.
3. The second player, and then each in turn, adds one or more letters to those already played so as to form new words. All letters played in any one turn must be placed in one line across or down the board. They must form one complete word and if, at the same time, they touch other letters in adjacent rows or columns, they must form complete words, crossword fashion with all such letters. The player gets credit for all words formed or modified by his play.
4. New words may be formed by: (a) adding one or more letters to a word or letters already on the board, (b) placing a word at right angles to a word already on the board - the new word must use one of the letters already on the board or must add a letter to it, or (c) placing a complete word parallel to a word already played so that adjoining letters also form complete words.
5. The two blank tiles may be used as any letter desired. When playing a blank, the player must state what letter it represents, after which it cannot be changed during the game.
6. No letter or blank tile may be moved from the board once it has been played.
7. Any player may use his turn to replace any or all of the letters on his rack. He does so by keeping aside the tiles he wishes to discard, then drawing the same number of new tiles, and finally mixing the discarded tiles with the tiles in the bag. He then awaits his next turn to play. Once there are fewer than 7 tiles in the bag, no exchanging of tiles is allowed.
8. If a player wishes to play no tiles nor exchange any tiles, he may do so by passing. Passing is allowed at any time.
9. Play continues until all the tiles have been drawn and one of the players has used all the letters on his rack or until all possible plays have been made.
10. Any words found in the SOWPODS word list may be used. The SOWPODS word list is the combined list of all words in Official Scrabble® Words (OSW) used in the United Kingdom and the Official Scrabble® Player's Dictionary (OSPD) used in the United States. The OSW is based on the Chamber's Dictionary 1993 Edition and lists words up to nine letters long. Longer words are checked in the Chamber's Dictionary. The OSPD was prepared by Merriam-Webster and includes all words of eight or fewer letters. For root words longer than eight letters, Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth edition is used. When the base dictionaries are revised, the lists of acceptable words also undergoes change. In tournament play, acceptability of a word is usually determined by using computerised word lists.
11. Dictionaries cannot be consulted while playing a club or tournament game.
12. When a player challenges one or more words in his or her opponent's move, the clock is stopped while a referee looks up the challenged word(s) to determine whether the move is valid. If the challenged word(s) is/are unacceptable, the play is removed and the player loses that turn. As per SOWPODS tournament rules, the player making an erroneous challenge does not lose his turn. The rules permit playing the same word more than once. Inflections of words are also permitted as long as they can be found in the official SOWPODS word list. The rules do not require a player to know the meaning of a word he or she plays. "What does it mean?" is not a valid challenge.
13. "Why are all those stupid/two-letter/non-English/indecent words allowed?" This is not a rule but I thought it was worth writing about. The OSW, OSPD and the SOWPODS word lists were formed according to the rules of Scrabble®, allowing all non-capitalised words without apostrophes or hyphens which are not designated as foreign. The word lists thus succeeds in capturing the language, not arbitrarily as some Scrabble® players would have it, but as it is - according to professional lexicographers. English is an extremely rich, complex and growing language and that is what adds to the charm and beauty of this classic game.
1. The score or point value of each letter is indicated by a number at the bottom of the tile. The score value of the blank is zero.
2. Premium Letter Squares: A light blue square doubles the score of the letter played on it. A dark blue square triples the score of the letter played on it.
3. Premium Word Squares: The score of the entire word is doubled when one of the letters is placed on a pink square. It is tripled when a letter is placed on a red square. Include premiums for double or triple letter values, if any, before doubling or tripling the word score. If a word is formed that covers two premium word squares, the score should be doubled and re-doubled (that is, four times the letter count), or tripled or re-tripled (nine times the letter count). Note that the centre square of the board is pink, and therefore doubles the score for the first word played.
4. The score for each turn is the sum of the score values in each word formed or modified in play, plus the premium values resulting from placing letters on premium squares.
5. Letters and word premiums apply only in the turn in which they are first used. In subsequent turns, letters count at face value only.
6. When a blank tile falls on a pink or red square, the sum of the letters in the word is doubled or tripled even though the blank itself has no score value.
7. When two or more words are formed in the same turn, each is scored. The common letters are counted, with full premium values if any, in the score for each word.
8. Any player who plays all seven of his tiles in a single turn scores a premium or bonus of 50 points in addition to his regular score for the play.
9. When a player uses all his or her tiles with none remaining in the bag the game comes to an end. He or she then receives double the value of the opponent's remaining tiles.
10. Ties or drawn games are not broken.
11. 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.
12. In tournament and clubs, players are allowed to make notes on their score sheet. One of the 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 pre-printed score sheets that show the tile distribution as an aid to tile-tracking.
These rules for playing Scrabble® and scoring
are based on the leaflet provided with the game of Scrabble®
as produced in Great Britain. The rules are published by and copyrighted
by J. W. Spear and Sons plc. The rules have been modified to reflect
SOWPODS club and tournament play.