The Classics – Scrabble

Let’s start by saying Scrabble is an amazing game. By far the best word game I’ve ever played. I may be baised, it’s also very sentimental, I have a lot of great memories of my grandparents playing scrabble. In fact they played everyday and were quite good at it too. What an adorable relationship activity and I think it suited them well. Scrabble doesn’t take long to play, it’s a nice quiet game, very smart and strategic. Although nowadays there are a lot of other games you can choose from, there’s so much more now for artistry and theming but this does not need any bells or whistles.

A little history, Alfred Mosher Butts created this game in 1938 as a variation of a different word game he invented. At that point it wasn’t a huge success. In 1948 the rights were bought by James Brunot who made some minor tweaks and renamed it Scrabble. It still didn’t make money. Scrabble finally took off in 1952 after the president of Macy’s played it on vacation and starting selling it in his store.

Let’s get down to the game itself. Scrabble is for ages 8 and up with 2 to 4 players. I know there’s a kid version that’s a bit easier, but I think is worth playing once children are able to spell.

Place the letters in the pouch and draw for first play.  The player closest to the letter A goes first.  All players draw seven letters and place them on their racks. Do not show your letters to anyone.

The first player uses their letters to create a word to start the game. They place it on the board, it can go across or down as long as one letter is on the middle square. Words in this game can only be across or down, no diagonal words are allowed. Once the word is placed calculate the score, then draw new letters to replace the ones played. The first word played is worth double the points. Then it is the player on the left’s turn. Turns continue until all the tiles are gone and there’s no more moves with what players have left.

For the rest of the game players continue to add words to the board by touching and using at least one letter already on the board to create the new word. Depending on how you place your letters, you could get points for more than one word. Placement of the word is key for getting a high score. I was very much an adult when I discovered that this was more than just spelling a word. You really need to take into account the letter points and the special squares. A three letter word like tax can get a lot of points if placed in the right spot.

There are two blank tiles in with the letters. These tiles can represent any letter a player chooses. Once you commit to that letter, it can’t change.

If you can’t form a word, you can choose to use your turn to replace your letters.  You can replace as many letters as you want, or pass completely.  If you replace your letters you cannot put a word down this turn.  Words can be challenged so pay attention to spelling.  If the person who challenges a player is wrong, that person loses their next turn.  If the player who played the word is wrong they take back the tiles and get no points.

Which brings us to score keeping. Keep score and tally after each and every turn. Every letter has a value on the bottom right of the tile. Blank tiles get no points. Count up the points for the word played plus any other words that may have been created that turn. Also calculate any points from playing a double/triple letter space or a double/triple word space. These special spaces can only be calculated on that turn, but if you happen to make more than one word where it crosses, you can calculate it for both words.

A double letter space doubles the points for the tile.

A triple letter space triples the points for the tile.

A double word space doubles the points on the word for that turn.

A triple letter space triples the points on the word for that turn.

There’s a couple additional ways to get points. When a blank tile is played on a double or triple letter space, the whole word is doubled or tripled.  Also if you manage to use all seven of your letters you get a 50 point bonus.

By adding the word rod, the player recieves points for both rod and ow. Since the w was already there they don’t get the double word score. Their score is 9. By adding an s to the end of cake, that player also got points for both cakes and store. Store is worth 10 since its on a double word square and cakes is worth 11 so they get 21 points on that turn.

At the end of the game, subtract points from any unused letters. Also if a player uses all their letters, the other players unplayed letters are added to that persons score.

This game has really stood the test of time. There’s many different versions in print, one day I will buy a special edition version, until then this will have to do. Either way I think Scrabble fits nicely in anyone’s collection.

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