Board games are known to be essential for early cognitive development in kids and continue to provide both learning and entertainment all the way into old age. One such board game is Scrabble — a game that tests your vocabulary, strategy, and spelling while offering wholesome family fun.
It’s a wordsmith’s favorite game. If you really want to put your mind to the test, you need to try Scrabble. But first, you need to learn about Scrabble tile values. Because the catch with Scrabble is, knowing words isn’t enough, you also need to be able to pick the right words to score more points.
What is Scrabble?
Scrabble is a word game to be played by 2 or 4 players and involves scoring points by placing tiles on a board to form words. It’s a challenging game but one that promotes tremendous growth of skill packed with hours of laughter and entertainment.
Each tile bears a single letter and the board is divided into 15 x 15 squares. The tiles need to be placed vertically or horizontally to form words, kind of like a crossword puzzle. Words can only be read from left to right or up to down, and these words must be present in the standard dictionary that the players have agreed upon.
There are several other rules but you basically need to be able to combine letters into words by filling in the blanks on each turn. And throughout the game, the players need to keep a tally of their score. Every letter has a different score value that is mentioned at the bottom of the tile.
History of Scrabble
The rules and format of Scrabble have changed over time. It was first called Criss Cross and was based on a crossword puzzle developed by Architect Alfred M. Butts in 1931.
Butts’ original game, called LEXICO, was an attempt to combine chance, skill, and thrill into a crossword puzzle with a scoring system. This was refined during the 1940s and turned into criss-cross games. The basis of tile distribution was perfected over time by cryptographically analyzing the English Language and making calculations for letter distribution.
In 1948, Butts was cut off by game manufacturers but was approached by an entrepreneur named James Brunot who helped him refine the rules and design and coined the term “Scrabble.” The game was then rebranded as the “SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game” and trademarked. It experienced poor growth initially, but by the ’50s, its popularity skyrocketed.
Scrabble Tile Values
There are a total of 100 tiles with different values and a different number of tiles for each letter. There are also 2 blank tiles that have no score value but can be used to represent any letter.
According to Hasbro, the scrabble tile values are as follows:
|Tile||Number of tiles with that title||Point Values|
How to Play Scrabble
Before you begin, there are some quick things you need to set up. You will need the following:
• 2 to 4 players
• 100 scrabble tiles
• Mixing bag
• Scrabble board
• 4 racks
• Pen and paper to tally the score
To make this easier, we’ll break down the whole gameplay into steps and explain the incontrovertible rules of the game.
Each player randomly draws a tile out of the mixing bag. The player who gets the letter closest to “A” in alphabetical order wins. Then, every player, either in clockwise or counterclockwise turn to the winner of the draw, draws seven tiles from the tile bag. The rack should be facing each player so no one can see each other’s tiles.
The player who won the draw from Step 1 begins the game by placing a word on the center square — it’s the one with the star. After placing a word on the board, the player draws the equivalent number of tiles placed from the bag. Words can be placed horizontally or vertically as long as one of the tiles is on the star center square. The star acts as a double-word score.
The score of every word is tallied and noted for the players by adding the point values for each letter in the word. In cases where the tile is on a double or triple letter score, the value of that tile is multiplied accordingly. Every new word placed must touch at least one letter of a word already on the board.
At each turn, a player has the option to either place a word on the board or replace some of their tiles with new ones from the bag, drawn randomly of course. Each player must always have seven tiles on their rack. The game ends when a player has used all of their tiles, or no one can make any more words.
At the end of the game, each player’s score is calculated by adding up points they earned from each round of the game. Then subtract the total value of all the players’ unused letters from the total sum. If one player has used up all of their letters, they receive the total of the value of everybody’s unused tiles. The player with the highest score wins.
· Some More Rules of The Game
#1. If you want to challenge a word a player has used, you can do so by referring to a dictionary. If the word isn’t in the dictionary, the player loses their turn. But if it is, then the challenger loses their turn. A challenge can be made at any time, you don’t have to wait for your turn.
#2. Players who use all seven tiles to make a word gain an additional 50 points to their word score.
#3. You cannot place tiles diagonally.
#4. You can add an “S” to a word already on the board and make it plural if you want.
#5. You can play at right angles to a word already on a board as long as the new word either uses a letter from the old one or adds a letter to the old one to create a new word there.
#6. You can also add a new word parallel to an existing word as long as the adjacent letters on their own form complete words.
#7. When you’re using a blank, you need to state the letter that it represents. That will be its definitive letter for the duration of the game.
Most Popular Scrabble Editions
There have been a number of editions of this classic game. Some were made especially for kids, some modified to be better for travel with tiles that lock in place, and some elegant ones you can use as a gift. Here are the three most popular editions:
1. Hasbro Classic
Can’t forget to include the company that invented the game. The original set by Hasbro costs around USD 10 and is made to be pretty sturdy. It’s also lightweight and portable with safety features for children.
2. Winning Solutions Luxury Edition
Only a true patron of the game would buy the Winning Solutions Luxury Edition. The board is a stylish, two-toned cabinet with burled wood veneers. It has a drawer in which you can keep the rest of the game materials and costs USD 219.
3. Hasbro Road Trip Series
The Hasbro road trip series is the perfect travel companion set. The tiles snap into place and the board can be folded shut with the tiles in place if you want to resume the game later. The set also includes fold-out trays to hold the tiles.
Popular Scrabble Tournaments
There are various tournaments held across the world to promote this game of words. These tournaments attract thousands of players from all over the world.
1. World Scrabble Championship
The most prestigious tournament by far is the World Scrabble Championship (WSC) that has been held every other year since 1991. It draws Scrabble enthusiasts from over 30 countries to compete as representatives of their nation.
2. The North American Scrabble Championship
The North American Scrabble Championship is America’s largest Scrabble tournament and is also held annually. The last event was hosted in Reno in 2019.
3. Brand’s Crossword Game King’s Cup
Another notable tournament to make this list is the Brand’s Crossword Game King’s Cup, Thailand’s national Scrabble tournament in English. In terms of the number of players competing each year, 8000, it is by far the largest tournament.
Tips for Playing
Here are some additional tips directly from the makers of the game at Hasbro.
• Learn more two- and three-letter words.
• Words you could add common suffixes to like “er,” “ed,” or “ing” are better placed towards the left of the board or top so you have room for future options.
• Be on the lookout for hooks. Hooks are single letters you could use to turn existing words into new ones. For instance, turning “even” into “event.”
• The “Q” tile has 10 points but most words that include a “Q” are also followed by “U.” Learn some “Q” words that don’t require you to have a “U” tile such as “qwerty.”
• Plan your game so you’re moving closer to the hotspots that are the double and triple letter score.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Is there an official dictionary for Scrabble players?
Yes. If you’re practicing for a tournament, the official dictionary to refer to is the Merriam-Webster’s Official Scrabble® Players Dictionary, Fourth Edition (OSPD4).
2. Can I place new tiles on both ends of a word?
You can extend words from both ends if you like, but one end per turn. For instance, you can turn the word “harm” into “harmed” in one round and “harmed” into “charmed” in the next round. Basically, you are allowed to play both sides of the word.
3. How much time do players have to place words in tournaments?
Most tournaments use a 3-minute hourglass to time each play.
A Few Parting Words
Scrabble is fun, easy, and tests your mind in a number of ways. And because of different scrabble tile values, the game tests both your vocabulary and math skills.
Although today, with the introduction of video games, interesting and unique board games like Scrabble are being lost. But once you get started with Scrabble, it makes for a great game to bond over with your family and friends.