Friday, 1 December 2017

Introducing Scrabble at your library.

Why not start a Scrabble Club in your library?  Here are the basics and how to play a variation called DUPLICATE Scrabble which is a great QUICK method for a group of people to play & learn. (only 1 board needed)  

The Basics.

Each person pulls letter tiles at random from a bag.  You have 7 tiles to work from.  The objective of the game is to make the best word/score and play it on the board.  Words are placed in a straight line, reading from top-to-bottom or left-to-right.  At any stage the board should look like a crossword with every word on the board connecting to another.  When you connect a word to another it’s called a HOOK.  When a word is played, replenish your tiles by the number of tiles you played.  You should always have 7 tiles on your rack.

The Board & Scoring.

Placing a word across a premium square allows you to score more points as follows:

Light Blue - Double letter score, i.e double the score of THE TILE PLACED on the square
Dark Blue  - Triple letter score, i.e triple the score of THE TILE PLACED on the square

Pink - Double word score, i.e double the score of THE WHOLE WORD PLAYED
Red - Triple word score, i.e triple the score of THE WHOLE WORD PLAYED

Premium tiles are ONLY valid for the first move, i.e. you only score it once except for in move 4 below.

If you use all tiles on your rack AT THE SAME TIME you score an extra 50 points. (i.e. play a 7 letter word or maybe an 8 letter word hooking on to an existing letter)

If you haven’t played for a while, take out your scrabble board and play along.  First 3 moves below and their scoring.

Move 1. 

Move one must always play through the middle pink tile which is a DOUBLE WORD SCORE
DOG; 2+1+2=5 DOUBLED is 10. TURN SCORE = 10

Move 2.

SHARD played by sticking an S onto DOG.  Also get score for creating the word DOGS but DOGS does not get doubled.
SHARD; 1+4+1+1+2=9 DOUBLED is 18.  DOGS is 2+1+2+1=6. TURN SCORE; 18+6=24

Move 3.

Played DIXIE using the D on the board.  Double or Triple LETTER scores are always calculated BEFORE the WHOLE word is double or tripled.
DIXIE; 2+1+8+1+2 (E is worth one but is doubled on the double letter score) = 14. Whole word DOUBLED is 28. TURN SCORE = 28

As you can see the board is already starting to look like a crossword puzzle. The next 3 moves look like this.

Move 4. 

Played the word JOY.  Small two letter words are very useful as HOOKS.  Yes...DO & OY are allowed words.  This moves total score will include all 3 words JOY, DO & OY.  But note, the word played has all letters played in a straight line, I didn’t jump to a different part of the board to play some more tiles.

JOY; J is doubled and Y is doubled so 16+1+8 = 25
DO; 2+1=3
OY; Y is doubled so 1+8=9

TURN SCORE; 25+3+9 = 37

Move 5. 

Adding EN to JOY to get ENJOY; A player will really “enjoy” spotting this word.  The J & Y are not doubled again.

ENJOY; 1+1+8+1+4=15 TURN SCORE = 15

Move 6. 

Playing the word DETAILED using the E of DIXIE.  The E belonging to Dixie is not doubled again.

DETAILED; 2+1+1+1+1+1+1+2=10 TRIPLE WORD SCORE = 30

TURN SCORE; 30+50 = 80

The Blanks

There are 2 blanks in the game.  These can be used as any letters so are very useful but scoring with them is a little different as they have a face value of ZERO.  See what move 3 would have scored by using a blank in DIXIE

The WHOLE word is still doubled but no individual score is recorded for the blank as an I.

DI*XIE; 2+0+8+1+2 = 13. DOUBLED = 26 TURN SCORE = 26

Words Allowed.

In general, all words except proper nouns are allowed, i.e. names of people, but there are many exceptions, for example JACK is a name but is also used to lift a car when changing a tire.  

The dictionary to use is the Collins Official Scrabble Words published in 2015. The library should use the family and friends version printed in 2008 - (ISBN 978-0007280834) There are several apps to download to check words.  A good one that is free can be found on the app store called "Scrabble Checker" and looks like this

Normally if a player plays a wrong word, the word is removed from the board and the player looses their turn.  For children and beginners you can relax the rule of losing a turn.

Exchange your tiles

A player can opt to exchange any number of tiles on their rack INSTEAD of playing a word on the board.  This can only be done if there are 7 or more tiles still in the bag.

End Game

The game is over when one of the following happens:

No tiles remain in bag and one player uses all the tiles on their rack.  In this case the face value of remaining tiles on opponents rack is subtracted from opponent score and added to the player who went out.

No other moves can be made.  In this case the face value of each player’s tiles is subtracted from their own score.

So, that’s enough to get started but here is a great variation to play with children and beginners in the library or classroom.


Supplies: 1 x complete board.  Lots of paper to hand out. 
Set Up: Everyone sitting around a large table in view of the board.

* Leader pulls 7 tiles from bag and everyone writes down the 7 tiles (a bit like countdown)

* Leader starts a timer (egg timer or timer on phone).  Allow 3 minutes.

* When the timer goes off each player writes down their word and declares it.

* Leader places the different words on the board and helps people add up the score.

* The highest word remains on the board.

* Leader should replenish tiles from bag to a total of 7 tiles.  If remaining tiles are dreadful leader can opt to choose 7 new tiles and throw rubbish back in.

(Another option is that leader could have nice selections pre-prepared with the blank and usable combinations)

This a great way to see what words everyone found and gets everyone playing.  It’s also a quick way of playing, play as many rounds as you like but if you play about 6 rounds the whole thing will be finished in about 30 minutes.  It’s also a great way to learn strategy, particularly if you have a couple of really strong players in the group.  This is the best way to get beginners and children playing, nobody gets bored and it’s finished fairly quickly.

Best of luck everyone and email me if you have any queries @

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