Month: August 2011

Scrappy Scrambled Scrabble

I really like to play the Scrabble board game (  I am an only child and I played the game a few times as a snot-nosed short person, when my mom could be cajoled to join me.   My love of words and wood perhaps made my affection for this sedate game a natural.

My wife and I generally play a couple of games a week.  It focuses our minds, we talk, we have a drink or twelve and we play Scrabble!

Some of the rules of the game, however, seem oddly arbitrary.  I often sit there staring dumbly at a rack full of totally unusable letters.  I wonder:  Why aren’t there more play options?

Well, I would like to suggest a few modifications to the standard rules of play.   And don’t worry, if all players agree to play by these clever rules of mine, nobody needs to go to jail.  Sure, Hasbro owns all the legal bits, but since I’m in the sanctity of my own little castle, I’m going to change the rules to make the game more interesting.  If not more interesting, more differenter (NOTE:  ‘differenter’ is not a legal Scrabble word in any galaxy).

So then, here are Aaron’s rules for Scrappy Scrambled Scrabble!  Word up!


You’ll need the Scrabble game.  That would be the board with the colored squares, little letter tiles, a bag to hold the letters and a rack to hold each player’s tiles.  Oh, and some paper and a writing implement in order to keep score.  If you’re into the scoring thing, that is.  If you just want to play until the tiles are gone, that’s cool, too.


Any word may be used during game play.

Words may be from any language.

Acronyms are allowed.

Abbreviations are allowed.  ROFL!

In short, if you would put the same letters together in an e-mail, letter, article, professional communication or instant message, you’re good.

That means proper names are good, too.  Like Xerox.

If you are the victim of a challenge to the legality of a word you’ve played, maybe you should get new friends.  If your friends have too much dirt on you you’ll probably have to defend yourself against their challenge.  If you can provide evidence of the word in a dictionary or in use by anyone other than yourself (from a website for example) then you can use the word.    If you are unable to provide such evidence during game play, the nice thing to do would be to withdraw those tiles and play something else.  But I’ll leave that to you — the civility of your game is really up to you.

If a word would normally need some type of accent character, the word may be played without it.  For example, you can play résumé, the word for your list of professional achievements, as “resume”.  But, duh, that’s a word, too!  Whoopie!   So, let’s see, another example may be apéritif, which may be played “aperitif”.

Similarly, if a word form is normally hyphenated, such as post-modern,  you may play it as “postmodern”.


To determine which player starts the game, place all letters in the pouch and give them a good shake about.   Each play draws one tile.  The player with the alphabetically lowest letter (closest to “A”) begins the game.  If a blank tile, which can be played as any letter, is drawn, that player starts the game.  If there is a “tie” (two players share the lowest letter), replace the tiles, re-shuffle, and try again.

Once the starting player is determined, all of the tiles are placed back in the bag and shuffled again.  The player determined to start the game draws seven letters and places them on their rack (it may be obvious, but for those of you who are new to this:  the letters face the player and are hidden from other players).  After the starting player has drawn their tiles, the bag is passed, clockwise, to the next player, who draws their seven tiles.  Continue to pass and draw until all players have their seven tiles.


Each player, in turn, places a tile or tiles on the board to spell a word.

You can play a single tile.  For example the article “a” is playable.  See how much fun this is going to be?

Letters may be placed anywhere on the board.   Words may be played across, down or diagonally.  For ease of reading and scoring, all of the words should be played in the same orientation.  Each player should place their words in the same orientation as that chosen by the starting player.

The player then must announce their score so that whomever is keeping score, if you’ve elected to do so, can record the value of the play.  (The full scoop on scoring comes in a few paragraphs.  Patience, my friend).

Finally, the player draws from the letter bag new tiles to replace those just played.  For example, if the player used five tiles from their rack, they draw five tiles from the bag.

That completes the player’s turn.  The party seated next in the clockwise rotation now gets to astound and amaze with their wordspersonship.

The next player may now play.  They may place their tiles anywhere on the board.  They do not need to intersect nor make contact with any previously-played words.


You can garner many more points by adding one or more letters to a word or letter already on the board.  Use your creativity to build on existing words.  Eventually you may be a force to be reckoned with in the world of Scrappy Scrambled Scrabble!


No tile may be moved or replaced after it has been played and scored.

You may use a turn to exchange any or all tiles in your possession. To do this, place your discarded letter(s) facedown. Draw the same number of letters from the pool, then mix your discarded letter(s) into the pool. This ends your turn.  That means if things are so bad you can’t spell anything, you can draw fresh letters, but you have to wait for your turn to come back around to place any tiles on the board.  Boo hoo.  You’ll get over your lost turn, you’re all resilient and whatnot.

A player may “pass” when it is their turn to play.  Play moves to the player next in the clockwise rotation.

If you question the word someone has played, you must speak up before play moves to the next player.  Be nice.  Don’t be a jerk.  If the player is unable to provide suitable proof that their word is indeed a word, they must remove their tile(s) from the board and play a different word.  This time, hopefully, something that doesn’t rankle the others around the board.  Rankled Scrabblers are decidedly unattractive.

The game ends when all letters have been drawn from the cute letter bag and a player uses his or her last letter.  Or when all possible plays have been made.


If you decide to keep score, use a piece of paper to keep a tally of each player’s score, entering it after each turn.

The score for an entire word is doubled when one of its letters is placed on a pink square.

The score for an entire word is tripled when one of its letters is placed on a red square.

Calculate premiums for double or triple letter values, if any, before doubling or tripling the word score (we’re talkin’ big numbers here, bro!).

If a word is formed that covers two premium word squares, the score is doubled and then re-doubled (4 times the letter count), or tripled and then re-tripled (9 times the letter count).

Letter and word premiums count only on the turn in which they are played. On later turns, letters already played on premium squares count at face value.

When two or more words are formed in the same play, each is scored. The common letter is counted (with that letter’s full premium value, if any) for each word.

If any player uses all seven tiles in a single play, that player automatically wins.   Congratulate that player and start a fresh game!

When the game ends (a player has used their last tile or the table agrees no more plays are possible), each player’s score is reduced by the sum of his or her unplayed letters.

The player with the highest final score wins the game.

Here are some scoring examples from the official Scrabble site.

In the following, the words added on five successive turns are shown in bold type.

The scores shown are the correct scores if the letter R is placed on the center square.

In Turn 1, count HORN.

In Turn 2, FARM.

In Turn 3, PASTE and FARMS.

In Turn 4, MOB, NOT and BE.

In Turn 5, BIT, PI and AT.