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Word based board game with tiles.
Scrabble is a popular word board game, in which two to four players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a 15x15 game board. The words are formed across and down in a crossword fashion, and must appear in a standard dictionary. Official reference works (e.g. The Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary, now in its 4th edition) which provide a list of permissible words, some of which are rarely found in standard English writing, are also available.
Each letter is worth a set number of points, with the value depending on the letter's frequency in standard English writing; commonly-used letters such as E or O are worth one point, whilst less common letters score higher, with Q and Z each scoring ten points. The board is marked with "premium" squares, which multiply the amount of points awarded. Some premium squares multiply the value of an individual letter, whilst some multiply the value of entire words.
The name "Scrabble" is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. in the US and Canada and of J. W. Spear & Sons PLC elsewhere. "Scrabble" was a trademark of Murfett Regency in Australia, until 1993 when it was acquired by Spears.
The game is played with two to four players on a square (or nearly square) board with a 15-by-15 grid of cells, each of which accommodates a single letter tile. In official club and tournament games, play is always between two players (or, occasionally, between two teams each of which collaborates on a single rack).
An important feature of the game is the presence of color-coded "premium squares" affecting scoring: dark red "triple word" cells, pink "double word" cells, dark blue "triple letter" cells, and light blue "double letter" cells. (The distribution of premium cells is shown on the diagram at right.) The center cell (H8) is often marked with a star or logo, and counts as a double-word cell.
For information on tiles, see Scrabble letter distributions.
In the notation system common in tournament play, columns are labeled "A-O" and rows "1-15".
A play is usually identified in the format xy WORD score or WORD xy score, where: x denotes the column or row on which the play's main word extends; y denotes the second coordinate of the main word's first letter, and WORD is the main word. Although unnecessary, additional words formed by the play are occasionally listed after the main word and a slash. In the case where the play of a single tile formed words in each direction, one of the words is arbitrarily chosen to serve as the main word for purposes of notation.
When a blank tile is employed in the main word, the letter it has been chosen to represent is indicated with a lower case letter, or, in handwritten notation, with a square around the letter. Parentheses are sometimes also used to designate a blank, although this may create confusion with a second (optional) function of parentheses, namely indication of an existing letter or word that has been "played through" by the main word.
Sequence of play
Before the game, the letter tiles are either put in an opaque bag or placed face down on a flat surface. Opaque cloth bags, along with , are staples of clubs and tournaments, where games are rarely played without both.
Next, players decide the order in which they play. According to NSA tournament rules, players who have gone first in the least number of times in the tournament have priority. In both the case of a tie and in the regular Scrabble rules, players instead draw tiles, then reveal them. Players who pick a letter closer to the beginning of the alphabet go first (with blank tiles ranked higher than As), and redraw in the case of a tie.
At the beginning of the game, and after each turn until the bag is empty (or there are no more face-down tiles), players draw tiles to replenish their "racks", or tile-holders, with seven tiles, from which they will make plays. Each rack is concealed from the other players.
During a player's turn, they will have seven letter tiles in their rack from which to choose a play. On their turn, players have the option to: (1) pass, forfeiting the turn and scoring nothing; (2) exchange one or more tiles for an equal number from the bag, scoring nothing, an option which is only available if at least seven tiles remain in the bag; (3) form a play on the board, adding its value to the player's cumulative score; or (4) challenge the previous player's move on the grounds that an unacceptable word was made (see Acceptable Words and Challenges).
A proper play uses any number of the player's tiles to form a single continuous word ("main word") on the board, reading either left-to-right or top-to-bottom. The main word must either use the letters of one or more previously played words, or else have at least one of its tiles horizontally or vertically adjacent to an already played word. If words other than the main word are newly formed by the play, they are scored as well, and are subject to the same criteria for acceptability.
At the very beginning of play, when the board is blank, a player must form a word which covers H8, the center cell. The word must consist of at least two letters, extending horizontally or vertically. H8 is a premium tile, and the first player to make a play receives a double score.
A blank tile may take the place of any letter. It remains as that letter thereafter for the rest of the game. Individually, it scores no points regardless of what letter it is designated, and is not itself affected by premium tiles. However, its placement on a double-word or triple-word cell does cause the appropriate premium to be scored for the word in which it is used. While not part of official or tournament play, a common "house rule" allows players to "recycle" blank tiles by later substituting the corresponding letter tile.
After playing a word, the player draws letter tiles from the bag to replenish his rack to seven tiles. If there are not enough tiles in the bag to do so, the player takes all of the remaining tiles.
After a player plays a word, his opponent may choose to challenge any or all the words formed by the play. If any of the words formed are found to be unacceptable, the play is removed from the board, the player returns the newly-played tiles to his rack, and his turn is forfeited. Penalties for unsuccessfully challenging an acceptable play vary within club and tournament play, and are described in greater detail below.
With North American rules, the game ends when (1) one player plays every tile in his rack, and there are no tiles remaining in the bag (regardless of the tiles in his opponent's rack); or (2) when six successive scoreless turns have occurred and at least one word is on the board. In the first case, the player who uses all of his tiles receives a bonus of twice the point value of his opponent's remaining tiles. Scoreless turns can occur when a phony word is challenged off the board, when a player passes, when a player exchanges tiles, or when a word consists only of blank tiles. This latter rule varies slightly in international play.
Acceptable words are those words found as primary entries in some chosen dictionary, and all of their inflected forms. Words that are hyphenated, capitalized (such as proper nouns), marked as foreign, or appear only as part of multi-word phrases are not allowed (unless they also appear as acceptable entries: "Japan" is a proper noun, but the verb "japan" — to decorate with black enamel or lacquer — is acceptable). Variant spellings, slang or offensive terms, archaic or obsolete terms, and specialized jargon words are allowed if they meet all other criteria for acceptability. "College" level dictionaries are generally used in preference to unabridged dictionaries.
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