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Official Scrabble rules

One player is elected as scorekeeper. The scorekeeper may also take part in the game. The scorekeeper keeps tally of each player’s score, entering it after each player’s turn.

To Begin Playing:

All the tiles are placed in the tile pouch, or placed face down on the table. Each player draws a tile from the bag. The player who has the tile nearest the beginning of the alphabet, with the ‘blank’ preceding ‘A’, plays first. The exposed tiles are put back into the bag and the bag is shaken to shuffle them.

Each player in turn then draws seven new tiles and places them on their rack without showing them to their opponents.

Play continues clockwise and on each subsequent turn players have the choice of exchanging tiles, passing, or placing a word on the board.

Exchanging Tiles:

Any player may use their turn to replace any or all of the tiles on their rack. They do so by discarding them face down, drawing the same number of new tiles, then mixing the discarded tiles with those remaining in the bag. The player may not place any tiles on the board on the same turn as he or she exchanged tiles on.

Passing (Missing a Turn):

Instead of placing tiles on the board or exchanging tiles, a player may also decide to pass, whether or not they are able to make a word (or words). However, should all players pass twice in succession the game ends.

Placing the First Word:

The first player combines two or more of the tiles to form a word and places them on the board to read either across or down with one tile on the centre square (star). Diagonal words are not permitted.

All tiles played in this and subsequent turns must be placed in one continuous line horizontally or vertically.

Permitted Words:

Any words listed in a standard English dictionary are permitted with the following exceptions;

  • Words spelt with an initial capital letter
  • Abbreviations
  • Prefixes
  • Suffixes
  • Words requiring an Apostrophe
  • Words requiring a hyphen

Foreign words in a standard English dictionary are considered to have been absorbed into the English language and are allowed.

Challenging Words:

Once a word has been played, the word may be challenged before the score is added up and the next player starts their turn. At this point only, you may consult a dictionary to check spelling or usage. If the word challenged is unacceptable, the player takes back their tiles and loses their turn.

Scoring the First Word:

A player completes their turn by counting and announcing their score, which is recorded by the scorekeeper. The score for the turn is calculated by adding up all the values of the numbers on the tiles, plus the premium values resulting from placing tiles on premium squares.

Ending a Turn:

At the end of every turn, the player draws as many new tiles they have played, thus always keeping seven tiles on their rack.

Adding 50 Point Bonus:

Any player who plays all seven of their tiles in a single turn scores a premium of 50 points in addition to their regular score for the turn. The 50 points are added on after doubling or tripling a word score.

Next Players Turn:

The second player and then each player in turn, has the choice of exchanging tiles, passing or adding one or more tiles to those already played so as to form new words of two or more letters.

All tiles played in any one turn must be placed in one row only across, or one column only down the board.

If they touch other tiles in adjacent rows, they must form complete words cross-word fashion, with all such tiles.

The player gets full score for all words formed or modified by their play. They include the bonus scores of any premium squares on which they have placed the tiles.

There are five ways that new words can be formed:

  1. Adding one or more tiles to the beginning or end of a word already on the board, or to both the beginning and end of that word.
  2. Placing a word at right angles to a word already on the board. The new word must use one of the letters of the word already on the board.
  3. Placing a complete word parallel to a word already played so that adjoining tiles also form complete words.
  4. The new word may also add a letter to an existing word.
  5. The last variations would be to ‘bridge’ two or more letters. (This can only happen on the 4th move or later in the game.)

Sometimes a word may cross two premium word squares. The word score is doubled then redoubled – 4 times the complete word score; or trebled and then re-trebled – 9 times the complete word score!

Winning Scrabble

The game ends when all the tiles have been drawn and one of the players has used all the tiles in their rack. The game also ends when all possible plays have been made or all players passed twice in consecutive turns.

After all the scores are added up, each player’s score is reduced by the sum of their unplayed tiles, and if one player has used all their tiles, their score is increased by the sum of the unplayed tiles of all the other players.

Remember – the game can be won or lost on the last letter in the bag!

Clarification of Commonly Misunderstood Rules

  1. If any tile touches another tile in adjacent rows, it must form part of a complete word crossword fashion, with All such tiles.
  2. A word can be extended on both ends within the same move.
  3. It is not permissible to add tiles to various words, or form new words in different parts of the board in the same turn.
  4. The bonus scores of the premium squares only apply to the turn in which the tiles are placed on them.
  5. When more than one word is formed in a single turn, each word is scored. The common letters are counted (with full premium value, when they are on premium squares) in the score for each word.
  6. If a word crosses two premium word squares the word is doubled and re-doubled – 4 times the complete word score: or trebled and re-trebled – 9 times the complete word score.
  7. When one player has used all their tiles and the pool is empty, the game ends. Even if other players are able to go, they cant, the game has ended! No more moves may be made.
  8. In some games no player succeeds in using all their tiles. In this case the game continues until all possible moves have been made. If a player is unable to move, they pass their turn. If all players pass twice, in consecutive turns, the game ends.
  9. A dictionary or word guide may NOT be used while a game is in progress to search for words to fit the tiles on your rack. It may only be consulted after a word has been played and challenged.
  10. The same word CAN be played more than once in a game.
  11. Pluralised words ARE allowed.