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The Scrabble Community

2010 March 29
by admin


NSA: The National Scrabble Association (NSA), founded in 1978, is a col­lab­o­ra­tion between Hasbro and Scrabble enthu­si­asts. The NSA is respon­si­ble for the National School SCRABBLE Program, SCRABBLE Media Relations, and pub­lishes the SCRABBLE News. The NSA also main­tains a list of casual Scrabble clubs on its web­site (http://​www2​.scrab​ble​-assoc​.com/​C​a​s​u​a​l​C​l​u​b​s​.​asp) and oper­ates an online store of Scrabble mer­chan­dise (www​.wordgear​.com). Membership costs $20 ($25 out­side the U.S. and Canada) and gets you a sub­scrip­tion to the SCRABBLE News. If you are a mem­ber, you can log into the site and access back copies of the SCRABBLE News and some other use­ful PDF doc­u­ments (a glos­sary of com­mon terms, a short his­tory of Scrabble, a tip sheet, etc.). Until July 1, 2009, the sale of pub­li­ca­tions like the OLW2 at www​.wordgear​.com were restricted to NSA members.

NASPA: The North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA) is the offi­cial orga­ni­za­tion for com­pet­i­tive clubs and tour­na­ments. It was formed in response to Habro’s deci­sion in 2009 to end fund­ing for these activ­i­ties. As of July 1, 2009, a NASPA mem­ber­ship is required to par­tic­i­pate in sanc­tioned tour­na­ments ($30 for a reg­u­lar mem­ber­ship). The NSA now focuses on pro­mot­ing casual play, although it still funds and sup­ports the National School Scrabble Program. Both the Rules Committee and the Dictionary Committee were trans­fered to NASPA. A very thor­ough FAQ about the changes to the NSA and the for­ma­tion and respon­si­bil­i­ties of NASPA is avail­able on the NASPA web­site: www​.scrab​ble​play​ers​.org.


Everything Scrabble: Third Edition

This books is a good place to start (it’s writ­ten by Joe Edley; it’s been around for a while, but it’s a clas­sic).  It’s about how to play the game (i.e. tips and strate­gies), not about the game itself (although there are a few pages on the his­tory of the game and the OSPD).


This book is writ­ten by Mike Baron (with a fore­word by Brian Cappelletto). It is an exten­sive col­lec­tion of word lists. The value of this book lies mainly in its orga­ni­za­tion. Technology and the avail­abil­ity of pro­grams like Zyzzyva (www​.zyzzyva​.net) make it pos­si­ble for indi­vid­u­als to quickly and eas­ily com­pile their own word lists, so repro­duc­ing most of the lists found in this book is no longer dif­fi­cult. The chal­lenge for new­bies is to decide what lists to pro­duce and what order to learn them in. The table of con­tents (which lists the included word lists in roughly the order in which the author sug­gests they be stud­ied), the intro­duc­tion, the for­ward, and the intro­duc­tion to bingo stems (pg. 30) make this book worth the purchase.

Word Freak

Word Freak, by Stefan Fatsis is the best book out there about the com­mu­nity and cul­ture of com­pet­i­tive Scrabble. It’s a good read, even if you’re not a Scrabble player.

Another book that is often rec­om­mended is How to Win at Scrabble, by Andrew Fisher & David Webb (2004; this book should not be con­fused with a dif­fer­ent book pub­lished in 1953 with the same title). This book is some­times listed under it’s orig­i­nal title, The Art of Scrabble. I believe the book is out of print (but you may be able to find a used copy or get a copy through your local library).

THE CHEAT SHEET: A min­i­mum level of com­pe­tency is required to enjoy com­pet­i­tive Scrabble. In this respect, Scrabble is no dif­fer­ent that numer­ous other activ­i­ties (for exam­ple, in order to enjoy play­ing a round of golf, you have to exceed some basic skill thresh­old, or the expe­ri­ence is unlikely to be enjoy­able – for you or any­one play­ing with you). In the case of Scrabble, The Cheat Sheet has emerged as a widely-recognized sum­mary of the basic word knowl­edge required to avoid embar­rass­ing one­self in com­pet­i­tive play (and it’s 1 page, front and back). The ver­sion I’ve linked to below includes the 101 accept­able two-letter words, jqxz words from two to four let­ters in length, the 1015 accept­able three-letter words, all two-to-three hooks, vowel dumps (i.e. words that are at least 70% vow­els) from two to five let­ters in length, two-i four-letter words (there aren’t any two-i three let­ter words), the one two-u word (ulu) and all 15 two-u four let­ter words. It can down­loaded here: www​.cross​-tables​.com/cs. Different ver­sions of The Cheat Sheet can be down­loaded from numer­ous other sites.

SCRABBLE CLUBS: NASPA main­tains a list of all sanc­tioned clubs in North America (this is a dif­fer­ent list than the “casual” club list main­tained by the NSA): http://​www​.scrab​ble​play​ers​.org/​w​/​C​l​u​b​_​r​o​s​ter.  Many of these clubs main­tain their own web sites (and many of these sites are linked from this list page).  These sites are great sources of tips, strate­gies, world lists and other use­ful links.  A list of casual clubs can be found here: http://​www2​.scrab​ble​-assoc​.com/​C​a​s​u​a​l​C​l​u​b​s​.​asp.

SCRABBLE SETS: Competitive play­ers use smooth tiles (that can’t be “brailled” in the bag), and boards that rotate and that have raised grids (to hold the tiles). Although there are a cou­ple com­mer­cial sets that, more or less, meet these spec­i­fi­ca­tions (see links below) com­pet­i­tive play­ers pre­fer cus­tom boards and pro­tiles (http://​www​.pro​tiles​.net). Here are a few links to cus­tom board sites (I’m sure there are oth­ers): http://​sam​timer​.com/​s​t​-​s​a​m​b​o​a​r​d​.​h​tml, http://​www​.adju​di​ca​tor3000​.com, http://​www​.freewebs​.com/​c​u​s​t​o​m​s​c​r​a​b​b​l​e​b​o​a​rds. Here are links to the com­mer­cial sets referred to above: Deluxe Turntable Scrabble, Scrabble Onyx Edition.

LINKS: Various links are posted in the panel on the right (and in a post enti­tled “Links”).

Additions, sug­ges­tions and com­ments are wel­come – please post below (or email us at contact@​oldtownscrabble.​com).

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