Rules of scrabble

Object To form words on a grid.

Procedure Scrabble uses a board of 225 squares (15 by 15), on which players form interlocking words using 100 'tiles' bearing letters of the alphabet. Each letter has a score beside it. The board includes various 'premium squares' on which players can score extra points.

  • All the letter tiles are turned face downwards or kept in a bag. To decide who will start the game, each player picks out one tile and the person drawing the letter nearest to 'A' plays first.
  • Each player picks seven tiles and places them on a ready-made rack, where only that player can see them.
  • The first player puts the letters on the board to make a word, either 'across' or 'down' (as in a crossword), with one letter of the word on a central square. The score is recorded, including any double or triple allowance for tiles placed on premium squares. The first word always scores double, as the centre square has a 'double word score'.
  • A bonus of 50 points is awarded to any player who uses all seven tiles in one move.
  • The first player picks out from the unused tiles the same number of tiles as was used to make the word, so as to make up the number to seven again.
  • The next player has to add another word, joining or interlocking with the word on the board, and so on – round the players.
  • All new words must use at least one of the letters that is already on the board.
  • Players score for any word made or changed by their moves – but premium bonuses apply only the first time that letters are played.
  • Instead of laying down a word, any player can exchange any number of tiles from their rack for new tiles from the 'bank'.
  • The Scrabble set includes two blank tiles, which can represent any letters its player chooses, after which it cannot be changed during the game.
  • The game ends when all the tiles have been used and one player has laid down all his or her tiles, or nobody can think of new words to place on the board. The players have to deduct from their scores the value of their unplayed letters – and this total is added to the score of a player who has disposed of all his own tiles.
  • The winner is the player with the highest score.

Variations There are several variations of Scrabble. Double-Bag Scrabble divides the tiles into two separate bags: one for vowels, the other for the consonants. Scrabble for Juniors is a boxed game using a two-sided board: on one side, children can play a normal game of Scrabble except that there only 13 by 13 squares and the scoring is simplified; on the other side, young children have to place letter tiles on words already printed on the board. Solitaire Scrabble is for one player only. Unscrabble (or Scrabble in Reverse) involves removing letters from the board: players remove between one and six tiles from the board at each move, but the letters they leave must spell proper words interlocked with one another. This game ends when nobody can remove any more tiles from the board, and the winner is the player whose stock of removed tiles makes the highest score.