The Official Rules

Know The Rules

Most players are so eager to enjoy the fun of the game that most never take the time to learn the rules.

Most people who have played the game just assume that they know how to play and are happy to identify words and get them to fit onto the board.

The game of scrabble is much more than that.

When you turn any game into a competition, and want fairness to exist, there MUST be rules to govern the play and the behavior of the opponents.

In countless homes where they play scrabble, people play with ‘house rules’.

HOUSE RULES are the rules that determine the style of play in that specific home.  They are not necessarily ‘the official rules’ used in sanctioned competitions.  Kitchen table players may allow the dictionary to be consulted during a game, they usually do not use timing devices to equalize the time of play for opponents, and some permit swapping a blank, once played on the board, for the equivalent tile on your rack.  As much fun as all that may be, it is not the same game that is played in sanctioned clubs and tournaments.

Further confusion exists because many groups that call themselves ‘official clubs’, in fact, are not.  These groups of scrabble enthusiasts modify the rules to their liking.

When persons, other than a certified director, tells you that something is an official scrabble rule, be wary!  It may be his/her personal brand of scrabble and not the official rule.

The link to the OFFICIAL RULES is provided at the top of this page.

WARNING ! !   The rules sometimes change.  The ‘official rules’ are determined and overseen by a rules committee of the NASPA (North American Scrabble Players Association).  The committee members continually review the rules and receive input from players and directors.  At times, the committee finds it necessary to add, delete, or modify rules.  The membership is given notice of changes and a date is designated at which time the new modifications go into effect.  Such a changes have occurred between August 1, 2009 and October 30, 2014

The rules have evolved, over time, into a lengthy document.  It is each players’ personal responsibility to know the rules, play by the rules, and hold their opponents accountable to the same.  At club or in tournaments, when a player notices an infraction of a rule, that player calls out, “Director”, and the director explains and adjudicates the infraction.

If you want clarification on a rule, ask a sanctioned director or write to a member of the rules committee.  Do not accept the interpretation of any other player as the final word.

Do not read the rules in a single sitting.  Read a section a day or every other day.  Digest the information.