Scrabble Fears Prove Overblown

Scrabble purists do not fear: the official rules are NOT changing.

There has been much tutting among linguists since the BBC reported yesterday that license owners Mattel are to change the rules to allow proper nouns to be used for the first time. While that might produce the entertaining scenario where a player could actually score with the word “Scrabble” itself, it’s a fairly fundamental change to rules which date back more than 60 years (or 70 if you include forerunner ‘Lexiko‘.)

Fortunately, most of the outrage is down to a misunderstanding. Although the BBC does note this in the article, many people seem to have missed the fact that these rules only apply to a new edition of the game aimed at attracting younger players. Mattel has since confirmed that the new version will be known as Scrabble Trickster. And it most certainly will not be used in official Scrabble tournaments.

Among the other changes in the Trickster edition are that words can be placed anywhere on the board, even if they don’t adjoin an existing word. Players will also be allowed to lay tiles out to produce a word that runs backwards.

Scrabble purists may be more welcoming to another modern twist on the game. There’s now an app for the iPad, Scrabble HD, which brings the game to the big-screen device. Even neater for high-tech families, there’s a separate Tile Rack app for the iPhone/iPod touch which syncs with the iPad game and allows players to view their tiles away from prying eyes.

[Cartoon source: Virtualshackles]

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