Scrabble | Sunday Observer


14 February, 2021

Scrabble is a board game in which two to four players compete in forming words with lettered tiles on a 15 x 15 square board. Words spelled out by letters on the tiles connect with each other like words in a crossword puzzle.The whole point is to try and make words that score the most points by making use of the tiles as well as the premium squares on the board.

Playing Scrabble isn’t just fun and exciting, but also helps improve vocabulary and is a great tool for students, children, adults and families to sharpen their minds, focus on detail, and learn new words.

Scrabble was originally called Criss-Crosswords.It was developed by Alfred M. Butts, an architect, in 1931. It was redesigned and renamed as Scrabble, and marketed by James Brunot in 1948.

The game is played in almost 121 countries and is available in more than 30 languages; approximately 150 million Scrabble sets have been sold worldwide, and roughly one-third of American and half of British homes have a scrabble set. There are approximately 4,000 Scrabble clubs around the world. The Scrabble dictionary varies from place to place, but the main dictionary that is being used in most parts of the world today is the Collins Scrabble Dictionary, also known as CSW19.

Aabid Ismail left, Nigel Richards right

The rules of the game are simple enough to understand. Each player draws a tile from the tile bag and determines who goes first, according to the alphabetical order of the tiles they have drawn. Seven tiles are placed on your rack, from which you must make words which are valid in the official Scrabble dictionary.

Once you play a word, you must take new tiles from the bag to add up to the count of seven tiles. If a player makes a certain word using all seven tiles in the rack, it is called a bingo or a bonus and an extra 50 points is awarded for that single move. Once all the tiles are over in the bag, the person who obtained the highest amount of points emerges as the winner.

In the 21st century Scrabble rose in popularity, especially among youthful players. Scrabble is now played in schools all over the world and competition tends to get higher each day.

The number of competitive tournaments started to increase among various Scrabble clubs and even at the school level. This saw the formation of the World English-language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) in 2003. It provides an official structure for the international Scrabble community.

Since then, many international tournaments have started and countries from all over the world take part in these. This goes on to show that Scrabble has not only found a way to create fun and excitement, but has also started uniting people around the world and create new opportunities to make friends.

The World Scrabble Championship, the Scrabble Champions Tournament, the MSI World Championships, the World Youth Scrabble Championship (now WESPA Youth Cup) and the WESPA Championship are among the major international tournaments, where the most skilled and highly rated players compete against each other in a fierce battle to emerge victorious.

Nigel Richards, one of the most successful Scrabble players of all time, is also considered as the greatest player in the game.  Born in New Zealand,Nigel Richards became the World Champion in 2007, and repeated the feat in 2011, 2013, 2018 and 2019 and remains the only person to have won the title more than once. He also won the third World English-Language Scrabble Players’ Association Championship (WESPAC) in 2019.

Richards is also a five-time U.S. national champion (four times consecutively from 2010 to 2013), an eight-time UK Open champion, an 11-time champion of the Singapore Open Scrabble Championship and a 15-time winner of the King’s Cup in Bangkok, the world’s biggest Scrabble competition.

In 2015, despite not speaking French, Richards won the French World Scrabble Championship, after reportedly spending nine weeks studying the French dictionary. He won it again in 2018, and multiple duplicate titles from 2016.

He is trailed by other notable players, such as Jesse Day from the United States and David Eldar from Australia.

Scrabble in Sri Lanka is extremely competitive, especially at school level, with most of the tournaments being conducted by the Scrabble Federation of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka have done well in the international field, having produced the 2017 World Youth Scrabble champion, Aabid Ismail and having emerged as winners in the 2015, 2016 and 2017 and runner-up in 2018 and 2019 Wespa Youth Cups. Scrabble can also be played online through and