Official Scrabble Tile Rules

Written by jim green
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Official Scrabble Tile Rules
Successful scrabble players maximise their tiles. (scrabble win image by Bionic Media from Fotolia.com)

Scrabble took the board game world by storm in the early 1950s, and its popularity persists today. The game's famous letter tiles form the backbone of all Scrabble variants, and while an extensive vocabulary will be a lot of help to you, the most important thing players can do to improve their Scrabble scores is develop a better understanding of how the tiles are used to generate points.

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Tile Quantities

The standard version of Scrabble has 100 tiles, 98 of which contain letters with various point values and two of which are blank. Drawing the blank tile or tiles puts you at somewhat of an advantage, as they can be used to represent any letter you like when spelling a word.

The letters appear on tiles in proportions roughly equal to their frequency of use. That is, the more commonly used a letter is, the more tiles it appears on. The letter E appears on 12 tiles in a standard Scrabble set, A and I appear 9 times each, and O is on 8 tiles. The rarest vowel is U, which appears on only 4 tiles.

Among the consonants, N, R and T appear 6 times each. L, D and S each appear on 4 tiles, and the letter G is the lone letter in the game that appears on 3 tiles. Most of the consonants only occur twice, including B, C, F, H, M, P, V, W and Y. The letters J, K, Q, X and Z are only used once.

Letter Values

Each tile bearing a letter has a corresponding point value; the more difficult the letter is to use, the higher its point value. All vowels are worth 1 point, as are the letters L, N, R, S and T. The letters D and G score 2 points; B, C, M and P are worth 3 points; F, H, V, W and Y are worth 4 points; and K is worth 5 points. Given their relative rarity of use, J and X score 8 points each, while Q and Z each are worth 10 points.

The blank tiles are worth 0 points, but they can be an immense help if you’re in a jam or are one letter short of spelling a tricky and valuable word.

Score Extra Points

There are spaces on the game board which increase the value of a particular tile or the entire word. Double and triple letter scores multiply the tile’s point value by the indicated factor, and double and triple word scores do the same for the word. Using these spaces to maximum strategic advantage is critical to achieving a high score.

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