Rules for a Tie Game in Scrabble

Written by nicole schoenstein
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Rules for a Tie Game in Scrabble
There are different tiebreaking rules for Scrabble, depending on how the game is played. (scrabble win image by Bionic Media from Fotolia.com)

The game of Scrabble is played by forming words on a game board using letter tiles. Players earn points based on which tiles are used and where they are placed on the board. When a game ends, each player's score is reduced by the sum of his unplayed letters. If a player uses all his letters, the sum of the other player's unplayed letters is added to his score. In the event of a tie game, different rules exist for tournament and non-tournament games.

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Tournament Games

According to the official tournament rules, which are written and published by the National Scrabble Association, a tournament game that results in a tie is recorded as a tie and each player is awarded half of a win.

Non-Tournament Games

Whichever player has the highest score on the board before deducting their unplayed letters, or before adding the sum of the other player's unplayed letters to their score, breaks the tie and wins the game.

This rule is the same for all Scrabble products, except for the Scrabble Slam! Card Game, which has no written rule for a game that results in a tie.

Further, if a game results in a tie after the tiebreaker rule is enacted, the game is considered a draw.

Other Scrabble Products

Classic Scrabble: Players are distributed seven letters at a time to build crosswords on a gameboard.

Scrabble Slam! Card Game: Players race to change an existing four-letter word to a different word until they use all of their cards.

Scrabble Upword: Players spell words with stackable letter tiles by playing letters across or down, and form new words by stacking letters on top of letters on the board.

Scrabble Junior: A two-sided game board allows different play options. One side allows players to match letter tiles to words on the grid, while the other side features an advanced game in which players create their own words.

History of Scrabble

During the Great Depression, an unemployed architect named Alfred Mosher Butts decided to create a game that combined vocabulary skills with chance. The game was originally called "Lexico," then "Criss Cross Words," and in 1948 it became "Scrabble".

Using the front page cover of the New York Times to determine how frequently each of the 26 letters of the English alphabet appeared, Butts determined the quantity of each letter that should be included in each game set, and the point value of each letter.

Selchow and Righter purchased the Scrabble trademark in 1972.

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