Scrabble Association, Singapore
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Scrabble Association Tournament Rules and Regulations 2015

Individual tournament organizers are permitted to introduce amendments, modifications and additional rules within reason, and with the prior consent of the Scrabble Association. Organisers may opt to use the Tournament Rules promulgated by the World English-Language Scrabble Players' Association (WESPA), and must so specify when tournament details are announced. Singapore applies the 5-point-per-word challenge penalty as specified in the WESPA rules.


Pairing: The conventional pairing method, either singly or in combination, is "King-of-the-Hill" with or without repeats or Round Robin.

Win criteria: Position shall be determined first by number of wins, ties counting as half a win, then by cumulative margin of victory or "spread". If one or more players are tied, then the position is acknowledged to be tied with no tie-breaks and organisers should determine the fairest way to award prizes for the tied position, where applicable. (revised 2014)

Divisional ratings: The Scrabble Association maintains tournament players ratings. When there is more than one division in a tournament, it is recommended that organizers decide and announce beforehand how entrants will be categorized.


The following rules are additional to and take precedence over the standard Scrabble Rules issued with the British version of the game produced by J.W. Spear and Sons PLC:

  1. It is the responsibility of each player to check his opponent's plays and scores. A player must keep score and running total for both himself and his opponent.

  2. Time allotted: Each player is permitted a total of 25 minutes each on the clock in which to complete all his moves.

  3. Overtime Penalties: Each player who exceeds his time will at the end of his game deduct from his total score ten points for each minute or part thereof by which he has exceeded his allotted 25 minutes.

  4. Equipment: Players may use their own clocks, boards, tiles and racks. Racks must be such that the opponent can count the number of tiles on the rack. In case of disagreement and where the equipment available is functionally equivalent, the player going second has the option to select the equipment to be used. Players may use their own score sheets and/or tile tracking sheets.

    1. Preference should be given to functionally superior equipment namely digital clocks, smooth "Pro" tiles and turntable boards.

  5. Starts: If not otherwise specified by the organizers, the players shall draw tiles to determine the start as described in the standard Rules.

  6. End of turn: A player must not remove any tile or shift the tiles on the board once he has activated his opponent's clock. A player's turn is deemed to have ended when he starts his opponent's clock. (If a player forgets to activate his opponent's clock, he is deemed to have ended his turn when he replenishes his rack.)

    1. Tile drawing: The player whose turn has ended may then replenish his rack by drawing the required number of tiles from the bag and first placing them face down on the table before placing them on his rack. The rim of the bag should be held at eye level while drawing tiles. A player who has inadvertently drawn tiles out of turn need not return the new tiles to the bag except where overdrawn (see rules on overdrawing tiles).

  7. Blank tiles: Blank tiles may be nominated as any letter. The player must state what letter each blank represents after which that blank will represent the specified letter for the duration of the game (unless successfully challenged off). Both players must note on their score sheets the letter the blanks represent and ensure that these records are in agreement before play proceeds further.

  8. Tile exchange: Instead of playing words on the board, a player may choose to use his turn to exchange one or more tiles provided there are at least 7 tiles in the bag. The player will score zero for that turn.

  9. Procedure for exchange: On deciding to exchange tiles, place face down on the table as many tiles from your rack as you wish to exchange. State the number of tiles you wish to exchange. You may then start your opponent's clock. Draw a like number of tiles from the bag and place them face down on the table. Place the discarded tiles in the bag and shuffle the bag.

  10. Passing: A player may opt to pass his turn and score zero for that turn. In this case the player should state "PASS" and activate his opponent's clock without playing any tiles onto the board.

  11. Challenges: A player may challenge any word(s) played by his opponent in the previous turn.

    1. Hold procedure: A player considering a challenge should call "HOLD" within 15 seconds after the completion of the opponent's turn. If HOLD is called before the held player's rack is fully replenished, that player may continue to replenish his rack after the play is accepted or in any case one minute (or as nearly as can be determined from the clock) from the end of his turn. A player replenishing his rack while a hold is still in effect should keep fresh tiles separate from leftover tiles so that they may be returned to the bag in the event of a successful challenge. Acceptance of a play after a hold is called should be signified clearly by announcing "ACCEPTED" and is irrevocable. There is no limit to the length of time for HOLD.

    2. Challenge procedure: On taking the decision to challenge, the challenger should call "CHALLENGE" and neutralize the clock at which point the challenge becomes irrevocable. The challenger must write clearly on a Challenge Slip one or several or all of the words formed by the challenged player during the turn just concluded. The challenged player may verify the accuracy of the completed Challenge Slip. The Challenge Slip should then be handed to tournament word judges for a ruling. The challenger may continue to shuffle his tiles.

    3. The word judges will return a ruling as to whether the words challenged are ACCEPTABLE or NOT ACCEPTABLE. If all the words challenged are deemed acceptable (i.e. included in the specified word authorities) the challenge is unsuccessful. Otherwise the challenge is successful and the challenged player must withdraw his play from the board and return any replenishment tiles to the bag. If any of the replenishment tiles have been mixed with leftover tiles, the successful challenger may draw at random the required number of tiles from the challenged player's entire rack and return them to the bag before his opponent withdraws his play from the board. Both players may view the returned tiles before they are replaced in the bag. Where all words challenged are ACCEPTABLE 5 points for every word challenged are added to the turn score of the challenged player.

    4. The word judges must rule only as to whether the challenge as a whole is successful or unsuccessful, and in cases where more than one word is challenged must not indicate whether any particular word is acceptable.

    5. The decision of the judges on the success of challenges is final. Players who doubt the accuracy of the judgment may request a recheck, which will be granted at the discretion of the judges.

    6. After the challenge is concluded and scores have been recorded, the challenger's clock is started.

  12. Overdrawing: It may happen that Player A, on replenishing his rack, draws more tiles from the bag than needed. Suppose the number of excess tiles is N. If Player A has not yet placed the fresh tiles on his rack: his opponent Player B may pick at random N + 1 tiles from the fresh tiles, inspect them, return 1 tile of Player B's choice to player A and the rest to the bag. If any fresh tiles have been mixed with those on the rack so that there are N excess tiles, Player B may pick at random N + 2 tiles from Player A's rack, inspect these tiles, return 2 tiles of Player B's choice to player A and the rest to the bag. Both players may view the tiles which are being returned. Player A may stop the clock until the excess tile(s) are returned to the bag.

  13. Players must not consult any word list, dictionary or any other forms of reference during the game except where specifically permitted by the rules of the tournament.

  14. With effect from 1 September 2015, the reference for acceptability of a word is Collins Official Scrabble Words 4th edition ("CSW15"), published in May 2015. The Committee of the Scrabble Association may issue revisions and amendments to the allowable references from time to time. Adjudication aids such as computer programs may be used by tournament organizers, who shall be responsible for ensuring the accuracy of such additional aids.

  15. A game ends and the clocks should be neutralized when

    1. One of the players has played all his tiles AND the bag is empty; OR

    2. There have been 6 successive turns of zero scores, i.e. 3 moves from each player which are either challenged off, a tile change, or a pass; OR

    3. The tournament director has declared an end to the round.

  16. Tile penalty: After the game has ended, the player who has finished all his tiles adds to his score TWICE the total tile value of his opponent's remaining tiles. If both players have tiles left on their racks, each player should deduct from his score the total tile value of his residual tiles.

  17. Checking scores and recounts: During the game and immediately after the game has ended, if the players find that their records of scores do not match, they may neutralize the clocks and resolve the discrepancy. If both players' records match, a recount may be allowed only at the discretion of the Tournament Director.

  18. Complete set of tiles: A game result will still be valid even if it is discovered after commencement that the number and distribution of tiles was incorrect. It is the responsibility of the players to ensure that they are playing with a complete set before commencement.

  19. Emergency Breaks: A player may leave and later return to a game in progress if emergency circumstances warrant and under the supervision of the Tournament Director. The player may leave only after he has ended his turn and activated his opponent's clock without replenishing his rack. He may replenish his rack upon returning.

  20. These Rules cannot be expected to cover every eventuality and players are expected to exercise common sense and courtesy in observance of these Rules. All matters in doubt or dispute shall be referred to the Tournament Director whose decision is FINAL.

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Last updated: 1 Sep 2015