Skip to main content

Scrabble Player

Insider Info

"It's fun and challenging, without being rocket science," says Lisa Odom. She was once the top-ranked female Scrabble player in the U.S.

Scrabble is basically a board game where players try to form words from a group of letter tiles picked at random. Players form words with their letter tiles, then place the words on the playing board. If you enjoy language and vocabulary, not to mention the occasional scrambling of your mind, you can play Scrabble.

Scrabble is a relative newcomer when it comes to board games. Out-of-work architect Alfred Mosher Butts invented the game during the Great Depression of the 1930s. He was just looking for something to do. The Scrabble name was trademarked in 1948. The rest, you could say, is history.

Scrabble can be played just about anywhere. Most people play the game at home.

Serious players often belong to local Scrabble clubs to participate in tournaments. Tournaments are held throughout the year in cities all over the world, culminating in a world championship tournament.

Scrabble is a very popular game. According to the National Scrabble Association (NSA), more than 30 million games have been sold in North America. About 100 million have been sold worldwide. The number of people playing this game continues to grow.

"Basically, we say there are 50 million leisure players in the U.S. and Canada," says John D. Williams Jr. He is the executive director of the National Scrabble Association.

"The NSA, the official organization for North America, represents 10,000 club and tournament players. About 2,500 people compete in tournaments."

Joel Wapnick, a music professor, won the 1999 World Scrabble Championship in Melbourne, Australia.

He says he really enjoys the game because it's just plain fun, and because of the creativity and excitement involved. He adds that his involvement in tournaments has also made him a lot of new friends. "I've made lots of friends through Scrabble over the last 25 years."

The 1999 World Scrabble Championship was the largest to date, with a total prize package worth $35,000.

Like a lot of things these days, Scrabble has gone high tech. It is now available on CD-ROM and e-mail Scrabble is growing in popularity.

"People used to walk off the street into Scrabble clubs thinking they were tough players because they could beat all their friends," says John Chew. He is the director of a scrabble club.

"They still do, but because their friends are now drawn from a larger, stronger online population, longtime club players can't trounce them as easily."

Hasbro now offers an e-mail Scrabble game for people who would prefer to play online. The software allows your e-mail messages to show a full-featured Scrabble game board. You make a move, then your friends or family make theirs.

Another area where Scrabble is expanding is within schools. "Over the next few years, I think the biggest change to the established tournament scene will be an influx of players from a still-nascent school Scrabble tournament system," says Chew.

"Hasbro and the NSA are doing a good job of promoting the use of Scrabble as a literacy tool in schools. Just looking at the numbers, I think we'll start seeing a lot of sharp young players at tournaments very soon."

The National School Scrabble Program, established by Hasbro and the NSA, is a huge success. Since its inception in 1992, half a million kids in some 15,000 classrooms have joined.

Teachers say the game really helps children develop their vocabularies, and the kids of course, love playing the game! If you're interested in this program, and you'd like your school to become involved, have your teacher contact the National Scrabble Association.

Like any game, Scrabble has its rules and regulations. The most important thing to know is what words are acceptable and what words are not. This is a point that must be agreed upon by players before the game starts.

For instance, before starting a game, the players might decide on a particular dictionary where only the words that exist in that dictionary are acceptable. The NSA supplies an official tournament and club word list for its members.

It doesn't cost much to get into Scrabble. The standard game with the wooden tiles cost between $12 and $15. Deluxe plastic sets cost a little more, between $25 and $35. E-mail Scrabble goes for about $15 and the CD-ROM version goes for about $30.

The most important thing you need to develop to become good at Scrabble is your vocabulary skills. Being a good speller is also important. You have to be able to think quickly, as many games are played with a timer.

The most common injuries suffered by people playing Scrabble are bruised egos! After all, no one likes to lose. In tournament play, people sit for hours at a time. Stiff necks and sore backs are common. It never hurts to take a break and stretch your legs.

Scrabble is also a game easily played by people with physical challenges. "I have seen many physically challenged players at tournaments, even in the expert division. There are braille sets for the visually impaired," says Siri Tillekeratne. He is the senior director of a Scrabble club.

"I recently attended a celebrity braille Scrabble exhibition match with [renowned Canadian blues musician] Jeff Healy, and was very pleased to see people enjoying my favorite game in a way that wasn't too different from the way people play it at the club," says Chew.

Scrabble is a recreational game. No one gets paid to play. The only way to make money with the game is to win big at tournaments.

Getting Started

All it takes to get started playing Scrabble is to buy a version of the game and find someone who wants to play with you. Then if you really get into it, you may consider joining a local club. You never know where this activity will lead -- maybe into the world championships!

Avid Scrabble players tend to be helpful people, ready to give advice. Odom has a few suggestions for those just starting out. "For beginners, a list of two and three letter words is very helpful, and buying an Official Scrabble Players Dictionary will make it easier to segue into tournament play by using a standard reference," she says.

"I would suggest looking to see if there is a local Scrabble club in your area, and joining the National Scrabble Association for $18 a year. It includes some word lists, the official rules used in tournament play and a periodic newsletter that has information about tournaments, strategy tips, and puzzles that new players will find interesting."


National Scrabble Association


The Official Scrabble Players Dictionary,
Third Edition
Everything Scrabble,
by  Joe Edley and John D. Williams
The Official Scrabble Brand Word-Finder,
by  Robert W. Schachner
The Official Scrabble Puzzle Book,
by  Joe Edley
The Official Scrabble Quiz Game Book
by  Robert Allen


The Official Scrabble Site
Hasbro's official site contains loads of information on all versions of Scrabble

San Jose Scrabble Club
It contains a ton of Scrabble info, plus word lists and links

Musa's Scrabble Page
Word lists, puzzles, advice and more!

John Chew's Scrabble Page
Packed full of Scrabble information

Back to Career Cluster


  • Email Support

  • 1-800-GO-TO-XAP (1-800-468-6927)
    From outside the U.S., please call +1 (424) 750-3900


Powered by XAP

OCAP believes that financial literacy and understanding the financial aid process are critical aspects of college planning and student success. OCAP staff who work with students, parents, educators and community partners in the areas of personal finance education, state and federal financial aid, and student loan management do not provide financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice. This website and all information provided is for general educational purposes only, and is not intended to be construed as financial, investment, legal, and/or tax advice.