This here is the official
rulebook for playing Scrabble in tournaments. Useful as a guide to
beginners, too. Displaces doubts, questions and some awkward
Scrabble Association Tournament Rules and Regulations (MSA)
tournament organizers are permitted to introduce amendments,
modifications and additional rules within reason, and with the prior
consent of the Malaysia Scrabble Association.
RULES OF TOURNAMENT PLAY
following rules are those which apply for the National Championships,
as resolved by the Committee of the Malaysian Scrabble Association and
in addition 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. Any variations must be announced in advance so that they
may be known by players before registering for the tournament.
All decisions of the Tournament Director (TD) on disputes or
clarification of rules are FINAL.
STARTING THE GAME
It is the responsibility of both players to determine before
commencing play that there are 100 correct tiles. There can be no
appeal if an incorrect number or incorrect distribution is discovered
The pre-tournament information or announcement should specify
how the first player in each game will be decided. This may be by
drawing tiles, use of a computer programme or another method as
determined by the tournament organiser.
Balanced starts: either a computer program or a record
card of starts is used to determine who shall start each game, with
the objective being for players to have roughly the same number of
starts. This system is referred to as "balanced starts".
When a record card is used, the player who has had fewer starts plays
first. If both players have had an equal number of starts, tiles are
drawn (see 1.4) to see who plays first.
Drawing tiles: for each game, each player draws a tile
from the bag placing it face up in full view. The player with the
letter closest to the start of the alphabet goes first. A blank is
considered to come before an "A". If both tiles are the
same, the players will each draw again until there is a decision. The
player who is to go second returns the tiles to the bag and shuffles
the bag, ready for the game to begin. No tiles shall be returned to
the bag until a decision is reached.
When the first player has taken a tile out of the bag and seen
the first tile, the time clock may be started.
PLAYING THE GAME
2.1 Each player is permitted a total of 25 minutes each on
the clock in which to complete all his moves.
one player is not there on time, the opponent may start that
person’s clock after the announcement by the TD to do so. If two
players are absent from a board, the TD will start one clock. When the
first player arrives, each player has half the elapsed time deducted,
and the second player’s clock is set running.
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. The penalty is
deducted from your total score but not added to your opponent’s
score. A digital clock is not in overtime until –0.01 is shown.
It is the responsibility of each player to check his opponent's
plays and scores. A player should keep score and running total for
both himself and his opponent. If your opponent is not doing this, ask
them to do so. If they continue to not record scores and totals, you
may call for the Tournament Director. Players may use their own score
sheets and/or tile tracking sheets.
An error in the score for a move or cumulative score may be
corrected at any time until the result slip have been signed by both
players. . If both
players' records match at the end of a game, a recount may be allowed
only at the discretion of the Tournament Director.
Players may, by mutual
agreement, suspend the timing of both time clocks while resolving a
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. Preference
should be given to functionally superior equipment namely digital
clocks, smooth "Pro" tiles and turntable boards.
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.
5.1 You are permitted to do so at any time during the game.
Players may use their own tile tracking sheet.
You must hold the tile bag and the rim of the bag should be held
at eye level while drawing tiles , and so that no tiles in the bag
can be seen. Remove tiles in full view of your opponent. . .
You may not put your hand back into the bag while you still
have tiles in that hand. All drawn tiles must be placed on the rack or
table before drawing any more.
OVERDRAWING OF TILES
If, before any newly drawn tile has been placed on the rack,
you discover that you have too many tiles, you must place all the
newly drawn tiles face down on the table and invite your opponent to
remove the excess tile(s).
If any newly drawn tile has touched the rack, you must place
all your tiles on the rack or the table face down and invite your
opponent to remove the excess tile(s). Player B may pick at random N +
1 tiles from Player A's rack or the table, inspect these tiles, return
1 tile of Player B's choice to player A and the rest to the bag.
Both players may view the tiles which are being returned.
If it is your opponent who discovers that you have too many
tiles, when it has not touched the rack, you must place those tiles
face up and invite your opponent to remove the excess tile(s).
If it is your opponent who discovers that you have too many
tiles when it is already
on the rack, you must display your rack while they choose the excess
tile(s) to be removed.
If the over drawing of tiles is discovered after you have
already made a move and drawn your tiles, the above rule will apply
and play continues with no re-drawing.
If you have too few tiles, you must draw the rest from whatever
tiles are in the bag at that stage, even if your opponent has drawn
is no rule against a player showing his opponent any or all his tiles.
End of turn: Your turn is deemed to have ended when you
activate your opponent's clock.
Or when after placing your word on the board and announcing the
score for the move and when you put your hand into the bag., regardless of whether
the clock has been pressed or not.
Or when you announce “CHANGE” and proceed to Clause 10.2.
allowance can be made for mistakes due to poorly aligned tiles
discovered after his turn has ended .
8.2 In your turn only, you may:
Turn a revolving board
Straighten letters on the board
Check for tiles remaining in the bag
a non-revolving board is used, both players must agree on its
orientation at the start of the game and it must remain in that
orientation throughout the game except by mutual agreement of the
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.
When you play a blank tile using tiles that are similar in
surface on both sides, you must show both sides of the blank tile and
state what letter the blank represents. When both players have written
the scores for the move, this signifies that they agree that the blank
is not an ordinary tile inverted. If such an error is discovered
later, play continues with no penalty or adjustment.
10.1 You may use your
turn to change one or more tiles provided there are at least 7
tiles in the bag. The player will score zero for
that turn. You may change tiles as many times as you wish during the
Procedure for changing tiles:
On deciding to change tiles,
announce that you are changing,
how many you are changing
face down on the table as many tiles from your rack
your opponent's clock.
a like number of tiles from the bag and place them face down on the
table or onto your rack.
the unwanted tiles in the bag
Passing: You may opt to pass your turn and score zero for
that turn. In this case
you should state "PASS" and activate his opponent's clock
without playing any tiles onto the board.
Any time during your turn, you may challenge any word(s) played by
his opponent in the previous turn.
A player considering a challenge may call "HOLD" within 10
seconds from your
opponent’s end of turn Even
if his opponent has drawn tiles for their move. 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. During this time, the challenger’s clock
is left activated until a decision is made by him to accept the move
or challenge the move.. 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
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. When the
challenge slip is returned, both players must see it. Either player
may query the decision and ask that the slip be returned for
re-adjudication at the discretion of the judges.. A brief note
indicating where the word be found is permitted.
word judges will return a ruling as to whether the challenge is
successful or unsuccessful. 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
the challenge is UNSUCCESSFUL 5 points for each word challenged is
added to the turn score of the challenged player.
players are to ensure that the word challenged is well and clearly
written on the slip before sending it for adjudication.
the event of own challenges, both players may cover their tiles and
proceed to the adjudication table
any word on the challenge slip does not correspond to words made on
the board that turn, the challenge slip may be resubmitted with the
correctly recorded words.
The pre-tournament information should specify if a penalty
challenge system (e.g. double challenge, “no penalty"
challenge, x-point penalty challenge or etc) is to be used at a
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 they must not indicate whether any particular word
If the challenge is “SUCCESSFUL” the challenged player must
remove the played tiles off the board BEFORE activating his
After the challenge is concluded and scores have been recorded,
the challenger's clock is started.
ENDING THE GAME
game ends and the clocks should be neutralized when
of the players has played all his tiles AND the bag is empty; OR
have been 6 successive passed turns, i.e. 3 passes from each player;
tournament director has declared an end to the round.
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.
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. The penalty is deducted from
your total score but not added to your opponent’s score. A digital
clock is not in overtime until –0.01 is shown.
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.
references for acceptability of a word are Chambers' Official Scrabble
Words ("OSW") 4th ed, Merriam Webster's Official Scrabble
Players Dictionary ("OSPD") corrected 2nd edition and the
OSPD Supplementary Word List, The Chambers Dictionary 1998 edition,
and Merriam Webster's 10th New Collegiate Dictionary.
The Committee of the Malaysian 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 organisers, who shall be responsible for ensuring the
accuracy of such additional aids
Players are to ensure that their phone is switched into SILENT mode so
that their rings do not disturb other players within the vicinity. You
may not answer your call during play.
Players may not discuss with or distract (e.g. hum, grunt,
sing, mutter) their opponents during play.
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.
The TD may declare a game forfeited in cases where a player has abandoned
a game or committed a flagrant breach of the rules. The
committee of MSA may impose a suitable penalty for the player.
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.