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Scrabble I For Word Lovers

With extended board and nice letter distribution!

The Rules

Here are the rules for Scrabble I For Word Lovers. As discussed in the Scrabble I introduction page, Scrabble I goes beyond Scrabble O in just these two ways:

1. Extended board with 3 extra rows on each side.

2. Nice 300-tile letter distribution with a fresh, random scoop of 100 tiles for each game.


RULE 1 (Scrabble I) - The word set

The word set will be based on a regular American college dictionary.

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble For Word Lovers common rules page.

RULE 2 (Scrabble I) - Good words only (the "challenge rule")

"Good words only" simply means, if you you play a valid word you score points. If you play an invalid word you score no points, your word comes off the board, and play passes to the next player.

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble For Word Lovers common rules page.

RULE 3 (Scrabble I) - Three letter minimum

"Three letter minimum" simply means the main word of a play must be at least 3 letters long.

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble O rule page.

RULE 4 (Scrabble I) - Classic 7-tile rack

Scrabble I uses a 7-tile rack, as in Scrabble's original box top rules.

RULE 5 (Scrabble I) - Big Play bonus

Scrabble I offers stepped bonuses for "big plays" of 5, 6, and 7 tiles.

                 BIG PLAY BONUSES
    Tiles Played   Bonus Points      Name  
    ------------   ------------     -------
      5 tiles         10 pts        5-tiler
      6 tiles         30 pts        6-tiler
      7 tiles         50 pts        7-tiler, or "bingo"

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble O rule page.

RULE 6 (Scrabble I) - Stretch bonus

Scrabble I offers stepped bonuses for stretching a "decent" word on the board by two letters or more.

     (on "fours" and up)

  Tiles Added  Bonus Points
  -----------  ------------
       1             0   
       2            20   
       3            40   
       4            60   
       5            90 * 
       6           110 * 
       7           130 * 

  *Bonus incorporates BIG PLAY bonus.  

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble O rule page.

RULE 7 (Scrabble I) - Swap for the blank

"Swap for the blank" means, "when a player has a letter represented on the board by a blank, he may, when his turn comes, substitute the letter and pick up the blank."

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble O rule page.

RULE 8 (Scrabble I) - Hitting multiple premium word squares

Hitting multiple premium word squares is figured additively, not multiplicatively. Thus, hitting two triple word score squares yields six (3+3=6) times the value of the word.

For more discussion, refer to the corresponding section in the Scrabble O rule page.

RULE 9 (Scrabble I) - Extended board

Scrabble I uses a classic Scrabble board enlarged with "wings" of 3 rows on all four sides. There are no premium squares in the wings; every square is implicitly "single letter score".

The main word of your play must connect to the classic, inner board. This means you cannot form a new main word wholly in the wings. But you may stretch an existing word with tiles played wholly in the wings.

It won't happen often, but any tiles that touch in the wings must form valid words, crossword-style, and those words will figure in the score.

If you find yourself scandalized by this change to Scrabble's sacred board, remember that Scrabble's owners authorized a Super Scrabble board, and this one is much more conservative than that.

Try the extended board and see how constrictive the classic board has been all these decades. That's why I view the extended board as "breaking out of Scrabble's straitjacket." The 3 extra rows are "just right." Two wouldn't do it; four would put more spaces in the wings than on the main board!

You might rig up an extended board by modifying a Super Scrabble board. Or, you can glue poster board to the back of a regular board to give room for the wings. Use three Scrabble tiles to set the spacing of the lines on the poster board. Draw the lines first, and then slice away the excess poster board. Or, you might be happy without the lines. Or, you could glue together an extended board from sliced up regular Scrabble boards.

...from Super Scrabble board 
(click to enlarge.)     ...with lined poster board backing 
(click to enlarge.)     ...with blank poster board backing 
(click to enlarge.)     ...from classic Scrabble boards 
(click to enlarge.)

Extended boards for Scrabble II. (Click to enlarge.)

In fact, if you're content to not rotate the board during the game, you can simply use a regular board and let the tiles run onto the table top.

RULE 10 (Scrabble I) - Scrabble I Letter Distribution.

Scrabble I (and Scrabble II) is played with a random scoop of 100 tiles from a set of 300 tiles as shown in the middle column:

    Classic Distribution       Scrabble I/II          Adjustment from
      (3 standard sets)     Letter Distribution       3 standard sets
            27 A                   25 A                     -2 A  
             6 B                    6 B                           
             6 C                    7 C                     +1 C  
            12 D                   14 D                     +2 D  
            36 E                   38 E                     +2 E  
             6 F                    5 F                     -1 F  
             9 G                   10 G                     +1 G  
             6 H                    6 H                           
            27 I                   23 I                     -4 I  
             3 J                    2 J                     -1 J  
             3 K                    3 K                           
            12 L                   13 L                     +1 L  
             6 M                    6 M                           
            18 N                   19 N                     +1 N  
            24 O                   21 O                     -3 O  
             6 P                    7 P                     +1 P  
             3 Q                    2 Q                     -1 Q  
            18 R                   21 R                     +3 R  
            12 S                   14 S                     +2 S  
            18 T                   19 T                     +1 T  
            12 U                   11 U                     -1 U  
             6 V                    5 V                     -1 V  
             6 W                    5 W                     -1 W  
             3 X                    2 X                     -1 X  
             6 Y                    5 Y                     -1 Y  
             3 Z                    2 Z                     -1 Z  
             6 blank                9 blank                 +3 blank
           ---                    ---                      ---      
           300 total              300 total                  0 tiles

The brief history is that for years the Dover Scrabble Club played Scrabble II with a straight mix of 3 standard sets of tiles, with only the "I" overload addressed. (Three I's were very conservatively replaced with AEO, not with blanks as in the more recently developed Scrabble O.)

In moving to Scrabble III, with its 6-letter minimum, I wanted a more natural letter distribution for the bigger words. So I examined the letters making up all of the "big words" we had played since the beginning, over 10,000 of them. What I did not do was simply implement that letter distribution. Essentially, I split the difference between the classic Scrabble letter distribution and the letter distribution shown in our big words. Thus, the classic Scrabble letter distribution still infuses the new, improved letter distribution.

In the third column shown above, you can see how modest the adjustments are. Understand that if you see +1 L, for example, that really translates to a mere third of an extra L per 100-tile set. In the grossest analysis, the classic Scrabble tile set was severely vowel heavy with 42% vowels (42 AEIOU per 100 tiles.) The more natural letter distribution has 39% vowels (118 AEIOU per 300 tiles.)

But this modest adjustment absolutely blew the lid off of Scrabble II. Prior to implementing the perfected tile set, the club averaged about 31 points per turn. In our final Scrabble II season, with the perfected tile set in use, we jumped up to 37 points per turn! That's 6 extra points, turn in, turn out, on the average, with no change other than the more natural letter distribution! It's good, folks.

One final observation: if the experts truly view Scrabble as mainly a math game, they'll be in heaven cranking the new probabilities. Instead of, "five T's down, one to go," now it's, "five T's down, 14 remaining among the 231 unseen tiles." Great fun!


*** Summary of differences with "regular" Scrabble ***

Here, at a glance, are the differences between modern, "regular" Scrabble and Scrabble I For Word Lovers.

  "Regular" Scrabble               Scrabble O                      Scrabble I              
  ------------------               ----------                      ----------              
  Word list memorization           Vocabulary-based                (ditto)
  Overloaded OSPD                  Regular dictionary              (ditto)
  Weird two-letter words           Refined 2-letter word list      (ditto)
  Invalid words allowed            Points for good words only      (ditto)
  Bluffing                         No bluff element                (ditto)
  2-letter minimum                 3-letter minimum                (ditto)
  Single bonus for playing         Stepped bonuses for Big Plays   (ditto)
  all 7 tiles                      of 5, 6, or 7 tiles           
  No reason to stretch words       Stretch bonus                   (ditto)
  Classic 100-tile set with        100-tile set with               Nice 300-tile letter
  "I" overload (9 I's)             one "I" removed (8 I's)         distribution 

  Same 100 tiles every game        (ditto)                         Fresh 100-tile scoop
                                                                   for each game
  2 blanks                         3 blanks                        Average 3 blanks/game

  Single use blanks                Reusable blanks                 (ditto)
  Classic 15x15 board              (ditto)                         Extended board (3 
                                                                   extra rows each side)
  A few thousand players           Tens of millions of players?    (ditto)                 

  Top players wallow in obscurity  Top players rich $uper$tars!    (ditto)


*** Scrabble I on a slip ***

Here is Scrabble I on a Slip, suitable for printing in a fixed-width font, and keeping by your rack at the Scrabble I table:

     SCRABBLE I       Two-Letter Words    
      MAIN WORD      AB  DO  ID  OF  TA   
  3-letter minimum   AD      IF  OH  TI   
                     AG  ED  IN  ON  TO   
   BIG PLAY Bonus    AH  EF  IS  OR       
     Tiles  Pts      AI  EH  IT  OS  UH   
       5     10      AM  EL      OW  UM   
       6     30      AN  EM  LA  OX  UP   
       7     50      AR  EN  LI      US   
                     AS  ER  LO  PA  UT   
    STRETCH Bonus    AT  EX      PI       
  (on fours and up)  AW      MA      WE   
     Ltrs   Pts      AX  FA  ME  RE  WO   
       1      0      AY      MI           
       2     20          GO  MU  SH  XI   
       3     40      BE      MY  SI       
       4     60      BI  HA      SO  YE   
       5     90 *    BY  HE  NO      YO   
       6    110 *        HI  NU           
       7    130 *        HO               
  Classic 7-tile rack.                    
  Extended board.                         
  Random scoop from nice 300-tile set.    
  Regular dictionary; all words checked.  
  SWAP for the blank.                     
  * Bonus incorporates BIG PLAY bonus.    


*** Legal statement and a plea ***

I retain the rights to these additions, adjustments, and modifications giving rise to Scrabble I, singly or in combination, insofar as I may be allowed.

Having said that, I would be happy to give Scrabble I to Hasbro for free if that's what it takes to make the Scrabble world safe again for word lovers. Anyone out there with the connections to talk to them?


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