Speeding Up Scrabble

scrabble I'm hooked on Words with Friends (WWF). Sometimes, I have so many games going with Lin at one time, we call it WWS (Words with Sisters). It still amazes me to be able to play a game with my sister in Boston and have responses in seconds on the other side of the world, including some chat along the way. When we're together however, it's Speed Scrabble that keeps us occupied day and night.

January 19, 1938 is considered by some to be Scrabble's birthday. Others say that January 19, 1955 was the debut of Scrabble internationally. It had been sold in the USA under various names since it was invented by a crossword enthusiast, Alfred Butts, but it took 17 years for it to make it across the Atlantic and the Pacific to the UK and Australia. It doesn't matter. I just like the game.

scrabble stress

I especially like Speed Scrabble on the boat because it doesn't require a board, only the tiles which I keep in a little sack close by in the hammock. The original Scrabble game didn't have a board, just letter tiles, so this isn't that much of a stretch. I'm always hopeful that I'll get David to play and once in awhile he does. It takes serious bribes for that to happen. ;-) He thinks it's too stressful.

I looked on-line for the rules to Speed Scrabble, but none of them seem to be exactly the same way we play it. Variations on a theme suit us. You can play with 2-4 players, but we find 2-3 best. Adapt rules to your own playing style. Here are, however, the real rules (according to the Lemay Girls anyway).

scrabble tiles

Object of the game: To use all your drawn tiles in acceptable words (Scrabble rules and Dictionary applies) before your opponent(s) does.

  1. Place all (100) Scrabble tiles letter-side down on a table.
  2. Each player should choose 7 tiles which are kept in front of them, letter side down. Leave yourself lots of room to expand because each player constructs his/her own puzzle. You work only on your own puzzle and try to ignore what everyone else is doing.
  3. When everyone's ready, say “GO” and the stress begins. Each person turns over their letters and begins to form words. The object is to use all of your tiles forming one or multiple words. You can rearrange your letters any way you wish throughout the game, changing words, changing the whole puzzle if you want (and have time), but you cannot exchange letters and you cannot trade letters with other players.
  4. When one player has used up all of their seven letters, he/she shouts “GO” and every player must take another tile whether they've used all their letters or not.
  5. As soon as one player uses all his letters again, he/she shouts “GO” and every player again takes another tile. This continues until all the tiles are gone or until there are not enough tiles for all players to take one. It gets frantic as people start saying GO, GO, GO and you're frustrated because you have no vowels or no consonants or can't make any words.
  6. If no one can make a move, they agree to take a tile.
  7. The game ends when one player uses all his/her letters and there are no more to draw and that player shouts “DONE”.
  8. We allow a Scrabble dictionary to be on the table, but you can only use it during normal play action. The game does not stop when you're consulting the dictionary. The Scrabble dictionary is the final judge of a word. If it ain't there, it's not a word. Pays to have a current one on hand.(Hint: if your opponent is stuck, it's a good time to be able to consult the Scrabble dictionary)
  9. Prior to counting up letter points, each player must verify with the others that his/her words are legitimate. This is the time when other players can challenge words or letter placements.
  • If a player is found to be in default, he must remove all the tiles of the non-word(s) which are in question. These will be counted against him/her.
  • If the person who is the “winner” of the round has a misspelled or played an unacceptable word or made an incorrect tile placement, that person accepts the unused tiles from the other players which will be counted against him/her. Pays to be sure you've got your tiles in order before shouting “DONE”.


  • We award 10 points to the person who goes out using all his/her tiles as long as there are no problems with his/her puzzle. If there are problems, no winner award is granted.
  • We also award 5 points for the longest word used, determined by how many letters are in the word. If there is a tie in word length, the player with the most letter points then wins.
  • Sometimes we make the game interesting by adding an additional “theme” element agreed to by the players, such an animal, food, bird, etc. We award an additional 5 points to a player for each “theme” word created in a puzzle during the round.
  • We keep things easy. Counting the letters is done as a straight count. No double counting of letters. If a “Z” is used twice, it still only counts once as a total of 10 points. If you have unused letters, you must subtract their point value from your total score.
  • The total value of all the letters combined is 187. All totals including unused tiles subtracted should add up to this amount.
  • We play to 500, but this is totally arbitrary.


Days and Ways to Celebrate

A daily list of mostly obscure holidays and fun ways to celebrate them.

Scrabble's Anniversary (1948)

National Popcorn Day

Eat popcorn while you play Speed Scrabble...impossible!