Scrabble variants

Scrabble variants

Scrabble variants are games created by changing the normal Scrabble rules or equipment.

Variants with standard board and/or tiles


Anagrab dispenses with the Scrabble board and just uses the letters. Initial words are made as letters are turned over, but these can then be 'grabbed' by opponents to make longer words. The game was first described in 1976 in Richard Sharp's The Best Games People Play Sharp, Richard, The Best Games People Play London: Ward Lock Limited. ISBN 0-7063-5088-X] , but his description suggests that he did not invent it.


Anagrams, also referred to as Snatch-words, is played without a board. Tiles are placed face down in the middle of the table. Taking turns around the table, each player will turn over a tile, leaving it in clear view of all players. A player who sees a Scrabble-valid word calls it out, takes the letters, and lays the word out in front of themselves. From then on each player may take letters from the "unused" pile or whole words from any player to call out new words. At the end each player's collection of individual words is scored.

A version of the game seems to be popular among tournament Scrabble players. Writers John Ciardi, James Merrill, John Malcolm Brinnin, and Richard Wilbur reputedly played together regularly in Key West, Florida, with novelist John Hersey also sometimes sitting in. [Hills, Rust, "Wordplay" an article in Esquire; March 1996, Vol. 125, Issue 3]


Anti-Scrabble — or Alt-Scrabble, as it is known in some quarters — requires the use of all that is disallowed in standard Scrabble (not including made-up words or random letters), including proper nouns, acronyms, all foreign words (foreign relative to the language of the Scrabble set being used), expressive noises such as "nooooo" and "mwoohahaha", and abbreviations. In the case of acronyms, one must declare what it is one is referring to, and in the case of a challenge, if the declared acronym is not found but another acronym using the same letters is found, that particular combination of letters is nonetheless disallowed. This is to prevent the practice of "acronym fishing" in which one puts down a random letter combination in the hopes that it will be found to be a legitimate acronym (most combinations of 2 or 3 letters turn out to be actual acronyms).Fact|date=September 2007

Category Scrabble

This is a family of games in which you can play words belonging to a category that aren't allowed in regular Scrabble. This can be used to handicap a game between players of different skill, for instance Pokémon Scrabble for a parent/child game. For a real challenge, only words in a given category are allowed. It is best to pick a large and varied category so that the game doesn't become too slow paced with frequent exchanges.Fact|date=September 2007

An interesting variation on this is Google Scrabble. In this, any word challenges are adjudicated by typing the word into the Google search engine, and if it returns over a given number of hits, the word is ruled valid.Fact|date=September 2007


Clabbers is the best known variant to tournament Scrabble players. All of the rules are identical to Scrabble with one exception: words played only have to be anagrams of real words. [ [] Scrabulous Web site, accessed September 1, 2007] For example, MPORCTEU is a valid play in Clabbers because it is an anagram of COMPUTER. The increased ability to play parallel to pre-existing words makes for much higher scores. Knowing all of the two letter words is very helpful in this game. (See picture at top of page.)

A variant of this is Multi-Anagram Clabbers, in which players receive the basic score for any set of letters played multiplied by the number of valid anagrams for that set of letters. Opponents may "steal" points, once the initial player has declared their turn complete, by announcing other anagrams that the first player neglected to mention. In finding such anagrams, the blank must be declared as only one letter and may not change. For example, with a rack of AEILNS? (? = blank), a player announcing that the blank was a C and announcing the words SANICLE and INLACES would receive twice the base score; their opponent could steal the word SCALENI and score the base amount themselves.


A neutral official draws 7 letters to start the game. He announces these letters to the players who draw the same letters from their pool. The players now have a fixed time limit to find the highest scoring word. At the end of time, runners collect slips of paper on which the players have written their word (word, score and placement) and the official announces the highest scoring play which the players will now place on their own board. The official draws new tiles to make the total number up to seven, and the game continues until either there are no more consonants or no more vowels. At the end of the game, the player with the most points wins the game. There is no limit to the number of players that can participate in the same duplicate game. The official record for participation in France where duplicate is the preferred form of the game is 1485 at the 1998 tournament in Vichy. [ []]

Ecological Scrabble

So called because in it the blank tiles are recycled. If a blank tile is played to represent a particular letter, a player before his turn can pick up the blank and replace it by the letter that it represents. E.g. if on the board is LO*D, stated to represent LOAD, a player who has an A can pick up the blank and replace it by his A. But he cannot replace the blank by another letter to produce e.g. LOUD or LORD.Fact|date=September 2007


In this variant, players may designate any one letter in the word they play to represent a contiguous series of letters within a longer word. Bonus points are assigned based on word length, beginning with the standard 50-point bonus for a seven-letter word and adding an additional 10 points for each two subsequent letters. For instance, with the seven letter rack of ANTIHSM, a player could play ANTIDISESTABLISHMENTARIANISM, announcing that the letter H represents all the letters between D and the final I, earning the proper bonus for a 28-letter word of 150 points. Players must properly spell the resulting word in order to earn the bonus.Fact|date=December 2007


Players may play any legitimate word in only one direction. Players may not make a move in any backward direction. Thus COMPUTER may Not be played as RETUPMOC. Players score double points for words that form other words when reversed (e.g. REIFIED/DEIFIER) and triple for palindromes.Fact|date=December 2007


Also called Attack Scrabble. This is a version of anagrams played with 100 or 200 Scrabble tiles. The tiles start face down. Each player turns the tiles over one at a time until one player is able to form a word. The player with the most words at the end of the game wins. The catch is that players may "steal" a word from another player (or add the letter themselves) by taking additional turned over letters and adding them to words already flipped over. An example would be taking "quit" and making it "quiet".Fact|date=September 2007

No Plural Scrabble

No Plural Scrabble follows the standard rules of Scrabble, with the exception that a tile is only worth points when it is first played. For example, a player could play PAT, receiving five points. Another player could make PATENT from PAT, but would only receive points for ENT.Fact|date=September 2007

OED Scrabble

Some players who learnt before the publication of the Official List books remain unhappy with what is perceived as a commercialization of the original idea and prefer to use the Full Oxford English Dictionary as the source of acceptability.

Scrabble Towers

A player may play letters on top of letters that are already on the board, even noncontiguously, as long as all letters placed in one turn are in the same row or column, and no more than half (rounded down) cover up pre-existing letters. For example, the words DAWN and IT, with one space between them, can be changed to the single word DABBLING by covering up the W, N, and T, but cannot be changed to the word DECOYING because more than half of the letters in DAWN would have to be covered up. Scoring is the same as Scrabble; zero points are scored for tiles covered up. The concept of building upwards was implemented in a commercially released game called Upwords.Fact|date=September 2007

olitaire Scrabble

Solitaire Scrabble follows the same rules and word acceptability as normal Scrabble, but there is only one player. It can be played against a clock, trying to get the most points in three minutes for example, or for highest maximum score. Trying to set yourself up for a good play on the next turn is a good way to learn what not to do in a normal Scrabble game, as not you but your opponent will most likely reap the benefit of opening something up.Fact|date=September 2007

peed Scrabble

Speed Scrabble is Scrabble played with a considerably shorter clock limit (e.g. 5 minutes), than normal tournament Scrabble. [ [] Rules to Speed Scrabble as played in Toronto, Canada, from Web site]

trategy Scrabble

Strategy Scrabble is a two player variation. Both players can see their opponent's rack. This allows players to develop more situational strategies based on their opponent's rack. [ [ Scrabble] ]

Take Two

Take Two is played without a board. Tiles are placed face down in the middle of the table. Players draw from these communal letters trying to build words with their personal tiles in front of them. Words can be built by rearranging tiles already there and by playing through pre-existing words as if they were playing Solitaire Scrabble. If a player plays all of the tiles in front of them, they call "Take two", and everybody takes two tiles. Play continues until there are no more tiles left to draw. Take One or Take Four can also be played.Fact|date=September 2007 Take Two is often also called Speed Scrabble. [] Once someone has used all their tiles and shouted "Stop!" players add up the value of each tile used (blanks score zero, and each tile only counts once, even if used in two words in their grid). Any tiles not used count against that player, so negative scores in a round are possible. Local variants include banning of 2 letter words, having a dictionary on hand for any players to use (but since it is a game of speed, this doesn't get used much), bonus of 50 points for getting the word "chicken" in, bonus for longest word (number of letters in word, not tile values; and only if a single player has longest word), etc.Fact|date=December 2007

Team Speed Scrabble

Team Speed Scrabble is when teams of 2, 3, or 4 race to play legal Scrabble words as quickly as possible. Scoring does not matter; all that matters is how quickly words are played.Fact|date=September 2007


In Tonica, each player receives all their letters at the start of the game. In the event of a three person game, this means that an unequal number of letters will be distributed to the players.Fact|date=September 2007

Toroidal Scrabble

Also known as "Scrabble on the Torus," this version can be combined with nearly any other variant. The premise is that the board is not two dimensional but is toroidal (shaped like a donut), such that the top and bottom connect, as do the two sides.Fact|date=December 2007

Variants with non-standard equipment

Super Scrabble

This game has the same rules and tiles as Scrabble, but the board is larger (21x21 vs. 15x15 in the original). With the larger board there are more premium squares, going up to quadruple letter and quadruple word scores. There are also twice as many tiles with a slightly different distribution.* [ [] A Super Scrabble board]


This game has the same size board and scoring system as Scrabble. The major differences are the inclusion of twelve wild tiles marked with an asterisk that may represent one letter or any series of letters and special board squares that convert a regular letter tile into a wild tile (the tile in question is placed upside down on such a square). The nature of these changes shifts the emphasis of the game from playing short words to playing words of any length. For example, QUA*IST, could be the word QUARTERFINALIST.Fact|date=September 2007


This game is a cross between Othello and Scrabble played on a 13 x13 board. Each player has different coloured tiles. The rack is common and always contains 7 tiles. All tiles have the same value, one point. Points are scored for how many tiles are currently your own colour. The special squares are pink and orange. A word with a tile on a pink square clears the board. When this happens a bonus point is received for each tile you placed on an orange square on that board. [ [ Wordox or WordSteal ] ]


Literaxx is the English version of "Literaki", a popular online Polish variant. Tiles are worth 1, 2, 3 or 5 points and are coloured according to their value. Double and triple word squares function in the same manner as standard Scrabble. However, triple letter squares are only active when the tile colour matches that of the square. [ [ Literaxx game rules ] ]
Literaxx is available at Kurnik.

Related games


Upwords is played on a special 10x10 board with no premium squares. It has a Qu tile instead of Q and a different tile distribution than regular Scrabble. All tiles, with the exception of the Qu tile in certain circumstances, are worth the same. Words can be formed as in Scrabble as well as by playing on top of previously formed words. All words that are on the first level receive doubled points. Stacks can't go higher than five tiles. When playing over a word, at least one tile from the original word must be incorporated into the new word. [ [] Upwards Web psge at BoardGameGeek Web site, accessed September 1, 2007]


WIM is played with 96 square tiles that may be oriented in different directions to make different letters. Players compete to score the most points by forming interlocking words in all directions. It is played without a board. There are 19 distinct tiles which make the 26 English letters plus the blank tile. Eight of the tiles are ambiguous and can be read as two different letters, depending on orientation. For example, an upside-down A is a V, and a sideways N is a Z. Three of the tiles may be used as the same letter in more than one orientation (O, S, and X). A tile may be used as different letters in different words at the same time, even in the same play. Mechanics are similar to Scrabble with a 7-tile rack and a bingo bonus.Fact|date=September 2007


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