From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Scrabble Rule Change

Proper nouns allowed


Well, this is earthshaking news. Mattel has changed the rules of the board game, Scrabble.

The rules of word game Scrabble are being changed for the first time in its history to allow the use of proper nouns, games company Mattel has said.

Place names, people's names and company names or brands will now count.

Source: "Proper nouns come into play in Scrabble rule change", BBC News, April 6, 2010.

Later in the article, Mattel (a Mattel spokesperson, surely) says that there will be no rules about right or wrong spellings of proper nouns. It's hard for me to understand how that will work, but I guess it will be all right for those who want to play by those rules.

Keely and I have already decided that we will continue to play by the traditional rules. In our house, that means that no proper nouns at all are allowed.

The appearance of Scrabble in world news gives me an excuse to share our Easter afternoon Scrabble game. It was a good one! At the end of the game, we both had three letters left, and the score was 680 (Keely) to 756 (me). In a stunning moment of pure genius, Keely saw that she could play all three of her letters (E, I, and W) in the following location on the board.


The blank letter is a T. Do you see the place where Keely played? Click here to see the word that earned her 102 points and moved her to the lead, 782 to 770. (In anatomy, an iter is a passage or canal, particularly in the brain.)

I played my last three letters and got another 27 points, making the final score 809 to 782 in my favor. Looking at the completed game now, I don't even remember the places where I played. I won, but it hardly seemed a victory after Keely's spectacular coup.

That's how Scrabble is supposed to be played. Proper nouns would spoil everything!

UPDATE: It turns out that the U.S. version of Scrabble, owned by Hasbro, has not changed its rules. See the comments below for a link.

6 comments:

GardenofDaisies said...

Not good news for the game.

Michael Leddy said...

The word "iter" makes me say "wow." I had to look in the OED for that one.

I shudder to think of Scrabblists using proper names rather than words.

Genevieve said...

Michael, "iter" is not in my normal vocabulary or Keely's, either. She decided first what she wanted to play, and then verified that iter was a word.

When our family plays, we permit unlimited dictionary use. I suspect that might be stretching the rules. Dredging the dictionary slows the game, but that's OK. We are just having fun, not trying to beat the clock.

Genevieve said...

Gayle, if permission to play proper nouns will improve Scrabble so much, why aren't millions of people changing the rules on their own and playing it that way already?

Mark said...

Slate clears this up. The classic game of Scrabble sold by Hasbro will remain the same in the US, but there will be a new game, Scrabble Trickster, marketed outside the US by Matte.

http://slate.com/blogs/blogs/browbeat/

Genevieve said...

Thanks, Mark, and everyone else who let me know that the rule change is not for the U.S. My husband heard a report about it on NPR, and several other people sent links. I've climbed down from my high horse and resumed normal life again.

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