Seattle SCRABBLE® Club
[North American SCRABBLE® Players Association Club #253, Seattle]

New Player Information

Printable version of the info on this page:   NewPlayerInfo.pdf [pdf].

Basic Info

Please arrive by 5:45pm for the first game (or by 6:45 if starting with game two).

Your first time (and subsequent club sessions until you win your first game):

  • You get free challenges
  • You can refer to 2- and 3-letter word lists during play.
  • There is no time penalty (although you must use a clock, and the game may be stopped if it runs over time)

You record results for each game (score, opponent, etc.) on your Score Card and place it in the little red basket after each game (so the director can do pairings).

  • If you leave before the last game, please draw a line through the games you are NOT playing and hand in your Card.
  • Tell the Director if you leave before the last game!
  • You must hand in your Card at the end of the evening.

* Please silence your cell phone *

We play four games per night, starting about 6:00pm, each game taking about an hour. You choose your opponent the first round (new players will be matched appropriately); the director pairs subsequent rounds based on performance that night. You can still play the second game if you miss the first one as long as you show up before all the cards have been turned in for the first game (about 6:45pm, usually). Likewise, you can start with game three or four. You do not have to play all four games.

You can bring dinner to eat between games, if you wish (most folks eat before or after club). There are limited food options nearby; see FAQ page for more info.

Club Fees

There is no fee to join the club and you do not need to phone before you come. Players pay $7 each night that they attend (except that it's free your first time). Please bring cash - we're not a store; we do not take credit cards. The fee pays for room rent, equipment, photocopying score sheets, postage, etc. We usually have between 10 and 20 players per week.

Rules & Strategy

Seattle Club follows the Official Tournament Rules of the North American SCRABBLE® Players Association. These rules are an extension and refinement of the rules that come with the store-bought game. Here is a One-Page Rules Summary [pdf] that will get you started.

Printable version of the info on this page:   NewPlayerInfo.pdf [pdf].

Several others have written information for beginning club players. We strongly urge you to read the following to get more info on strategy and enjoying the club/tournament experience:

Blue Card or White Card?

Seattle Club uses two divisions for pairings. If your average is 365 or higher you must play white card, however blue card players may choose to "play up" into the white card division. New players usually start with a blue card.

Want to know your average? Check out the Stats Page.

Pairings:

All games are one-on-one.

Club Director (or designated representative) assigns opponents for rounds 2, 3, and 4. Pairings are based on win-loss record and spread within division, with adjustments to avoid re-matches, to prevent couples or family members from playing each other, and to ensure that new players have appropriate opponents.

If the number of players is uneven, the director refers to a list of players "sitting out" and chooses the next one to skip a game.

Equipment:

The Club provides boards, tiles and clocks. We use deluxe boards (ridges hold tiles in place and board spins) and "pro-tiles" (smooth surface so you cannot feel letters). Clocks are digital or analog game clocks (chess clocks).

Serious players invest in their own equipment. Check our Links Page for a list of equipment vendors.

Using the Clock

Game clocks are used to allot 25 minutes of playing time to each player. While this may seem short to new players, it is usually more than enough time. Most players get used to the clock very quickly.

Clock starts when first player looks at first tile.

Neutralize clock to dispute score, call for director, during challenges, etc.

Your turn does not end until you hit your clock.

Scoring

You must keep track of your score and that of your opponent.

Score sheets are provided by the Club but you may use your own if you wish.

Remember to fill out and turn in your (blue or white) Score Card as soon as you finish your game (it goes in the little red basket). Draw a line through games you are not playing if you leave early-and TELL the DIRECTOR you are LEAVING!

Player statistics are published weekly on club website.

Word Source

Club uses the Official Tournament and Club Word List (OTCWL2014 = OWL3) to adjudicate challenges. The OWL3 contains all the words that are printed in the Official Scrabble® Player's Dictionary 5th Edition (OSPD5), which is available in most bookstores, but also includes many hundreds more words that are acceptable for club and tournament play only (e.g., expurgated words, trademarks, and several hundred other words that were omitted from OSPD5 in the latest update).

"Category" Prizes

We give out a $5 $1 prize in each of the first three games for the best "Category Word". Theme for the category changes each game (e.g., "Springtime", "Things that are yellow", "High play starting with J", etc.). Write your category word (and score if appropriate) in the designated spot on your score card.

Prizes:

We give out several prizes during the evening.   Note: Prize moratorium in effect since October 2014

For the first three games a "category" is chosen and whichever play best fits the category wins the prize. Sometimes the category is a theme (e.g., "Halloween", "sports", "food", "things that are yellow", etc.), other categories: "high Q", "high out-play", etc.

The "Bingo Bonus" is awarded to someone who plays 3 bingos in a row in a game (Blue Card players only have to get 3 bingos in a game). [Note: until a player has an established club average (i.e., has played at least 9 club games), the Bingo Bonus is only awarded for 3 bingos in a row in a game.]

Category word:   $5
75+ non-bingo:   $1
100+ play:   $1
500+ game:   $1
600+ game:   $2
700+ game:   $5 + undying awe and respect of your peers
Bingo Bonus:   $5 [Blue card: 3+ bingos in one game;   white card: 3+ bingos in a row in one game]

Be sure to write down your play/game on the Bonus Prize sheet and then go to the director to collect your prize money.

More about Clubs:

Interested people who'd like to know what goes on in a SCRABBLE® club may want to prepare themselves for what to expect. Similarly, you might find an introduction to competitive play beneficial.

Improving Your Game

The best way to improve your game is to play people who are better than you. Ask them for tips on strategy and study techniques; get them to analyze your game. If you can't play at club, we recommend you play online at ISC. Find more info and tips about playing on ISC is on our FAQ page.

Anagramming skill, board vision, rack balancing, time management, and (of course) word knowledge are all important to the game. Check our Study Tools Page for a variety of study tools and word lists.

Here are a few printable word lists to get you started:

  • The Cheat Sheet - 2s, 3s, 2-to-make-3s, JQXZ, Vowel dumps, and Bingo Stems - by Mike Baron (OWL3) +OWL3
  • 2-to-make-3s Compiled by Amnon Meyers   +OWL3

Interested in playing in a Tournament?

If you have never played in a tournament before, we strongly suggest you visit your local SCRABBLE® club and play a few (or better yet, several) games. This will help you learn the mechanics of club and tournament play (how to draw tiles, announcing the score, using the clock, keeping score, etc.) in a fairly relaxed setting. You will find the tournament experience much more enjoyable if you are already comfortable with proper procedure.

Think you are ready for tournament play? Read this first



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