Welcome to the world of competitive Scrabble!
Scrabble is one of the most challenging and engaging of competitive games and attracts players from all walks of life. If you are a casual player who is considering attending an organized Scrabble club, this introduction should help you with some of the basics.
Tucson is home to three clubs that have been sanctioned by the National Scrabble Association (NSA). NSA Club #303, directed by Naurlene Canterman, meets twice a week at 7PM on Tuesdays and Fridays and features a more casual style of play. Club #303 is ideal for players who are brand new to the game or who might not yet feel comfortable playing timed, tournament-style games. Also in town is Club #615, which meets every Sunday and is directed by Jeannette Kauffman. This club features play tailored to a player's comfort.
NSA Club #565, directed by Ed Saunders, meets twice a week. On Thursdays from 5PM to 10PM, and on Sundays from 1PM to 7PM. This club is a two-tiered club with both a Recreational and a separate Tournament Rules division.
The Tournament Rules division features tournament-style play and maintains club ratings, rankings, and statistics. We collect $3 dues from each player per session. 75% of these dues are returned to players in the form of cash prizes, the other 25% goes to expenses associated with running the club and any tournaments we may have as well as the cost of maintaining this Web site.
The Recreational Division is just that, recreational. Come in, bring or meet a friend, and have a good time playing Scrabble. No ratings, rankings, or statistics are kept for this division. Rules of play are set by the players involved in the game. The Recreational division has no set fees but, since Club #565 does have expenses, we ask that you consider whether or not you had a dollar's worth of fun. If you did, then we ask that you consider donating a dollar to the club kitty.
This club is host to all levels of competitive Scrabble players, many of whom compete in national tournaments.
Directions and contact information for these clubs are located in the "Where to Play" section of this web site.
This page will cover what you should know before attending an organized Scrabble club but is tailored to Club #565. We also encourage you to check out our New Player Information page for other helpful tips about entering the world of competitive Scrabble.
Of course, all members of the Tucson Scrabble community are happy to answer any questions or concerns you might have as well. Feel free to contact us with your questions or comments.
All organized Scrabble clubs have one or more club directors.
A director has been sanctioned by the NSA and is responsible for pairing opponents,
adjudicating disputes over rules, and ensuring the club is run with some semblance
of sanity and decorum.
Club #565 meets every Thursday from 5PM-10PM and every Sunday from 1PM-7PM.
Tournament Division dues are $3 per session, and 75% of your dues are returned each session in the form of cash prizes. We encourage you to show up on time and to play as long as you can; however, we understand if you arrive late or have to leave early.
When you attend, you will be given a club scorecard on which you will record the results of the session's games (opponent, opponent's rating, who went first, who won, bingos, scores, point spread, and any notes, comments, or contest entries that you may have). Upon leaving for the evening, please give this scorecard back to the director. It will be used to keep results and a running set of statistics throughout the club's season.
Recreational Division players pay no set fees; and no ratings, rankings or statistics are kept for recreational play, but, if you have a good time playing at the club, we ask that you consider donating a dollar now and then to help the club cover expenses.
When playing tournament-style Scrabble, you will note that some
rules differ slightly from the ones you will find printed on the bottom of
the lid of the set you grew up with. For instance, games are timed to 25 minutes
per player, both players are required to keep score, and there are rules covering
everything from who goes first to what to do if you accidentally draw too
While the fundamental basics of the game are more or less universal, tournament-style Scrabble play follows the Official Tournament Rules established by the National Scrabble Association. If there is a dispute over a rule's interpretation or a situation arises that is not covered by the rules, a club director will resolve it.
Rules for Recreational Division games will be determined by the players involved. If a dispute does arise, a club director will attempt to resolve it.
You are required to bring yourself; we won't be able to do much with you unless you show up. Also, please bring a pen or pencil to club. We will provide Tournament Division players with a club scorecard. Typically there are enough Scrabble sets and score sheets to cover all players, but if you have any of the following equipment, please bring it:
A Scrabble Board: The preferred board is a rotating Deluxe Scrabble set. The fold up commercial boards are generally not used as they do not have a grid and cannot be easily turned. You will notice that several players have custom Scrabble boards as well, and those are welcome. If you are interested in more information about custom boards, ask around or see the Links section of this site.
Tiles: The tiles that come with commercial Scrabble boards are not used in competitive Scrabble as the letters are recessed into their surfaces, making it possible to feel the outline of a letter or blank while your hand is in the bag. Flat-surfaced tiles are preferred, and most competitive players prefer Protiles.
Timer: Tournament-style Scrabble games are timed to 25 minutes per player. The preferred timer is electronic, but analog timers are acceptable as well. For a list of the common Scrabble timers, see the Links section of this site.
Dictionary: Although commercially available at most book stores, The Official Scrabble Player's Dictionary, 4rd Edition (OSPD4) is not used to adjudicate words in competitive Scrabble. The dictionary used for organized Scrabble in North America is The Official Tournament and Club Word List, 2nd Edition (OWL2), which contains all the same listings as does the OSPD4 plus words considered offensive or vulgar. In addition to the OWL2, the NSA provides The Long List, a word list used to judge the acceptability of words of 9-15 letters in length that are not in the OWL2. Both The OWL2 and The Long List are available from the Word Gear store at The National Scrabble Association's web site.