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SCRABBLE players not only play their game with their own dictionary, they have their own language for talking about it. If you don't see your favorite game jargon listed here, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask us about it.
A shorter glossary is also available at the back of our official rules.
OSPD2+ See "New Word List". OVERDRAWING When one player draws more tiles from the bag than is appropriate. See Rule (III.C) for the penalty for this situation. OWL As of March 1998 OWL (the Official Tournament and Club Word List published by Merriam-Webster, Inc.) is the official word source for all sanctioned NSA Clubs and Tournaments. PARALLEL PLAY A word played parallel to another word. Example: With MAR on the board, LATE is a parallel play
M A R
L A T E PASSING A player may pass his/her turn by not exchanging tiles and not making a play on the board. The player scores zero and says "Pass!" and starts opponent's timer. It is now opponent's turn. Note that when there are 6 consecutive scores of zero in a game, the game is finished. PHONEY Any unacceptable word. An unacceptable word is one that is not found in the OWL. Or, if it has more than nine letters and the word is not found in the Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition. If a phoney is not challenged when it's played, however, it will stay on the board for the remainder of the game. POINT SPREAD See "SPREAD". POWER TILES There are ten power tiles. They are the two blanks, the four Ss and the J, Q, X and Z. PREPRINTED TRACKING SHEET Also called Frequency List. This sheet of paper has printed on it either the alphabet or a partial or complete list of the 100 lettered tiles used in one SCRABBLE® game. See "TRACKING".
RACK BALANCE See "BALANCING YOUR RACK". RACK MANAGEMENT Good "Rack Management" is the policy of managing your leave each turn to be as flexible as possible. In this case "flexible" means your leave will combine with as many draws as possible to form seven-letter racks that score well. RATING For every sanctioned National SCRABBLE® Association tournament a new rating is computed for each of the contestants. The rating represents how well an entrant is playing in relation to other players. The higher the rating, the more skillful the player. Ratings currently range from 400-2100. ROUNDS In club or tournament play, one game is one round. There are five or six rounds (games) per day at most tournaments. SAND TIMER In some tournaments and clubs, a three-minute sand-timer is used to time each player's turn. SECOND OPINION If a player believes the Word Judge has made a mistake, s/he may ask for a second person to research the challenge. That second judgment is know as the "second opinion". If the second opinion contradicts the original one, a third opinion may be called for.
SIMULATION Using a specific computer program that can play out positions thousands of times very quickly, it can be determined which play is worth more in the long run. For instance, PLAY #1 may immediately give you 30pt while Play #2 gives you 20pt. But in the long run, Play #2 may allow you to follow it up with plays that earn 5 more points than Play #1 (combining both this turn's play with next turn's play and considering your rack leave after that). In simpler terms, this may mean that if you play out this position 2000 times, you'll wind up earning 5 more points with Play #2 than with Play #1. This also takes into account how many points your opponent will earn. Simulation is an excellent tool for SCRABBLE® game analysis, although it isn't foolproof. Most of the positions in our SCRABBLE News Annotated Game use simulations to check results. But sometimes the expert player will strongly disagree with these results due to extraneous factors: naive simulation randomizes opponent's rack (sometimes we have information about opponent's rack) and also only gives a point score evaluation of various plays - not winning chances. SPREAD The difference between the winning and losing score of a game. Example: If the score of a game is 350-280, then the spread is +70pt for the winner and -70pt for the loser. STEMS Certain five- and six-letter combinations of letters are so useful for forming bingos that lists of bingos have been printed that use these five- and six-letter stems. Some of the more useful stems are: STARE, STANE, RETINA, SATINE, SATIRE. By learning these lists and saving these letters, players will be able to play bingos more often.
TEAM GAME This term is most often used to describe a SCRABBLE® game played with at least three people and as many as six or eight. Only two sides compete with one rack each. Each team discusses their potential plays before making the final play on the board. A team game is a good vehicle for teaching or for simply having a lighter, more sociable atmosphere during a game. Talking is permitted, though each side tries to keep from revealing too much information about their tiles to the opposing team.
TOTAL (CUMULATIVE) SPREAD Over the course of many games the plus (+) or minus (-) spread for each game is added together. At the end of the tournament each player has a total spread for the event. TOURNAMENT CLOCK Often called a chess clock, it is actually two clocks housed in one case. Sanctioned tournament games are times using these clocks. Each player has 25 minutes to play the entire game. After making a play, the player starts his/her opponent's time by pressing one of the two buttons on the top of the clock. The game continues in this fashion until finished. Players are penalized 10 points per minute for every minute or fraction thereof used over the allotted 25.
TRADING TILES See "EXCHANGING TILES". TRIPLE-TRIPLE When a player makes a play that covers two Triple Word Squares. The bonus for covering two TWSs on one play: multiply by nine the sum of the value of the letters of the "Triple-Triple" word. The sum should include the extra values earned from any DLS covered that turn. TURNOVER Players are going for "turnover" when they play as many tiles as possible in order to draw as many new tiles as possible. By playing for turnover (usually using 5 or 6 tiles in one play), a player maximizes his/her chances for drawing the better tiles (In order from first to fifth they are: blank, S, E, X, Z). If you have played 60 tiles in a game, you had a 60% chance of drawing the good tiles. That's a 50% better chance than your opponent had. TWO(S)-TO-MAKE-THREES Two-letter words that will take a third letter placed either in front or back to form a three-letter word. Example: AN is a two-to-make-three because BAN, CAN, etc., as well as AND, ANT, and ANY, are words. The three-letter word, BAN, CAN, and ANT, and ANY, are also known as two-to-make-threes. WORD JUDGES Special workers designated to adjudicate players' challenges at clubs and tournaments.