Tournament SCRABBLE® play in Canada and the United States is administered by NASPA and its Tournament Committee. If you have questions about tournaments that are not answered here, please email the committee.
At a tournament, NASPA members get together to play several rounds of SCRABBLE according to tournament rules under the supervision of a tournament director. The player who wins the most games usually wins a prize, and the results of the event are submitted to NASPA to update everyone’s rating. There are several tournaments each week somewhere in the United States and Canada, and most clubs hold at least one big tournament each year.
If it is your first time playing in a tournament, you should make sure your tournament director knows this. Ask the director how you should prepare for your tournament; and do not hesitate to ask the director for help, if at any time during your tournament you aren’t sure what to do.
A director may refuse entry to a player for "misconduct by a player that is not specifically defined in other sections of this code, but is clearly abusive, negative, or detrimental to the success of the club, tournament, NASPA, or organized SCRABBLE in general." (See Classification 1.g. of the Code of Conduct). If a player is refused entry, the player may appeal that decision by the director, as detailed in the Code of Conduct.
If you have special needs, our tournament directors will do their best to accommodate you, if they receive enough notice. In particular, almost all tournament venues are accessible to the physically handicapped, and players are entitled to use assistive equipment or sit at the most convenient table to accommodate a handicap.
Score sheets and other player forms are available for download from the Player Resources page.
If your tournament director is using correctly configured modern tournament software, you will probably know your new tournament rating before you leave at the end of your event. Your tournament director will then submit the results to the NASPA website, where the ratings and tournament results will be updated as soon as the rating officer reviews the results. (This can take anywhere from a few minutes to several hours.) Tournament statistics are copied regularly from our website to our partner site cross-tables.com on an hourly basis, and posted to our Twitter feed within minutes of being created.
Complete the Tournament Listing Request form to request sanctioning of your tournament.
In order to have a tournament sanctioned (added to the calendar of upcoming scheduled events), you must:
With respect to tournaments scheduled for dated on or after January 1, 2014:
We currently recognize four different kinds of rated tournaments:
The following table (excerpted from the Director’s Manual and expanded) describes the different kinds of tournaments in more detail.
|Open rated tournament (ORT)||Team challenges or championships (TCC)||Local club tournament (LCT)|
|Advance notice/ sanctioning||6 weeks with no exceptions (see note below)||10 days with no exceptions (see note below)|
|Tournament calendar listing||All rated events must be listed on NASPA calendar|
|Rating method||fully rated (except for tournaments with a cap on attendees of 10 players or less, which will be 1/3 rated, unless the tournament otherwise qualifies to be fully rated as a Team Challenge/Championship event).||1/3 rated|
|Frequency/ geographic restrictions||Multiday tournaments: no other multiday event occurring within two weekends and 200 miles of your proposed tournament; no other one-day event on the same day as one of your tournament days.||Must be sponsored by a NASPA-sanctioned club. No more than one event per club, per month.|
|One-day tournaments: Effective August 12, 2014, no other one-day tournament within 100 miles on the same day as your event (reduced to 50 miles if the other tournament has a cap on attendees of 30 players or less); no other multi-day within 200 miles. Consecutive one-day tournaments with no cap on attendees will be treated as multi-day tournaments for the purpose of this policy.|
|How many games?||At least 4 games||At least 3 games|
|How many players?||At least 4 players in each division, at least 2 rated players in each division|
|Membership requirements||All players must be current NASPA members|
|Player restrictions||None permitted||Entry restricted by club/region (for team challenge) or club/region/rating (for championship).||None permitted|
|Participation fee||$.50 per player per game|
|Examples||National SCRABBLE Championship, most tournaments||Portland-Seattle Interclub Challenge, Texas State Championship, Can-Am, Kingston Cup||One-day tournament that is created on short notice|
In the above, the phrases “50 miles”, “100 miles” and “200 miles” in tournament distance calculations shall mean 50 miles, 100 miles and 200 miles, respectively, driving distance from venue address to venue address, as measured by Google Maps using the default driving directions. The Tournament Committee may consider appeals for exception in the event that Google Maps is shown to be in error, and may select an alternative mileage calculation tool should Google Maps be deemed unreliable.
"Cap on attendees" refers to tournaments that limit the number of players who may enter (e.g., "Entry is restricted to the first 16 players who register"). The actual number of players who enter the tournament is not considered, only restrictions on the number of players who may play, due to the size of the venue or other reasons.
Note: In general, no exceptions will be made to advance notice guidelines. However, in extraordinary cases, the Executive Committee has the right to grant sanction to a tournament that does not meet the guidelines.
Generally, all rated games must be played to a 25-minute per side clock length. However, pursuant to an Advisory Board ruling, effective as of August 12, 2014, Directors may offer sanctioned tournaments that include early bird and/or late bird events with shorter clocks, subject to the following:
Many directors wish to have unrated Scrabble tournaments and/or newcomer divisions that run concurrently with the main event. The following information is provided to help directors identify whether or not such an event is permitted under NASPA guidelines.
The Tournament Committee will not sanction events that include mirror images of the proposed NASPA-sanctioned event, save only for NASPA sanction. In general, unrated or newcomer events should be of significantly shorter duration than the main event with which they run concurrently. These events are accorded special consideration because they are designed to build interest in competitive play for newcomers, and grow our ranks. After-hours unrated events, tag-team events, etc. are generally fine.
Because of the large number of sanctioned directors, and the creativity with which they approach crafting events to meet the wishes of their constituencies, it is difficult to define every type of event and declare each as either prohibited or allowed. For that reason, directors who plan to offer unrated events are encouraged to contact the Tournament Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions about the suitability of a particular event.
Directors should always include details about all Scrabble events (whether rated or unrated) to be run in conjunction with any event, when seeking sanction for the event.
If your event is being held in support of a charitable cause, please review our separate page about fundraising tournaments.
Web coverage typically consists of standings updates continuously throughout an event, commentary about the event’s highlights, photos and interactive games where you can follow along at the top board in real time.
Tournament sponsorship is permitted with the prior approval of the Tournament Committee. In pursuing sponsors, please remember that we are licensed users of a registered trademark for a board game which is primarily marketed to families, and that sponsors should be appropriate for that demographic.