The Trouble with Modern Scrabble

People are saying that the game of scrabble has been corrupted and asking why this situation has occurred and when the relevant scrabble authorities will look at the problems causing arguments and upset every minute across the globe.


verb (used with object)
1.         to scratch or scrape, as with the claws or hands.
2.         to grapple or struggle with or as if with the claws or hands.
3.         to scrawl; scribble…..verb (used without object):
4.         to scratch or dig frantically with the hands; claw (often fol. by at):
scrabbling at a locked door to escape the flames.
5.         to jostle or struggle for possession of something; grab or collect
something in a disorderly way; scramble.

6.         a scratching or scraping, as with the claws or hands.
7.         a scrawled or scribbled writing.

8.         a disorderly struggle for possession of something; scramble.

After the fumble, there was a scrabble for the football.

1530–40; < D schrabbelen to scratch, freq. of schrabben to scrape

History (wikipedia)

In 1938, architect Alfred Mosher Butts created the game as a variation on an earlier word game he invented called Lexiko. The two games had the same set of letter tiles, whose distributions and point values Butts worked out meticulously performing a frequency analysis of letters from various sources including The New York Times. The new game, which he called “Criss-Crosswords,” added the 15-by-15 game board and the crossword-style game play. He manufactured a few sets himself, but was not successful in selling the game to any major game manufacturers of the day.[5]

In 1948, James Brunot,[6] a resident of Newtown, Connecticut — and one of the few owners of the original Criss-Crosswords game — bought the rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty on every unit sold. Though he left most of the game (including the distribution of letters) unchanged, Brunot slightly rearranged the “premium” squares of the board and simplified the rules; he also changed the name of the game to “Scrabble,” a real word which means “to scratch frantically.” In 1949, Brunot and his family made sets in a converted former schoolhouse in Dodgington, a section of Newtown. They made 2,400 sets that year, but lost money.[7] According to legend, Scrabble’s big break came in 1952 when Jack Strauss, president of Macy’s, played the game on vacation. Upon returning from vacation, he was surprised to find that his store did not carry the game. He placed a large order and within a year, “everyone had to have one.”[8] In 1952, unable to meet demand himself, Brunot sold manufacturing rights to Long Island-based Selchow and Righter (one of the manufacturers who, like Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley Company, had previously rejected the game). Selchow & Righter bought the trademark to the game in 1972[9] JW Spears began selling the game in Australia and the UK on January 19, 1955. The company is now a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc.[5] In 1986, Selchow and Righter sold the game to Coleco, who soon after went bankrupt. The company’s assets, including Scrabble and Parchesi were purchased by Hasbro.[9]

In 1984, Scrabble was turned into a daytime game show on NBC. Scrabble ran from July 1984 to March 1990, with a second run from January to June 1993. The show was hosted by Chuck Woolery.

So what is the controversy?

If you go to the ‘official’ website

And enter the letters ‘ZED’ and surprisingly the computer returns ‘allowed’….if you dont believe me here it is:


While obviously this was never the intention of Alfred Butts the changes in the official rules seem to allow this, no doubt causing arguments constantly across the globe and for what reason? ZED and the likes of it clearly are not words but possibly allowed to increase the possible word score but at what expense to the English language.

While the world argues bitterly about Climate Change and such I have seen no media coverage of this outrageous situation and an eerie silence on the issue from the manufacturers and international scrabble associations that have allowed the rot to set in this classic game.

Every word counts indeed!