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.
What is a tournament?
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.
Playing in tournaments
- be a NASPA member in good standing (US$15 for first-time players)
- be familiar with the tournament rules
- contact the director listed in the calendar to register for the event
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.
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.
Finding tournament results
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.
Scheduling a tournament
In order to have a tournament sanctioned (added to the calendar of upcoming scheduled events), you must:
- be a NASPA member in good standing (your membership must be current through the end of your planned event to submit tournament results)
- be certified as a tournament director or tournament coordinator
- contact the Tournament Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org to request sanction, in advance of the deadlines listed below. The Tournament Listing Request form may be used to submit information about your tournament for sanctioning. If your tournament will use the Collins (SOWPODS) lexicon, see the page on directing SOWPODS tournaments for the additional information required. Apprentice directors are required to copy their mentoring directors on sanctioning requests, to ensure that there will be adequate coverage at the tournament.
- ensure that a certified tournament director will be present throughout your event.
Right of First Refusal
With respect to tournaments scheduled for dated on or after January 1, 2014:
- Tournaments currently on the calendar will have first right of refusal to their traditional date (same weekend of the month, same holiday weekend, etc.).
- If more than one tournament within a conflicting radius has rights to the same date, the competing directors may each apply to the NASPA Tournament Committee (TC), which will determine which tournament may be held on the conflicting date (brief, but sufficiently detailed, applications are preferred). The TC will consider all factors it deems relevant, including without limitation:
- The history of the respective tournaments (how many years running, average attendance, etc.).
- Other dates traditionally available to the respective directors.
- How far in advance the respective requests are received (subject to Item 3 below).
- Directors who have previously held tournaments may request tournament dates up to 3 years into the future, but such tournaments are subject to being delisted if a director with rights to the same date also requests a tournament, and prevails in the TC application process. For that reason, directors are encouraged to communicate with other directors in their region with competing rights to a date, in order to coordinate scheduling.
- If a director wishes to secure a date, and other directors also have first right of refusal to that date, the director may elect to identify the other directors to the TC when requesting sanctioning. The TC will contact those directors specifically identified in the request, and provide them with a 30-day period in which to submit a competing request. If the other directors decline to request the date, or fail to respond within the 30-day period, their first right of refusal to the date will lapse.
- Tournaments not previously held can be scheduled no more than 10 months in advance. Tournaments that take more than a 2-year hiatus will be considered tournaments not previously scheduled for the purposes of this policy.
- Certain tournaments will be accorded special status, as determined from time to time by the NASPA Executive Committee, and may be scheduled without reference to this policy (currently including: NSC; CNSC; Can-Am; WSC Qualifier).
- The TC may remove a director’s first right of refusal if, in the judgment of the committee, such removal is in the best interests of tournament SCRABBLE, considering all relevant factors.
- The TC may grant other exceptions to this policy in exceptional circumstances.
Kinds of tournaments
We currently recognize four different kinds of rated tournaments:
- An open rated tournament (ORT) is open to anyone and is fully rated.
- A local club tournament (LCT) is open to anyone but one-third rated.
- A team challenge is restricted to members of specific clubs or residents of specific regions, and is fully rated.
- A championship is restricted to members of a specific club or residents of a specific region, and is fully rated.
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||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 June 1, 2013 through December 31, 2014, no other one-day tournaments within 100 on the same day as your event; no other multi-day within 200 miles. Consecutive one-day tournaments will be treated as multi-day tournaments for the purpose of this policy. The Advisory Board will review this change at its December 2014 meeting, and determine whether to revoke, retain, or modify it.|
|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 “100 miles” and “200 miles” in tournament distance calculations shall mean 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. 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.
Unrated Events and Newcomer Divisions
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 email@example.com 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.