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Revision as of 13:46, 20 December 2018 by Poslfit (talk | contribs) (Standard Board Variants: Added unplayed Scrabble)
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This is a non-exhaustive list of variant rules for playing with SCRABBLE equipment, suitable for after-hours fun at NASPA tournaments.

No-Board Variants


Place all tiles facedown, then take turns flipping over single tiles into a pool. If you can combine tiles to make a word of some minimum length (handicap according to skill), call it out to claim it. You can also add a tile to your own word or someone else's, rearrange letters to make a longer word.

You can score as you go using software that counts the number of new di-grams you make, at the end by summing the squares of the lengths of the words that you end up with, or just play for fun.


If you have a set of tiles but no board, you can try playing the regular game, but with no bonus squares. Reduce the bingo bonus to 30 points to avoid making the game completely bingo-oriented. Make sure you have a lot of space - the playing area can increase beyond the usual 15x15.

Fry Your Brain

Take turns drawing a tile and adding it to a faceup pool. For scoring purposes, let's say there are now N tiles in the pool. After you draw, you have 30 seconds to name a word that includes all the faceup tiles and is not a variation on a word previously named this round. For example, if the tiles are AJQ, you might name QAJAQ. If you fail, or if the word you named is a phoney, then everyone else has 30 seconds to write down such a word. If no one manages to write down an acceptable word, the person who played before you (and who declared the most recent acceptable word) scores the number of tiles in the pool on their turn: N-1. If someone records an acceptable word, then the one with the shortest word scores N; in the case of a tie, all players score N. The starting tile drawer rotates one seat to the left, and play continues until a designated total score is attained.

Invisible Board

If you think you know the board layout but don't actually have a board, see if you can keep score in a regular game played on an empty table. Use cribbage-like muggins scoring for a bigger challenge.

Standard Board Variants


The letters in a word do not have to go in the order they are in in the dictionary.


Very popular in French: the director draws one rack of tiles for all players, players play solitaire games scoring the highest-scoring play that they can find individually, but placing the highest-scoring play announced by the director on their boards.

If Only

If you can make a 40-point play by doing so, you can flip over a tile and use it as a blank. If you subsequently have a tile that matches the declared value of a fake blank, you can swap one before making your play.


A cross between Clabbers and If Only, with a 50-point fake blank minimum.


There are many different rules for Speed play. One annual tournament in Toronto features nonplaying scorekeepers, win/loss scoring, three minutes of free time per player, one minute of overtime at one point penalty per second, and permitting the trailing opponent of a player who has run out of time to keep making challengeable plays.

Tag Team

A popular after-hours activity at the National SCRABBLE Championship, two-player teams play with one rack per player, and each player on one team getting a play before the other team's players get theirs.

Taxes Hold Me

A cross with Texas Hold 'Em. Each player is dealt two tiles, then bids penalty points as five communal tiles are flipped Hold 'Em style. In a showdown, players declare the highest-scoring play that they can make, and the highest one wins, is scored for the winner (minus penalties), and placed on the board.

Unplayed Scrabble

(Invented in Toronto in 2018) At the end of a regular game of Scrabble, place unplayed tiles back into the bag. Then, beginning with the player who would have played next had the game not ended, take turns removing tiles from the board and putting them back in the bag. You must remove at least one tile, and all tiles you remove must come from one word; you may remove an entire word. When you remove some but not all tiles from one or more words, the remaining tiles on the board in those words spell what are called “new words”. If any new word is unacceptable, score zero for your turn; otherwise, score the sum of the face values of the tiles in all the new words.

Altered Board Variants

Toroidal Board

Words can wrap around the board's sides, horizontally or vertically.