When Is a Game of Scrabble Over?

A scrabble game

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Scrabble is the most popular word game ever published. It was developed in 1933, designed to uplift spirits following the Great Depression. The official rules of the board game are provided on the company's website as well as in the literature sold with each game. Despite published rules, there is some disagreement on how to score the end of the game.

To win the game, you want to score as many points as possible. Each player pulls from a pool of 100 random letter tiles, creating words, and aligning them on a grid-like game board. When one player has used all of their tiles and there are no more tiles left to draw, the game ends. Word scores and a player's total points ultimately determine the winner.

Interestingly, while the rules surrounding the end of a Scrabble game seem to be universally accepted, the proper method of scoring—which determines the winner of the game—depends on which set of rules you follow. The game manufacturer's scoring rules (Hasbro) differ from those of the North American Scrabble Players Association, the host of the annual National Scrabble Championship and the world's leading organization of Scrabble enthusiasts.

End of the Game

According to the officially published rules of the Scrabble game, the game ends only when all of the letters from the letter bag have been drawn, and one of two things happens: a player uses all of their tiles, or all possible plays have been made on the board. In the case of the latter, there is no remaining space on the board for creating new words, or no words can be created with the remaining letters in play. Scoring begins at the end of the game to determine the winner.

Scrabble Game Scoring

The player who has no tiles at the end of the game earns the sum of the points on all of the tiles remaining on all of his opponents' racks. The other players subtract from their point total the sum of the points on the tiles remaining on their racks.

If the game ends because all possible plays have been made, rather than a player using up all of their tiles, each player subtracts the sum of the points on all of the tiles remaining in his or her rack. One player's score is not added to another's.

Tournament Scoring

According to the North American Scrabble Players Association tournament and club play, the player who ends the game earns double the points on all of the tiles remaining on all of his or her opponents' racks. The other players subtract nothing from their totals.

Tile Values

Each letter tile has a number next to it that indicates how many points it is worth. Common letters, such as vowels, are worth 1 point, while rare letters such as "Q", "X", and "Z" are worth 8 to 10 points. Blank tiles are worth zero points.