Scrabble rules set to change

April 6th, 2010 - 6:14 pm ICT by IANS  

London, April 6 (IANS) Scrabble may no longer be the same, if its owners have their way. The rules of the mind-game that has gripped players across the globe are likely to be changed, a media report said.
With Mattel, owners of the game which has sold 150 million sets across the world, announcing sweeping changes in the traditional Scrabble, purists have accused the company of “tarting up” the board game.

Places, celebrities, and company names - “capitalised words” according to Scrabble experts - will be accepted from July, Daily Express reported.

The company is even considering allowing words to be spelt backwards, upwards and to be placed on the board without connecting to another word.

This has led Scrabble lovers, more accustomed to the mental rigours of defeating an opponent with a triple-letter word score, to label the moves an affront to the “proper rules”.

‘Purists’ are vowing to stick with the “tried and true” limits of the game that have stood since 1948.

“There is no way to check if a name or place name is correct and that allowing words to be placed without connecting to other letters would make the game too easy.”

Scrabble is almost like serious business for millions of Britons, so much so that teams from Scrabble leagues across the country took part in a four-day tournament over Easter, while “diehard competitors played for 27 hours without sleep during a non-stop contest running from midday Saturday until 3 p.m. Sunday,” the report said.

Meanwhile, Mauro Pratesi, chairman of the London Scrabble League, criticised Scrabble owner Mattel for introducing the new rules.

“They are just tarting up the game. I don’t think Scrabble people will be happy with these changes,” he said, adding that “capitalised words” would be unmanageable for serious players.

“How are you going to check if the name is a real word? We have a book of all the words that can be used and we have to be able to prove that it’s in the dictionary, that it is a real word,” he was quoted as saying.

Pratesi said traditional players would stick to the rules set by the game’s inventor, American architect Alfred Butts.

“If Mattel want to cash in on the game, it’s up to them but it won’t affect the Scrabble movement as a whole,” he said.

Meanwhile, a Mattel spokesperson said the changes would put a “new twist” on the classic game and encourage more younger players to get involved.

“The layout, the colours of the board, the rules and the game itself have all remained unchanged for over 60 years. These changes are the biggest news for Scrabble lovers in the history of the game and will provide a great new twist on the old formula.

“We believe that people who are already fans of the game will enjoy the changes and they will also enable younger players and families to get involved.”

Mattel has, however, assured traditional Scrabble lovers that they will still be able to buy the original version for people who “want to continue playing the old rules”.

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