Up to Scrabble® Tournament Rules
APSP Game Rules
January 1996 Edition
Table of Contents
These rules are essentially the same as those published in the 1996
APSP Members' Handbook, except that
I have modified it
slightly for HTML. The main such changes have been the removal of
numbered sub-sub-sections, and some of the numbered sub-sections, as
they are hard to do properly, and there isn't any need to
cross-reference them. I have also removed the update information which
used to occur after the introduction.
The main changes since 1991 are:
In devising these rules, care has been taken to cover all the
frequently occurring situations as comprehensively as possible. It
must be borne in mind, however, that it is not possible to anticipate
every situation. In such cases, it is up to the designated tournament
Director to exercise his discretion, taking into account the rules and
guiding principles as set out here, and the particular circumstances of
the case/situation in question. In all such cases the tournament
Director's decision shall be final and binding.
Section 2.1, 2.2, and 2.3: Added rules 2.1 and 2.2, and renumbered the
rest of the section. Added to the old rule 2.1 (now 2.3) the rule about
sets being in good condition. Later, amended rule 2.2 to reflect the
new reference works. Later, amended rule 2.3 to prefer tournament
Section 4.3 paragraph 2: Altered the rule about when to press the clock
when changing letters.
Section 4.7: Reworded to clarify the rule.
Section 4.9 paragraph 10: Added the rule.
Section 9 paragraph 3: Added the rule.
Section 10 paragraph 2: Added the rule.
Appendix Section 8: Added the rule.
For ease of reference these rules refer to the two players in a game
as Player A and Player B.
References to Director within these rules denotes the Tournament
Director or his duly appointed deputy.
These rules have been adopted by the APSP and will be the rules by
which all tournament games under the aegis of the APSP or qualifying
for APSP ratings shall be played.
All players are honour bound not to cheat.
It is the responsibility of every member, while playing, not
only to guard at all times against any action of his/her own which
might incur suspicion or misinterpretation, but also immediately
to draw to the attention of his/her opponents any such action on
their part. If there is persistent dubious conduct then the
Director should be called.
If any player is caught cheating he/she will immediately be
disqualified from taking part in the tournament. All games played by
that player thus far may be awarded to the player's opponents. The
player caught will receive an automatic indefinite ban from APSP
tournaments and have his/her membership revoked.
(See also Appendix re game etiquette.)
The basic games rules published by J.W. Spear (latest edition 1988)
will apply unless otherwise stated in these rules.
Words will be valid if they are contained in the latest accepted
version of Official Scrabble Words or in the corresponding
version of Chambers Dictionary for words which do not fall
within the scope of Official Scrabble Words. (These are
currently third edition of Official Scrabble Words for
words of root length nine letters or shorter and the 1993 edition of
Chambers Dictionary for longer words.)
It is the responsibility of both players to check that the set
contains the correct number and distribution of tiles. Under no
circumstances can corrections be made once the game has started. The
sets must be de luxe sets which have tiles which are in good condition
and of a uniform degree of wear. Where both are available, tournament
tiles are preferred over standard tiles. Any player has the right to
challenge the use of a set.
It is the responsibility of both players to agree the
setting of the chess clock to the specified time
limit, that the clocks are fully wound, and that the
clocks are working properly.
Reference is made to neutralizing the clock throughout this
document. This means depressing both clock buttons such that they are
balanced and neither player's clock is ticking.
Pre-prepared word lists are not permitted at the playing
table but players may prepare lists of tiles prior
to the game for the purpose of tile-tracking.
What is written on paper once the game has begun is up
to the player and there are no restrictions.
It is the duty of all competitors to be present at the announced time
of commencement for any given round.
If both players are absent at the start of a round then the Director
may start the clock and, when the first player arrives, assign him/her
the elapsed time by starting the clock of the second player. Upon
arrival the second player should neutralize the clock and accept the
full amount of elapsed time (i.e. that shown on the first player's
clock plus that shown on the second player's clock). Only then should
the players continue as described in 3.2 and
If one player is absent at the start of a round, his/her clock must be
started if instructed by the Director. When that player arrives the
clock should be neutralized. Only then should both players continue as
described in 3.2 and 3.3
Unless there is a system to predetermine who starts, the players draw
tiles to determine who starts play. The player who draws a tile
closest to the beginning of the alphabet, with the blank preceding an
A, starts the game.
Player B may start Player A's clock:
Tiles must be placed on the board to form the required
word. If any of the tiles are blanks the player must
state clearly the letter they represent.
Once Player A has computed the score, Player A should
announce it. The score may be computed aloud.
There is no restriction on the number of times a player may exchange
tiles during a game. However, there must be at least seven tiles
remaining in the bag regardless of the number of tiles being
once Player A finishes drawing all seven tiles
if Player A sees any tile face up
if Player A places any tile on the rack
To exchange tiles Player A must announce "Change" and the number of
tiles being exchanged, remove those tiles from the rack, press Player
B's clock, pick replacement tiles and return old tiles to the bag.
Passing is permitted at any time during the game. If each
player passes thrice in succession the game ends.
To pass, Player A announces "Pass" and starts Player B's clock.
(See also 4.5 Unplayable Tiles and
8 Ending the Game.)
If Player A is unable to play any tiles in the final
stages of the game then the procedure for a turn must
still be followed, i.e. announce "Pass" and start
Player B's clock. It must not be assumed that Player B
has the knowledge that Player A cannot play, even if it
is only the Q left on Player A's rack.
Once Player A has made a play and announced the score, Player A should
immediately press the button on Player A's side of the clock to end the
turn and thereby simultaneously start Player B's turn.
No change to the play may be made after the turn is ended, i.e.
opponent's clock started. However, any change may be made before the
clock is pressed even if Player A has announced the score and Player B
has called "Challenge".
It is each player's responsibility to press the clock at the end of
their turn. If Player A forgets to press the clock then Player B is
entitled to free use of Player A's time.
If the clocks have been neutralized due to a challenge, score query,
excess tiles being drawn, or to call the Director, then it is the
responsibility of the player whose turn was last completed to restart
the clock. The clock shall not be restarted after a successful
challenge until the player has taken his tiles off the board
Both players must keep score, i.e. the score for
each turn and the cumulative score. It is the
responsibility of both players to verify the
scores from time to time. Verification must
only take place at the end of a turn.
If at any time prior to signing the final scoresheet,
either player wishes to correct a score
for a move or a cumulative score then this is
allowed providing both players agree. If both
players do not agree the Director should be consulted
to determine the correct score for the
Once Player A has indicated the end of his/her turn by pressing the
clock, Player B may challenge the play by announcing "Challenge"
and neutralizing the clocks. Player B then legibly writes on the
provided slips of paper which word(s) are being challenged,
confirms them with Player A and calls for a "runner".
Once the challenge slip has been handed to the runner neither the
decision to challenge nor the word(s) challenged may be altered. That
is, the challenge cannot be withdrawn and no additional words can be
challenged for that turn.
It is too late for Player B to challenge Player A's play once Player
B has entered the score on the score sheet.
The entire score for the move must be written down; it is not necessary
to compute or write the cumulative score for this rule to take effect.
Also, if Player A begins to draw replacement tiles prior to
pressing the clock, Player B may alert Player A to this, at which point
Player A must press the clock, and Player B may challenge.
Time allowed for challenges -- once Player A has made a play Player B
may take any amount of time to consider or to declare "Challenge".
This is on Player B's time and Player A may not draw replacement
tiles until Player B has recorded the score.
(See also Appendix -- Conduct of Players.)
Where more than one word is challenged the adjudicator must only rule
the play acceptable or not acceptable, without any indication
towards the acceptability or non-acceptability of individual words.
If either player is dissatisfied with the adjudicator's decision on
the word(s) challenged it is permitted to ask for a recheck along
with a clarifying note. (Additional words can not be added to
the challenge slip at this point.) The adjudicator will then recheck
the word(s) and inform the players of the decision which will then
Other than for a recheck a challenge can only be resubmitted if the
original word(s) challenged do not correspond to the word(s)
actually on the board.
When a challenge has been made, control of the board remains with the
The bag must be held at shoulder level when tiles are being drawn
from it. The Director should be consulted if this is not possible
for any reason.
It is recommended that tiles be drawn from the bag one at a time to
ensure picking the correct number.
If Player A has picked more than the correct
number of tiles then the clocks should be neutralized
whereupon Player B can
insist that both Player A's retained tiles and replacement tiles are
placed face down together on the table whereupon Player B must turn
the surplus tile(s) face upwards and return them to the bag.
choose simply to return to the bag the surplus tile(s) from those
claimed by Player A to be the replacement tiles. Player B is
entitled to see the surplus tile(s) if Player A has seen them.
It is not permitted to neutralize the clock other that for the
purposes of agreeing the score, calling a challenge, enforcing the
rule on extra tiles, or calling the Director.
Position the tiles on the board, Exchange tiles, or Pass
Declare the score for the move
Start the opponent's clock
Record score (for move and cumulative)
Await opponent's confirmation of the move score
Replenish rack from letter bag
Tile-track (if desired)
If either player must leave the board temporarily they must do so
with the Director's permission and on their own time. Therefore, if
Player A leaves in the middle of the game and it is Player B's turn to
play, Player B may make a play and then start Player A's clock.
However, Player B should refrain from picking fresh tiles until Player
At any time the number of tiles left in the bag may be counted
externally (i.e. by feeling through the bag). If you wish to confirm
the number of tiles remaining by counting them in the bag this
should be done in your own time and with the opponent's consent.
Ifyour opponent does not consent then the tiles can only be
counted by a third party. The clock must be neutralized whilst
waiting for the third party but restarted when the third party
commences counting tiles.
Once the last move of a game has been played the player
whose turn it is next must acknowledge the end of the
game by recording the score and neutralizing the
clocks, or challenge the last word(s) played.
Other than a natural conclusion, the game is also ended
when each player passes thrice in succession. When the
game ends in this manner, each player deducts the total
value of their tiles from their scores.
Note that exchanging tiles does not count as a pass for
the purposes of this rule whereas a lost challenge
If either player exceeds the specified time limit, that
player subtracts ten points for each minute or fraction
thereof by which the time limit was exceeded. If the
players are unable to decide on the amount of extra
time that has elapsed then the Director must be called
to the table. The Director's decision will be final
and not subject to appeal.
(See also 3 Starting the Game re time penalties for
If in any game a player overruns the allotted time by 15 minutes the
game shall be forfeit by that player. The margin shall be the margin
when the 15 minutes is reached (after imposing time penalties) or 150
points, whichever is the greater.
Once the scores have been checked and the scoresheet
signed by the losing player, no changes can be made to
When APSP scoresheets are used, players must ensure that the winner's
and loser's names, player codes, and spread are correctly entered, and
the loser signs his name. It is the responsibility of the winner to
ensure that the score sheet is handed in before he leaves the playing
area. No changes may be made to the scoresheet once the subsequent
round has been played without the express permission of the Tournament
Conduct of Players
It is impossible to offer a comprehensive list of players'
actions that constitute a violation of the proper manner and
etiquette with which a game is played. However, there are
actions which are considered to be outside the range of
allowed activity, some of which are outlined below:
1. Unnecessary Conversation
Once games have commenced players should not talk to
their opponents beyond what is necessary to apply the
Players should not make comments about other games in
2. Announcing a Play
It is not acceptable to simply announce, "I think I'll
try this word..." and show your opponent your rack.
Tiles must be laid on the board and the score announced
as per the Game Rules.
3. Turning the Board
Turning the board round following a play is not considered
an essential part of the turn. It is the responsibility
of the player whose turn it is next to turn
the board if so desired.
If Player B is considering to challenge Player A then
decides not to challenge (by recording Player A's
score) then Player B should inform Player A of the
decision not to challenge.
If smoking is permitted at a tournament then normal
etiquette and courtesy should be exercised by the
smoker. Note that smoking is not allowed in the playing
or dining areas at APSP-organized tournaments.
6. When Games are Finished
After completion of the game players should leave the
room or remain silent so as not to disturb those still
7. Tile Tracking.
Tile tracking for your own move must be
done only after drawing fresh tiles so as not to introduce
a situation which delays your opponent from making
(See 5 Correct End of Turn Procedure with respect to
8. Prize money allocation.
Prize money, in APSP-organized tournaments, will be allocated such that
the fund for each division is proportional to the fee paid by the
players in each division.