For some, Scrabble gets its props

There are three givens in life: Death, taxes, and no proper nouns in Scrabble. Listen up – there’s a change a comin’ for some.

“Proper nouns.” If you’re a Scrabble lover – hardcore or casual, you’re probably screaming blasphemy or shaking your head respectively. Relax, it’s not all bad. An option has been presented, not a replacement.

changing traditions, Scrabble trickster game, Scrabble updates, rules of the game

Hasbro controls the rights to Scrabble in the US and Canada. Mattel owns the rights everywhere else. Reports confirm that Mattel will release a completely new UK version of the game in July called Scrabble Trickster. Anything goes – including the use of proper nouns, spelling words backwards, and freestanding placements.

Why? Simple – the bottom line. Recharge the brand and appeal to a new generation of gamers who are immersed in and obsessed with popular culture.

Purists – fear not. Plans are not in place to sell this version in the US at this time, and the original version is still available in the UK and elsewhere.

Look at it this way. The Brits will get a lot more mileage out of certain troublesome tiles. They can now use:

  • Q geography and companies ~ Quebec, Qatar, Iraq, Quant, Qantas, Compaq (some even without a “U”)
  • X games and comics ~ XBox, XCom, XMen, Lex
  • Z rappers and retail ~ Jay-Z, AZ, Zabars, Zappos

Scrabble History Timeline

  • 1938: Game invented by New York architect Alfred Butts
  • 1948: Entrepreneur James Brunot bought the rights to the board game and trademarked the name as Scrabble.
  • 1952: Brunot sold manufacturing rights to Selchow and Righter.
  • 1972: Selchow and Righter acquired trademark rights.
  • 1986: Rights acquired by Hasbro.

Although various special editions of Scrabble have been created such as a 3-D version and a children’s version, the basic Scrabble game and its rules have been essentially unchanged for 62 years.

Its time has come.

Scrabble frequency chart, letter frequency calculations

Scrabble’s frequency analysis by Alfred Butts. Butts tabulated the frequency of letters in words of various lengths. This analysis was used to design Scrabble.
Images: Top © 2010 Janet Giampietro. Bottom resides in the public domain. It was published in the US between 1923 and 1977, inclusive, without a copyright notice.

3 Responses to “For some, Scrabble gets its props”

  1. adrian z Says:

    I’m a purist, I used to belong to a Scrabble club — leave the new game overseas. Please. The game should be challenging.

    No proper names or anything else they propose.


  2. lg Says:

    Frankly, as an occasional purist, I’m pleased that the original Scrabble is being retained and that the new version is not here (yet). Couldn’t agree more that the game should be challenging. On the other hand, a part of me is ecstatic that people can still spell, can recognize a proper noun and want to play the tile-inspired crossword-puzzle game.

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