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Scrabble to become ‘proper’ with ‘Scrabble Trickster’

Australian Flag Makers
War of words over Scrabble rule change
By Amy Simmons
Scrabble gurus are divided over a decision by Mattel to revamp the rule book and allow proper nouns to be used in the game.

In a separate version of the game to be released in England, the new rules will see names – words with once-forbidden capital letters – invading the board.

Some Scrabble enthusiasts say the move will be detrimental to young players, while others are not fussed, saying it is just a marketing ploy.

Scrabble Australia’s Queensland president Olga Visser is against the rule change. “While it’s really nice to encourage young people to play Scrabble, it certainly won’t be a happy thing for the game as a whole,” she said. “We want children to play Scrabble and enjoy the original version of it.”

Ms Visser says the introduction of proper nouns will cause arguments among players. “There’s going to be arguments because some kids will say ‘I know a rapper called Grobz’ and there won’t be anywhere to authenticate it,” she said. “Kids are just going to be able to put down any sequence of letters and say ‘Oh, there was a rapper in America who used that name’.”

She says Scrabble clubs and tournaments across Australia rely on the Collins dictionary to authenticate words, but that there will be no way of verifying proper nouns in the new version.  “It’s not going to benefit kids, not in the long run, because they’ll never be able to play Scrabble in a club or at a tournament,” she said.

Ms Visser says children can enjoy Scrabble in its traditional form.  She says she was almost beaten by a nine-year-old whiz kid at the national championships in Adelaide over Easter. “He’s only nine, playing proper Scrabble with adults and doing very well,” she said.

But Scrabble Australia’s ACT president Tim Reddan is not worried about the new game. “This particular version of Scrabble is just another one of the versions of Scrabble they’ve tried to bring out from time to time to boost Scrabble sales,” he said. “The makers of Scrabble are just trying to get more people to know the brand and to enjoy the game.”

He says the introduction of proper nouns is not that exciting. “If you play serious Scrabble you find that there are lots of names that you can already play,” he said. “Timothy, Anna and a few others, because they have meanings outside of their Christian name version.”

The new game, called Scrabble Trickster, will be released in England.

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