How Scrabble Works

How to Play Scrabble

The winning board for the 2003 National School Scrabble Championship is shown on display in Boston.
The winning board for the 2003 National School Scrabble Championship is shown on display in Boston.
William B. Plowman/Getty Images

The object of Scrabble is to get the most points by creating words. You build these words by placing lettered tiles on a grid. Each tile is assigned a point value, and you amass points by trying to get the most points out of your word. Players build off of at least one tile in each other's words until no one can build any more words. The player with the highest score wins.

Anywhere from two to four people may play the game at one time, although tournament play is always one-on-one. The game consists of four basic pieces:

  • Board -- The board is a grid with a star in the middle, where game play starts, and bonus squares scattered around it.
  • Tiles -- The tiles are the pieces used in play. The game comes with 100 tiles, each with a different letter and point value assigned to it. Common letters, like E, have more tiles, but fewer points. Uncommon letters, like Q and Z, have only one tile each. Tiles range in point values from zero to 10. The two tiles that aren't worth any points are both blank, and they can be deemed as any letter in the alphabet when they're first laid down on the board. Although they're not worth anything, the ability to use them strategically can help you out when you're missing that one letter you need to build a word.
  • Letter Bag -- The letter bag holds all unused tiles. During game play, players draw tiles from this bag.
  • Rack -- Each player gets a rack for his or her tiles. The rack allows a player to prepare for the next move without anyone else seeing what tiles he or she has.

Games may also include a timer, in case the players would like to set a time limit on the length of a player's turn.

Players should also have a dictionary on hand for challenges. Players should agree on which dictionary to use, whether it's a standard dictionary or the Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary.

Now that you know the parts of the game, let's take a look at how to play it.