Scrabble Facts

After being laid off during the Great Depression in 1931, New York architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, decided to invent a word game as a means of distraction during the tough economic times and he called it Lexico. Initially there was no board, only 10 letters were used, and each player received points based on the length of the words.  He submitted the game to two manufacturers but it was rejected. He revised it to include a board but the number of tiles each player held was reduced from 10 to seven and points were added depending on the frequency of letters used after performing an analysis of letters from various sources including The New York Times. The new game was finally called ‘Criss-Crosswords’ but was again rejected and, with the start of WWII, he shelved the project. In 1948, Butts handed over production of the game to James Brunot, who was one of the first purchasers of Criss-Crossword, and received a royalty on the sales. He and Brunot made some changes to the board and points systems and Brunot changed the name to “Scrabble” (which means to scratch frantically).

The game went into production in 1949 but sales were slow until 1952 when they went from 2,251 to 37,000. This increase was because the chairman of Macy played the game when on holiday and decided to market it in the store and there were 6,000 sales a week in 1953.  The game began to be sold globally and reached Australia in 1953. The rights were sold to various companies and, to date, more than 100 million copies of the games have been sold around the world in 29 languages. The first championship games were held in London in 1991 and in 1993 in New York.

Scrabble contains 100 letter tiles in the following distribution:

0 points. 2 blank tiles
1 point. E x12, A x9, I x9, O x8, N x6, R x6, T x6, L x4, S x4, U x4
2 points. D x4, G x3
3 points. B x2, C x2, M x2, P x2
4 points. F x2, H x2, V x2, W x2, Y x2
5 points. K x1
8 points. J x1, X x1
10 points. Q x1, Z x1
This distribution of letters has not changed since Alfred Butts invented the game in 1938. The Official Scrabble Player Dictionary and the Collins Scrabble Checker are used to check if a word is allowed.

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