The Tel Aviv Scrabble® Club

Club Director: Evan Cohen

Rules and Regulations



All club and tournament play is regulated by rules. Although rules may vary from one club to the next, the basic objective is the same - rules organise the fun. Scrabble is first and foremost a social game, and the rules are meant to ensure pleasurable play while doing away with arguments or disagreements. While some of the rules may seem a little superfluous, experience has shown them all to create a better atmosphere while increasing the confidence and trust among players

The rules governing play in the Tel Aviv Scrabble Club and in most club/tournament play in Israel are based on WESPA rules (here). In club play, the rules are relaxed to some extent. In tournament play, we're a little stricter. The rules are based on the international rules used in the World Scrabble Championships and are similar to the official rules found in any Scrabble-playing country. If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact Evan.



1.  Punctuality (inapplicable in club play): Players must arrive on time. All players more than 10 minutes late will forfeit their games (LOSS minus 100 points), and their opponents will be awarded a WIN plus 100 points.

2.  Choosing the Scrabble Set: Players may, of course, use their own, personal sets although the club/tournament director will supply sets if necessary. If there is a disagreement as to which set to use, then the better board (turntable is better than folding) is used and the smoother tiles (e.g. Protiles) are used. If the boards/tiles “tie” in their suitability to play, then the player going second makes the choice. It is the players’ responsibility to verify that the set of tiles is complete before the game.

3.  Time Limit: Players have 25 minutes each on their clocks. If no clock is being used, games will last 50 minutes (see also “Overtime”).

4.  Starting Play: If the starter is not determined by the tournament director, then the player who has gone first fewer times, starts the game. If both players have the same number of “firsts” (as is the case in the first game), then each player draws a tile (see “Tile Drawing”). The player drawing the tile closest to “A” goes first. In the event of a tie, another tile is drawn.

5.  Scoring: Both players are required to keep score. Scores must be given to the director upon the completion of each game. It is the winner's responsiblity to do so. 

6.  Tile Drawing: When drawing tiles, the tile bag must be held at eye-level in order to prevent tiles from dropping out and to prevent players from inadvertently seeing the contents of the bag. Please bring this rule to your opponent’s attention if s/he forgets. At no point should the tile bag be lowered below the table, placed on the lap etc. If a player cannot raise the bag, s/he may look away from the bag while drawing tiles instead. Furthermore, all 7 of a player’s tiles should be visible to the opponent at all times (see also: Overdrawing). Players should not conceal tiles in their hands, place tiles out of their opponent’s sight or keep their racks covered by the board or their hand.

7.  Finishing a Move: The move is over when the player presses his/her clock. Once the clock has been pressed, no changes may be made to the move, even if an error of some sort was committed. After pressing one's clock, the player must record the score on his/her score sheet and only then replenish his/her rack to 7 tiles. Tile tracking can be done only after replenishing one's rack. If a clock is not being used, then announcing one's score constitutes the end of a move.

8.  Changing Tiles: If there are no fewer than 7 tiles in the bag, a player may decide to change tiles INSTEAD of playing a word. In this case, s/he announces “Changing (number of tiles)”, removes the tiles (“old tiles”) s/he wishes to change from his/her rack, placing them on the table, draws new tiles to replace the old tiles and then returns the old tiles to the tile bag.

9.  Passing: A player may decide to pass INSTEAD of playing a word. In this case, s/he announces “Pass” and misses a turn.

10.  Ending a Game: When no tiles remain in the bag and one of the players has succeeded in playing all remaining tiles on his/her rack, the game is over. The player finishing his/her tiles first then doubles the points left on his opponent’s rack and adds them to his/her own. No subtraction of points is carried out.

11.  Challenges: If a player is unfamiliar with one or more of the words his/her opponent has played, s/he may challenge. First and foremost, do not challenge or indicate your wish to challenge before your opponent has completed his/her move pressing his/her clock. Up until the moment the move has been completed, a player may withdraw or change his/her play. Once your opponent has completed his/her move, you may challenge by saying “Challenge”. The player must call “Challenge” before his/her opponent has drawn tiles. If a player wishes to consider whether to challenge or not, s/he must call “Hold” before his/her opponent has drawn tiles. Then, if s/he wishes to challenge, s/he must call “Challenge”. An adjudicator will check the challenge, unless a computer is available for self-adjudictation. A player may challenge as many words of the play as s/he wishes. The adjudicator’s decision will merely state that the move, as a whole, was either acceptable or not. No further information (e.g. What does it mean? Which word was incorrect?) will be given. If a play is deemed “unacceptable”, the offending player removes the word and loses his/her turn. If a play is deemed “acceptable”, the player gets an additional 5 points. There is no turn loss for challenging acceptable words. If a player disagrees with the challenge’s acceptability, then s/he may ask for a recheck. If there is still a disagreement after the recheck, the director will personally check the challenge. The director’s decision is final. Please do not discuss the words (their acceptability, their meaning etc.) with your opponent.

12.  Overdrawing: If a player draws more tiles the s/he should have drawn, s/he is penalized in one of the following manners: If no new tiles have touched a player's rack, then the opponent takes the number of excess tiles +2 from the new tiles, looks at the tiles, returns one to the tile bag and gives the remaining tiles to the player. If at least one new tile has touched a player's rack, then the opponent takes the number of excess tiles +2 from all the tiles, looks at the tiles, and returns one tile to the tile bag and gives the remaining tiles to the player.

13.  Overtime: This applies when no clock is being used. If there are 5 or fewer more minutes to the game, each move may take no longer than 2 minutes. If a game has not been finished after 50 minutes and there are no tiles remaining in the bag, the game continues as usual with one difference. The players will have 1 minute per move. The player’s opponent will be responsible for timing. If a game has not been finished after 50 minutes and there are tiles left in the bag, the game is terminated immediately, regardless of who played first or has had more turns. If a player has started placing his/her word on the board, s/he may complete the move. The players must replenish their racks (7 tiles each) and subtract the total number of points on their racks from their score. 

14.  Clocks: The use of clocks is determined by the club/tournament director. Generally speaking, use clocks, unless none are available. Clock Rules will subsequently apply (see below).

15.  Aids: Players must record the score during play. Players may score using another method other than writing (e.g. “pegs” or a book, provided the book is not in English) if they so wish. Anything may be written down during play. No lists, notes, dictionaries etc. may be used during play. Personal tracking sheets (i.e. sheets recording tiles placed on the board) are allowed.

16.  Violation of rules: Players deliberately and/or repeatedly violating rules may be penalized by the director and may even forfeit the game.

17.  Consultation with third party: If there are ANY disagreements regarding ANY issue concerning play, please consult the director. The directors decision will be final.


Word Source

To avoid arguments as to the acceptability of a word, Scrabble players have come up with an official book. Anything found in the book is deemed acceptable. Anything not found in the book is deemed unacceptable. 

The Collins Scrabble Dictionary (the internationally accepted Official Scrabble dictionary, a.k.a. CSW or SOWPODS) is the word source used for all words. This source is based on several dictionaries of the English language (British, American and other).


How to make a play
1.  The player going first draws 7 tiles. The opponent starts the player's clock as soon as the first tile has left the bag. The player going second draws 7 tiles.

2.  The starter plays his/her word. The starter then announces the score for his/her move and presses the clock (if the game is being played without a clock, announcing the score constitutes the end of the move). The move is now considered completed and no changes may be made.

3.  The move may now be challenged if a player so wishes. If a player has recorded the score for his opponent's move, the move may no longer be challenged. Otherwise, a player may challenge up until the moment his/her opponent has drawn tiles. If a player wishes to consider whether to challenge or not, s/he must indicate this to his/her opponent by saying “Hold” or by some other unambiguous word/gesture. The opponent may not replenish his/her rack until the player decides on whether or not to challenge.

4.  The starter records his/her score on the score sheet and proceeds to draw tiles. By recording one’s score before drawing tiles, one allows one’s opponent a brief moment in which to consider whether to challenge or not. Therefore, kindly record your score before drawing tiles. If one wishes to tile-track, one should do so so after having drawn tiles.


Clock Rules
1.  Choosing the Clock: If there is a disagreement as to which clock to use, then the more accurate clock is used. If the clocks “tie” in their suitability to play, then the player going second makes the choice.

2.  Time Limit: Games will be played with chess-clocks set at 25 minutes per player.

3.  Finishing a move: The move is over when the player has pressed his/her clock. Once the clock has been pressed, no changes may be made to the move, even if an error of some sort was committed. After pressing the clock, the player must record the score on his/her score sheet and only then replenish his/her rack to 7 tiles. Players must announce their score before pressing the clock. If the player neglects to announce his/her score before pressing the clock, the opponent may immediately restart the player's clock until the score has been announced. The move is considered over as soon as the clock has been pressed. Please note, it is against the rules to press the clock before announcing the score. If a player repeatedly does so - regardless of the amount of time left on the clock - s/he may be penalized. If a player neglects to press the clock yet indicates that s/he has completed his/her move by recording the score and reaching for the tile bag, the move is considered over and the opponent may hold or challenge the player at this point.

4.  Challenges: The opponent may only challenge (see “Challenges”) before the player has replenished his rack. The clock is neutralized when a player wishes to challenge and calls “challenge”. Following the final decision regarding the challenge, the clock is restarted. A player may call “hold” in order to consider whether to challenge or not. In this case, the clock is not stopped and the player considering the challenge does so on his/her own time. Players may hold their opponent indefinitely.

5.  Neutralizing Clock: If either opponent wishes to summon the director or if there is a disagreement as to the score for a given move and/or the cumulative score, the players may neutralize the clock until the problem has been resolved.

6.  Overtime: Players lose 10 points per minute (or part thereof) of overtime.