About playing in our Scrabble Club

By John Fultz
Last modified on Thursday, September 16, 2010

Welcome to the home page for the Champaign SCRABBLE Club #590, an official club of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA). I’ve found myself repeating the same speech over and over to new members and guests as they come, so I decided to write it up.  First and foremost, welcome.  Our club is open to everybody who enjoys playing Scrabble, no matter age, ethnicity, skill level or any other criteria.   The introduction to this style of playing can seem daunting, but every member of this club has been there before, and you shouldn’t feel at all uncomfortable or intimidated.


The club meets every Thursday, excepting major holidays, at the Champaign Barnes & Noble, which is just north and east of the Neil St. exit from I-74.  The club meets from 6-9pm, and we try to start games roughly on the hour to accommodate people who might want to arrive late or leave early at 7 or 8pm.  The club typically meets on the south side of the bookstore near the craft and cookbooks.  Between Thanksgiving and New Year's, we make alternative meeting arrangements.  Keep an eye out here when that time approaches for those arrangements.

How games are played

Games are strictly 2 player.  We play with chess clocks set to 25 minutes per player.  This keeps the pace going so everybody can switch opponents about once an hour.  At the end of the game, players subtract 10 points from their score for each minute, rounded up, they’ve gone over their clock.  So, finishing 0:01 or 1:00 over the clock results in a 10 point deduction. To keep things moving, we’ll end the game immediately if either player goes 5 minutes over their clock.

Order of play

• Play your tiles
• If you played blank tiles, identify which letters they represent
• Call out your score
• Hit your clock (this starts your opponent’s time)
•Add up your running total score
• Draw tiles from the bag

Following this order of play is very important.  This order encourages several practices of good sportsmanship (some of which may not be obvious at first), and it reduces confusion for all.


Challenges are adjudicated by the club director or one of the more experienced members of the club.  You should not call a challenge before your opponent has hit their clock, and you may not call a challenge after your opponent has drawn tiles.  To challenge, neutralize the clock (so neither player’s clock is running) call “Challenge!” out aloud, and then announce to the Word Judge which words you are challenging.  If a play forms more than one word, you may challenge any or all of the words.  The Word Judge will rule the whole play as acceptable or unacceptable without commenting on the acceptability of individual words.  If you challenge unsuccessfully, you lose a turn; if you challenge successfully, your opponent loses his/her turn.


If you want to delay your opponent from drawing tiles while you determine whether to challenge, call “Hold”.  During a hold, your clock still runs.  A hold ends when you either accept the play, at which point your opponent draws tiles, or you challenge the play, at which point you neutralize the clock.

Enjoy yourself and talk to me if you have any concerns, or if you would like to join the club email list.

John Fultz, Club Director
Email: jfultz@wolfram.com   Phone: 217 351-7441