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Scrabble Championship - The Ultimate Guide

Scrabble is an international game with innumerable players and tons of tournaments all over the globe. Scrabble championship receives alternating sponsorship from Hasbro and Mattel. Mind Sports International and MindSports Academy have also been involved in the Scrabble Championship sponsorship mix. Each country participating in the tournament is allocated seats for the championship. The national associations of individual countries select a team of players that will represent them. The better the team representing a country performs the more seats the country earns in the championship.

The Scrabble Championship was held after every two years on its international recognition in 1991 up to 2013. From 2013 to now, the Scrabble Championship is held every year.

Since a majority of Scrabble Championship players use the UK or US English, two dictionaries were used until 2007; the Official Scrabble Words (OSW) published in the UK and the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary (OSPD) published in the US.

Since 2007, British scrabble players and other 47 English scrabble playing countries uses the Collins Scrabble Words (CSW) and this is the only dictionary used in the championship. The dictionary was revised and updated in 2019 after which it received approval by the World English-Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA). In the criteria of choosing the team of players to represent a country, a local dictionary is used.

The US, Canada, and Thailand use NASPA Word List (NWL) dictionary. The NASPA Word List (NWL) has been the official word list reference for Scrabble play in the United States, Canada, and Thailand since March 1, 2019.

History of winners and related statistics

The Scrabble Championship is very diversified. This is evident in the variation of players who have won the tournaments so far. Although there are dominant countries that have proved to be unbeatable at this game, several countries and regions have secured top spots as seen in the winner's list below:

  • 1991- Peter Morris (United States)
  • 1993- Mark Nyman (England)
  • 1995- David Boys (Canada)
  • 1997- Joel Sherman (United States)
  • 1999- Joel Wapnick (Canada)
  • 2001- Brian Cappelletto (United States)
  • 2003- Panupol Sujjayakorn (Thailand)
  • 2005- Adam Logan (Canada)
  • 2007- Nigel Richards (New Zealand)
  • 2009- Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (Thailand)
  • 2011- Nigel Richards (New Zealand)
  • 2013- Nigel Richards (New Zealand)
  • 2014- Craig Beevers (England)
  • 2015- Wellington Jighere ( Nigeria)
  • 2016- Brett Smitheram (England)
  • 2017- David Eldar (Australia)
  • 2018- Nigel Richards (New Zealand)
  • 2019- Nigel Richards (New Zealand)

As seen from the list above, New Zealand leads other countries obviously due to the king of the Scrabble Championship, Nigel Richards, who has won 5 tournaments including those that he defended his title. Other dominant countries in this championship are Canada, England, and the United States. Every player in the above list is among the top-rated players in the representative countries. Also, most of these Scrabble Championship winners have more likely lost the other championships by a very small margin. In most cases, some of these winners turn up to be the runner-ups or second runner-ups.

The number of players participating in this championship has risen over time from 48 to 108. Luckily, as a way of supporting the players who failed to secure a place in their national team, Mind Sports International introduced in 2013 an opportunity for these players to qualify for 5 positions in the main tournament. It is in the same year that a four-way knockout stage was established for the top 4 finalists.

A quarter-final stage was introduced in 2014, meaning that the top 8 finalists would proceed to the knockout stages. Mind Sports International introduced other languages including French, Spanish, German, and Catalan in 2016. The Scrabble Championship has been renamed severally throughout the years, but this has not in any way affected the principles applied in the game. This is of course due to the change of the championship sponsors, which has also occurred severally.

How to apply for it Scrabble Championship

The application process for the global tournament is a factor of if your country is allocated seats in the championship. Since the world Scrabble championship is open to all countries, it sums up how your country responds to application invitations or how the country has been fairing in local tournaments. At a player level, you in most cases have to visit the organization running local tournaments in your country and fill the application form. A player must, however, be on the lookout not to be locked out by the set application dates.

Eligibility

The eligibility of players in the Scrabble Championship varies from country to country. Some factors used in the selection criteria that apply in almost all countries include:

  • A player must be a citizen and a permanent resident of the country.
  • A player must actively participate in the local tournaments held in the country and at least emerge among the top players.
  • The player must represent only the home country and not any other country.

NASPA Scrabble Player Eligibility

  • A player must be the U.S. or Canadian citizen or permanent resident.
  • A player must be a NASPA member in good standing.
  • A player must not have been suspended for more than twelve months for any NASPA Code of Conduct violation.
  • Preference will be given to players who meet one or more of the following criteria:
    • NASPA Master or NASPA Grandmaster
    • Winner of one of the following tournaments:
      • North American SCRABBLE Championship - NWL or Collins
      • Canadian National SCRABBLE Championship
      • North American School SCRABBLE Championship
  • A player must be at least 10 years old.

Fees

The application fee again depends on the strategies that have been set in place by your country.

In the US and Canada, NASPA offers different membership plans which are listed down below.

Regular Memberships

NASPA’s regular membership is valid for 1 year and will cost you $30 if you are above 18 years. There is an option to buy up to five years of membership plan at the time of purchase, the subsequent years cost $25 each. So you pay $30 for the first year and $25 for subsequent years.

If you are a minor, below 18 years, then this membership will cost you $15. A player can buy additional years of NASPA membership at the same rate as long as the player is below 18 years.

One Week Membership

One-week membership costs $19 and is targeted at players who play Scrabble once a year. This plan should be enough to play in a weekend tournament, including early bird and late bird events. Note, this plan has to be used immediately and cannot be saved for future plays.

Trial Memberships

NASPA’s Trial membership is a perfect choice for first-time tournament players. This membership is valid for six months only. You can convert trial membership to regular or full membership by paying an additional $15 anytime during your trial membership. Remember, you can buy a trial only once.

Vanity Memberships

NASPA Membership IDs are assigned sequentially. If a player wants to choose a specific, unassigned number then they can pay $50 for a one-year vanity membership.

Overseas Memberships

An overseas resident who is a member of their country’s scrabble association may play in NASPA tournaments without having to pay for a separate NASPA membership. Please check NASPA’s international agreement with your country here.

Life membership

NASPA started offering a lifetime membership in April 2012. Life membership costs $20 per year for up to 80 years. For example, if you are 40 years old, you have 40 years left before you turn 80, so your life membership will cost $800 (40 x $20 = $800). If a player is 90 years old then life membership costs just $20.

Scrabble Membership Fees in Other Countries

  • The Association of British Scrabble Players (ABSP) is the governing body for competitive SCRABBLE play in the United Kingdom. The ABSP offers membership for £6 for the 2021 membership year only.

  • The Scrabble Association of India (SAI) is the governing body for competitive SCRABBLE play in India and yearly membership costs 500 INR. The membership renewal fee is only 400 INR. There is an option for subscribing to Life Membership at 3000 INR.

Where can I apply for Scrabble Tournament?

As mentioned above, each country has a national association running scrabble local tournaments. Whether you are from the US, UK, or Canada, all you need to do is visit the offices of your country’s scrabble association and you will be guided on the application process.

Countries Playing Scrabble Tournament

There are more than 48 countries that take part in the competitive Scrabble tournament. The world Scrabble Championship is open to all countries. Countries such as the United States, England, New Zealand, and Canada have dominated the championship since it was established.

Prize Money and Recognition

The average prize money the winners in the list above can get ranges from $5000- $25000 depending on the tournament organizers and the location where the tournament is held. Nigel Richards is recognized as one of the best scrabble players for winning 5 championships since the tournaments began. He was especially recognized for winning last year's championship, which marked the game’s 70th anniversary. Also, Nigel Richards is recognized to be the only player who has won the championship in two consecutive years twice.

Conclusion

Scrabble is a tabletop game that needs consistency to be mastered. There are of course strategies and tips all over promising new players straight wins, but unless you have the practical tactics , Scrabble may never favor you. If you come to think about it, it is only through experience that proficient players like Nigel Richards have emerged at the top in multiple tournaments. If you are a newbie in the world of tabletop games, just apply for local tournaments in your country, practice with patience and one day you may find yourself going home with impressive prizes won in the world Scrabble championship.