Beginners Guide to Tournament Scrabble


  • Joining an organization
  • Know the 2- and 3-letter words
  • Keeping score
  • Using a clock
  • Score as many points as possible in a game
  • Challenges
  • Tracking sheet

Joining an Organization

There are two Scrabble organizations in the United States that sponsor tournaments. NASPA, which costs $60 a year to join, and WGPO, which is free to  join.

You have to be a member of NASPA to participate in NASPA tournaments.

You don’t have to be a member of the WGPO to participate in WGPO-rated tournaments, but it’s a good idea.

The Cheyenne Scrabble Club sponsors tournaments rated by the WGPO.

Know the 2- and 3-letter words

Beginning Scrabble players will be placed in Division C. Typically, if you know all the playable 2- and 3-letter words and are a good anagrammer, you’ll do well.

Click here for a PDF of 2- and 3-letter words. This list is slightly outdated, it was compiled by an organization that no longer updates it, but there are only 4 2-letter and a handful of 3-letter words missing from it, so it’s a good starting place.

Cool Words to Know

The new 2-letter words are Da (Welsh for father), GI, (a karate uniform), PO (a toilet), and TE (another spelling of TI, a musical note).

Keeping Score

In tournament play, each player keeps their own score, and should verify it with their opponent after each turn. Sometimes mistakes do happen and it’s a lot easier to get back to the correct score if both people have been keeping track – and writing down each person’s word played as well as the score.

Using a Clock

In tournament Scrabble, each player has 25 minutes total to play the game. A clock is used to keep track of time. It’s a good idea to practice using a clock beforehand, if your club doesn’t use them. You can download a Clock app from GooglePlay  or the App Store. Whether it’s  a chess clock or a scrabble, simply set the time for 25 minutes and then practice.

Score as Much as You Can Per Game

Let’s say the top 3 finishes in Division C each have 5 wins and 3 losses. How is 1st, 2nd and 3rd place determined? By point spread.

Point spread is the cumulative amount by which one player has defeated, or lost to, all the rest of his or her opponents.

In the example above, lets say Player C has a point spread of 325. Player A has a point spread of 202. Player B has a point spread of 201.

Player C will take first place, Player A second, and Player B was beat out of 2nd place by 1 point.

For this reason, even if you’re losing a game by over a hundred points, the person beating you has to keep making high-scoring plays, and equally, you should continue to make as high-scoring plays as you can. This will help you down the road, when all the games are completed.

Never give up, always try to score the highest that you can in any game.


In tournament Scrabble, if you challenge someone’s word and it is correct, you lose a turn. If you are correct, the person who played the word has to take all the tiles off the board and loses a turn.

If you’re not sure if you want to challenge, say HOLD. Once your opponent picks up new tiles, you can no longer challenge.

Tracking Sheet

Each player is given a sheet to help them keep track of their opponents. On the sheet you record the win-loss record for each game, and the point spread. This sheet is typically for your information only.

There will be a place on the sheet to indicate who went first or second in any given game. This is important because it will determine who will go first or second in subsequent games.