How to Play in Scrabble Tournaments

| February 7, 2013 | 0 Comments

scrabble tournaments

So you have spent some time learning the ropes and now you’re starting to feel like you might be ready for competitive Scrabble, huh?

Okay, fine. First question though: have you joined a local Scrabble club yet?

Because if you haven’t, then you will absolutely need to. You aren’t going to be ready to play in any sanctioned Scrabble tournaments if you have never played in a casual club setting before, trust me.

Not unless you’re some kind of genius or prodigy.

Find and Join a Local Scrabble Club

Not surprisingly, your first step in this mission is to find and join a local Scrabble club and begin attending local Scrabble tournaments. For your convenience, here is a list of all the Scrabble clubs throughout the United States. Happy hunting!

Personally, my first visit to the local Scrabble Club here in Portland, OR (Lake Oswego, to be exact) was a very eye-opening experience. I had only played online through the Internet Scrabble Club in the past, so this was my first exposure to a type of game closer to tournament style.

Playing Scrabble Online vs. In Person

A few things that I struggled with when I played in person included:

  • Adding points and keeping track of scores, which I was used to the computer automatically doing for me all the time. If you’re good with basic math, this shouldn’t be too hard but it does take a little getting used to. Especially when you want to compare two possible moves for your next play, and you have to figure out which will score you higher points in your head and without a computer. If nothing else, this definitely eats up more of your time.
  • Getting used to playing with timers. Seems silly now, but if you’re not used to having actual timers on during your game, then this will be a tough adjustment to make on your first visit. You’d think it would be pretty hard to overlook, but if you’re not used to hitting a timer each time you’re done making a move, then be prepared for several reminders from your more experienced opponent during your first few games.
  • Winning. Am I trying to be funny here? Sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true. The biggest challenge on my first visit to a Scrabble club was winning a game, which didn’t happen. Of course they make you feel better by reassuring you that NO ONE wins on their first meeting, but still…doesn’t keep your pride from hurting.

Bottom line, these players are probably much better than you realized and you will need to make a habit of attending local meetings if you plan on eventually moving up and playing competitively in sanctioned Scrabble tournaments.

NASPA Membership

429001460_8c08368fd9_zOnce you feel confident enough in your Scrabble skills to play in bigger tournaments, you will need to become a paid member of the North American Scrabble Player’s Association which will cost you $30 per year. They also offer a six month trial for new members for only $15. Please take note of the fact that almost tall sanctioned Scrabble tournaments will require you to be an active member of NASPA.

You can also find a calendar on their website which features all the upcoming tournaments, along with the entry fee  and prize amount for each one. Be prepared to shell out a few bucks in order to compete in sanctioned tournaments. Even your local club will probably have a very small fee each time you attend a meeting. The one I went to asked for $3 from each member, though they waived the fee for your first visit.

National Scrabble Tournaments

Each year, the best of the best gather in a different city to compete in the National Scrabble Tournament. Unless you happen to be among the tiny percentage of players who is really rather remarkable, be prepared to play in this type of tournament purely for the enjoyment you get from the game. Probably shouldn’t get your hopes up too much.

Entry fees are also higher for the nationals than other tournaments, ranging anywhere between $50 and $175. The prize, however, is a whopping $10,000!

On a final note, keep in mind that in order to play in a national tournament, you will be required to first play in at least one local, sanctioned tournament first so that you can establish your player rating and will help determine which division you should be placed in at nationals.

Best of luck!


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Category: Scrabble Tournaments

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