Results-Based Accountability (RBA) and Outcomes-Based Accountability (OBA)

Scrabble Ideas

1. "Chess Scrabble"  How to remove the element of luck from Scrabble and make it more like Chess: Scrabble is a great game, truly one of the greatest ever invented. But it has always had one flaw. The luck of the draw in letters means the better player does not always win. There are several ways to adjust Scrabble rules and scoring to address this. But only with the advent of the new SuperScrabble board (21 by 21 squares with 200 letters) can we now create a version of the game that completely eliminates luck. How is this possible? Two simple rule changes transform the game:

Rule 1: In a two player game, each player starts with an identical set of 100 letters, all face up.

Rule 2: Each player picks any seven letters for the first turn; and on each subsequent turn, replaces used letters with any of the remaining face up letters.

Everything else about the game remains the same. With these simple but powerful changes, the game becomes one where it is now possible to ask, "What is the best opening move?" "And given an opening move, what is the best response?" In other words, Scrabble can begin to build a library of openings, just like Chess. The winner will always be the one with the greatest skill, and never the one with the best luck.

Super Scrabble


Click here to see a picture of the new SuperScrabble board, at the beginning of a game between me and my sister Janet. We are playing on a unique website which every Scrabble lover should know about: You can join for only a small annual fee and play this game with anyone in the world. But only with the live board game can you now set up the Chess version of Scrabble. Please write to me (Mark: [email protected]) and let me know if you play the Chess version of Scrabble and how it works out. Eventually we will get the attention of the Scrabble world and a new generation of Scrabble records can begin.....



2. Conversion Ratio Scoring: Here's another way to even out (but not completely eliminate) the element of luck. Scrabble can be seen as a game where individual tile letter values are converted into scores. The conversion ratio is the rate at which tile letter values become scores. For example, if you make the word "apples" the Scrabble tiles are worth 10 points (a1,p3,p3,l1,e1,s1). If this is placed on a double word score and connects (via the S) to a word worth 6 points, the total score (with the S counting twice) would be 27. In other words, 27 points were created with tiles worth 10 points, or a 2.7 conversion ratio. A good conversion ratio is typically 3.5 and better. Keep track of the value of the tiles you use in the game. At the end of the game divide your final score by the value of the tiles used, and this is your conversion ratio. The player with the highest conversion ratio wins.

3. Pick one more letter than needed and put one back: Say you've just made a 4 letter word. Go to the bag and pick 5 letters. Then return any one of the 5 just picked. (Variation: allow return of the extra letter from those already on the rack.) This removes some of the luck from Scrabble and makes it easier to "manage" your letters. Seven letter words become somewhat more common and scores go up. 

4. Make "Chess" Scrabble more like Go: This is another novel idea that hasn't yet been tried to my knowledge. But take the Chess version (or really any version) of Scrabble with these rule changes:

a. Place your word anywhere on the board.....however,
b. Your word's score only counts if it is eventually connected to the opening center tile.

This version opens up the possibility of trying to block some of your opponents words from counting.

5. Replace the blanks: This is just an old family rule we've used for years. On any turn, you may trade a letter in your rack for a blank representing the same letter on the board. You may only do this if you can use the new blank in your next turn. This keeps the blanks in circulation.

6. Nonsense Scrabble: This is one of the most fun forms of Scrabble. In this game, you can literally make any word you like providing you can offer a definition. Rather than keep score, simply keep a list of the words and their definitions. Some are truly memorable. My favorite so far is my mother (Serene Friedman's) word "Troopela" which is " a little troop of Jewish boyscouts."

7. There are countless other "family rules" and game variations in Scrabble..... share them and we'll post some of them here...


- Mark

[email protected]