1.1.All players are honour bound not to cheat.

1.2.It is the responsibility of every player, while playing, not only to guard at all times against any personal action that might incur suspicion or misinterpretation, but also immediately to draw to the attention of opponents any such action on their part. If there is persistent dubious conduct then the Tournament Director (TD) should be called.

1.3.Any player caught cheating will immediately be disqualified from taking part in the tournament. All games played by that player thus far may be awarded to the player’s opponents. The conduct of any player caught cheating will be reported to their National Association together with details of the action being taken by WESPA regarding the player in future tournaments.

1.4.All decisions of the TD on disputes or clarification of rules are final.


2.1.Basic rules – The basic game rules provided by the commercial game publisher will apply unless otherwise stated in these rules.

2.2.The Dictionary – The official dictionary or word list is the current one endorsed by WESPA in consultation with the WESPA Dictionary Committee.

2.3.The Scrabble Set – It is the responsibility of both players to check that the set contains the correct number (100) and distribution of tiles. Under no circumstances can corrections be made once the game has started. Boards used should be rigid, where available having indentations to prevent the sliding of tiles, and should have a playing grid of around 33 × 35 cm. Where players have a choice of boards the order of precedence is:

2.3.1.Circular boards which revolve within their own area.

2.3.2.Square or rectangular revolving boards.

2.3.3.Fold-up boards with indentations.

All organisers are encouraged to arrange for tables capable of accommodating round boards. They must allow use of round boards if available. The above guidelines may be overridden because of local conditions such as availability of boards or sufficiently large tables. In the event of a dispute on the choice of boards, the matter should be referred to the TD. The boards should be in an acceptable state of repair.

Tournament tiles (i.e. tiles with a smooth letter face) should be used at all times. Tiles without a smooth letter face are acceptable only if permitted by the TD. It is permissible to have identification marks on the backs of tiles providing these are uniform for the complete set of tiles. Tiles and bags should not be below an acceptable standard in terms of wear, cleanliness and hygiene.

2.4.The Timer – Where players have a choice of timing devices the order of precedence is:

2.4.1.Digital count-down timer which counts down from 25 minutes and displays overtime in minutes and seconds (*see note below). The calculation of overtime is operated in account-up fashion.

2.4.2.Non-standard digital count-down timer (e.g. those that need a different neutralisation procedure other than a central button)

2.4.3.Digital count-up timer (that is, counts up from zero)

2.4.4.Analog 'chess clock'

*note – electronic timers designed for chess are not acceptable if they do not measure overtime, i.e. they stop at 00:00.

It is the responsibility of both players to agree that the clocks are set to the specified time limit, and that both clocks are working properly.

Reference is made to 'neutralising the timer' throughout this document. This means:

For digital timers – depressing the 'hold' button (normally in the centre) such that both digital displays are frozen.

For analog chess clocks – depressing both clock buttons such that they are balanced and neither player's clock is ticking.

2.5.Written Aids – Tile-Tracking

Players may prepare lists of letters prior to the game for the purpose of tile-tracking. Players have the right to examine all papers and materials opponents bring to the table, prior to the game.

There are no restrictions on what may be written on paper once the game has started.

3.Starting the Game

3.1.Late arrivals

3.1.1.It is the duty of all players to be present at the announced starting time for each round.

3.1.2.If both players are absent at the start of the round, the TD may start the timer. When the first player arrives, whether due to play first or not, that player will be assigned the elapsed time showing on the timer. The timer will then started for the second player. On arrival, the second player should neutralise the timer. The second player will be assigned the total elapsed time from when the timer was started by the TD. Then the players should continue as per 3.2 and 3.3 below.

3.1.3.If one player is absent at the start of a round, that player's timer must be started if instructed by the TD. When that player arrives the timer should be neutralised. Then the players should continue as described in 3.2 and 3.3. A late player whose timer was started may, if the time remaining is less than 15 minutes (that is, for normal 25 minute games, after being 10 minutes late), elect to forfeit the game. If the game is played, it will be rated as a normal game.

3.1.4.If a game is forfeited because a player is late, the game stands as a win for the opponent with a spread of 75 points. The game will not, however, count for ratings.

3.2.Determining Who Starts

Unless there is a system to predetermine who starts, the players draw tiles to determine who starts play. The player who draws a tile closest to the beginning of the alphabet, with the blank preceding an A, starts the game.

3.3.Starting the Timer

The timer of the player going first should be started by the opponent when the player has drawn the first tile out of the bag.

4.The Turn

4.1.The sequence for playing a turn the tiles on the board with a minimum of readjustment.

b.announce the score for the move. The score may be computed quietly the timer to start the opponent's clock.

d.write down the score for the move.

e.wait for the opponent to write down the score for the move. (Until they do so, they are notionally considering a challenge. After they have finished writing the score for the move, their opportunity to challenge is gone.) If the opponent wishes to keep a note of the score before deciding whether to challenge or not, s/he may write the score anywhere except on the column being used to officially record the score.

f.draw replacement tiles.

g.tile track (if desired).

A player may change a move before the timer has been pressed (c. above). No change to the play may be made after the turn is ended, that is, the opponent's clock has been started.

4.2.Exchanging tiles

Players may change tiles during a game, as long as there are at least seven tiles in the bag. An exchange scores zero.

The sequence for changing tiles is

a.check that there are at least seven tiles in the bag.

b.announce "Change".

c.state how many tiles are being changed. the stated number of tiles face down on the table. the timer to start the opponent's clock.

f.record the change on the score sheet.

g.transfer the required number of tiles from the bag face down on the table, before placing on the rack.

h.return the unwanted tiles from the table to the bag.


Players may pass (that is, miss a turn without changing tiles) during a game. A player who wishes to pass announces "Pass" and presses the timer to start the opponent's clock. A pass scores zero.

Players may also pass at the end of the game if they are unable to make a legal play.

4.4.Keeping Score

Both players must record on their score sheet the score for each turn and the cumulative score. It is the responsibility of both players to verify the scores from time to time.

The score for a move or the cumulative score may be corrected at any time prior to signing the final result sheet, if both players agree. If both players do not agree the TD should be consulted to determine the correct score.

4.5.Permitted Actions

During a player's turn, that player may turn the board; straighten letters on the board; and verify scores with the opponent.


4.6.1.Once a player has indicated end of turn by pressing the timer, the opponent may challenge the play by announcing “Challenge” and neutralising the timer. The challenger then legibly writes the word(s) being challenged on a challenge slip, confirms them with the player and calls for a runner.

4.6.2.Once a player has announced “Challenge” the decision to challenge may not be altered. When the challenge slip has been taken from the table, no additional words may be challenged for that turn.

4.6.3.When an opponent has written the score for a player’s move, that opponent may not challenge that move. In cases of dispute it is the responsibility of the TD to determine whether the entire move score has been written. It is not necessary to write the cumulative score for this rule to take effect.

4.6.4.If a player begins to draw replacement tiles prior to pressing the timer, the opponent may alert the player to this, at which point the player must press the timer, and the opponent may challenge.

4.6.5.Once a player has made a play, the opponent may take any amount of time to consider or to declare “Challenge”. An opponent who is considering challenging should indicate by saying “hold” to stop the player from drawing tiles. This is on the opponent’s time and the player may not draw replacement tiles until the opponent has accepted the move. It is recommended that after one minute has elapsed [that] the player may draw tiles from the bag and place them face down separately from the rack. If a challenge takes place and is then upheld the replacement tiles must be clearly identified and returned to the bag.

4.6.6.Where more than one word is challenged the adjudicator must only rule the play acceptable or not acceptable, without any indication as to the acceptability or non-acceptability of individual words.

4.6.7.If either player is dissatisfied with adjudicator’s decision on the word(s) challenged it is permitted to ask for a recheck along with a clarifying note. (Additional words may not be added to the challenge slip at this point.) The adjudicator will then recheck the word(s) and inform the players of the decision which will then be final.

4.6.8.Other than for a recheck, a challenge can only be resubmitted if the original word(s) challenged do not correspond to the word(s) actually on the board.

4.6.9.When a challenge has been made, control of the board remains with the challenging player.

4.6.10.The following is a list of penalties that may apply in any tournament. It is at the discretion of the organiser to clearly state at the time of announcing the tournament to clearly state which of the penalty rules will apply. Once the penalty rule has been stated it may not be changed at a later date. Any subsequent change of the penalty rule will be brought to the attention of the full WESPA Committee for action.

a.5 point penalty for mischallenge, that is, per move

b.5 point penalty for each valid word mischallenged in a valid move

c.10 point penalty for mischallenge

d.Loss of turn for mischallenge

4.7.Drawing Tiles

4.7.1.The bag must be held at eye level when tiles are being drawn from it. The TD should be consulted if this is not possible for any reason.

4.7.2.If a player notices that s/he has drawn more than the correct number of tiles then the player must announce it and the timer is neutralised. Then,

  • if no new tile has touched the player’s rack, the newly drawn tiles are placed face down on the table and the opponent selects excess tiles, turns them face up and puts them in the bag.
  • if any new tile has touched the player’s rack, all tiles on the rack and all newly drawn tiles are placed face down on the table and the opponent selects excess tiles, turns them face up and puts them in the bag.


4.7.3.If it is the opponent who notices that a player has drawn more than the correct number of tiles then the timer must be neutralised. If no overdrawn tile has been added to the rack, the overdrawn tiles are placed face down on the table and the opponent selects the excess tiles and returns the excess tiles to the bag. If any overdrawn tile has been added to the rack, all tiles on the rack, together with all overdrawn tiles, are placed face down on the table. The opponent can select any tile from the rack and can then look at it to see what is being returned to the bag so that s/he is not disadvantaged or does opponent look at the whole rack.

4.7.4.Near the end of the game, if a player draws too few tiles, while the opponent subsequently draws the remaining tiles to empty the bag, and the mistake is caught before the player has made their next move, then the opponent must choose the appropriate number of tiles from their own rack and give these to the player. However, if the underdrawing is only discovered after the player has made their next move and started the timer then there is no penalty and the game continues.

5.Interrupting the Game

5.1.The time can not be neutralised for any reason during a game unless for the following circumstances:

  • When a player says “Challenge” (see 4.6)
  • When either player wishes to resolve a score discrepancy
  • When enforcing the overdraw rule (see 4.7)
  • When calling the TD to resolve a problem

5.2.A player who needs to leave the playing area temporarily during a game must do so with the TD’s permission if at all possible. The player should first make a play, start the opponent’s clock, and record the score for the move. The player must not draw replacement tiles. While the player is absent from the game the opponent may make a play, record the score for the move and the cumulative score an start the player’s timer. The opponent must not draw replacement tiles.

6.Counting Remaining Tiles

6.1.When using smooth tiles, the player may put his/her hand into the bag and count the tiles remaining. When using indented tiles, the player may count the tiles remaining unless his/her opponent objects, in which case the TD or a staff member may be called to count the tiles. The player whose clock is running has precedence for counting remaining tiles. While counting tiles, hold the bag at shoulder level or higher and avert your eyes. If for any reason the bag can not be held at eye level then the TD on the day should advise what is an acceptable height. Show your open palm with fingers stretched apart to your opponent just before reaching inside the bag.

7.Ending the Game

7.1.When a player makes a play, has no tiles remaining on the rack, and there are no tiles remaining in the bag, that player has “played out” and should neutralise the timer. The opponent must either accept the move by writing down the score, or challenge the play. If neither of these are done after five seconds, the player who played out is entitled to restart the opponent's timer.

7.2.The game is also ended when there are six successive scores of zero resulting from passes, exchanges, or challenges. When the game ends in this manner, both players deduct the total value of their tiles from their scores.

8.Time Penalties

8.1.The 25 minutes allocated to a player has been exceeded when:

  • for an electronic count‑down timer, the display is showing -00:01 or less
  • for an analog chess clock, the flag has dropped
  • for an electronic count‑up timer, the display is showing 25:01 or greater

8.2.If either player exceeds the specified time limit, that player subtracts ten points for each minute or part thereof by which the time limit was exceeded. If the players are unable to agree on the amount of extra time that has elapsed the TD must be called to the table to adjudicate.

8.3.When a player has commenced a game and then overruns the allotted time by 10 minutes the game shall be forfeited by that player. The margin shall be the margin when the 10 minutes is reached (after imposing time penalties) or 100 points, whichever is the greater.

This is different to a game forfeited by a player for not turning up (see rule3).

9.Result Sheets

9.1.Once the scores have been checked and the sheet to be used for recording the result signed by both players, no changes can be made to it, unless both players agree that a mistake has been made prior to handing in the score sheet.

9.2.It is the responsibility of the winner, before leaving the playing area, to ensure that the result sheet is handed in. Once the subsequent round has been played no changes may be made to the result sheet without the express permission of the TD.


There are some areas of the rules that are subject for further deliberation.

The Rules Committee is expected to reconvene discussion on these areas following the experience of WSC 2007. The issues raised by individual Rules Committee members are:

Issue 1 Sam Kantimathi – Accepting a Play

Writing the score down means you have accepted the play. This leads to potential abuse. We in USA had this rule before 1985, got rid of it due to abuses. I believe the UK rule which has led to the WESPA rule was inspired by the outdated US rule.

A player should never be able to get away with a preposterous phoney because the opponent, to be absolutely sure he'd win his game even accepting the score, writes down the score in USA. Penalty challenges involve some more considerations, including possibly writing down the turn score and adding!

Issue 2 Sam Kantimathi – Ending the game

When you play out with an obvious word such as IT or DOG you don't press the opponent's clock. You neutralize it. In USA, opponent has a few seconds to accept the play or "hold" upon the latter announcement, the player who played out restarts the clock. I have witnessed some bush-league approaches, particularly in Asia – no need for them. Politely neutralizing the clock is the gentlemanly way to go.

Issue 3 Jojo -Ending the game

Should the player playing out neutralise the clock or start the opponent’s clock, making it the opponent’s responsibility to formally neutralise the clock and end the game.