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Duplicate Scrabble

A French Variation of the Game

There are many varied and wonderful ways to play Scrabble because it is adaptable to the language of the players. The first name that Alfred Butts applied to his creation was Lexico, a derivative of Lexicon, which is the vocabulary of words and expression. It seems reasonable that each Lexicon should be allowed expression of its own in relation to the game.

Around 1970, a Belgian lawyer (Hippolyte Wouters) created his own version of the game called "Duplicate Scrabble." French was his first language, and he promoted the game in France. By 1972, Wouters had put together the first "French World Scrabble Championships."

The event took place in Cannes, France, which is famous for its yearly film festival. There were only eight people who took part in the inaugural championship, but it has been held every year since its beginning with a growing attendance.

Duplicate Scrabble allows for each player to have the same resources to score points as every other player. There can be no complaints of the luck of the draw because each player is given the same letters to build words and score points. Due to this setup, any number of people can play and compete against each other at one time. In tournament play, more that 1,000 players have been known to participate in the same game.

Although Duplicate Scrabble is the game of choice for the French, it is not played in North America very often. A computer game has been available since 2005 that has a Duplicate Scrabble version as an option.

The computer version gives the opportunity for sixteen people to play on the same board. In the United Kingdom, Duplicate Scrabble has appeared on the television as a round in "TV Scrabble."

For the French speaking, Duplicate is common in Canada, Switzerland, Benin, Tunisia, Senegal, Belgium, Lebanon, as well as France. In 1981, Duplicate became part of the National Championship in Romania.

It depends on where the game is played and the language used to determine the rules for Duplicate Scrabble. Still, there are some principles that apply no matter where a game takes place.

Basic Game Rules

The game begins with the emcee or arbiter drawing seven tiles and announcing to all the players what they are. The players then take the same tiles as their beginning letters. Every player is given the same predetermined amount of time to make a word, write it on an entry paper, and describe the location where the letters will be placed.

When the letters are drawn, the arbiter checks to be sure they contain at least one vowel and one consonant. If this is not the case, the letters go back into the sack they were drawn from and a new set of seven is pulled, continuing until the vowel/consonant requirement is met.

Players must submit the score that is attributable to the word they make when they have their paper collected. The highest scoring word is placed on the board and the player who made it gets the points. The arbiter determines that the word, which has the highest point total, is valid. Invalid words do not receive a score.

After each turn, the arbiter pulls seven more letters from the sack, and all participants go through the same process again. After the first turn, they have the initial word on the board to play onto and each succeeding word builds out the board. Turns continue until either all the consonants or all the vowels are used.

The player with the most points at game end is the winner. The official score can be a total of those points or either of two other ways of expression. These are:

  1. A percentage where the total scored points for the game divides into the player's total points
  2. A negative figure, which is the difference between the total game points and the winning player's points

Duplicate Scrabble can be played in pairs, where two people confer and come up with an agreed upon word for submission. Both Romania and France have pair competition in their national contests each year.

The standard time given to players to make their choice is three minutes, but there are variations where only one or two minutes are allowed.

Copyright 2013 BattleLine Games LLC.