Challenges WhenTwo Words are Formed

by Jim Judson
(Levitown, New York)

Upon challenge of two words may the challenger look up both words even after the first word was found to be no good in the Official Scrabble Dictionary?

Is the challenger entitled to look up in the Official Scrabble Dictionary both words if the first word is determined to be no good?

Hi Jim - interesting question! This is the sort of situation that the original 'box Scrabble rules' don't cover, but it is definitely catered for in official Scrabble tournaments.

In a Scrabble tournament, the challenger hands all challenged words for a move to the word judge, and the word judge returns a tick or a cross without specifying which word, if any, is incorrect. So that's the approach you might want to simulate in your own games. How?

Well, assuming you don't have a third party to act as word judge for you, you can use word game software (such as a free application called Zyzzyva I talk about in my Scrabble Helper Library) that will allow you to type in all the challenged words and return a verdict without telling you which word/s is/are incorrect.

I think the idea behind this practice is that you want to reward the person with the better word knowledge. If the challenger knows that both played words are incorrect, for example, then they have the advantage that the penalized player may play the other false word on a subsequent move, not having found out that it is also false.

Yes, it's a cruel game when you get serious ;-)

If you don't want to use a third party (i.e. another person or a software application) then I think the correct decision here (i.e. the rule that would be in the same spirit as that used in Scrabble tournaments) would be NOT to allow the challenger to look up the second challenged word if the first challenged word turns out to be false. That way, if either player already knows whether or not the the other word is valid, they have a slight advantage.

Sorry my answer is a bit long-winded, but that is the nature of Scrabble rules when it gets to the nuts and bolts. I hope this answers your question. Feel free to continue the discussion via the Comments link below if you like.

All the best,

Comments for Challenges WhenTwo Words are Formed

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Valid word challenged, then used by opponent
by: Anonymous

Derek, I played a parallel word ZE next to FLUB making the word EF and ZE. My husband challenged EF, which we found to be valid. He then challenged ZE, which was not valid. I removed all tiles and lost my turn.

Should I have been able to keep EF on the board? The next play he used EF and won the game.

The only reason he knew that was a valid word was because he challenged me...Please help resolve this matter. Thank you!

Hi - The official protocol for challenging is to challenge all words you are doubtful about at once. That is, you're not supposed to wait for a result to come back before you challenge something else.

If this had happened in a Scrabble tournament ZE would stay on the board because it wasn't part of the original challenge.

Also, there is no rule against using a word you learned from your opponent earlier in the game. Hope that settles it for ya! — Word Buff

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