When a play results in two words, can both words be challenged at once?

by Debra
(Orangevale, Ca, USA)

I played RAGOT on the end of HATE, making HATER and RAGOT. My husband challenged both words, starting with HATER. Since that is a word, we can't resolve this. What is your opinion?

Hi Debra - A player is allowed to challenge any number of newly formed words in their opponent's move. However, they can't decide after the adjudication of one word, that they want to challenge another.

When making a challenge you must state explicitly, prior to looking up the dictionary, which word or words are being challenged. If any one of the challenged words is invalid, the player being challenged retrieves their tiles and misses that turn.

In tournament play, a third party actually checks all the challenged words and returns a single verdict, without indicating which word/s is/are incorrect. In your case, a challenge slip with the words HATER and RAGOT would come back to the players with a big red cross, and neither player would be told whether one or both words were invalid. This practice makes challenges even more ... err ... challenging.

If you want to play your challenges like this at home, I recommend you download the free application called Zyzzyva, described in my Scrabble Helper Library, and play it in Word Judge mode.

The result of your challenge would have been the one in the picture I've added to the top of this post.

I hope this prevents a few future arguments for you both ;-)

Scrabble Help - Challenging two words at once

Comments for When a play results in two words, can both words be challenged at once?

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On players checking the dictionary
by: Word-Buff

This comment reminds me of another issue relating to challenges in 'lounge-room' Scrabble.

When players look up the dictionary themselves following a challenge, the player who looks up the dictionary gets the advantage of seeing a) which word/s, if any, are invalid, b) whether a word takes an -S, and c) possibly other helpful information.

I think if this method is being used, both players should be allowed check the challenged words, to ensure neither is advantaged.

Another reason it's much better having a third party adjudicator, whether it's a computer program or a person.

word challenges
by: Anonymous

The easy way to think of this is that the challenger is challenging the entire play -- all or any subset of the words formed. There's one chance for this, so all the words that are questionable should be challenged at once. In fact, its always a good idea to challenge all words, because there are some "obvious" words that in fact aren't good or don't take a back S.

A program such as Zyzzyva, WORD, LampWords, or CheckWords checks all words at once and gives a thumbs-up or thumbs-down.

A human judge should make a show of going through all the words, even after one of them has turned out to be phoney.

PS: my Captcha to post this comment is SATIRE, which is a great stem for Scrabble.

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