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Rule change in Scrabble prompts purists’ ire
Mr. Gest noted that if celebrity names were acceptable, the word Obama might not have been allowed before President Obama became well-known, which raises the issue of at what point a person can be considered well-known.
He said proper nouns might make the game more interesting, but competitive play needs standards. “We have a pretty good system for standard words,” he said. “I don’t hear a lot of demand” for proper nouns.
Mr. Gest said the traditional process of adding acceptable words to Scrabble play is a drawn-out one. Generally, words have to appear in several standard dictionaries to be approved for Scrabble use. A list of new words is produced every few years.
The D.C. Scrabble Club is part of the North American Scrabble Players Association, formerly the National Scrabble Association. NASPA is a competitive association of Scrabble clubs in the U.S. and Canada that are bound by rules and code of conduct for game play and tournaments. NSA typically focuses more on casual Scrabble play.
The traditional Scrabble game has been around for nearly eight decades.
In the early 1930s, Alfred Mosher Butts of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., who lost his job as an architect in the Great Depression, invented Scrabble, originally called Lexiko, to try to create a game that required both chance and skill, according to the NSA’s Web site.
The game was not an immediate success. Turned down by toy game giants Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley, he revised the game in 1938 to include a game board and renamed it Criss Cross Words. It was again turned down by game manufacturers.
Entrepreneur James Brunot eventually took interest in the game, renamed it Scrabble and registered its trademark in 1948. Scrabble’s popularity took off after 1952 - and the rest is history.
Butts lived to see the global success of his game as the first World Scrabble Championship kicked off in New York City in 1991. He died in 1993 at age 93, according to NSA’s Web site.
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