up to the Lexington SCRABBLE® Club

Sessions at the Lexington, MA SCRABBLE® Club

This club meets in the center of Lexington, MA, at the First Parish Unitarian Church on Harrington Road. This church is directly behind the Minuteman statue on the green in Lexington. For detailed directions to the club, see the "Directions to the Club" page.

The club meets every Thursday evening of the year, except when it is a major holiday; thus Thanksgiving is always a skipped night, and perhaps no other night. The club officially begins at 7:00 p.m. The official ending time is midnight. Games are not to be started after 11:00 p.m.

A newcomer's first visit to the club is free. As of 1-May-14, the club dues are $6 per night, reduced to $5 for students and senior citizens (60 or over). Also, if you play only one or two games, the dues are reduced to $3 for the evening. Higher church rental fees have influenced these fees to be increased since the previous fees were set in 2009. These dues are used mostly to pay the church for the room rental, but there are also long-term club costs, such as playing equipment. The club also provides snacks.

Snacks are not really meant as a dinner substitute. They usually consist of a few varieties of cookies. There is a pot of hot water for tea or instant coffee. Some players bring their own dinner (such as a sandwich and beverage) and eat while playing. Please be aware of the strict rules of the First Parish Church that no food items with nuts or shrimp be brought into the church.

The club provides boards (there is no need to bring a board) and racks. Most players bring their own Protiles, which is encouraged. There is a small number of extra chess clocks available, so it is expected that most players bring their own. Chess clock use is encouraged, especially for those players who expect to play in tournaments. But if both players choose not to use a clock, that is OK. Beginners are encouraged to use a clock for practice, but they are not penalized for going overtime.

Club equipment gets put away around 11 p.m., so if you want to play a late game, please do not use the club equipment.

The club also provides score sheets, but players are encouraged to bring their own paper for this purpose, perhaps preprinted with lines and letters for tracking. Preprinted tracking sheets are allowed in club and tournament play. You are also permitted to make notes during the game.

Contrary to many other SCRABBLE® clubs, the evening is not arranged as uniform rounds, but play is more free. When you finish a game, you look for another opponent, sometimes with the aid of other club members. There is a tendency, but not a strict rule, to avoid repeating opponents, but that is up to the players involved. The Worcester, Manchester, NH, Exeter, NH, and Boston Clubs operate in the same manner.

The club has a special bag of tiles which is used to randomly match opponents. This bag has no duplicate letters, so it is not necessary for a player to pull more than one letter from the bag. When this form of matching is done, the players holding the lowest two letters will play each other unless they have already played. In such a case, the players holding the first and third letters alphabetically are potentially matched. Further complexities are dealt with as they occur.

Club director Judy requests that when there is use of the draw bag, players who are still playing are not to be paricipants in the draw, even when their games are almost complete.

There is usually a range of player strength, from novice to expert. The club attendance has recently been around 25 players, so it should be relatively easy to set up well matched opponents. This happens some of the time; if you have a preference to play an opponent of a particular strength, make that preference known. Otherwise, you are likely to be part of a random drawing of tiles to determine pairings.

When there is an odd number of players, it is typical that someone sits out for a short time and plays as soon as a game finishes. There are usually enough players and games have started a random times, so a wait is relatively short. On rarer occasions, as the evening grows later and less players remain, three players may enter into a trio of games, with each player playing two independent games. This is one way to keep an odd number of players occupied. Another scenario is one player can play in two different games simulaneously.

Players who are not fully knowledgeable of all the two-letter words are encouraged to play with the aid of an "open-book" page of these words, which includes their meanings, and thus implies their inflected forms. This is encouraged for only the first few sessions for beginners. Beginners are also given other study lists, such as the three-letter words, but these are not to be referenced "open-book" during a game.

Players who are new to the club and tournament scene are granted free challenges (with no loss of turn) and no overtime penalties for their first few sessions at this club. A player may decline these potential aids.

Until the end of the 2002-2003 season, this club, and also the Boston Club, chose to make challenges a bit less cutthroat in that when more than one word is challenged, each word is reported on separately. In tournament play, the ruling is made on the entire play, namely all the challenged words are considered as a group, and they are either all acceptable, else the play is ruled unacceptable, with no further details. These two clubs will use the standard rule starting in September, 2003.

A laptop computer is usually used at the club to rule on challenges. There are typically two active windows on the computer - the Challenge program and ANA, an anagramming program. When you want to get a ruling on a challenge, first be sure you have the attention of the Challenge program. Then type all the words being challenged in one play on one line separated by spaces. A ruling will come back instanteously. The challenged words will be repeated, and the ruling is colored blue when the play is acceptable ruling and red when the play is unacceptable. Then, after a delay of five seconds, the screen advances a few lines so that ruling will not be visible to others. If you missed it and want to see the ruling again, click once on the up-arrow at the top of the scroll bar at the right side of the window.

The ANA program is made available to players to ask questions after a game is over. It should not be used for real challenges. Since ANA can answer anagramming and pattern questions in the presence of blanks, it is a useful tool to post-mortem racks.

There is a sheet of paper employed to record all the games played at the club. The winner is expected to record the game by writing the winner's name, winner's score, loser's name, and loser's score. Ties too should be recorded - the responsibility is shared by the players. Anyone should feel free to add a newsworthy comment about a game, such as an unusually high number of bingos or a large single-turn score. This sheet is kept on the club table, where players sign in and pay their money. This table has the weekly news and sometimes other handouts. There are copies of many old weekly news sheets for the taking.

Challenge slips are provided by the club, but their use is requested only when a word is NOT being looked up on the usually-present computer. Do not throw out these slips; the information on them is used in making up the next week's news.

back to the top of this page This page, maintained by Mike Wolfberg, was last updated on February 11, 2019 .