Word Play, Strategy, and a Big Game Sanctioned Dictionary – Take Me Back Tuesday remembers Scrabble

Scrabble was my favorite childhood game – when I played with my friends. But, if I challenged my dad to a “friendly” game, it turned into the Scrabble scene from The Wedding Planner when Mary dominates the board. I quote, “E-A-R-W-A-X. “X” on a double letter, “E” on a triple word – 72 points!” Mind you, I was never the player who scored 72 points at all, let alone with a single word. But my failure to outscore my dad aside, the original Scrabble Game has provided a word play challenge for millions of people throughout the years. And as the years change, so does this beloved game.


And, how did this phenomenon begin? Here is some history on the Scrabble Game from Wikipedia:


     The delightfully mind-twisting Scrabble Game, formerly known as Criss-Crosswords, was created in 1938 by architect Alfred Mosher Butts. Butts created Criss-Crosswords as a variation on another of his word games called Lexiko. While Butts manufactured a few Criss-Crosswords sets himself, he was unsuccessful at gaining the attention of major game manufacturers of that time.

     An original owner of the widely unknown Criss-Crosswords Game, James Brunot, bought the “rights to manufacture the game in exchange for granting Butts a royalty for every unit sold” in 1948. While he left the game largely unchanged, Brunot simplified the playing rules and change the name of the game to Scrabble, which means “to scratch frantically.” (Odd but true.)


     The popularity of this classic game boomed in 1952 after Macy’s began carrying it, which caused Brunot to sell the trademark in 1972 to Selchow & Rightner (a manufacturing company) because he couldn’t fulfill orders on such a large scale – talk about getting your money’s worth! The rights to the Scrabble Game were purchased by Hasbro in 1986 after its previous owner went bankrupt.


But don’t forget about the infamous Scrabble Game Show that first aired in 1984 with host Chuck Woolery. Though this large-scale version of the original Scrabble Game only lasted six years on NBC, one of my favorite moments on the show happened during game show hosts week. Check out the comedic flair between the Scrabble Shows own Chuck Woolery versus Hollywood Squares John Davidson:



While the concept of Scrabble has been around for the past 60-odd years, the ways in which the game is played have changed dramatically. From special edition Scrabble Games with rotating game boards and editions with side drawers for all the important game contents, to the plethora of internet editions that challenge players speed and skill, Scrabble has morphed to fit to the busy lives of its biggest fans.



Source Citations:
“Scrabble.” Wikipedia. October 13, 2009. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrabble

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