For the first time in the history of the National Scrabble Championship Tournament (winner gets $10,000) a person was caught cheating. A young teen (his name has not been released due to his juvenile status) after being caught using two extra blank tiles admitted to using them to help him win. He was disqualified from the tournament, and everyone he beat was given a win. A spokesperson for The National Scrabble Association ( NSA) said a disciplinary hearing would be held, “to determine what the sanctions will be.” Which all sounds very ominous. He has already been disqualified from tournament play what else do they plan on doing to him? A lifetime ban from all NSA sanctioned games?, a lobotomy so his brain will be too scrambled to scrabble?, or what I think should be done is sentence him to turn the letters for Vanna White on the Wheel of Fortune for a year. Vanna will still be there, but he will have do all the turning for her. This seems like a great punishment since you know that the hardcore Scrabble player looks down at, and makes fun of, people who play the Wheel of Fortune, otherwise known as a “Stupid Person’s Scrabble.”
It’s a 12-point word if you played it in SCRABBLE. But now it’s a word that’s bringing a bit of shame and heckling after one of the top youth players in the country was kicked out of the National SCRABBLE Championship Tournament on Wednesday for cheating, according to John D. Williams Jr., the executive director of the National SCRABBLE Association.
It’s something organizers say has never happened in the tournament’s 30 years of competition – and it all boils down to those precious blank titles that are so valuable because they can be used as any letter you like.
During the 24th round of the annual tournament in Orlando, Florida on Tuesday, the director was called over to a Division 3 game. A young teen was under suspicion by other players, according to Williams, who noted the tournament has a self-policing policy.
It seems the player, who officials have not named, was hoping to get a little extra help but was foiled. The player had won a game and took two blanks as the tiles were gathered and put in the grab bag. When his next competitor stepped in to play, the opponent asked that the tiles be counted. Two were missing.
“It was discovered that two blanks were not put into the tile bag as they should have been when the board was cleared off to start the game,” according to the SCRABBLE tournament’s website. ”The player was questioned and admitted to taking them.”
Another player observed the young teen drop or place tiles near his foot, according to Williams. The player was called over and confronted, and a witness verified the story.
Daniel Horowitz, an iReporter at the tournament, explained that a player saw a red flag by how the blank tiles were positioned on the board. Normally, he said they are randomly placed on the board.
“The cheater positioned the board so that the blanks were directly in front of him, and the observer noticed a sleight of hand where the blanks were grabbed by one hand and were not placed in the tile bag, while all of the other tiles were picked up with the other hand and placed in the tile bag,” Horowitz said.
The teen confessed to cheating, and he was immediately removed from the tournament. His opponents will be retroactively given forfeit wins. There will be a disciplinary hearing to determine what the sanctions will be, Williams said.
Peter Sokolowski, a lexicographer with Merriam-Webster, tweeted about what happened and how referees come into play if there is a dispute.