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Tournament Anagrams Rules (1996)


In the fall of 1996, I started play-testing a version of the game of Anagrams (popular among tournament Scrabble® players) that I hoped would do for that game what tournament rules did for Scrabble: turn it into a competitive two-player game with less time wasted in pointless arguments about rules and procedure.


Players alternate drawing tiles at random from a pool and forming words, earning points for each word.

The Pool

The pool initially consists of the 100 tiles used in Scrabble®, though the tile values are ignored.

The Clock

Each player is alloted twenty-five minutes in which to complete all their moves. One point is deducted for each overtime minute or part thereof.

The Start

Players determine at random who will play first, and then alternate thereafter.

The Play

Each turn consists of the following steps:
  1. Opponent neutralises own clock, starts player's clock.
  2. Player draws a tile at random from the pool, if any tiles remain.
  3. Player may now make a capture, and if successful in doing so, announces and records its score and returns to step 2.

The Capture

A legal capture consists of forming a new word that satisfies all of the following criteria:
  1. At least one tile is taken from the pool.
  2. If any tile is taken from a word in play, all the tiles from that word are taken, and the word is removed from play.
  3. If a word in play is so captured, it is not a substring of the new word formed. (Alternately, the new word is not a possibly bidirectional extension of the old word.) For this purpose, ignore which letters are or are not represented by blank tiles.
  4. The new word formed is deemed acceptable by the word reference in use, currently TWL96.

The Blanks

Blank tiles may be used to represent any letter, and the letter which they represent may change when the blank is captured.