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History of Scrabble

Brief History of Scrabble

Game Name: Lexico, IT, New Anagram, Alph, Criss-Cross, Criss-crosswords and Scrabble

Inventor: Mr. Alfred Mosher Butts

Background: US Citizen of New York State, Town of Poughkeepsie

Game History: Game invented during Great Depression. "If there hadn't been any Depression in the Thirties there wouldn't be any Scrabble." So said Alfred Butts, the inventor of Scrabble. As an unemployed architect in the depression, Butts applied his life-long love for crossword puzzles to a word game using letters printed in small cardboard square. It was initially created as a game with no board for family friends which he called it Lexico. later changed to IT and then Criss-Cross and Criss-Crosswords using a board. His patent application for Lexico in 1933 was rejected by the USPTO. Not deterred, Butts made about 200 sets to sell to his friends in next five years but no commercial success. The Lexico evolved and changed to IT, Alph and then Criss-Cross and Criss-Crosswords using a board. Criss-Crosswords met the same rejection fate at the USPTO and with several commercial game manufacturers. It was until 1948 recognized by James Brunot who joined Butts as a business partner. They then rearranged the premium squares and simplified the rules. On Dec.1, they were granted the copyright of the game. Then they changed the game name to 'Scrabble' and registered and was granted that trademark on Dec. 16, 1948. Hence 'Scrabble' was born. James and his wife began manufacturing in Dodging Town, CT and set up shop in Newtown, CT. Brunots sold 2400 sets in 1949 and lost $450. The business was sluggish until 1952; the sale reached 37,000 sets in the 4th quarter. In the same year, the game was played by Macy's chairman, Mr. Jack Strauss on holiday; he then ordered Macy's to carry the game which led to its popularity. In 1953, Brunot and Butts sold the scrabble game and trademark right to Selchow and Righter which was making the boards for Brunot. In 1953, Life magazine reported: "(Scrabble) has in the past few months become as Mah Jong, miniature golf or Monopoly were in their respective primes (1923, 1930, 1937), and seems likely to surpass them all. At a modest estimate there are about 1.1 million Scrabble sets in the U.S. today and there are perhaps 10 million players."  Selchow and Righter was purchased by Coleco in 1986 and in 1989 Hasbro purchased Coleco. The popularity of Scrabble is maintained to this day with game available all over the world in board game format, on CD and playable online. In Britain and throughout the world (other than US and Canada), the rights is owned by J. W. Spear and Sons. The game has evolved with some modifications but the main features of 15x15 board, 7 letter tile rack and the distribution and value points of the alphabets remained the same till today.

How To Play The Game: Scrabble® uses a board with 15x15 squares for letter tiles (some squares are given premium values such as double or triple letter points or double or triple word points), 100 alphabet letter tiles and a 7-tile rack for holding letters. Each person draws 7 letters and takes turn to form words on the board with the purpose of maximize one's word points and total word score. The word points are added with letter points modified with premium points if any letter is placed on the premium squares. Players tiles are always replenished to 7 after each play. Scores are recorded on score sheet for each play.

Variation of the Game: Today there are versions of the game in French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Russian and Arabic, each with its particular set of letters. In French there are fifteen E's and the Q is not worth much due to its frequency in that language. (W is the most valuable letter.) The Dutch game has eighteen E's, two J's and ten N's. The Spanish set includes tiles for CH, LL, and RR. The German game has 119 tiles including A, O, and U with umlauts (Ä, Ö, Ü) and German players use eight letters on their racks instead of seven.

Patent History: Mr. Butts filed patent in 1933 and was rejected by USPTO; his effort to sell to commercial firms, Parker Brothers and Milton Bradley were also politely refused.

Business Partner: Alfred Butts and James Burnot shook hands as partners. Brunot is allowed to manufacture and sell the game and Butts will receive a royalty for each game sold.

Macy's and Scrabble: 1952 was the lucky year for Scrabble. Its sales began to increase. It also was the year that Jack Strauss, the Chairman of Macy's, New York, the biggest department store in the world, played Scrabble while on holiday. He enjoyed playing it so much that on his return to New York, he asked the Games Department to send him up a few sets. The games department did not carry the game. Mr. Strauss was surprised and remarked: "What do you mean Macy's don't stock it?" Macy's soon not only did stock the game but also supported a promotional campaign which quickly captured the attention of thousands. By 1953, Brunot was making 6,000 sets a week, it became clear to Brunot that he couldn't match the demand for Scrabble. So he licensed the manufacture to Selchow and Righter, a leading American games manufacturer, who had previously rejected it. Macy's support was without doubt the major break Scrabble needed.

Business Deals on Scrabble: 1948, Butts and Burnot became partners. 1953, Brunot sold rights and trademark to Selchow and Righter. 1968 Brunit sold off the world rights (other than US, Canada and Australia) to Spears and sons which later also bought the rights for Australia.1986 Coleco purchased Selchow and Righter. 1989 Hasbro purchased Coleco. Milton Bradley bought the rights which they rejected 53 years ago. 1994 Mattel purchased Spears and sons hence the world rights of Scrabble outside of US and Canada. 

Who Loves To Play The Game

When the Queen Mother visited New York in 1954 she said she was fond of Scrabble; and former president, Richard Nixon, claimed it was his favorite form of relaxation. In 1975 it was voted 'Game of the Year' by readers of Games and Puzzles magazine. Even mountaineer, Chris Bonnington and his colleagues, spent their evenings playing Scrabble while ascending the south face of Annapurna. Dr. Ifay Chang, inventor of the word game Scrammble loves and plays so much of the Scrabble game and that is how he created Scrammble.
An expert player can regularly score more than 400 points while it has been calculated that it's theoretically possible to score as many as 4,153 points in a single game. This requires the use of words such as, benzoxycamphors, diazohydroxides, and oxyphenbutazone which is nearly an impossible task. Today, Scrabble ranks (just below Monopoly) as the second best-selling game in U. S. history. It is translated into 29 languages and sold in 121 countries.

Future Of The Game

Scrabble® is still relatively a young game compared to other games over several centuries old. With English being the dominant language, the Scrabble game maintains a bright future. The only drawback of the Scrabble game is that it is not a game to be easily played as a TV game show.

The game's inventor died in April of 1993 at age of 93. Brunot died in 1984. During 1995, historian Jeffrey Saunders of Jackson Heights, Queens, N.Y., uncovered some materials that prompted the SCRABBLE ® World to rethink the original "invention" date of the game. While Alfred Butts was clearly thinking with word game based on his love for crossword puzzles as early as 1931 but it is now believed he may not have focused on the board game idea which led to SCRABBLE® until a few years later. In the summer of 1996, the Butts family, the National SCRABBLE® Association and the Milton Bradley Company agreed to conduct a formal study to determine the correct invention date of the game. Many believe 1938 may emerge as a more accurate date. 

It was unfortunate that Mr. Butts invention was not granted a patent. Otherwise a clear invention date would have been firmly established. 

For a feature comparison with Scrammble© Games, click here. (History of Scrammble)

How To Order The Game

Scrabble: Any game store and many online game shopping sites do carry it. 

Scrammble: Click Here to visit the web page and order. You may order Scrammble Games, Passport to Scrammble Land (A book on upto 20 Scrammble games) and their combined order.

More Information About Scrammble© Games

Braino Scrammble© is a game set for education, for entertainment and for health and it is indeed a game for all ages. Scrammble games are sometimes called Headutainment games. Medical World Search is proud to publicly endorse the games not because it is invented by Dr. Chang who is the founder of Medical World Search but because it is an exciting game that does stimulate, challenge and entertain human brains. Every staff in the Medical World Search has played the game and loved the game. MWSearch urged Dr. Chang to make the game available to the public. MWSearch sees the games' value for families where family members can play together and enjoy. MWSearch also sees their value in schools where teachers and students can make learning more fun. MWSearch also sees their value for senior citizens in retirement homes and hospices where the game can be used to stimulate brains and keep people healthy. Dr. Chang continues to create more Scrammble Games such as Scrammble Bingo, Scrammble War, etc.© He believes that children can have accelerated learning using the right games and teachers can have effective teaching with the right games. Dr. Chang has termed these teaching and learning Make-A-Game Pedagogy ©(MAG Pedagogy).

Braino is a game that can be played in many ways with varying rules. The rules can be selected to suit the group of players to make it more fun and/or more challenging. The game also connects to a number of popular games so the game can be easily learned.

What Is Braino? Or Its Alternate Scrammble or Braino Scrammble?

Braino (Or alternate Scrammble*) is a word game system with an assembly of game components and a set of playing methods for the purpose of providing brain stimulation, education and entertainment.   The game system is based on the principle of dynamically scrambling alphabets in one's brains to form meaningful words to win score in a number of games. The assembly of game components consists of  (1) a set of alphabets with points as well as score multipliers associated with them making the scoring fun and brain stimulating, (2)  a set of rules describing how Scrammble Word©, Scrammble Poker© and Scrammble Majong © are played with Braino cards and (3) optional accessories such as dice, chips, dictionary and game boards. These games have been filed with patent applications to the US Patent Office.  The Braino word games can be played as a variety of board games, card games and tile games with or without a number of specific game boards in a familiar setting of different games such as Scrabble ®,  Poker and Majong games. Braino increases challenges and fun to the popular game concepts, hence the games are very easy to learn and play yet they produce many varieties that are suited for different age groups. The game components and playing methods can be implemented in an electronic and computer system to render interactive remote playing among players connected through computer network as well as with participation of audience in television, cable and Internet broadcast programs through on-site or remote control. In any of the playing formats, the brain stimulation and entertaining functions are maintained to improve the players' brain and physical health. Learning or education of course is a great side benefit.  

The product* offered here through  online purchase (containing 3 playing methods for 3 Principal Games and variations; now containing 4) can be played by a number of people in physical presence such as in a family gathering, social function and/or classroom. The product consists of a durable plastic  box containing 136 cards, an optional set of rule cards (including Majong pattern cards) and an optional pair of dice. The three principal games are described below with order information to follow.

* Patent Pending * Braino and Scrammble © trademark intended

More Games in One Braino Set (Only English version described here)

(1) Play Braino as Regular Scrammble

Each card is printed with an English alphabet, an assigned point from 1 to 13 for each alphabet weighted inversely by its frequency of occurrence in the English vocabulary. Each alphabet may have more than one card, for instance, alphabet E is given 1 point and has 15 cards whereas the alphabet Z is given 13 points but only has one card. Some of the vowels are also given a multiplier for example, 2xL is given to one E which means, in scoring the points, one can multiply the points of the alphabet to the left of this E by a factor of 2. Similarly, 3xR is given to another A which means one can multiply the points of the alphabet to the right of this A by a factor of 3. Only a few vowels are given this kind of multipliers. In addition, there are four wild cards in the playing deck. The wild cards are given zero point but they can be used as any alphabet in the formation of a word. The wild cards are also given a mathematic function but the multiplication is applied to the total word points (sum of all alphabet points). Hence the wild cards are powerful cards.

The playing rules of the Scrammble Word© are simple but the game is fun and exciting. Throw dice to determine who starts the game. Each player takes turn to flip open an alphabet card and place it in the center of the table. This continues till someone is able to form (spell) a word out of the open cards. Any player can 'Scrammble' a formed word by adding one or more additional alphabet cards that are opened and shown on the table. (For example, 'games' is scrambled into 'images' by adding the letter i) one can also combine the alphabets of two or more formed words and scramble into a new word. (For example, 'ratio' and 'gene' are combined into 'generation' by adding an n)  The players set the rule on what is the minimum length of the word that can be formed (for young kids, 2 alphabets as the minimum is recommended). The players also set the rule on which exceptions are not allowed, for instance, adding an s to a noun and making it plural or adding a d or ed to a verb etc. All exceptions must be agreed by all players before the game begins. A player successfully scrambled someone else's word will capture the newly formed word to be his or her possession. One can scramble one's own formed word to increase points or to make it more difficult to be scrambled by others. This game continues till all cards have been opened and all possible scramblings.have been explored. (No more than 120 seconds for final scrambling is recommended)  

The scores are tallied by each player on all the words each captured or formed still in possession. Be sure all multipliers are used including the wild card multipliers. Note 1: The wild card can be used as any alphabet, however, it may or may not be changeable during a scrambling which must be pre-agreed by all the players. (Changeable wild card makes the game more dynamic) The one who scores the highest wins the round. Then a new round can begin again. Note 2: If two or more players simultaneously claim 'Scrammble' or  a new word (It happens a lot when a game is heated up), the one scrambles and scores the highest points in the scrambled word wins the word. (For kids' game, the recommended rule may be: the scrambler who sits closest clockwise to the one who just flipped open the last alphabet captures his or her scrambled word.)  

As you can see, the playing rules are simple but the game is extremely exciting.

(2) Braino played as Scrammble Poker

The Scrammble© cards can be played like a Poker game. 5-card or 7-card Scrammble Poker© means trying to draw and form 5 letter or 7 letter word. The cards can be dealt one at a time or dealt all at once. Winning is the hand having the highest word score (summed up all points with multipliers applied to the declared word, if 5 letter or 7 letter word was not possible, one can declare shorter word). Winning hand can be challenged for misspelling or by scrambling into a higher score word. Challenged hand must yield the hand to the successful challenger who becomes the winner when there is no more challenger. (No more than 120 seconds for final challenge is recommended). Only the winner's score of each hand is recorded on the score sheet under the winner's name. The final winner is the one who has the highest cumulated score.

All the excitement of Poker games can be included in the Scrammble Poker© game as long as the playing rules are agreed by all players. In the same spirit, more than 7-card Poker can be played similarly in the Scrammble Majong © described below. (Gambling using Braino is recommended for mature age only)

(3) Braino Played as Scramble Majong©

The Scrammble© cards can be played like an oriental Majong game. A 13-card or 16-card Scrammble Majong means playing 14- or 17-letters to form words. There must be a Majong (a two letter word in analogy of the pair of Majong in the Majong game). Throw dice to determine starter of the game. Each draws 13 or 16 cards except the starter draws one extra card. The players pre-agree a winning word pattern to be played (one can draw randomly from a deck of pattern cards or throw two dice to determine the pattern to be played for each game). For example, (3,4,5,2), (6,6,2), (4,4,4,2), (3,9,2), (7,5,2), (12,2)... are word patterns for 14-card Scrammble Majong©. Obviously, 11 can not be in a pattern for 14-card Scrammble Majong©; if one throws a pair of dice getting 11, he or she must throw again. If one throws 7 first then any second throw greater than 5 will have to be rethrown. For the 17-card Scrammble Majong©, there are more patterns one can play, for example, (3,3,4,5,2), (7,8,2), (4,5,6,2), (6,9,2), (12,3,2)...etc, etc. It is obvious longer words are harder to make hence can render a game with no winner. (no winning after all 136 cards are used up). Depending on the players' vocabulary skills, the group may eliminate some of the harder patterns and choose to play with less challenging pattern such as (5,7,2) for 14-card or (4,5,6,2) for 17-card Scrammble Majong©.

Each player takes turn to draw a card and discard an unwanted card until the player can declare winning ("Hu" is the word in Majong). If two or more players declare winning at the same time by taking up the very last discarded card, the one follows in playing sequence from the discarder wins. The previously discarded cards other than the very last one can not be picked up to form a word or to claim winning. When more than one player desires to have the last discarded letter, the one closes in line to draw card has the priority to have it.  When a player picks up a discarded letter to form a word the player desires to have, the player must lay down open that word on the table to show other players. If several words are laid down, of course, it will give warning to others that a winning ("Hu") may be in the making. The displayed words can not be changed or taken back to rearrange into other words.

All the excitement of Majong games can be included in the Scrammble Majong© game as long as the playing rules are agreed by all players. The Scrammble Majong© game can be made simple and fun by picking easier patterns to play or can be made more challenging and exciting by picking more difficult patterns to play (for example, (2,3,9) is considerably more difficult to play than (2,3,4,5)). One variation of the Scrammble Majong© can add a little luck in the game by each drawing a separate (different) word pattern to play. The one who draws an easy pattern will have a better chance to win.



Scrammble Click here to see an illustration          

Scrammble Click here to order You may order Scrammble Games, Passport to Scrammble Land and their combined order.

The Braino game is custom designed. An example of how the game is played is shown above. The first edition of the product has just arrived. Please place your order as early as possible before inventory runs out. Send email to  for any questions or interpretations of the games. All orders must be made by checks or through online credit card payment via Paypal. The delivery will be made after the check is cleared or credit card authenticated. Discounts are available for volume order. Special image for the back of the cards  may be ordered by providing a printable artwork along with the order. A artwork handling fee $200 will be added to the order of a minimum of 100 sets. The present product (English version) consists of 136 playing cards contained in a secure plastic box with board and rules for playing four games.

Please contact  for volume discount, wholesale, custom logo brand or  special versions for large group playing in which the alphabet tiles may be magnetic so they can be placed on a magnetic board standing up. For license, please send request to or write to the address below..

If order  with a check, please address to

TLC Information Services ( )

PO Box 944

Yorktown Heights, N. Y. 10598 

A Perfect Game for Family, Children, Parents and Grand Parents

A Fun Game for School, Vocabulary Learning and Math Skills

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