“[Scrabble] sets are found in roughly one-third of American homes.”

“Scrabble’s not really a word game. It’s a math game with word tools.”
- Matt Graham, comedian and Scrabble expert, on this week’s Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show

Matt Graham is a man with an interesting resume. On the comedy side he’s written for SNL and Conan (on which he also appeared several times as a standup). On the Scrabble side he’s placed second in the Scrabble World Championships, been featured in the Scrabble book Word Freak, and was a central character in the Scrabble documentary Word Wars. This week on The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show we discuss the strategy of high-level Scrabble, Matt’s vintage board game collection, and tips for Scrabble enthusaists who have yet to memorize all the 2-letter words.

As always, The Jeff Rubin Jeff Rubin Show is available at iTunesYouTube, and

Matt’s one man show, This Too Shall Suck, is currently running in New York. Get tickets at!


Scrabble may be a simple game to learn to play, but it sure gets complicated as a business. For a start, Hasbro owns the rights in the U.S. and Canada, and its archrival Mattel owns them for the rest of the world.
Now, adding further to the confusion are reports that the rules are being changed to allow proper nouns. If you’re stuck with hard-to-play tiles you’ve now got Jay-Z and New Boyz to help you out.
The change, as many commentators have pointed out, is proof that the world is becoming a dumber place, where youngsters know the names of rappers instead of words such as adze (a woodworking tool) or calx (the residue from burning a metal), which previous generations used to great effect to clear troublesome tiles out of the racks or get a high-scoring tile onto a triple-scoring space on the board.
Except that it’s not true. The rules of Scrabble aren’t being changed.
What’s happening instead is a smart piece of brand extension by Mattel. Scrabble may be a great and loved brand, but the core game hasn’t changed for decades so most people who want to play have a set.
So Mattel U.K. spokesman Philip Nelkon told The Source that Mattel in the U.K. is planning to launch Scrabble Trickster, a souped-up version of Scrabble in which players in some circumstances will be able to play proper nouns, steal tiles from rivals and even spell words backwards.

Why do all my Radar picked up posts end up being wrong?

WTH is this. They can’t just do that. Can they? 62 years, people! This is the kind of thing that needs to be grandfathered in by generation, there’s no way people are going to just up and change the way they play. Bull cocky.

In related news, Rooks can move diagonally now in chess.