A couple years ago, Halatir @ M*U*S*H, softcoded a MUSH version of the popular board game Scrabble(tm) (softcode available at ftp.pennmush.org), which became in a instant hit among many M*U*S*H players. A few weeks later, as interest in the game blossomed, Javelin softcoded a tally system for tracking players' wins, losses, and ties. It wasn't long thereafter that Trispis softcoded a small tournament tree and hosted the first M*U*S*H Scrabble(tm) Tournament.
We've had various discussions about how to state the tournament rules for the coming tournament(s). We considered making lists of dos and don'ts. This approach, however, is not very efficient, considering there are already numerous, very lengthy rule sets available on the web. One example of a very exhaustive rule set is at this address
But such an exhaustive rule set was not appropriate for our limited bulletin board system on M*U*S*H. Likewise, if we had tried to make such an exhaustive list and inadvertently neglected to list some specific action as being 'illegal', then it would inevitably be open to exploitation. So, we decide to begin with a brief summary of 'good faith' rules, and proceed from there with case-by-case, instance-by-instance adjudication.
This page contains the established 'House Rules' for Scrabble(tm) Tournaments on M*U*S*H, as they have evolved over the last couple years..
- Scrabble(tm) Rules
- The official (Milton Bradley) Hasbro Scrabble Rules can be found at the Official Scrabble(tm) Website. As this website seems to constantly undergo changes, there is no guarantee that the following URL will work, but we'll do our best to keep it updated to the proper current address. The current direct link to the Scrabble Rules is:
These rules establish the standards for actual game play. The remainder of this website is about specifics to M*U*S*H Tournaments.
- Good Faith
- During tournament play, you are to rely solely upon your own knowledge, without any external assistance.
Basically, don't cheat. Because we're playing in an online environment, we cannot monitor your offline activity. Therefore, you are being trusted to play fairly.
- Don't page other people for help.
- Don't use any websites (including the ones listed on this webpage) or Webster for help.
- Don't use any dictionaries in your possession.
- OFFICIAL M*U*S*H SCRABBLE(tm) DICTIONARY
- Currently, World Wide, there are four main Dictionaries being used to determine Challenges in Scrabble Tournaments.
- The Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary 3 (OSPD3), Common to the U.S. and Canada
- The Official Scrabble Players' Dictionary 2 (OSPD2), Common to the U.S. and Canada
- The Official Scrabble Words (OSW), Common to the U.K.
- SOWPODS (an anagram derived from the combinaton of OSW and OSPD), a convergence of both the OSW and OSPD Word Lists, and an attempt at a Standardized International lexicon to be used among Global Tournaments. Presently, only a small handful of countries have made an official committment to SOWPODS, but it does seem to be catching on.
General Summary: For tournament play at M*U*S*H, we will default to the one dictionary that we all have common access to, via +lookup or at: http://www.logophilia.com/scrabble, which returns both
OSPD2 and OSPD3 search results. M*U*S*H uses OSPD3 by default.
Alas, this page has vanished now! So you can use http://www.hasbroscrabble.com for dictionary lookups, but you must look up the root form of words. For example, to check 'happier', you must look up 'happy' and it will list happier, happiest, happily as well as happy.
From experience, however, we also realize there can be mitigating circumstances about access to online resources and other such issues. Therefore, we are providing the following guidelines for what constitutes an 'official' Scrabble(tm) dictionary for the purposes of M*U*S*H Tournaments.
- Default: If you forget to agree upon a dictionary before the start of your game, and/or if you cannot agree upon a dictionary at the first instance of needing one, you automatically default to the following:
- If available, use +lookup and check for OSPD3. See +help lookup.
- Otherwise, try this OSPD3 search engine: http://www.logophilia.com/scrabble. Remember that only words
listed as being in the OSPD3 are accepted.
- If the above URL is unavailable, attempt to get a third party to adjudicate using an offline OSPD or OSW reference (whatever is available).
- In the absence of any OSPD or any third party, the MUSH bot 'Webster' has a +spell command which may be used to adjudicate challenges (see: +help spell). NOTE: DO NOT use +define, as it consults far too many dictionaries and will taint the results of tournament play.
- Preferred: It is highly recommended that a third party be recruited to perform challenge lookups (but NOT to issue challenges -- illegal words that go unnoticed or unchallenged by a player are valid -- see The Official Scrabble(tm) Rules, above). Ideally, the players, BEFORE BEGINNING PLAY, should agree upon:
It's perfectly okay to just say 'House Rules', which will put you at the above 'Defaults', and then consult this page when the time comes. However, if you desire to have something more specific and/or immediate for your game (such as: selecting a third party observer, and/or agreeing upon a specific version of the OSPD), you should make such decisions BEFORE BEGINNING PLAY.
- a dictionary
- a neutral or uninvolved third party to resolve challenges
- Observers and Judges/Adjudicators
- Some notes about observers, adjudicators, and the M*U*S*H AUP.
- We realize that Tournament Play can be very stressful on the players. Therefore, we do not require players to allow observers. Nor do we require them to recruit a third party adjudicator or judge.
- Observers will be allowed only at the discretion of the players, and should NOT interfere in any way with the course of the game. (No chatter. No commentary on the validity of words/plays. Etc. -- i.e., Show some respect and keep your mouth shut.)
- Judges (third party adjudicators) must NEVER voluntarily comment on word/play validity. You're not a referee. You are ONLY a "challenge" adjudicator. Blurting out opinions, experiences, etc. can often significantly affect the outcome of a close game. As a judge/adjudicator, you should basically speak ONLY WHEN REQUESTED TO DO SO. And then, you should be very certain that you have been requested to adjudicate a challenge. An example:
Basically, a Judge should not comment on any play until a player says "I challenge <word>. Judge, please look it up." (or some equally clear variation). And then the judge should confirm, BEFORE ANNOUNCING THE RESULT, that the player is indeed challenging the word.
- Player1 says, "What the heck is FRACTICAL? That can't be a word."
- (Judge says nothing.)
- Player1 says, "Man, I'd really like to challenge FRACTICAL ... "
- (Judge says nothing.)
- Player1 hrms and glances at the Judge.
- (Judge says nothing.)
- Player1 says, "But if I lost the challenge, I wouldn't be able to play this..."
- (Player1 plays FROZEN on a triple word score!)
- Player1 says, "I challenge FRACTICAL."
- Judge says, "Player1. You wish to challenge the word FRACTICAL. Correct?"
- Player1 says, "Yes. I challenge."
- If, at any time, one or more of the players deems that an observer or a judge is overtly interfering with the game (unsolicited commentary on words, etc.), they should ask that observer or judge to either refrain from commenting or to leave the playing area. If the observer or judge does not comply, the players should report the offending individual to the M*U*S*H admins. Per the M*U*S*H AUP, continuing to contact or interact with someone after they have asked you not to is considered HARASSMENT and will be dealt with accordingly.
- The 101 Schoolhouse Tournament Rooms
- Vexon has provided a very nice set of Scrabble Tournament rooms, attached to the Gaming Room at the 101 Schoolhouse. Tournament Players are strongly encouraged to use these facilities for the following reasons:
These tournament rooms and the accompanying spectator viewing area fully maximize the potential for enjoyment by all, players and observers alike.
- You can play in private (without having spectators in the same room).
- There are multiple playing rooms. So, several games can be played, simultaneously and privately (without having spectators in the same room).
- There is a common public viewing area, from which all of the private rooms can be observed (Observers and adjudicators can watch and comment all they want, without disturbing the players.).
- Double Elimination
- All tournaments are Double-Elimination. This means: For a player to be completely eliminated from the tournament they must lose 2 (two) games. In the end, the champion will be the player (only one) who didn't lose two games. NOTE: This does not mean that you play each opponent 'two out of three'. To further understand how this works you should view the Tournament Tree, in full (+tourney/view), and notice how winners and losers are moved through the tree. The point is: Losing once, doesn't mean you can't still be the champion (As a real example: In a previous tournament, Trispis lost his first game and still managed to become champion by not losing any more games -- and it exercised all of the optional sudden death games! Very exciting!).
- The Tournament Tree (a global command)
- M*U*S*H utilizes a global command (syntax below) for viewing the current tournament tree (i.e., the current standings). At any time, you can see where all of the players currently stand and where they will move next. Even in an unseeded state, it is very illustrative of the 'double elimination' process.Tree softcode: Trispis
- +tourney/view  (displays the entire tournament tree - very spammy)
- +tourney/topview (displays the 'winners bracket', aka the top half of the tree)
- +tourney/botview (displays the 'losers bracket', aka the bottom half of the tree)
- Tournament Announcements
- M*U*S*H has a bbgroup dedicated to Board Games (presently, group 13). Expect new tournament announcements and/or update messages about current tournaments to be posted in this group.
- Signing Up for a Tournament (a global command)
- M*U*S*H utilizes a global command (syntax below) for signing up for all sorts of things. Specifically for scrabble tournaments, the syntax is (unless otherwise specified in an announcement):
Signup softcode: Javelin
- Dates and Schedules
- Tournaments usually have the following primary dates
- Sign-up dates -- This is usually expressed in the form of a single date or deadline. Example: Signup is open until January 1, 2000. (meaning from now until 1/1/2000)
- Tournament Start date -- The date when the tournament is scheduled to begin (duh). Usually, this date is either the same as the signup deadline (above) or the day after.
Other relevant dates pertain to ongoing tournaments and the designated 'week' periods of play. Tournaments are normally divided into five weeks of play and the +tourney global (see above) has a key, indicating which games are played in which week. Beginning and/or ending dates for the 'week' periods are normally announced to the Board Games bbgroup.
Some notes about tournament duration and committments:
- Tournaments last FIVE WEEKS. If you signup, you should be prepared to participate for the entire five week period (especially, if you think you can win).
- Because M*U*S*H exists on the internet, and thus all over the entire world all the time, we understand there can be difficulties in coordinating times for playing someone half a globe distance from you. Therefore, you will be given an entire week to arrange and play-to-completion (see the section on ties and draws below) your game(s) against your opponent(s) for that week.
- You will be expected to play your scheduled game(s) in the designated week's time period. (Don't panic too much. Any given player will play AT MOST two games during any given week. But please be prepared to follow through on your commitment for the duration of the tournament.)
Final notes about scheduling. In order to have tournaments move as swiftly and as smoothly as possible, the following conventions have been established and should be strictly adhered to:
- Once the tourney tree is seeded, players are encouraged to start their games as soon as possible.
- You are encouraged to schedule and play your next game as soon as you know who your opponent is, regardless of when the next round begins.
- All games which have not been played (and reported) before the deadline will have their outcome determined by the Tournament Coordinator(s).
- If you have a problem or conflict in scheduling your game, it is highly recommended that you contact both your scheduled opponent and the Tournament Coordinator(s), so that arrangements and/or compensation can be made ASAP.
- If a game hasn't been reported by the designated week's deadline, the win will be granted to the player who provided the most effort and communication with the Tournament Coordinator.
- If both players have made relatively equal efforts and communication, yet were still unable to play within the designated week, an extension may be provided at the discretion of the Tournament Coordinator (who should at least consult the people they would be playing next).
- In all other cases, the winner will be decided by a 'coin toss' (or some equally random means).
- Tally and Ratings (a global command)
- All tournament games must be recorded in the +tally global (see: +help tally). It is customary for the winner of a game to initiate the +tally record and for the loser to confirm. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of both players to see that their game is +tally'd.
Furthermore, the +tally/rating info for Scrabble is used to seed new tournament trees. (If you haven't ever recorded any +tally games, you will be randomly placed into the tree your first time.) Tally softcode: Javelin
- Draws and Ties
- There will be no draws.
Hasbro rules (which are used on M*U*S*H) say that if a game's final score
is a tie, the winner is the player who was ahead before adding/subtracting
tiles left in the rack. If the game was tied even then, it must
be played again to determine a definitive winner. And this game must also be completed within the allowed week's time.
- +tally your game -- even though a draw is irrelevant to the tournament, it is important to the tally ratings.
- @mail the coordinator and inform them of the following:
- the draw results (players names, scores, date played)
- when you and your opponent intend to play again to resolve it
- Although you should both +tally and inform the coordinator of draws (1 & 2, above), the only game of relevance to the tournament TREE is the FIRST NON-DRAW GAME (i.e., the first game resulting in a definitive winner). This one game (which determines a definitive winner) MUST be both tallied and reported to the tournament coordinator.
- Reporting the Results of a Game
- It is the responsibility of the winner to report the outcome of a tournament game. The winner should @mail the following information to the Tournament Coordinator:
For example, if Trispis is the coordinator, JT and Talek are the players, and Talek wins by a score of 475 to 61, ... Talek should do the following:
- The names of the players
- The name of the winner
- The final score of the game
- @mail Trispis=Scrabble Game/JT vs. Talek, Talek won, 475-61.
- Supplemental Links
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Official Tournament Dictionary (defined near the top of this page) always supercedes any 'word list' or supplemental site (ref: the aforementioned links).