Association of British Scrabble Players

ABSPThe Association of British Scrabble Players (ABSP) was formed in 1987 as a not-for-profit association to promote interest in the playing of Scrabble. We co-ordinate tournaments and the provision of a rating system for players in the UK, as well as providing information and support to members, tournament organisers and tournament directors. Media Contact Point

Tournaments Coming Soon
Dec 22Ilford, 8 Rds
Dec 29-30Twixmas, 15 Rds
Jan 3-5UK Open, 30 Rds
Jan 6-7UK Open Final Fling, 18 Rds
Jan 12-15Pitlochry, 14+ Rds
Jan 15-17Pitlochry, 9+ Rds
Jan 25-26Belfast, 15 Rds
Jan 26Ilford, 8 Rds
Jan 31-Feb 2Isle of Wight, 20 Rds
Feb 1-2Scottish Masters, 14 Rds
Feb 15-16Scottish Round Robin, 14 Rds
Feb 23Ilford, 8 Rds
Feb 28-Mar 1Israeli Open, 22 Rds
Feb 29-Mar 1Grand Slam 2020, 14 Rds
Feb 29-Mar 1Cork, 13 Rds
Full Calendar

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Seen an interesting Scrabble word played and want to know what it means? Search for it in our comprehensive Words section:

New two, three and four letter valid or phony quizzes. See how many words you can get right in this handy little game. Great for improving your short word knowledge.
Updated for CSW19 (29/7/2019)

2 Letter Words | 3 Letter Words | 4 Letter Words

ABSP Masters 2019

Congratulations to Paul Gallen who has become 2019 Masters champion with another dominant display that mirrored his efforts at the Festival of Scrabble against arguably much tougher opposition.

In a field packed with experts and grandmasters, including a string of former champions, Paul secured victory with a round to spare finishing 13-3, +1005. It’s his 3rd Masters title following back to back victories in 2013 and 2014, and the 10th Major of his career - his 2nd in successive weekends. Now rated 199, only Nigel Richards (204) ranks ahead of him in current UK ratings lists. Paul dedicated his latest win to his recently deceased grandfather who had always been proud of his Scrabble achievements.

David Webb was Masters Champion way back in 2006, and last won a Major (BEST) in 2009, but he rolled back the years this weekend pushing Paul much of the way to finish a very creditable 2nd on 11-5, +918. A strong Sunday in which he won six of his last seven games was enough to elevate Lewis Mackay into 3rd place on 10-6, +477.

Finishing 5th it was also a good weekend for Natalie Zolty, who is now the highest female on the ratings list. In a little over a month, performances of 201, 211, 197 and 191 have seen her advance 10 points to a new ratings peak of 180.

For many players, qualifying for the Masters is a major achievement in itself, so kudos to all who took part. Here's a picture of the contenders for the 2019 Masters. Could you be there in 2020?

Back row: Rafal, Lewis, Elie, Paul A
Middle row: Vince, Neil, David, Colin, Chris
Front row: Wayne, Harshan, Natalie, Bob, Rik, Paul G, Diane

Full results

Last Updated 22/7/2019

2nd UK Tablet NSC

News update from Austin Shin:

Entries are now open for the UK Tablet NSC 2019 on Sunday 1 September 2019 at the Sir Naim Dangoor Centre, London! Games start at 10am. We will play a minimum of 14 games in one day. After 12 games, the top 2 players will enter a best of 5 final to determine the winner, taking home the trophy. The finalists will win extra prize money also. During this time, all other players will play their remaining 2 games. There will be 2-3 money rounds where winners of specific round numbers will instantly win £5 each time. Players can "opt-out" from winning any money and play the entire day for fun for a super low entry of £10. Opting in for the full works is just £20. Entry via bank transfer, PayPal or cash on the day are ALL accepted.

Check out all the information on the tournament flyer and on the UK Tablet NSC 2019 event page in the Scrabble International Facebook group.

RSVP if you can make it! We'd like as many players as possible to take part and for it to be bigger than last year. Thanks!

Last Updated 17/7/2019

Festival of Scrabble 2019

Congratulations to dominant champion Paul Gallen and all other prize winners at the Festival of Scrabble which took place at Bournville this weekend. Not to be outdone by Lewis Mackay and Brett Smitheram, Paul now joins the pair on 9 Major victories, suffering only 2 losses across 19 games and accruing a mammoth +2340 spread in the process. Wayne Kelly finished 2nd, Chris Harrison 3rd with Alan Abela taking the ratings prize with a +8 performance.

In Division B, Marion Keatings ran out the winner 2 games clear of her rivals, with just 29 spread points separating Colin Nicol and Marjorie Struggles in 2nd and 3rd. Lowest rated of all, Aileen Morrison took the ratings prize with another +8 increase.

Next weekend will see the fifth Major of the year with a strong field assembled for the Masters. Paul and Lewis will be joined by 3 other previous champions - Harshan Lamabadusuriya, Paul Allan and David Webb as well as last year’s surprise runner up Chris Vicary. The standard was so high this year that 2018 champion Gary Oliver could not even qualify to defend his title!

Last Updated 15/7/2019

Publicity, Promotions & Media

Following the recent webmaster changes, you may have already noticed a few things look a bit different on some sections of the ABSP website. Stewart and Pete have a lot of ideas and it’s great to see some renewed focus into what is in many ways our shop window to the outside world. It’s by no means a small task, but hopefully the positive improvements will continue over the coming months, and please share any feedback that you have with us – thanks to all those who have already assisted with our recent Clubs refresh.

We are also implementing a number of changes in other areas, including Publicity, Promotions and Media. Having a single point of contact to deal with the media can often prove useful, especially when that person has experience, contacts and a proven track record in that field. The committee have therefore accepted an offer from Brett Smitheram to act as our Media Liaison. As many of you will know, Brett has had plenty of exposure, especially since becoming World Champion in 2016. Most recently, he worked with Collins on their media campaign surrounding the dictionary update making a number of TV and Radio appearances, coupled with features in printed and online press. Opportunities like this are golden in terms of publicity and we believe the ABSP will have a lot to benefit from Brett in such a role. Brett is also available to offer advice to any members should they require guidance on dealing with local media or similar.

Whilst Brett won’t be joining us on full committee, he will maintain close links in what we plan to be a slightly different structure. Natalie Zolty has done a great job as Publicity Officer, but by her own admission it hasn’t necessarily been the perfect fit and was dictated by circumstance as much as anything. She also now struggles to find the time she feels the role requires and was recently considering her future on the committee. I am pleased to say she will be staying with us, but in a new role of Social Media Officer. Natalie will continue to admin on the Facebook group, and also look to build our presence on other platforms such as Twitter, as well as giving some input into content and structure on the ABSP website.

Clearly, we could still use a committee member more directly involved in promotions and publicity, and are therefore keen to hear from anyone else who might be interested in helping out. Any role moving forward will probably be less demanding in the new set up, so if you have some ideas and any enthusiasm at all, please get in touch. Even if this area isn’t right for you, we’re always keen to hear from people who think they have something to offer, so do what Brett did, and let us know.

Last Updated 11/7/2019

Clubs Update

We have now published an updated Clubs List. Thanks to Laura Finley for her hard work, and to all those who responded quickly to our contact.
We hope the new list is both comprehensive and free of error - it includes a number of additions, corrections and deletions from the previous one.
With such a big task, there's always the possibility of the odd mistake, so if you spot anything amiss, or have details for any new clubs, please let Laura know (e-mail our Secretary).
We're still looking for a new Clubs Co-ordinator, so even if you'd just like to find out more about what may be involved, we'd love to hear from you.

Last Updated 29/6/2019

FREE One Day Tournament Offer

A keen Scrabble player but never played in an ABSP tournament before? Now any first-time player can enter their first one day event FREE. Look at our tournament calendar to find an event near you.

CSW19 - Official Adoption 01 July 2019

The ABSP Committee are happy that all relevant software is now in place, and therefore confirm that as previously suggested, 1st July 2019 will be our official adoption date for CSW19. All ABSP rated games that take place on or after this date should be adjudicated using the new word list.
The first full tournament to be held will be Manuden on July 7th and I am sure James Burley will welcome entries from anyone keen to be among the first to play some of the new words. It’s also likely some league games or BEST matches may take place earlier that month.
Four software programs, each with fully licensed word list will be considered acceptable for adjudication purposes as follows:
Collins Zyzzyva - for Windows & Apple Desktops and Laptops

ULU - for portable Apple devices
Scrabble Checker - for portable Android devices
WALI Timer - for portable Android devices
All should be set to use CSW19.
A number of study tools , including the latest version of Collins Zyzzyva, and updates to LeXpert can be found on the Collins Site here.

Dictionary Update 2019


Over 2500 new additions (617 2-8 letter words) have been included in the latest edition of Collins Official SCRABBLE® Words, published today. For those who want to purchase a copy, Collins have kindly offered 50% discount using the code 50Scrabble here between now and 1st August 2019.

Thanks go to the Dictionary Committee made up of ABSP Members David Sutton & Darryl Francis for producing the updated word list. David has also created another invaluable initiation kit.

WESPA have announced an official intended adoption date of 1st July 2019. The ABSP hope to implement the dictionary changes in line with this assuming that all necessary software is updated in time. If so, it is likely Manuden on 7th July 2019 may be the first full tournament played to the new dictionary, although there could be rated games such as league or BEST matches taking place before then.

As expected, there has already been plenty of interest in the update, with many members taking part in interviews with local and national media. Former World Champion Brett Smitheram is also working with Collins to promote the changes and is happy to pass on any advice or information to anyone that may need it.

Updated 3/6/2019

Webmaster Changes

Some of you may have noticed some recent changes on the ABSP website.

Calum Edwards has over the last couple of years been a great webmaster, committed, diligent and always keen to maintain the site. However due to increased personal commitments in recent months, a short time ago he made the committee aware of his intention to quit in the near future. The committee extend our sincere thanks to Calum for everything he has done during his tenure and wish him all the best with future endeavours, both in and out of Scrabble.

I'm very pleased to say we have found a new Webmaster who, along with Peter Thorpe (who has seized the reins in the interim), will be taking over in June.

Stewart Brodie will be taking over the role of Webmaster, supported by Pete, much in the same way as Mike Whiteoak and Wayne Kelly work together as Ratings Officers. Stewart has plenty of relevant technical skills and experience, and also the interest and enthusiasm to get involved with other matters, and as such will be joining us on full ABSP committee.

Over time, both Pete and Stewart are keen to take a more active role in sourcing and improving the site and its content so hopefully with both of them involved, we may be able to improve the look and feel of the website. For now, their most immediate priorities will be maintaining the calendar, and fixing some out of date information on existing pages. Please keep in mind both Pete and Stewart are still getting to grips with a few things, so bear with us, but by all means let us know, if you do notice any problems. We'll probably be aware already, but if never hurts to make sure.

If you have any ideas as to how you want your webpage updating please share them with us either via email or in person.

Updated 3/6/2019

Committee Update & Vacancy

We are delighted to announce a new addition to the ABSP Committee. For some time we felt in danger of lacking real expertise in tournament organisation, with only a couple of committee members currently running regular events. I'm happy to say that situation has now changed, and we now welcome Peter Thorpe to the position of Tournament Officials Liaison. Pete will be able to offer assistance and advice to both active and prospective tournament organisers, directors and computer operators. Pete has also agreed to be Deputy Webmaster for the ABSP Website, will be regularly updating the calendar and Home Page, and in addition, will be helping to get some out of date documentation such as the Tournament Organiser's Guide updated. He is also keen, with the new WebMaster (in due course) to completely review the webpages, to bring them up to date and improve their functionality. Pete will also be taking up a position as UK representative on WESPA's Executive Committee.

On the flipside, we are sad to say goodbye to Colin Nicol from the role of Clubs Co-Ordinator he took on last Summer, due to personal and family commitments. Colin already has many Scrabble-related responsibilities involving the various leagues in Scotland and has found that he is constantly managing a backlog and struggling to find the time to see his plans through to fruition. As such, he has made the difficult decision to step down as he feels the position will be better filled by someone else with more attention to devote.

The purpose of the Clubs Co-Ordinator role is to provide a link between Scrabble Clubs, Leagues & the ABSP, but in many ways the role is a blank canvas and could be taken in a number of different directions depending on the candidate. In truth, liaison with Clubs is an area where we have just been treading water for a little while, and is crying out for someone to come along and put some renewed focus into it. It's an ideal opportunity for someone with some drive, who enjoys interacting with a wide and diverse base of people, and perhaps already has some strong club links themselves. If you think this may be you, or are interested in serving on the committee in any other capacity, please get in touch with any committee member.

Updated 3/6/2019

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Keeping it Simple

In recent years, Amy Byrne has usually put on the Spring Matchplay event over May Day Bank Holiday. For 2019, she teamed up with Nicky Huitson and Peter Thorpe to keep things SIMPLE, hosting Scottish International Matchplay Live in Edinburgh, at a once familiar location that had played host to many ABSP rated events in years gone by. The triumvirate hoped to attract a strong international field, and substantial sponsorship, delivering on both counts as well as attracting universal positive comments from those who took part.

In total 64 entrants contested the 2 divisions, with a third of all players taking home a cash prize. In addition, there were a number of special prizes available to be won, and all entrants received a Passport with discounts on local activities, food and drink and attractions. NSC 2018 champion Ed Martin led the early charge averaging 500+ to top the standings on day 1, but most of day 2 was dominated by close friends and rivals Brett Smitheram and Dave Koenig. Brett would hold a two game cushion overnight, with Craig Beevers moving up to third.

I don't know if Brett was "wild and wired" on day 3, and he was probably speaking more than the "language of love" but some other lyrics of his entrance song "The Best" by Tina Turner did prove prophetic as his lead was soon enough unassailable and his 9th Major was secured. Dave Koenig held on for 2nd place with a rallying Ed recovering from any day 2 blip to finish 3rd. Special mention must also go to Ahmed Khan who finished 4th despite being ranked only 17th and Steve Perry who denied his D classification (ranked 26th) to finish 10th.

In the Rated division, there was a similar story. Tom Wilson led the early pace, despite being ranked only 12th, but ultimately was overhauled by Hong Kong's Jason Tsang Wai Yin, now studying in Brighton. In the end, it was an equally dominant display by the youngster, only losing 3 of his 22 games on the route to victory, and recording a 171 tournament rating. Terry Kang Rau finished in 2nd place with Caroline McLaughlin 3rd. Tom was the top B class player in 5th place, with other impressive showings above rating from Margaret Harkness, Caroline Foy and Maria Marczak. Both division winners are pictured here.

There are many individual reports to be found on social media and Lewis Mackay will also be uploading some annotated games onto Cross-Tables. A fuller report from Nicky Huitson will also appear in the next edition of Onboard. It's not clear yet when SIMPLE will return to the tournament calendar, but it's sure to be a popular addition when it does.

Reflecting on the 2019 event, Brett said "SIMPLE was the kind of tournament that brought me to love Scrabble - fun, well-run, friendly and in surroundings that you could enjoy outside of the hard work of actual playing! My opponents were of top quality and the play was outstanding. I'll be back, as I'm sure everyone else will."

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Easter Matchplay 2019

Over 50 players from all over the country took part in the Easter events at our brand new location, College Court in Leicester. The conference venue has won awards for its catering and the food choices certainly did not disappoint. Facilities, staff, and playing area also earned universal praise from attendees, and even the weather played ball, with many players opting to spend their free time relaxing with a cold drink in the sunshine. Feedback was so positive we have already provisionally booked the venue for next year.

The scrabble itself kicked off with a Warm Up event . In Division A, organiser Wayne Kelly was two games clear of allcomers with a game average of 477 to boot. Divisions B and C were more hotly contested, with just spread points seeing Ginny Dixon win Division B, and a draw proving crucial for Stany Arnold to take Division C.

The main event had 44 players across three divisions with #1 seed Lewis Mackay looking to retain his title. It was a bumpier start than he may have expected, just scraping the first game by seven points, but he was the only player unbeaten after five games and remained in pole position for the duration of the event. His final record of 18.5 wins from 23 games could not fail to impress, with +2153 spread and 483 average also some way clear of any rivals.

The battle behind him was less clear cut, with Wayne Kelly overcoming a poor first day to finish runner-up with John Ashmore 3rd and Elie Dangoor 4th. It was a good weekend for the Ashmores with Anne taking the ratings prize and both enjoying a five point ratings boost. You do have to feel for Nuala O'Rourke though - in the prizes for much of the final day, she eventually missed out by just five spread points.

For Lewis it was his ninth Major taking him into 5th place on the all-time list. He is also only the second player in history to retain the Easter Matchplay title. Among his plays this year were SHUDDERS and GUNBOATS as nine-timers and the nine-letter play PRECOITAL through IT.

Division B saw a number of different early leaders but came down to a battle between Nicky Huitson and Caroline McLaughlin for the title. Caroline had to survive a recount, but clinched the final game by just five points, with Gillian Street pipping Nicky for 2nd place. All 3 ladies were on 15 wins so it was just spread points that decided things. In Division C, a dominant Mary Allen matched Lewis with 18.5 wins and a big gap behind. Jack Mitchell and Stephen Robinson rounded out the top three. It wasn't all about Leicester this Easter either, with Pauline Johnson clinching the inaugural Teesside Easter Championships, describing it as her biggest win for a decade.

Congratulations to all prize winners and thanks to all who contributed in making the Easter events such a success. Division winners Mary, Lewis and Caroline are pictured here with their trophies.

Life Membership Award

From time to time, the ABSP Committee likes to recognise contributions that individuals have made to the scene in the UK, or further afield, by awarding them lifetime membership of the association. Recent recipients of life membership include Amy Byrne, Laura Finley, John Grayson, Stewart Holden and Philip Nelkon.

I am pleased to announce that we have a new name to add to this list - Austin Shin. The committee have decided to award Austin life membership in recognition of the fact, that he has, in effect become an international ambassador for British Scrabble. We acknowledge his many achievements in the game, both here and across the globe which began in childhood some two decades ago. Aged just 12 years and 4 months in 2002, Austin remains the youngest ever winner of an A division at a UK rated event, and this was only the beginnings of his successes.

Austin's unfailing sportsmanship, and the fact he is always a gracious opponent whether in victory or defeat are other factors the committee have considered when unanimously deciding to bestow this award. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish Austin, and his wife Lindsay every happiness in their new life together and hope to see both over here for visits as often as possible.


P.S. A list of all Life Members has been added for information here.

Updated 9/6/2019

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UK Open 2019 - Goodbye Austin

Another year and another excellent UK Open to kick the Scrabble year off. Chris Harrison opened his campaign in the Warm Up with five bonuses in a row against a globe-trotting Richards, but it was Karen, not Nigel and wasn't even enough to top round 1 standings. That honour went to Theresa Brousson on the comeback trail, with Nigel only 5th. Normal service was resumed from round 2, with Nigel hitting the top spot, a position he would hold right through until the end. His closest rival in the Warm Up was Natalie Zolty, but she would need to beat him in the final round by a meagre 557 points... In any event, she was secure in 2nd place and Theresa won her final game to finish 3rd. Other Division winners were Paul (Tranmere) Thomson, Ian Nichol and Geoff Cooper.

Natalie hotfooted it home for an interview on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire's Culture Club. Having heard some of the words played, presenter Dave Marshall Barrett is not about to enter next year's event, but Natalie assured him that clubs around the country welcome players of all levels!

It would largely be business as usual for Nigel in the main event too, but he didn't have it all his own way with Harshan Lamabadusuriya, Ed Martin and Wayne Kelly pushing hard, and giant-killing Mick Healy taking his own personal record against Nigel to 2-0. Ultimately, it was Austin Shin who would come out of the pack to launch the strongest assault, but he would need to beat Nigel five times in a row, and fell at the 4th hurdle. He had done enough to claim Runner Up's spot though, with Harshan rallying for 3rd place. Other strong performances came from Rik Kennedy in 4th and Ahmed Khan 5th earning him a new ratings peak of 172.

For Nigel it was his 10th UK Open title, and including side events, he now has 20 wins from 22 attempts at this tournament. For Austin, pictured here with the UK's 2nd biggest improver of 2018, Sumbul Siddiqui, it was his last event in the UK before his move overseas, and whilst we all wish him well, it will be sad not to see him as regularly on the UK circuit. He has been a permanent fixture across more than two decades, evolving into a true ambassador at the very top of the global game. #Scoringneverstops and I am sure he will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in his new surroundings.

Ebi Sosseh was the top seed in Division B and for the most part looked the one to beat. However, it was Andrew Eames who was amassing the best spread and by the final round, it was almost double that of any others. Although still behind on wins, a victory in the last round could still be enough if Ebi lost. Ebi did indeed lose, but so did Andrew, by just 11pts and so the top 2 remained unchanged. Division C was very tightly fought with 4 players all on 19 wins going into the final round - Ann Golding, Breda O'Brien, Stany Arnold and Jack Mitchell. Ann had the best spread, but needed to win which she duly did, and with the four all matched against each other, Stany was the other victor, vaulting her above Breda into 2nd place. Full results for all divisions can be viewed here.

Craig Beevers streamed many of the top games so you can get at least a flavour of what a great event the UK Open is, by checking out his twitch channel. Videos only stay on twitch for 2 weeks but will also be available on youtube soon. Congratulations to all prize winners, and thanks to everyone who contributed in making the event such a success.

ABSP Discussion Group

We have a new Facebook discussion group solely for ABSP members to enable more interactive and responsive communication within the community around ABSP matters. There are already over 100 members. Please come and join in at

ABSP Online Scrabble League

Do you enjoy playing friendly Facebook Scrabble games against other members?

Would you prefer to pit your wits in a more structured competition?

Well now you can.... ABSP Online is a new league exclusively for ABSP members.

The league will run fortnightly on a Tuesday, starting on Tuesday July 11th. Games will be played on the Facebook Scrabble app and you'll have two weeks to complete all your games. Initial divisions will be based on ABSP rating and thereafter by promotions and demotions at the end of each round. This is initially a trial and as things progress, we may add other types of competition.

(Note - online games are, of course, not ABSP rated!)

To find out more and register to play, join the facebook group (you will need a Facebook account and the EA facebook scrabble game).

You will also need to be registered on

Registration is free for ABSP members - we will add you when you join the facebook group.

If not currently a member, you can join the ABSP at here

Give it a try, let's see how many ABSP Scrabblers we can fit into a virtual room.

Spread the word!


Committee Changes

The ABSP aims to keep members informed of changes to the committee. At the 2018 AGM new committee members were elected alongside those remaining in office for the coming year. These changes are all listed on the committee page which is accessible here

Vacancy (May 2019) - Clubs Co-Ordinator

Updated 3/6/2019