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Earlier today, a group of us were playing Scrabble. One of us had to leave early due to something external. What happens to that player's tiles?

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    I think this question and most answers will apply to most board games in general; the solution will not be unique to scrabble. – GendoIkari Dec 6 '20 at 15:21
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While there are no explicit rules in Scrabble to handle this, it's pretty straight forward to do this in Scrabble with minimal disruption. I've done this on several occasions.

  1. Leave any tiles on the board where they are. Even if you could remember which tiles they played, you wouldn't want to. Tiles that are played are essentially communal property, as any player can play off of them. Also, removing played tiles from the board would be potentially disruptive to the next few plays, where leaving them has no ill side-effects.

  2. As long as there are still tiles left in the bag, return their rack of tiles to the bag without looking at them. The game is predicated around their being a particular set of tiles in circulation. Taking these tiles permanently out of circulation is bad for anyone tracking tiles, and keeping them in circulation doesn't hurt. (Note that due to a lost challenge, some of these tiles may have been revealed, but in that case, they've been revealed to all players, so there isn't really an advantage to any player.)

  3. If there are no tiles left in the bag (it's endgame), keep their rack out of play and face down. At this point, players are no longer drawing replacement tiles, and so suddenly introducing replacements would have a profound disruptive effect on whoever went next. You may want to even do this if there are very few tiles left in the bag; that's up to the table.

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Leaving in the middle of the game is not covered by the rules.

Your question is ultimately: what happens when we don't/can't follow the rules of the game? The answer is always: your house rules are up to you.

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    The obvious house rule would be to leave the player's placed tiles on the board and to return the player's unplaced tiles back into the pool without exposing them. Other than disbanding or postponing the game, I'm having trouble thinking of any alternative to this. – Ray Butterworth Dec 6 '20 at 1:21
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    The tiles on the board are almost certainly left there, sure. The rack tiles could be out of the game or returned to the bag with equal "correctness" in this or that subjective world. But the point is that it's all house rules, and so it's up to the house. – L. Scott Johnson Dec 6 '20 at 1:44
  • But it's not "equal". Leaving some tiles out of play would affect the end-game, when normally you could know for sure what tiles are still in other player's hands. E.g. knowing that there is still a "J" or "Z" to be played, you wouldn't create an opening for it, but if it could be in the buried tiles you might take a chance. – Ray Butterworth Dec 6 '20 at 3:41
  • Having someone not play their next turn would affect the end game. Leaving them in-tray is the same as treating the absent player as present and always taking a "pass" turn and exchanging no tiles. It doesn't affect end-game any more than if that player remained (and passed), therefore. – L. Scott Johnson Dec 6 '20 at 12:08
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    I was talking about the time when there are no remaining tiles to exchange, with all tiles on the board or in the players' trays. If I don't see a "Z" anywhere, I'm not going to create an opening for it, and if I did create one, the player with the tile would play it, not pass. My play might be different if I knew the "Z" could be out of play. ¶ Or, consider deliberately playing a full game where 7 tiles are removed and hidden before play starts. Would it still feel like a "normal" game? – Ray Butterworth Dec 6 '20 at 14:49

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