# Was it ever the case that Scrabble tiles had to be placed contiguously?

I learnt to play Scrabble with my grandma in the 80s, and for years she was the only person I played against (I didn't have a board). She played the rules she was taught when she first learnt the game as a young woman. One such rule was that you had to play all your tiles contiguously. I.e., you can add PEA to an existing L to make PEAL or LEAP, but not PLEA because the latter would involve splitting your placement either side of an existing letter.

Of course, this is not a rule. But has it ever been? Had she misremembered the rules, or just not reread them since the 50s?! I would be interested to know.

I still play this rule sometimes in memoriam, and it makes for a different challenge.

Her last ever word (played in 2007) was LEGACY for 42 on a triple word. She won the game.

• It probably stems from a misreading of the rule that you play all of your tiles "in one row" (and thinking that one row meant unbroken; a broken row would be two rows). Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 12:44
• Its possible that this is a house-rule your grandma played by. Commented Feb 1, 2021 at 18:32
• Related (but not duplicate) question: boardgames.stackexchange.com/questions/52902/… Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 15:45
• I encountered a bizarre variant rule that had interpreted all in a row as contiguous placement but since that consumed the all in a row thing it meant you could bend the tile placement. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 17:47

It seems it has never been a rule.

I've found a (non-HTTPS) site here that shows previous rules from different version of the game. The oldest rules they have are from 1948, the year the game became Scrabble.

In the rules examples, they show the word "FARM" being played intersecting with "HORN", so that is clearly using "FA" and "M", splitting placement either side of the letter "R".

• I think that example has been unchanged for decades. My grandparents' set, old in the 80s, used the same example, and I'm pretty certain my 50th anniversary set does too. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 12:30

This was never an actual rule, but it's easy to understand how someone could misread the rules to think it was. The original printed rules for scrabble include this rule (emphasis mine):

4. All letters played in any one turn must be placed in one row across or down the board. They must form a single complete word in that row and, at the same time, form complete words, cross-word fashion, with all touching letters in rows at right angles.

The current rules don't clear up the issue much (emphasis mine):

#3 Play passes to the left. The second player, and then each in turn, adds one or more letters to those already played to form new words. All letters played on a turn must be placed in one row across or down the board, to form at least one complete word. If, at the same time, they touch others letters in adjacent rows, those must also form complete words, crossword fashion, with all such letters. The player gets full credit for all words formed or modified on his or her turn.

The confusion comes from the part where it says that letters "must be placed in one row." The rule means that tiles you place need to all be in the same row (or column), but the idea of putting things 'in a row' for some people means that they are placed consecutively.

• @JCRM agreed, the examples are clear, and these same examples have existed for 70 years, the link in StartPlayer's answer has the original rules with the same examples. The issue is with the rule itself taken on it's own. A lot of people will read only the minimal part of the rules until they believe they understand them, skipping examples, so rules need to be clear and able to stand on their own. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 17:58
• I wonder if this means one could play two separate words, attached to current tiles in different places, as long as both words are in the same row... Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 18:30
• @Tonny Those are the rules from the 50s. The current version's rules say "at least one complete word" so it's arguable you can based on the current rules. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 19:24
• Yeah the 1999 rules overhaul really messed this up by saying one or more (intending to reference the fact that your new word may create additional words perpendicular to it). Even the rules history page from StartPlayer's post comments on this unintentional rule change allowing two separated words. Needless to say, apps will never allow this. I bet tournaments would be similarly unimpressed. Nevertheless Hasbro really needs to fix this. Commented Feb 2, 2021 at 19:34
• @Tonny no need to take me at my word, i linked the hasbro site, to the page for the scrabble rules, and quoted the relevant one Commented Feb 3, 2021 at 13:40