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My friend played the 'A' and the 'X' tiles underneath the word REARMICE and I was confused as I didn't believe it was legal to play words alongside other words.

He also stated that he received points for “Ax” twice, and “Ea” once, and since the 'X' tile was on a triple letter square he tripled its points, and then tripled it again because he used it for two words, is this legal?

I assumed that when he put down the 'X' tile to make “Ax” using the 'A' tile from REARMICE his turn was over, but instead he placed another letter.

section of a scramble board as described previously

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  • 16
    if that's a valid play or not depends entirely on if "ea" is considered a valid word. At least scrabble.hasbro.com/en-us/tools#dictionary doesn't recognize it. Though Wiktionary does include it, so I guess I'll try to remember to use it the next time I play, though I'm slightly afraid I'll just be shot as a cheater.
    – ilkkachu
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 18:46
  • 3
    "tripled it again" doesn't read correctly. X counts as 24, twice, but not as 72. Hopefully that's what you mean. ("Ax" counts as 25, "Ax" counts as 25, and "EA" counts as 2, for a total of 52.)
    – Joe
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 0:13
  • 4
    @KevinWorkman the "EA" running downwards, not the "EA" that's part of the previously existing word.
    – Chris H
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 7:29
  • 3
    @ilkkachu The players are supposed to agree on a particular dictionary to use before the game begins. So whether "ea" is a legal play will depend on the dictionary chosen. Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 13:45
  • 8
    It is not cheating or illegal to play an invalid word. You can play any word that you think your opponents won't challenge. Challenges are made and resolved after the word(s) are played, with the loser losing their turn. A true illegal move (say, placing tiles that aren't adjacent to any existing tiles) is simply not permitted: the player's turn does not end until they make a legal move.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 21:03

4 Answers 4

34

This is a perfectly legal move covered by the third point in the rules excerpt below.

https://scrabble.hasbro.com/en-us/rules

New words may be formed by:

  • Adding one or more letters to a word or letters already on the board.

  • Placing a word at right angles to a word already on the board. The new word must use one of the letters already on the board or must add a letter to it. (See Turns 2, 3 and 4 below.)

  • Placing a complete word parallel to a word already played so that adjacent letters also form complete words. (See Turn 5 in the Scoring Examples section below.)

enter image description here

Placing AX, the ones circled in blue. This move creates three words. The X is on a triple letter score. enter image description here

All three words are scored separately with premium values counting for all words.

EA (Red): 1 + 1 = 2
AX (Purple): 1 + 8x3 = 25
AX (Blue): 1 + 8x3 = 25

This gives a total move score of 52.

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  • 5
    "so that adjacent letters also form complete words" --> "EA" is not a word, thus it is NOT a valid move. Also: you didn't really touch on the scoring part of the question.
    – Opifex
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 7:57
  • 13
    @Opifex The question revolves around the legality of playing a word parallel to a word already played, rather than perpendicular, is allowed. Once that is determined legal, the rest of the question is trivial. If the word is not valid then the only should be rejected on that basis, not on the type of play and is therefore outside the scope of the question.
    – LeppyR64
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 10:30
  • 12
    Nowhere does the OP challenge the notion of EA being a word, only the idea of playing a word parallel to, rather than perpendicular to, an existing word. Scrabble itself does not mandate any particular dictionary, only that all players agree to a dictionary or wordlist before the game begins.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 20:51
  • 5
    Also, the move is legal, but the words involved are challengeable.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 20:53
  • 8
    This answer is entirely complete; the move is legal. Whether the word(s) formed by the move will survive a challenge under Rule #8 of the linked rules is an entirely separate matter.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 21:10
28

That is legal. The rules only specify that you place your tiles along the same vertical or horizontal line, and must be adjacent to tiles already on the board in at least one place.

Your friend formed three new words with his play: ax, ax, and ea. If you think any of them are not valid words, you can challenge his turn.

Here is another example of a word AXION played alongside another word TINT:

enter image description here

(Image cropped from https://img.wonderhowto.com/img/91/78/63406678713167/0/master-scrabble-win-every-game.w1456.jpg)

Imagine TINT was already on the board, and AXION is the new word just played next to it. AXION is a completely permissible play because AT, XI (a greek letter), and IN are also words.

The player gets the points for AXION, AT, XI, and IN. The X is on a triple letter, and its points are tripled in every word it is in.

AXION is 1 + 8*3 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 28 points.
AT is 1 + 1 = 2 points.
XI is 8 * 3 + 1 = 25 points.
IN is 1 + 1 = 2 points.

So this example would have been a legal 57 point play.

Your friend should have scored 52 points for his turn by the way, if you accept EA (which might not be a valid word depending on the dictionary you're playing by).

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  • 5
    This also nicely explains the correct scoring. What OP describes seems wrong scoring (for correctly laid words).
    – quarague
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 19:57
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    @quarague if "he tripled it again" means he counted it for 3x points in both AX words, then the scoring seems correct. If "he tripled it again" means he did (8×3)×3 then that's wrong. His friend should have won 52 points.
    – minseong
    Commented Jan 9, 2022 at 21:24
  • 6
    @Kevin "EA" is formed as a vertical word. Placing "A" below the "E" of REARMOUSE forms a word "EA". All words formed in turn must be valid for the turn to be valid.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 6:20
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    @nick012000 ea means river, it's not a proper noun
    – minseong
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 11:13
  • 5
    @ilkkachu Is it really any more surprising that a dictionary would allow "ea" and "rearmice" than "wo" and "mbaqanga"? There's not really such a thing as "borderline" in such lists - either the editors of a particular dictionary decided to include the word, or they didn't. If you played to the full OED, there would be a lot of archaic and dialectal terms; if you played to a single-volume dictionary like the Concise Oxford, there would be some subset of them that met whatever criteria the editors used.
    – IMSoP
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 14:09
9

This is really just an expansion on LeppyR64's answer, which is correct: the move is legal.

Whether any word formed by a legal move is valid under the agreed-upon dictionary is a separate matter. It is perfectly legal to make up a word. It's the responsibility of an opponent to challenge a play under Rule #8 of the official rules if they believe a word formed by the play to be invalid.

If any word so formed is found to be invalid, all letters in played in that turn are removed and the player loses their turn. (Compare to an illegal move, which is treated as if it weren't made and the player must make a legal move.)

If all words so formed are found to be valid, the words are scored and the challenger loses their next turn.

If a play is unchallenged, all words (whether valid or no) are scored.

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  • No, this is just playing pedantry with Scrabble rules. The rules do not actually ever use the word 'legal'. You're arguing that the topology of the play shown is consistent with the rules, regardless of the fact that the word ('EA') is unacceptable. Whether that is 'legal' or not is quibbling different definitions of 'legal'. Most of us us would say it isn't.
    – smci
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 15:36
  • 3
    If you allow players to challenge a word with no consequences if they are wrong, you aren't playing by the rules. Nothing in the rules say you can't play a word not in the dictionary; the rules explicitly provide a procedure for challenging a word that someone plays.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 15:40
  • 3
    I'm not redefining it, and it's doesn't need to be redefined. "Legal" means "according to the rules", and there is no rule against playing a word not in the agreed dictionary. There is a prescribed penalty for doing so and losing a subsequent challenge, nothing more.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 15:48
  • 3
    If a player repeatedly and intentionally plays illegal words, you challenge them, they lose their turns, and they quickly lose.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 15:49
  • 1
    No not necessarily. A player could intentionally play borderline legal words, or words previously illegal, or only known in some countries, in order to bait their opponent into making challenges and forfeiting a turn. We could even construct an AI player that dances around this. It would certainly be vexatious. (Example word: 'LIBLAB')
    – smci
    Commented Jan 21, 2022 at 16:21
5

No. *

As explained in the other answers, the general pattern is fine. I frequently make 50+ point plays this way (6 x 8 + a few extra - (With X there is EX, AX, XI, XU, with J there is JO), even more occasionally with QI or ZA (6 x 10 + a few extra).

However, according to the online official dictionary, EA is not a valid word. Some other dictionaries may include it. AE is a word, but not EA.

* As noted in a comment, SOWPODS includes EA. So if the game is outside US/Canada, or inside US/Canada but chooses to include SOWPODS words, then this is a valid 52 point play.

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    It depends on the dictionary you're playing by. EA is valid in SOWPODS/CSW/WESPA (international English) play, but not in NASPA (US/North American English).
    – shoover
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 1:31
  • 8
    @KevinWorkman there's "EA" inside the existing word running West to East, but there's also a new "EA" on it's own running North to South as part of the play.
    – Jontia
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 9:13
  • 6
    The move is legal. It's up to an opponent to challenge whether EA is a word after the move is complete. An illegal move simply cannot be made; the game does not procede until a legal move is made in its place.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 20:55
  • 1
    I don't feel that a direct statement of no followed by an asterisk stating it would be legal if the word EA is valid. As we don't know what dictionary they are using we can't give an answer based on that but should instead focus on the play being legal if all the newly created words are valid.
    – Joe W
    Commented Jan 10, 2022 at 21:54
  • 2
    Correct: the answer is wrong, asterisk or no.
    – chepner
    Commented Jan 11, 2022 at 22:27

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