Scrabble-Thon for Escondido Library is back

Scene from the 2015 Scrabble-Thon./Escondido Public Library

It’s back. Scrabble-Thon, Escondido Public Library’s homage to many things spelled for points, returns for its 16th annual run for the “QUARTZY,” otherwise known as the highest-scoring word you can play, according to James Bartlett, scrabble maven.

According to Bartlett, QUARTZY, will score 164 points if played across a red triple-word square with the Z on a light blue double-letter square. It will score 162 points if played across two pink double-word squares with the Q and the Y on those squares. BEZIQUE and CAZIQUE are next with a possible 161 points. All three words score an extra 50 points for having seven letters and therefore emptying the letter rack in one go.

Escondido Public Library and the Friends of Literacy Services is scheduled to host the 16th Annual Scrabble-Thon Tournament & Fundraiser from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m Saturday, March 7, 2020. The event will be held in the Auditorium of the Park Avenue Community Center, located at 210 Park Ave, Escondido, CA 92025. Doors open for player check-in at 8 a.m. Tournament play begins at 9 a.m.

Players must pre-register by March 4, 2020 online at, by mail, or in person at the Literacy Services office, located on the 2nd floor of the Library. The registration fee for adults is $25; registration for high school students is $15.

The Scrabble tournament consists of five, 30-minute games and is open to adults and high school students. Players sign-up to play in one of three divisions: Novice, Intermediate, or Advanced.

Participants can compete individually or as a part of a group affiliation. Players can participate as special groups that will be recognized for their participation during the tournament. Players compete for prizes at the end of each game as well as the final awards for highest individual and team scores.

Scrabble-Thon raises funds to benefit the Library’s Literacy Services program. Sponsored by the Friends of Literacy Services, 100 percent of the proceeds will be used to provide literacy materials and resources. There will be opportunity drawings, a Pick-a-Tile game, and silent auction items throughout Scrabble-Thon. Donations are tax-deductible.

Escondido Public Library is located at 239 S. Kalmia Street in downtown Escondido. For more information on Scrabble-Thon and library services or contact Principal Librarian for Literacy Services, Dan Wood, at 760-839-4827 or

Who can resist Scrabble-thon?

Who can resist Scrabble-thon?

Scrabbling it up: Began With a Crash

There were many victims of America’s Great Depression in 1929. But in 1933 an out of work architect named Alfred Mosher Butts invented a game that would lift the spirits of millions.

Hailing from Poughkeepsie, New York, Butts had taken to analyzing popular games, defining three different categories: number games, such as dice and bingo; move games, such as chess and checkers; and word games, such as anagrams. He also noted, “…there is one thing that keeps word games from being as popular as card games: they have no score.”

Attempting to combine the thrill of chance and skill, Butts entwined the elements of anagrams and the classic crossword puzzle into a scoring word game first called LEXIKO. This was then refined during the early 1930s and 1940s to become CRISS CROSS WORDS.

The SCRABBLE game is born

Legend has it Butts studied the front page of “The New York Times” to make his calculations for the letter distribution in the game. This skilled, cryptographic analysis of our language formed the basis of the original tile distribution, which has remained constant through almost three generations and billions of games.

Nevertheless, established game manufacturers unanimously slammed the door on Butts’ invention. It was only when Butts met James Brunot, a game-loving entrepreneur, that the concept became a commercial reality.

Together they refined the rules and design and then, most importantly, came up with the name SCRABBLE – a word defined as ‘to grasp, collect, or hold on to something’; and a word that truly captured the essence of this remarkable concept. And so the SCRABBLE Brand Crossword Game was trademarked in 1948.

Words Don’t Always Come Easily…

Pushing on, the Brunots rented a small, red, abandoned schoolhouse in Dodgington, Connecticut. Along with some friends, they turned out 12 games an hour, stamping letters on wooden tiles one at a time. Only later were boards, boxes, and tiles made elsewhere and sent to the factory for assembly and shipping.

In fact, the first four years were a struggle. In 1949 the Brunots made 2,400 sets and lost $450. Nevertheless, the SCRABBLE game gained slow but steady popularity among a handful of consumers.

Then in the early 1950s, legend has it, that the president of MACY’S discovered the game while on vacation and ordered some for his store. Within a year, the SCRABBLE game was a ‘must-have’ hit, to the point that SCRABBLE games were being rationed to stores around the country!

In 1952, the Brunots licensed Selchow & Righter Company, a well-known game manufacturer, to market and distribute the games in the United States and Canada. Selchow & Righter stepped up production to meet the overwhelming demand for the SCRABBLE game. In 1972, Selchow & Righter purchased the trademark from Brunot, thereby giving the company the exclusive rights to all SCRABBLE Brand products and entertainment services in the United States and Canada. One of the game’s first shrewd moves…

By 1986, Selchow & Righter was sold to COLECO Industries, who had become famous as the manufacturers of the Cabbage Patch Dolls. Yet three years later, COLECO declared bankruptcy, and its primary assets – most notably the SCRABBLE game and PARCHEESI™ – were purchased by Hasbro, Inc., owner of the Milton Bradley Company, America’s leading game manufacturer.

Today the SCRABBLE game is found in three of every five American homes, ranging from a Junior edition to an Electronic Scoring edition with many versions in between including: standard, deluxe, and travel-sized games.

Game on!

Like chess and bridge, competitive SCRABBLE game play is hugely popular and continues to add players every year.

Each year, the North American SCRABBLE Players Association (NASPA) hosts a National SCRABBLE Championship in a major U.S. city. The tournament attracts more than 500 highly-skilled and competitive adult SCRABBLE players who compete in 31 rounds of one-on-one play over a five day period.

The NASPA has thousands of players with official tournament ratings who compete in weekly competitions at sanctioned clubs across the U.S. and Canada. You can get involved and find out more about the NASPA by visiting

The Challenge Continues…

Whatever the stakes, at home or locking intellectual horns in a tournament, competitive players are able to check and challenge their SCRABBLE words using Merriam-Webster’s “Official SCRABBLE Players Dictionary.”

The fifth edition of the dictionary was released in 2014, and has added more than 5,000 words since its last update. One notable word that was added was “GEOCACHE”, a word chosen by fans in the SCRABBLE Word Showdown which took place on Facebook in 2014.

For school aged SCRABBLE enthusiasts, The National School SCRABBLE TOURNAMENT brings together contestants from across the U.S. and Canada, unearthing the youngest rising SCRABBLE stars. Students who compete in the tournament are generally members of a school SCRABBLE club where they learn the rules of the game, practice their vocabulary, and learn the benefits of teamwork.

Parents, teachers, and coaches can go to to learn more about the event and to register students for the tournament, held annually in the spring.

The SCRABBLE game has also reached a new community of players in the digital age with digital versions of the game from Hasbro licensee Electronic Arts. Available on Facebook, iPhone, iPad, and Android devices, these digital versions are a continuing testament to Alfred Mosher Butts and his wonderful game of words.

1 Comment on "Scrabble-Thon for Escondido Library is back"

  1. I am really grateful Escondido Grapevine features advance articles like this, about the ever-popular Scrabble Marathan at Escondido Library on March 12, 2016 .
    Event notices in advance are valued far more by readers who seek fun activities, and articles make events more interesting and well attended.
    fyi – There’s another good upcoming free event next Tuesday February 23, 2016, at 6 pm scheduled at Escondido Public Library (2nd floor), which I hope Escondido Grapevine can also cover? Event is called “Benefits of Climate Change Action”, featuring expert speakers Dr. Tom English (economist), and Rolph Vam Dorlph.
    Event is co-sponsored by Escondido Chamber of Citizens (ECOC), and 350 Degrees. All are welcome to attend, and learn more from experts about the many important BENEFITS by Taking Climate Change Actions, and promoting a sustainable planet ! Invite your friends !

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