Should Scrabble Tile Values Be Changed?

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A researcher believes that the popular game Scrabble should rethink the values of its iconic tiles.

Joshua Lewis has created a computer program to recalculate the value of the tiles in the classic board game. His suggestions include lowering the “Z” from a 10 to a 6, and lowering the “X” from an 8 to a 5. Tiles like “Y” and “K” would see their values go up.

Lewis tells the BBC, “The dictionary of legal words in Scrabble has changed. Among the notable additions are all of these short words which make it easier to play Z, Q and X, so even though Q and Z are the highest value letters in Scrabble, they are now much easier to play.”

John Chew, co-president of the North American Scrabble Players Association, has heard this before. He tells the BBC that he hears this complaint a couple of times a year, but that there would be “catastrophic outrage” if the values were changed.

The definitive last word on any possible change would come from the game’s makers. Hasbro manufactures the game in the United States, while Mattel does so in Britain. “Mattel has no plans to change Scrabble tiles. It is not a game where fairness is paramount, it is a game of luck and changing the tile values wouldn’t achieve anything,” says Philip Nelkon, Scrabble’s UK representative.

Proposed Scrabble Value Changes (Joshua Lewis)
C – 2 (Down from 3) F – 3 (Down from 4)
G – 3 (Up from 2) H – 2 (Down from 4)
J – 6 (Down from 8) K – 4 (Down from 5)
L – 2 (Up from 1) M – 2 (Down from 3)
P – 2 (Down from 3) U – 2 (Up from 1)
V – 5 (Up from 4) X – 5 (Down from 8)
Y – 3 (Down from 4) Z – 6 (Down from 10)

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