What's a nine-letter word for change? Try Trickster.
That's the name of the new edition of Scrabble, the familiar letter-based board game that has been delighting wordsmiths since 1948. In this new version, Trickster, the rules have changed a bit. Proper nouns (such as titles of books and plays and movies, along with the names of celebrities) will be allowed. Also permissible will be words spelled backward. (Presumably, ABBA fills the bill on both counts.)
This new version of Scrabble will not be sold in the U.S., according to Hasbro, the company that has the North American rights to the venerable board game. Instead, Trickster will be sold in the United Kingdom, by Mattel, which owns the rights there. Representatives of Mattel say that they are aiming to gain more younger players.
The rule changes, the fourth in the game's history, will come about when players place one of 100 tiles on one of the 225 squares on the board that instruct the players to draw cards that include special instructions, such as the use of a proper noun or the permission to spell a word backward. Another instruction on the cards is that a player has to give one of his or her letters to an opponent.
The word scrabble literally means "to grope frantically." And that is exactly what some players of the longtime favorite board game do when they are puzzled as to what letters to place on the board next. Still, scrabble they do, to the tune of millions of games every year, in countries all around the world.
From its humble beginnings as the brainchild of Alfred Butts (a lover of crossword puzzles), Scrabble has grown to a household word and has long ago become more than a simple board game. Computer games and mobile phones abound (including a hot-selling application for the iPhone). T-shirts and jewelry sporting Scrabble letters are familiar. Even furniture makers have jumped on the Scrabble bandwagon.
Trickster isn't actually the first time the game has changed. Hasbro, which controls the North American rights to Scrabble, also sells a card game called Scrabble Slam and is planning to release a computer game called Scrabble Flash, which will allow players to use blocks that click together.