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(Here are the official licensed sites for on-line Scrabble in the US and the UK. The US one is managed by Microsoft - and guess what, you can't access it with a Netscape browser. How surprising.) Also for the US: MPlayer, MSN & MSN Scrabble 2.0; and Macsoft Scrabble for the Macintosh
People working on Scrabble in languages other than English may find this section of the word games FAQ helpful.
The current favored lookahead strategy is traditionally called "Monte Carlo sampling"; it has been used in several areas of endeavour including game playing for many years; I believe the first computer program to use this technique in Scrabble was Richard Hooker and Tony Guilfoyle's Quetzal; it has also been used more famously in Brian Sheppard's Maven, where he calls it "simulation". Very roughly, Monte Carlo sampling in Scrabble consists of picking a random rack from the bag such as your opponent might have, and then finding his best move using that rack. You do this for each of your own moves that you are considering playing. Typically it might do this 20,000 times, to ensure a statistically significant sample.
Although in classic AI, this would be done as a Minimax, with a branching
ratio of > 1 at each ply (possibly with some pruning such as alpha-beta
cut-off to keep the exponential explosion under control); in the Scrabble
programs listed here, what they call a multi-ply search is actually
done as follows:
Take two candidate moves A and B. For each candidate, generate a 4-ply
sequence of moves, A1-A2-A3-A4 and B1-B2-B3-B4. Each move Ax/Bx is derived
from a random rack (or rack fill) and one movegen and static eval.
So with 8 movegens I have one 4-ply iteration for each move. Now do
20000 iterations. Then we have done 20000 4-ply sims. [Explanation courtesy of Mark
Here's a note on how Maven chooses racks for its simulations, and some comments on this method.
In this paper I propose an alternative to Monte Carlo, which for a significant set of board positions offers more information with considerably less computing effort.
As well as his Scrabble program, James has also written a simulator, i.e. a program to do Monte Carlo sampled lookahead. I wrote a harness to access this from the web, and G. Vincent Castellano now hosts jac's simulator on one of his systems.
3rd Feb 2000: Ok, for those who were asking, yes, Gnerudite is no longer being developed. Let's just say, the idea infringed just ever so slightly on a certain well-known board game, and having watched a couple of hobbyist coders get slammed by the makers of said board game, I didn't fancy writing it any more ;) C'est la vie =)
a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o ----------------------------- ----------------------------- 01|= A J ' A| 01|# . L I S T E N E R . + . . #| 02| - F " A " - U| 02|W A I F . * . . . E . . W = .| 03| - O O W E - T| 03|A . = . . . + . + T . . O . .| 04|i N D U C T S ' L A V E B O| 04|L . T = . . . + J I V E R . +| 05| L - M I L K O S| 05|T O E . = . . . . C = . N . .| 06| " D O M A I N N | 06|I F S . . * . . . L . . . * .| 07| ' B A N D ' I | 07|E . S . . . + . E E . . + . B| 08|= P R I O R Y E X E C| 08|R . E + . . P A X . . + . . L| 09| H E H ' ' I S | 09|. . R . . . + . A . . . + . O| 10| E W E " Q I T | 10|. P A . . * . . M * . B E G O| 11| P E E - A D | 11|. U . V A T I C I D e . . . D| 12|' S ' T - F| 12|+ N . A . . . U N . H U N K Y| 13| - I ' R E s O L V E R| 13|. . Q I . . + R E . . . = . .| 14| - N A Y U " - O| 14|. = . R . * . I D * . . . = .| 15|Z I G G U R A T ' G| 15|H U G Y . . . O . . . + . . #| 16 ----------------------------- ----------------------------- THIS STYLE HERE THIS STYLE HEREThe two above are really meant for people on mailing lists to get a better view of the boards which are mailed around as ASCII, for instance on the uk-scrabble, sowpods, or crossword games analysis mailing lists.
These can be used, under the 'fair use' provision of copyright law, in displays such as reporting the results of a Scrabble competition, or for online Scrabble magazines, or for setting up Scrabble quizzes, or for giving examples when explaining the inner workings of Scrabble programs. Remember when you use them to give a proper copyright attribution to the copyright holders. They should not be used to create online games.
I have a program which determines the highest-scoring moves for any position. It can take an entire game log, or start from a given position (although it's usually just as easy to enter all the moves made to reach a certain position). It does not distinguish between moves made by either player, so doesn't keep score. The input can be essentially free-form, one move to a line. Prints the top twenty moves, or only bingos if at least one is playable, plus top ten moves which leave an S or a blank on the rack; amount of output is easily modified or made user-selectable. Lists tiles unseen at any position.
The code runs on Linux. Error reporting is weak, but I could spruce it up in short order. Input from a file or standard input. Written in Ada. I regret that personal circumstances severely limit my ability to make more than minor enhancements.
I also have a perl script to assist in translating ACBot analyses into my own input format, but it needs manual intervention in the case of phonies, forfeited or not.
The technology I have developed is rather primitive in speed, interface and heuristics and doesn't add anything to what's already out there. As I say, it's in Ada, which most programmers don't have the patience for. (Ada gets a real bad rap, but used properly it's extremely powerful. Larry Wall seriously considered using it to write Perl 6. This is particularly curious given that the intersection of the sets of Perl and Ada afficianados is vanishingly small.)
Also, the code itself is perfectly ghastly in spots, so I would be pretty embarrassed to hand it out, but I might be persuaded.
In its current state, I would either have to improve
its packaging or provide support for building it and if I had time
for that, I would be doing a lot more word list studying. I would
rather have a dialog with someone before they pick it up.
I have seen this listed as being available on the Acorn Archimedes as
recently as 1999, although
obviously it is primarily a PC game.
Also spotted on the Amiga.
Seen on the PC at least as far
back as 1996, most likely earlier.
Late news: I believe this is the program written by wordgame-programmer's
member Warwick Allison, in Modula II some years ago. Warwick has
written a new game since then - see above.
CrossCraze allows three types of gameplay: "Standard" play, where new
letters must be placed next to existing ones (eg. change DOG to DOGS); "Tile
Stacking", where new letters can also be placed on top of old ones (eg.
change DOG to DIG); and "Point Stealing", where you can use previously
placed tiles to snatch points from your opponents.
The top level AI utilizes a brute-force search combined with rack-balancing.
It tends to avoid opening up too many bonus squares for opponents and plays
a fairly closed game. The various weightings have been derived from many
days of automated play. The actual AI routines are extremely fast, but the
computer's response time has been deliberately slowed so it doesn't appear
to return immediately. The easier AI opponents tend to play more open games,
using less strategy and a reduced vocabulary.
As well as US, UK and International spellings, games can also be played in
French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish or
Many of the publicly available foreign language word lists were found to be
either very limited or very error-prone, so the game's own vocab lists were
distilled from multiple different source lists, using purpose-written
software. Words which occurred in most source lists were deemed to be both
valid and in common use. Words which occurred in only a small number of
source lists were deemed likely to be either misspellings or extremely
obscure and were discarded. Those remaining words were deemed to be valid,
but rare, and were reserved for use by only the game's stronger AI players.
Twice winner of the Computer Olympiad. As far as I know, never pitted against Maven (see below) in competition play, so we don't know which is the stronger.
Crosswise is derived from "The Scrabble Player" (TSP) which was the basis of one of the official Mattel Scrabble programs (the "US Gold" version), just as Maven is the basis of the Hasbro one (below). It was ported to the Psion series 3 in 1995. Crosswise is one of those parameterised games which can play any Scrabble-like game, but is not configured specifically to look like Scrabble, does not mention the word Scrabble, and has to be turned into Scrabble by the user. The current Mattel program may be based on this French program. One of the first Mattel (then Spear's Games) Scrabbles was that by Peter Turcan (see below).
The engine inside Hasbro's Scrabble. See also Pams: poslfit's analyser of Maven simulations and some of its output. (See John Chew's other code). No, I don't know where to get Maven. Maven turned into the the Hasbro Scrabble product, but now Hasbro's Scrabble, even though they refer to it as Maven, apparently doesn't do all the things that people want to get their hands on Maven for. Specifically the 'simulation' feature (lookahead, and the ability to analyse board positions) was dropped, as was the ability to change word lists (unless you're a hacker and know how to do it without their blessing). Apparently Hasbro also introduced enough bugs into the public version that the original author was somewhat upset about it. (The word "fuming" was mentioned...) At some point later, the game was relaunched with 3-D graphics, and then ported to the Macintosh; Westlake Interactive (authors of 3D shootemups such as Unreal) appear to have done the conversion of Hasbro Scrabble to the Macintosh (as sold by MacPlay) [review]. Another web page from Random Games claims they also had something to do with producing Hasbro's Scrabble (in 1998?)
There may well be some secret subculture of people frantically trading copies of the old original Maven, but if there is, I have never been made privy to it. I can only suggest mailing the author directly (you can find his email here or here or here or here). I was told that the author had moved on to other things (such as his own start-up company) and had little time for Scrabble any more, but he does pop up on the wordgame-programmer mailing list from time to time to offer helpful advice.
Read Sheppard's paper on Maven; he also mentions that his end-game strategy (the end-game being defined as when the bag is empty) is based on Berliner's B-* algorithm.
Another strong competition scrabble program by Alan Frank.
I think Richard's program came in second the first year he entered the Computer Olympiad (after Crosswise?) and won 1st place the final year the competition was held (so is in effect reigning champion!) A good player, with monte-carlo lookahead (like Maven's "simulation") and rack management. He used the program to self-refine a few heuristics in the Samuel's checkers vein; I know that specifically he refined the rack-leave values using a genetic algorithm. This program has never been made available to the public.
Graeme and Steve Thomas have taken the basic engine from Crab and have expanded it with some play and rack-leave heuristics so that it is of competition quality. It doesn't do much lookahead until the endgame.
The official licensed Scrabble in France. They also have a great Java version for playing online at this site!
Peter Turcan (a fellow Edinburgh University graduate) who is a real nice guy and an ace programmer did a remarkable job of shoehorning Scrabble into several very small micros including the BBC Model A which ran off tape in a mere 16K. I believe variants of this program were written for other computers such as the C64, the Sinclair ZX80 and Spectrum (downloadable here), and even the early IBM PC (DOS). This version was officially licensed to Virgin Mastertronic by Spear's Games, though later replaced with a different program (the US Gold version). Turcan's final-year project at Edinburgh was Word Mastermind which I remember enjoying playing against back in the 70's.
Sold on cassette. Online archive. for the C64. [image] Graphics by "Gang of Five"
For the Sinclair Spectrum. [image]
C64 version in French
See here for details. Play online with this amazing emulator!
See Widget Software page. This is actually just the UK marketing of the US Gold version (based on Crosswise). I don't know precisely what work Widget did on this; they may be the team who did the Psion graphics but I don't think they've touched the actual gameplay at all. An Ebay ad says:
It works on the Series 3mx, Series 3c, Series 3a & Series 3 256K. It has six modes of game play including Competition, Rainbow Scrabble, Practice Games, and Multi-player options. The game comes on a ROM Solid State Disk (SSD)
I think Virgin simply bought out Leisure Genius; I don't think they wrote a new product. At least, not at first. I do have a recollection of an improved Windows version of Scrabble appearing which was much better than the L.G. one mentioned above, but at the moment don't have any documentary evidence. (I used Acorn computers (BBC Micro, and Archimedes) at that time; didn't have a PC for many years and when I finally built one, I ran BSD 0.1 on it :-) ... so although I bought all the BBC versions of Scrabble, I never bought any PC versions). I remember Virgin selling Scrabble under Spear's livery in the UK; but apparently they sold in the US as well; the Scrabble FAQ says this:
(IBM PC, Macintosh)
Licensed for sale in the US. Sold in three versions, about $15, $25 and $35. The
standard version has about 20,000 words from the OSPD1. The two deluxe
versions have the complete OSPD1 with some errors. In the
IBM PC program,
the deluxe version adds VGA graphics. The $35 version is the deluxe for
Windows, which stops running when in the background. Reportedly plays at the
level of a middling tournament player, but with no discernible strategy. Also
reportedly very slow, with the deluxe versions, holding the full OSPD1, taking
two to three minutes per move on a 386/33. Windows deluxe version was
available at $18.95 from Surplus Software, (800) 753-7877. Mac version may
be available from MacPlay.
Judging by the comment on the speed, I think it's a fair inference
to draw that this is the Leisure Genius code mentioned above.
Jim Homan originally wrote a Scrabble-playing program called "The Scrabble Player", or TSP. He was successful in licensing the program to Spear's Games, who gave it to a bunch of people at a company called US Gold to work on. They removed the original interface, added a fancy (and unreadable) graphics front end, and put in a load of bugs. This was then sold as "Scrabble" in the UK. It was OSW-only. A later version was produced on CD-ROM, with an updated dictionary. Homan went on to market a modified version of his original program as Crosswise.
Available for at least the Sega Megadrive; I'm fairly sure it's also available for the Dreamcast.
Developed by RuneCraft under license from Hasbro. [review]
Scrabble FAQ says "Based on an American Heritage Dictionary, not OSPD. Plays for high score, and never bingos"
Handheld, if you're a bigfoot. Also C64 and TRS80 software versions. Scrabble FAQ says "Ritam Corporation. Originally available for the IBM PC and Apple II, since 1987 only as a hand-held unit. Comes with 20,000 words from OSPD1, upgradable to about 40,000, which is still incomplete. Deplorable strategy. The hand-held version requires scrolling around a small screen to find the board area of interest. Reportedly sometimes changes the letter represented by a played blank. Apparently no longer licensed by Milton Bradley, its current availability is unknown." (That means $35 on eBay) I have seen a suggestion that the Monty software was by Leisure Genius, though this may just be for the software versions.
Images: [Cover] [Inner Cover] [Index] [Notice] [P1] [P2] [P3] [P4] [P5] [P6] [P7] [P8] [P9] [P10] [P11 (Inner Rear Cover)]
[image] [Manual: a b c d]
Strictly speaking the above are not Scrabble games; I include them here for completeness.
Supposedly a new generation palm-held, but I made this mistake of buying one of these at retail and wished I hadn't. It's large and clunky, and it doesn't play Scrabble!. That's right, to accommodate the cut-down display, it plays a cut-down board. If for any reason you feel compelled to buy this junk, don't pay more than $10 on the used market. All I can say is that this is a worthy successor to Monty Plays Scrabble. Will they never learn?
File is on the net as "SCRAB11.ZIP". This review site says the game is somewhat broken - I can't confirm this. Also look for "EGA SCRABBLE".
on the net as "SCRABBLE.ZIP". Gee, that's helpful. (I think it is also on this site at SCRABBLE.LZH)
Scrabble FAQ says: When installed by the system operator, allows playing others on an IBM-PC based BBS. Player, logged on to the BBS, need not be using a PC. Shareware, $25 payable by sysop. Registered version includes built-in dictionary based on OSPD3, and allows sysop-supplied ASCII dictionary. Rather than challenges, plays with phonies are rejected, costing a player's turn only after 3 bad attempts.
1007 Cable Creek Dr
Grapevine, TX 76051
Scrabble Door homepage
Note despite the above it'll play on any regular Windows machine in a
I have no proof other than the similar visual appearance, but I think this may be a multi-user derivative of the single-user door program above.
Scrabble FAQ says "Shareware, it is available for ftp. It requires at least 1MB of memory. Words are played by click-and-drag using the mouse. The program plays solely for high score. It contains a 45,000 word editable and browsable dictionary."
The program won a 1992 young programmers competition.
French duplicate Scrabble.
Although not explicitly about Scrabble, Diane's notes agree with what many of us think about the importance of making games playable rather than just making them win. She is also the author of a Scrabble program (here: binary only - README)
(Scramble is the earlier DOS version; look for "scram12.zip" or "scrb_dos.zip")
Student project to implement Upwords. Very similar to Scrabble.
Graham Savage's Java Scrabble was removed at the request of Hasbro's lawyers.
Lance Frohman's word game was removed at the request of Hasbro's lawyers, probably because it was one of the most popular Scrabble-like games on the net, allowing play against both the computer, and - when using IRC - against other players. Although he no longer offers it, copies of networdz.zip, scrabout.zip, scrabot1.zip and netwdz-95.exe are available all over the net to those who know how to find them, such as by using the "link:" feature of the Alta Vista search engine. He also had a boggle game out there somewhere too. Apparently it is customisable for other languages, because I did once find a language pack for Polish...
(and now in Spanish)
This site is usually offline. The Spanish site above has the program and the Spanish language pack. [Program available from Xoom] Here is the French language pack. You can also find the program here, as well as the English language pack. This mirror of the program includes both the English and German language packs. The other language packs are not currently online, and the author says he has temporarily removed the program because he does not have the time to support it due to pressure of work; apparently a significant number of people were complaining about the contents of the wordlist, and some minor bugs in the program. He does intend to develop the program further and re-release it in the future with some enhancements and better wordlists. Meanwhile, if you have a copy of the program, it should be relatively easy to add a new language yourself, by comparing against the English and Spanish samples above. However - please don't hassle the author for upgrades, as he is now a full-time student and does not currently have time to support the code.
Geocities gives an error when you click on the download link in the page above, but if you click in the "Location:" URL at the top of the browser and try to fetch it again, it works the second time.
See also http://members.aol.com/scrabblog/index.html. The primary download consists of only German, Dutch, English, Spanish, French and Swedish, but the language configuration file in the game suggests that the following are all supported: English, German, Greek, Dutch, Swedish, Turkish, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, and Italian. Here is the program along with the Czech word file (needs .rar file expander)
There's a file of flag icons in the program too, which adds Belgian (presumably same as Dutch), Danish, Finnish, Norwegian, Russian and American to the list. Have not confirmed if the game can play these or if it is just wishful thinking on the part of the authors to include them.
Haven't found this yet, just the reference to it.
Supposed to be sources here but they're missing. Have mailed author to ask. Includes French word list.
Shareware versions 2.2 for Windows 95 and 1.3 for PC/Windows, use OSPD3 and OSPD2, respectively, restricted to words of up to six letters. Registration of the latest version at 75 S. African Rand, $25 USD or #20 brings the complete OSPD and Merriam-Webster; the earlier version no longer is supported. [extract from Scrabble FAQ]
Written by Lane Roathe.
Note. Download is corrupted when you use Netscape. Get out IE for this one. This game includes the complete OSPS (currently up to Upgrade 15). Package includes a few utilities for handling Polish text files.
Completely closed down as far as I can see. I tend to agree with Bob Weiss's comments on this one.
Not yet released to the public, but has played competitively in Czechoslovakia against humans.
Also available in raw DOS version. Homepage is here. (Sometimes IE works better at this site than Netscape)
Eric has contributed a PERL version of Falk Hüffner's fast DAWG builder.
Word lookup software for gamers.
Somewhat more accessible version is online here. (English, French, Romanian)
No link; some copies of this game (scrab222.zip or erudit.zip) were a trojan horse.
Word lookup software; Scrabble training aid.
Read the project report here.
Looks like the program has disappeared off the net. I have a copy I downloaded while it was still available which I'll upload when I have some free time.
A Latvian cross word game - not really Latvian Scrabble but as close as I expect you'll get, for Latvian. Solo play. Also an on-line version! [review]
NOT the more famous Crosswise above. This one is for the Mac only, and is similar but not identical to Scrabble. [image]
Unreleased, as far as I know.
A new Scrabble-like game, with some extra features. Network only, 2 player.
No machine player, just a board and maybe a scorekeeper for human play.
Barely worth a second kijk.
I have an awful suspicion from the picture that this is the old Leisure Genius game. Someone might be being naughty. (If the link has expired, this one seems to be the same: http://www.downloadscenter.it/abandon/abandon.php?sezione=puzzle&pagina=scrabble with the file at http://www.downloadscenter.it/abandon/files/puzzle/Scrabble.zip)
Good looking display, online chat. Unfortunately only works under Internet Explorer.
Class project to write some Scrabble code in Ada.
Based on Kevin Cowtan's Scrabble Challenge. Nice web graphics.
This is for human-human play. Read his comments by following the link above.
Commercial Scrable clone. Check out the artwork on the box! (Now that is skating on thin ice, if you ask me...) Comes with English, French and German wordlists. Needs to be customised (once) for Scrabble play, but the box art leaves you in no doubt that its main purpose is to play Scrabble. Runs on Pocket PCs with MIPS/SH3/Strongarm!
I have seen this listed as being available on the Acorn Archimedes as recently as 1999, although obviously it is primarily a PC game. Also spotted on the Amiga. Seen on the PC at least as far back as 1996, most likely earlier.
Late news: I believe this is the program written by wordgame-programmer's member Warwick Allison, in Modula II some years ago. Warwick has written a new game since then - see above.
CrossCraze allows three types of gameplay: "Standard" play, where new letters must be placed next to existing ones (eg. change DOG to DOGS); "Tile Stacking", where new letters can also be placed on top of old ones (eg. change DOG to DIG); and "Point Stealing", where you can use previously placed tiles to snatch points from your opponents.
The top level AI utilizes a brute-force search combined with rack-balancing. It tends to avoid opening up too many bonus squares for opponents and plays a fairly closed game. The various weightings have been derived from many days of automated play. The actual AI routines are extremely fast, but the computer's response time has been deliberately slowed so it doesn't appear to return immediately. The easier AI opponents tend to play more open games, using less strategy and a reduced vocabulary.
As well as US, UK and International spellings, games can also be played in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Swedish, Dutch, Danish, Finnish or Norwegian.
Many of the publicly available foreign language word lists were found to be either very limited or very error-prone, so the game's own vocab lists were distilled from multiple different source lists, using purpose-written software. Words which occurred in most source lists were deemed to be both valid and in common use. Words which occurred in only a small number of source lists were deemed likely to be either misspellings or extremely obscure and were discarded. Those remaining words were deemed to be valid, but rare, and were reserved for use by only the game's stronger AI players.