The scandal that rocked the world of Scrabble

Simmons gas been banned from competitive Scrabble for three years

The scandal that rocked the world of Scrabble

The close-knit world of competitive Scrabble, the world's popular word game, has been shaken by the revelation that one of its most high-profile players may have been sneaking a peek into the tile bag.

Allan Simmons from the UK has now been banned from competing for three years after an investigation found that he had indeed broken the rules. The 60-year-old admitted that he "may have" broken rules designed to prevent cheating.

Simmons was one of the founding members and chairmen of the Association of British Scrabble Players. The association agreed that Simmons had performed “actions that led to a suspicion of cheating”.

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ABSP committee member Elli Dangoor reported saying that three independent witnesses observed Simmons double dipping or putting his hand holding freshly drawn letter tiles back into a bag to draw more tiles. Needless to say, this is considered breaking the rules because the official rules of competitive play require players to hold "the tile bag no lower than shoulder height when they are selecting new tiles, to prevent any peeking—deliberate or inadvertent—at the letters inside."


This came as a shock to many avid Scrabble players. Simmons has not only written books on the game but also contributed game coverage to The Times. The Times now has claimed that they would discontinue from doing so. 

He was Chairman of the Postal Scrabble Club in the 80s, organised Scrabble weekends from 1985-91 and has been running annual courses since 1985. He has edited and published Onwords Scrabble magazine 1979-2009. He also wrote Chambers' Top Scrabble Tips, Collins: The Times Scrabble Workout, and Collins: Play Like a Champion. 

As a player, he won the British Matchplay four times (1987, 88, 91 and 2008) and the ABSP Masters twice (1994 and 2007). He has also played at five World Championships to-date.   

The public intervened in the matter only very recently during the event held by The World English Langauge Scrabble Players Association. Simmons was heard denying the accuse while blaming it for having "untimely bad luck from the bag as anyone else."

He addressed the Times' concerns saying: "You have to remember that at the top level, games can be quite intense and there’s a lot going through one’s mind let alone remembering to religiously ensure tile drawing rules are followed meticulously..from the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process."

He retired from the case, saying that he had "most important things in life" that he needed to look into. 

Dangoor later acknowledged Simmons as a "huge part of the game's development," but concluded stating that "There's no one person bigger than the game" thus alluding to not being able to make any exceptions for Simmons in this case.


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