Tournament Etiquette Guide
Prepared by the Rules Committee of the Australian
What is etiquette? It’s being courteous and
considerate, playing in the “spirit of the game” a spirit of friendly
competition, with mutual respect; regarding the opponent as an
adversary but not an enemy. Etiquette is desired while Rules are
required. A player may choose not to observe etiquette, without
breaking any rules.
Issued July 2007
But etiquette, like manners, is particular to a community. Newcomers to
the Scrabble tournament scene may not know what is considered
etiquette, and may find it helpful (as may seasoned players) to read an
explanation that has been generally agreed upon by that community.
If you have any query about a rule or etiquette in a situation that
arises during a game, call the Tournament Director (TD)! You aren’t
expected to know everything about every possible situation. The TD can
look up the relevant rule or point of etiquette and let you and your
opponent know, or make a ruling if need be. It is undoubtedly
preferable to clarify at the time than to regret after a game that you
- Arrive at the assigned table punctually for the start of a
game. Your late arrival is discourteous to your opponent, and could
cause the tournament to run late.
- Do not talk or rattle tiles during pre-game announcements.
- It is not acceptable to use mobile phones (receiving or
sending) in the playing area while any game is still in progress.
(Permission to receive emergency calls may be obtained from the TD.)
- It is expected that more experienced players will help
newer players if they are unsure of procedures and rules, especially in
relation to scoring, challenge and the use of clocks. For example,
reminding a less experienced player who forgets to press the clock.
- It is not acceptable during a game to ask your opponent if
a word is allowable, (yours or theirs), or to ask what a word means.
- Play your tiles the right way up, with the number at the
bottom (e.g. N, I, O). Place tiles properly on the squares.
- Respect the equipment. Do not mark tiles or boards with
pen/pencil. It is advised not to bring cups or glasses to the playing
- Place the tile bag within comfortable reach of both players.
- Keep any comments, unnecessary conversation or other noises
to a minimum during a game, to reduce distractions not only to your
opponent, but also to surrounding players.
- Avoid saying aloud the word that you are playing so that
your opponent cannot be misled or confused by a mispronunciation of the
- Avoid “stream of consciousness” talk about your
- Especially refrain from moaning or commenting during the
game about your tiles or your luck; that can also be construed as a
ruse that can mislead your opponent into making a play which advantages
- You may warn your opponent not to draw tiles while you are
considering whether to challenge (see Rules 6.1 and 10.1), but be aware
that you are thus preventing your opponent from seeing their new tiles
and legitimately thinking about their next move. Therefore, unless you
have any doubt about a move, it is courteous to accept a move
immediately, by writing the opponent’s score.
- The clock is neutralised during a challenge, or to resolve
a score discrepancy (Rule 3.3), or when the TD is called. When the
matter has been resolved, the person whose turn is over should restart
the opponent’s clock. That said, either player, of course, may restart
- Whilst it is advisable to confirm cumulative scores at
intervals during the game, it should not be over-frequent, because it
can break the opponent’s train of thought. This should be done on your
own time (Rule 6.3).
- Occasionally a player must leave the room mid-game for
emergency reasons. The TD should be made aware that this is happening.
If at all possible before leaving, the player should make his/her move,
neutralise the clock, and not replace tiles. When the absent player
returns, the opponent’s clock is started.
- It is not obligatory to announce the number of tiles left
in the bag when you count or draw tiles, or to indicate to the opponent
when the bag is empty. (It may be polite to do so, but the opponent
shouldn’t rely on it, in case you are mistaken.)
- When a game is over you may want to discuss aspects of that
game with your opponent or with others before you clear the board.
However, after handing your result sheet in, your first concern should
be for nearby players who are still playing. It is unacceptable to
disrupt their game with your conversation.
- At the end of each game, clear the table of debris,
challenge slips, rubbish, own equipment, so that it is ready for the
next users. Please also return any equipment that you have moved.
- If observing a game, leave a comfortable distance around
the players, stay absolutely silent, make absolutely no indication of
your opinion of a player’s rack or the board, and do not look up words.
Call the TD if anyone is disturbing your game. The TD may modify or put
a halt to observation if indicated. (Rule 12.4)
- Refrain from wearing strong perfume or after-shave, as many
people react adversely