Scrabble is an interesting game, which has some interesting followers.
I was reading an article by Susan Thorpe titled “Scrabble Patterns”, and as you know we mathematicians and mathematologists are always interested in patterns.
She did a search of words (in English, and often using the English spelling rather than the American spelling). The converted the letters in the word to the point values assigned to each letter and looked for patterns.
Examples: SUPERMAN converts to 11311311, which she calls a Scrabble Palindrome (The pattern is the same whether it is written forward or backwards). GARDEN converts to 211211, which she calls a Scrabble Tautonym (it repeats the “211” twice).
The more I thought about it, the more I was convinced that some changes in the rules for Scrabble might be a big benefit. Mathematicians have never been big Scrabble fans, probably because our vocabulary is more limited that for players that have specialized in other fields – particularly languages, poetry or other forms of writing that would expand one’s vocabulary more significantly. If added some additional rules to give bonus points if words that were converted from letter to point values formed letters with specific properties – such as Scrabble Palindromes.
The initial work that Ms. Thorpe did was impressive. But I am thinking we would have to do more research and include our findings in Scrabble dictionaries (incase there were disputes on word spelling or scoring issues). First, Ms. Thorpe only studied words with an even number of letters (which did address her needs, but ignores words with an odd number of letters that might also be Scrabble Palindromes). Scrabble Primes might also be considered. The word CAB converts to 313 when you look at the each letter’s point values. So CAB would be both a Scrabble Palindrome and a Scrabble Prime.
It is something to think about. Feel free to let me know what you think.