Scrabble Player Busted for Cheating at National Championship

A young player was caught hiding two coveted blank tiles during a match.

August 15, 2012, 11:27 AM

Aug. 15, 2012 — -- A cheating scandal has caused a stir at the National Scrabble Championship where players were competing for a $10,000 prize.

A young, unidentified male player was booted from the competition after he was caught hiding blank tiles, the coveted tiles that can stand-in for any letter in the word game.

"One of the better young Scrabble players in the country was observed taking two blank tiles, which are the most valuable in Scrabble, and tried to hide them so he could play them at some point in the game," National Scrabble Association executive director John Williams Jr. told today.

"They were on the floor and my guess is he was going to just hide them under his sneaker and, at some point, bend over and pick them up," Williams said.

A fellow player spotted the cheating and informed tournament authorities who came over and confronted the player, Williams said. The player admitted to the cheating and left the tournament.

Suspicions had already been raised when the player's opponent asked that the tiles be counted before the game and there were only 98 when there are supposed to be 100.

"His record was erased," Williams said. "There will be a formal hearing to decide what the punishment will be."

Williams said the association is not identifying the player because he is a minor.

"People love the game and love to play and go by the rules and all that stuff. But every once in a while, we deal with a behavior problem," he said. "This is the first cheating incident at a national Scrabble championship."

"We're not at the point where we're testing for steroids or anything," Williams joked.

Williams said that other players were upset by the cheating but that the tournament went on today with players in the final rounds competing for the $10,000 prize.

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