tools and articles for letters and words

A Question of Conversion: From TWL to Collins

created on by  in Word Board Games

A donation initiative was founded recently to raise money for the Collins Division prize fund of the National Scrabble Championship (NSC). The goal was to collect $ 1,000 for it and thereby convince players to switch from the Tournament World List (TWL) to the Collins list. We will look at what is behind the initiative and what it has achieved up to now.


The Word Lists TWL vs. Collins

There are two major word lists that are valid for international Scrabble tournaments. The Official Tournament and Club Word List, short Tournament World List (TWL), was developed by the dictionary committee of the former National Scrabble Association, now NASPA. The words of the TWL are used in the U.S., Canada, Thailand, and parts of Israel.

The Collins Scrabble Words, however, is used for all other international tournaments, like the World Scrabble Championships. Collins is a larger list than TWL, but contains all the words from the American list. In the interview with John Chew you will find a more detailed description of the world’s different word lists.


The Petition for the Collins Prize Fund

The petition, brought to life by an internationally ranked Scrabble player called Winter, aimed to raise money for the Collins Division prize fund. This division is a minor play group at the National Scrabble Championship, which has a much smaller prize fund than the other divisions that use the TWL. Winter’s aim was to get at least $ 1,000 to convince more Scrabble players to switch to the Collins list.

Winter started his petition on May 5th. It lasted until July 4th and has raised $ 2,350 – much more than estimated. His intention behind the switch from TWL to the Collins list was to improve the chances in international Scrabble competitions for every North American player, as he mentions in the petition:

“For the last four years, since tournaments using the Collins (international) word source started being sanctioned, the opportunity for official play has increased, but very slowly. As a result, North American players have a limited opportunity to practice under tournament conditions, and many are required to switch back and forth between the international and American word source, which obviously places them at a disadvantage.”

At the moment the prize funds of the other divisions are financed by Hasbro, who subsidizes the TWL. It is a much larger and therefore much more attractive prize fund, as you can see in the prize pool listed in Wikipedia. The Collins Division for international English players was just added in 2012.


Will The Switch Have A Prospect?

Recently the last National Scrabble Championship took place in Buffalo, New York on August 9th-13th organized by the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA). As we can see Winter’s petition succeeded to enhance the attraction of the Collins Division. This year 63 active players competed here. In comparison to the last year’s NSC (39 active players), there has been a rise of over 60% among the Collins player’s. The first ranked competitor, Adam Logan, won $ 2,500; in total the cash prizes for this Division amount $ 5,775. With a total prize fund of $ 4,700 in 2013 and $ 3,450 in 2013, you will detect that the cash increase attends with a rising number of Collins competitors.

Up to now it’s a small step towards a change. If this convinces continually more Scrabble player to switch to Collins, it will probably increase their chances in international championships. In a recent interview with Evan Cohen, club director of the Tel Aviv Scrabble Club, he gave us insight into their current word list change. The Israeli club has also switched to Collins with satisfying results:

“After participating in the 2005 World Scrabble Championship, when Israel still played the “American” book, we discussed switching in order to open up new possibilities for Israeli players (particularly in the UK and Europe). We took a vote, and the overwhelming majority wanted to switch. Ever since, dozens of Israelis play in internationally rated events.”


Apparently there hasn’t been a significant media reaction on this topic yet. So we will see if the interest in the Collins word list will keep on growing after this year’s NSC or not.

Tags: ,

More like this
Catalin Caba on the Scrabble Situation in Romania
Catalin Caba: "Once They've Been Infected With The 'Words Microbe', Scrabble Gains Future Champions"

image sources

  • TWL vs. Collins: Stephanie Napp, books: