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Cheating at Scrabble

created on by  in Word Board Games, Word trivia

It is as old as gaming itself. Many may have thought about it in desperate gaming situations, considering whether they should or they shouldn’t pick this unfair method to fool their opponents.

Cheating is only used when a player has a problem that he can’t solve with his own abilities. Cheating doesn’t include so called „family rules“. This particular phenomenon isn’t thought of as cheating because everybody playing is using the modified rules.

Why do we cheat?

What sense is there to playing if I cheat? The feeling of success from beating a certain level, finding a word or solving a problem is satisfying . The hard work has paid off. But if you don’t work hard for it using cheating instead, the feeling of satisfaction is undeniably missing. Where was the hard work? Was it replaced by quickly looking something up? The use of technology instead of your own mind? Going the easy instead of the hard way?

But it is this feeling of satisfaction that makes a game interesting and worth playing. The upward spiral of hard work and satisfaction, which leads to the point where we have fun with the game and create good memories is destroyed by cheating. We don’t feel the fun anymore.

Is it still fun when you are cheating?

Cheating at every cost?

To really experience a game like Scrabble you have to enjoy it pure and unadulterated. That means cheating is keeping you from this experience. But every game, no matter how well balanced and organized it is, sometimes get’s to a point where it is stuttering. The gameplay get’s stuck. For example: The next word in Scrabble can’t be found. The right answer is „right on the tip of the tongue” but it won’t come out. In these moments players look for help. And it is in situations like this where many players use cheating to preserve the flow of the game.


You can cheat in board games like Scrabble but it’s even easier in virtual games like Words with Friends. In games like this, there might be cheats integrated by the game-developers. You can either cheat by using bugs or glitches or through entering cheat codes which have a certain effect. 

Man and machine

Some people have turned to cold, calculating computers to look for a way to cheat. In the case of Scrabble, programs can be used programs which can build combinations of words out of typed-in letters. But for that, players need to use specialised applications. Our site offers such word-finding tools like our Scrabble® Word Finder or the Anagram Solver.

But these tools are useful for more than just cheating. In their feedback our users have told us that these tools are being used to learn words which can be used for Scrabble or other games. In addition you can only call it cheating if only one person is using cheats. If everybody is using them, the point of the whole game needs to be questioned.

Cheating and the internet

Another popular form of cheating is to look up valid Scrabble-words. Today the necessary time for such a search is very short because of the digital encyclopedia called the internet, and it is easier than ever. A short search on an official site like Oxford Dictionaries and in just seconds you can find a word. To fool a human opponent can be easier than fooling a machine. Virtual word games have their own digital dictionary which prohibits cheating. We wrote about which words are acceptable in Scrabble in our article Acceptable Scrabble Words.

Scrabble honor

Cheating is not always cheating. Some games seem to be more open to adjusted rules. Nevertheless, purists may insist on rules and honor. So where is the motivation for the player? Is it about competition, the game itself or just about the fun? I’m not arguing for or against excessive cheating. I think it is more important to find a compromise in order to maintain fun, as well as respect for the players and the maker of the game. After all, it is just a game. And games are (in the first place) made to have fun.

What do you think? Where does cheating start? What is still legitimate? What is going too far? Share your thoughts with our other readers in the comments below.


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image sources

  • Acceptable-Scrabble-words: By Stomchak (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
  • Scrabble Cheats: Owned by 1337 UGC GmbH