UK Scrabble group bans star player for breaking tile rule

Tuesday, November 14, 2017
Competitors take part Thursday in the World Scrabble Championships at an hotel in London.
Matt Dunham ~ Associated Press

LONDON -- The Association of British Scrabble players banned one of its star players for three years after an independent investigation concluded he had broken rules in the popular word game.

Allan Simmons has written books on Scrabble and contributed game coverage to The Times newspaper, which first reported his ban from competition. The newspaper said it no longer will use him as a contributor.

A committee member for the association, Elie Dangoor, said three witnesses saw Simmons put a hand with freshly drawn letter tiles back into a bag to draw more tiles -- contrary to the rules.

"The natural conclusion had been that he had been cheating," Dangoor said.

There were four instances dating to 2016, and the committee conducted an independent probe which concluded a few weeks ago. The matter came to public attention recently and was discussed during the World English Language Scrabble Players Association event that ended Sunday.

Simmons told the Times he denied cheating, and he had suffered the same "untimely bad luck from the bag as anyone else."

"You have to remember that at the top level, games can be quite intense, and there's a lot going through one's mind let alone remembering to religiously ensure tile drawing rules are followed meticulously," Simmons said. "From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process."

Dangoor said Simmons had been "a huge part of the game's development" and there was "great disappointment," as he is a liked and respected part of the Scrabble community. But action had to be taken.

"There's no one person bigger than the game," Dangoor said.

Efforts to reach Simmons were unsuccessful. The Times quoted him as saying he planned to concentrate on "more important things in life."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: