Next time you play Scrabble, don’t feel too proud when you generate a word using the letters Q or Z. Apparently, the once daunting task has gotten easier.
Some researchers are now arguing that as the English language evolves, so too should Scrabble's scoring system, the BBC first reported. The letters with the highest value -- Q and Z -- are now much easier to use in words than when the game was initially invented. Thus, the researchers claim, their corresponding tiles should be worth fewer points.
"The values of the titles haven't changed since the game was created in the 1930s,” Joshua Lewis, a researcher advocating changing letter values, told The Huffington Post. "What has happened over the years is that the list of words for playing Scrabble has changed. Since the words have changed, now the letter values should change too," said Lewis, who has created a software program that assigns new point values to Scrabble tiles.
Lewis' program, Valett, allocates point values based on three things: the frequency of the letter in the English language, how many times the letter appears in two-, three-, seven- and eight-letter words, and how easy it is to play the letter with other letters.
Therefore, according to Valett, the letter Z should be worth six points, not 10 points as it is now. X, he says, should be worth five points as opposed to eight.
The way Scrabble was originally scored in 1938 was not nearly as scientific as Lewis’ system. Alfred Butts, the American architect who invented the game, based the letter values simply on how frequently each letter made its way onto the front page of The New York Times, according to Lewis.
The values of Scrabble tiles haven't changed since.
And if they did, there would be large protest from the game’s dedicated following, Chris Cree, a certified tournament director of the North American Scrabble Players Association (NASPA), told HuffPost.
"People will not accept it," Cree said. "People will not accept the change. From tournament players to people who play at their kitchen tables, they are passionate about this game and they just won’t do it."
Cree's argument is that there is no way to update the values of Scrabble letters to keep up with the frequency of language changes. Many players have strong feelings about how the rules should be changed, like changing the blank tiles to be worth negative points, he said, but the tradition of the game is too strong for rule tweaks now.
Mattel, the manufacturer of Scrabble in Europe, did not respond to HuffPost's request for comment. The National Scrabble Association offers a more complete history of the game on its website for Scrabble enthusiasts.