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The brainchild of an under-employed architect in the Great Depression, Scrabble is the perfect pastime for straitened times.
Architect Alfred Mosher Butts, of New York State, devised it after losing his job in the Depression and the original name for this popular games was Lexico. Butts worked out the letter values according to their frequency by combing the pages of The New York Times.
The game failed to get copyright approval until 1948, when its name was changed to Scrabble. Now that 100 million Scrabble sets in 29 different languages have been sold in 121 countries, it is undoubtedly the world''s biggest-selling word game.
Earlier marketed by James Brunot, Scrabble was bought in 1994 by Mattel, the world''s largest toy and game company. The US and Canadian rights are owned by Hasbro.
About 100 million Scrabble sets have been sold in 121 countries and 29 languages. In fact, over 300 Scrabble clubs are registered in the UK alone.
The first world Scrabble championship was hosted in London in 1991, and has been held on alternate years ever since. However, by that time James Brunot was dead, but Alfred Butts lived to be 93, dying in April 1993. He also invented a game similar to Scrabble called 'Alfred's other game' - it was not a success
Now such tournaments played for big money, with all the tension and ego stroking of a major sport. In fact, In Malaysia players compete for a top prize worth 10,000 dollars.
The game is available in many board versions that include, original Scrabble, Scramble Scrabble, Travel Scrabble, Pocket Scrabble, Junior Scrabble, My First Scrabble, Deluxe Scrabble, Dora Scrabble, and Simpsons Scrabble.
The game has a big fan following among Internet users and there are also various computerized forms of the popular game, reports the Independent.
And to settle arguments about which words are legal, an Official Scrabble Players'' Dictionary and Official Tournament and Club Word List have been published. A research states that each hour, at least 30,000 Scrabble games are started.
Scrabble also has a list of A-list fans, which includes US President elect Barack Obama, former US President Richard Nixon, Bill and Hillary Clinton, Kylie Minogue, Mel Gibson, Queen Elizabeth II, Sting, Keanu Reeves, Madonna, Jonathan Ross, the Queen, Sharon Stone and Charles Saatchi.
A portrait of Prince Charles was made from Scrabble tiles this year, to celebrate the 60th birthday of Prince Charles and Scrabble, which both occurred in 2008.