20 November, Monday


Double letter flaw: champion Scrabble player banned amid cheating furore

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The Association of British Scrabble players has banned one of its star players for three years after an independent investigation concluded he had broken the rules of the popular word game.
 
Allan Simmons has authored books on Scrabble and covered the game for the Times newspaper.
 
A committee member for the association, Elie Dangoor, said on Monday that three independent witnesses saw Simmons put a hand with freshly drawn letter tiles back into a bag to draw more tiles – a move that is contrary to the rules.
 
“The natural conclusion had been that he had been cheating,” Dangoor said.
 
The committee conducted an independent investigation, which was concluded a few weeks ago, into four instances dating back to 2016. The matter came to larger public attention only recently, and was discussed during the Scrabble world championships, which ended on Sunday.
 
Simmons told the Times he denied cheating, and that 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 was quoted by the Times as saying. “From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process.”
 
The Times has said it will no longer use Simmons as a contributor.
 
Dangoor said Simmons had been “a huge part of the game’s development” and that there was “great disappointment”, as he was 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”.

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