Grabble - a word game Content from the guide to life, the universe and everything

Grabble - a word game

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Grabble is a serious word game that tests your vocabulary and speed of thought.

Object of the game

Grabble is played using 100 individual letter tiles (the contents of a Scrabble®1 set will do nicely). The object of the game is to be the player who finishes with the most letters.

Starting the game

All 100 tiles are turned face down. The tiles are then turned over one by one by each player in turn. The player turning the tile over must do so in a manner that allows all other players to see it simultaneously. This continues until any player identifies a word of a minimum 3 letters. On calling out the word he/she then takes those tiles and displays them so that all other players can see the word.

Continuing the game

The next player to go turns over a tile and play continues as before. At any stage now players can either make words from the letters on the table, or by adding to and grabbing another player's words.


The first 4 tiles turned over are G, C, A, and T. Player One calls TAG on seeing the letter T. The next letter to be turned is E. Player Two calls GATE enabling him to grab Player One's word. Players continue to turn the tiles in the same order, regardless of who has made the latest word. During each turn any player can form a word, either from the table, or by grabbing one from another player by adding a letter(s) to an existing word.

If a player sees two words on the board (not necessarily held by the same player) that can be formed into one without adding another letter, that is a fair grab. An example of this type of play could be LAD and ERE being used to form LEADER. This also illustrates how a grasp of anagrams is useful to have.

As for scoring and order of play, a good game will be a frenetic game with players taking it in turns to turn over a new tile - the only rule being that whoever turns the letter must try and do it as fairly as possible, so that the other player(s) have a chance to see it.

There is no limit to the amount of words you can grab in any one turn - in fact, a turn lasts until the next player feels there are no more moves available and it is time to introduce a new letter.

As more words are formed the players must concentrate on the letters on the table, their own words, and the other players' words. A good vocabulary and the ability to solve anagrams are essential tools for good grabblers.

Permitted words

Any word of three letters or more that appears in a Standard English dictionary, except proper nouns or any words that begin with a capital letter (unless agreed by the players).

Letter 'S'

When the letter 'S' is turned over, it may not be used to form a plural unless it is a completely new word that is being formed - for example, RATE could not be simply be made into RATES, but TEARS would be a valid call.

Ending the game

The game finishes when all the tiles have been turned over and it is apparent that no more moves can be made. The player with the most tiles is declared the winner.


Another way of deciding the winner is by counting the number of words each player holds - this can lead to a more frenetic game involving many more four and five letter words.

1In Scrabble® the number of tiles with a particular letter on is roughly equivalent to the frequency it appears in words - for example, there is only one 'Z' tile but there are 12 'E' tiles.

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