- Scrabble star Allan Simmons, 60, is the 2008 UK National Scrabble Champion
- But he admitted that he does not always hold the tile bag at shoulder height
- Competitor Lewis Mackay complained about Mr Simmons’ following their match
- Mr Simmons was found guilty of ‘actions that led to a suspicion of cheating’ and he has now been banned from competitive games for three years
Allan Simmons, 60, the 2008 UK National Scrabble Champion, has been told he can no longer play the boardgame competitively
A Scrabble champion has been banned from competitions for allegedly breaking the strict rules of the game.
Allan Simmons, 60, the 2008 UK National Scrabble Champion, has been told he can no longer play the boardgame competitively after admitting that he does not always hold the tile bag at shoulder height.
He was found guilty by the Association of British Scrabble Players of ‘actions that led to a suspicion of cheating’.
In timed matches players are instructed to do this in order to prevent cheating. The rule-book states: ‘You must hold the tile bag as near as possible to shoulder level, and so that no tiles in the bag can be seen. Remove tiles in full view of your opponent.’
Players must also show opponents their palm with the fingers splayed to prove they are not secretly dropping unwanted letters into the bag.
Fellow competitor Lewis Mackay, 32, complained about Mr Simmons’ breaching the rules following their match at the British Masters in Yarnfield, Gloucestershire, in June.
Mr Mackay said in his complaint that he was also concerned with Mr Simmons’ techniques in last year’s World Championship in Lille.
Former Scrabble champion Mr Simmons, pictured right, has been banned from competitions
WHO IS THE BANNED FORMER CHAMPION?
Allan Simmons, from the Scottish Borders, is a founding member of the ABSP and its president from 1988 to 1999, and chairman 2002-2006.
He has played Scrabble since he joined the London Scrabble League in the mid 70’s.
He was Chairman of the Postal Scrabble Club in the 80’s, organised Scrabble weekends from 1985-91 and has been running annual courses since 1985.
He has edited and published Onwords Scrabble magazine 1979-2009.
He also wrote Chambers’ Top Scrabble Tips , Collins: The Times Scrabble Workout, and Collins: Play Like a Champion.
As a player, he won the British Matchplay four times (1987, 88, 91 and 2008) and the ABSP Masters twice (1994 and 2007). He has also played at five World Championships to-date.
Mr Simmons, from the Scottish Boarders one of the founding members of the Association of British Scrabble Players, has denied cheating and said records of his games show he has suffered the same ‘untimely bad luck from the bag as anyone else’, The Times reports.
The former champion, who began playing competitively in the 1970s, said: ‘While I believe I always showed an open hand before drawing fresh letters, if drawing one or two at a time I may not have always had an open hand for each dip in the bag,’ he said.
‘Likewise, holding the bag may not have always been strictly at shoulder height. 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. From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process.’
Mr Simmons has now been banned from competitive games for a year after being found guilty by the Association of British Scrabble Players of ‘actions that led to a suspicion of cheating’. The ban was later extended to three years.
THE OFFICIAL SCRABBLE RULES ON PICKING TOURNAMENT TILES
5.1 You must hold the tile bag as near as possible to shoulder level, and so that no tiles in the bag can be seen. Remove tiles in full view of your opponent.
5.2 You may not put your hand back into the bag while you still have tiles in that hand. All drawn tiles must be placed on the rack or table before drawing any more.
5.3 (Drawing too many tiles) If, before any newly drawn tile has been placed on the rack, you discover that you have too many tiles, you must place all the newly drawn tiles face down on the table and invite your opponent to remove the excess tile(s).
If any newly drawn tile has touched the rack, you must place all your tiles on the rack or the table and invite your opponent to remove the excess tile(s).
If it is your opponent who discovers that you have too many tiles, you must display your rack while they choose the excess tile(s) to be removed.
In each case, both players must see the tile(s) before they are returned to the bag.
5.4 (Drawing too few tiles) If you have too few tiles, you must draw the rest from whatever tiles are in the bag at that stage, even if your opponent has drawn tiles already.
Source: Scrabble website