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NSA Official Tournament Rules

Page Archived

This page was superseded as of July 1, 2009 by the NASPA Tournament Rules page, as part of the NSA-NASPA transition, and is retained here only for historical reference.

You can find the current version of the NSA Official Tournament Rules at this web page. It’s followed by a discussion of recent changes that have been incorporated into these rules, so that directors who were familiar with older versions can quickly see what has changed.

August 1st, 2009

Several rules change effective August 1st, 2009 (not July 1st, as originally announced). Please read the list of changes and outstanding issues carefully. The rules are available in two editions:

February 9th, 2009

A rewritten version of Rule III.A.2 took effect on February 9th, 2009. This edition of the rules is available in the following formats:

February 1st, 2009

Many changes were made to the rules on February 1st, 2009. Please read the list of changes carefully. The rules are available in three editions:

July 25th, 2008

Several new rules took effect at the 2008 NSC, beginning on July 25th, 2008. These rules emend the last full edition of the Rules, dated May 1st, 2004.

The May 1st, 2004 edition is available in PDF format: Visit the Adobe web site to get their free Acrobat Reader if you can’t open the file.

The list of new rules is available as a text file.

A first draft of a combined edition of the new and old rules is available in three versions:

  1. Framed edition: navigate your way through the rules keeping the table of contents or index open in a frame.
  2. Single-file edition: read through or print the rules from start to finish in one long file
  3. Comparison edition: same as the single-file edition, but highlights all changes since 2004.

If there is a contradiction between this draft and the old rules as modified by the new rules, then the latter has precedence.

The Official Tournament Rules, edited by the NSA Rules Committee, govern all NSA-sanctioned tournament play. Printed booklets are available through NSA Word Gear.

The index for the Rules is available only in the on-line edition and is prepared by John Chew, to whom indexing errata and addenda should be sent.


In Issue 189 of the newsletter, the following text appeared, and is considered to have the force of a rule.

Blank Designation Slips: We have redesigned these slips to list the alphabet twice. That’s one letter for each blank. Players are instructed to circle the letter the blank represents. As with recording the blank by writing the letter, once you circle the letter the blank represents, unless you immediately correct a careless circle, you are mandating that letter to the designated blank, and you may be challenged as such."


Also available on this web server are the NSA’s Official Tournament Anagrams Rules.

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For information about SCRABBLE® tournaments please visit our partner organization, NASPA. To report technical difficulties in reading this page,  please contact webmaster John Chew at: poslfit@gmail.com