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Scrabble Holds First Referendum

July 22, 2000

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) _ M-A-J-O-R-I-T-Y.

Eight letters on the Scrabble board. Worth 110 points if played on a triple word score (60 for the word plus 50 for using all seven tiles).

It spelled V-I-C-T-O-R-Y when the National Scrabble Association polled its members on what dictionary should be the official reference for players of the popular word game.

The nation’s club and tournament players voted nearly 2-1 to keep using the North American Official Scrabble Players Dictionary, used in the United States, Canada and Israel. The rest of the Scrabble-playing world uses the British Official Scrabble Words dictionary.

The 10,000 members had to postmark their mail-in votes by Friday, so the tally is incomplete, the group’s website says. But the interim tally looks like a runaway rejection of proposals to combine the books into a universal reference called, in Scrabble lingo, SOWPODS.

``Wherever you stand on this issue, you’d have to agree that this has been for better or worse a historic event for the NSA,″ said John D. Williams, executive director of the association. ``It is, in fact, the first-ever referendum held for our organization.″

Combining the dictionaries would have added some 40,000 words to the game here. Which might have been its drawback, the group acknowledges.

The two factions will certainly renew the debate Aug. 5 when the North American Scrabble Championships begin in Providence, R.I.

D-E-T-E-N-T-E: Eight points.

___

On the Net: National Scrabble Association: http://www.scrabble-assoc.com

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