At least 30,000 Scrabble games are started each hour. That’s a third of London’s Wembley Stadium, or two of Wimbledon’s Centre Courts at full capacity sitting down every hour in order to place small lettered tiles on a grid.
Evidently Scrabble is ever-present, but its past is pretty prominent in our minds too. The world’s favourite word game is now over 60 years old; over 150 million sets have been produced and sold in over 121 countries. Let’s look back at 12 instances where the human race – dedicated fans, TV and music producers, and even royalty – demonstrated its love for Scrabble.
1. Scrabble fans across the world celebrated the 60th anniversary of Scrabble by playing the game in an array of weird and wonderful ways. Two fans enjoyed a game 13,000 feet above ground during a sky dive, another couple played underwater in the shark-infested Caribbean, while in Florida die-hard fans enjoyed a game surrounded by alligators.
2. To celebrate Prince Charles’ 50th birthday in 2008, British artist Lizzie Sanders created a portrait made entirely from Scrabble tiles.
3. In 1985 Lt Cdr Waghorn and Lance Corporal Gill played Scrabble continuously for 5 days when trapped in a crevasse in Antarctica.
4. Over a million Scrabble tiles have gone missing, and are still out there! We suspect it’s the underground Scrabble rebels.
5. The world’s largest game of Scrabble took place in Britain’s Wembley Stadium to mark the game’s 50th anniversary in 1998. Each tile measured an enormous 6ft square and took two burly men to lift! The game is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records.
6. A player at a US Scrabble tournament was once accused of cheating by EATING the tiles.
7. We’re beginning to see a pattern. Remember that episode of Friends where Ross’ loveable monkey Marcel has to go to hospital? That’s because he ate three Scrabble tiles: ‘M’ ‘O’ and ‘K’ – they thought he was trying to spell out ‘monkey’.
8. The Simpsons television series includes an episode in which Bart plays the bogus word KWYJIBO for a huge score, defining it as ‘a big dumb, balding North American ape with no chin’.
9. In Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Arthur Dent pulls out seemingly random Scrabble tiles from a bag, spelling, ‘What do you get when you multiply six by nine’, which some readers believe to be the ultimate question of life, the Universe and everything… you do the maths.
10. Scrabble has a celebrity life all of its own, starring in major films such as Rosemary’s Baby, The Wedding Planner and Blackhawk Down.
11. Scrabble features in Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The protagonist, Offred, plays the game with the Commander as a symbol of rebellion against the totalitarian regime of Gilead, where any kind of reading is forbidden to women.
12. Among the world’s current players are royalty and long-time lovers of the game Kate & William, One Direction’s pop sensation Harry Styles, and the legendary Madonna.
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