Scrabble is a word game in which two to four players score points by forming words from individual lettered tiles on a game board marked with a 15-by-15 grid. The words are formed across and down in crossword fashion and must appear in a standard dictionary. Official reference works (i.e. SOWPODS in the UK) provide a list of permissible words, many of which are rarely found in standard English writing. Scrabble operates to a different dictionary to Countdown, so many contestants make this mistake.
The name Scrabble is a trademark of Hasbro, Inc. in the US and Canada and of J. W. Spear & Sons PLC elsewhere. Scrabble was a trademark of Murfett Regency in Australia, until 1993 when it was acquired by Spear. The game is also known as Alfapet, Funworder, Skip-A-Cross, Spelofun and Palabras Cruzadas ("crossed words").
The game is sold in 121 countries in 29 different language versions. One hundred million sets have been sold worldwide, and sets are found in one out of every three American homes.
As of 2007, 21 of the 57 Countdown series champions have been regular tournament Scrabble players at the time of their appearance. Of these 21 players, Joyce Cansfield, David Acton, Stewart Holden and Clive Spate have represented England at the World Scrabble Championship, Alan Sinclair has represented Scotland and Gareth Williams has represented Wales. The show's former producer and Champion of Champions I winner Mark Nyman has also represented England at the World Championships, and won the event in 1993; the only Countdown contestant (and only British player) ever to be World Scrabble Champion. As of September 2011, Championship of Champions XII winner Paul Gallen is the highest rated player in the world according to the World English-language Scrabble Player's Association's ratings.