World of Scrabble in chaos after star player is banned for cheating
The world of Scrabble has been rocked by allegations of cheating by a top player (AP Photo/Matt Dunham, File)

Trouble is afoot in the seemingly sedate world of Scrabble.

The Association of British Scrabble players has banned a star player for three years after an investigation found that he had broken the rules.

Allan Simmons, who had written books on the game, contributed game coverage to The Times.

However the newspaper has said it will no longer use his work as a result of the ban.

Three witnesses described seeing him put a hand with freshly drawn letter tiles back into the scrabble bag to pick new tiles – breaking the rules.

Elie Dangoor, a committee member of the association, said: ‘The natural conclusion had been that he had been cheating.’

There were four instances dating back to 2016, and the committee conducted an independent probe which was concluded a few weeks ago.

The matter came to larger public attention only recently, and was discussed during the World English Language Scrabble Players Association event that ended Sunday.

Simmons told the Times he denied cheating, and that he had suffered the same ‘untimely bad luck from the bag as anyone else.’

‘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,’ Simmons told the Times.

‘From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process.’

Dangoor said that Simmons had been ‘a huge part of the game’s development’ and that there was ‘great disappointment,’ as he is a liked and respected part of the Scrabble community. But action had to be taken.

‘There’s no one person bigger than the game,’ Dangoor said.

The Times quoted him as saying he planned to concentrate on ‘more important things in life.’