The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 25, 2013

Wordsmiths ready for Scrabble tourney


DANVILLE — Word game enthusiasts will have a chance to flex their vocabulary vigor at Danville Area Community College’s eighth annual Scrabble for Literacy event April 6 - 7 at the student union in Lincoln Hall.

The event, which is hosted by the Reader’s Route as a fundraiser for the literacy program, draws about 65 participants each year.

The Reader’s Route, operated through DACC Adult Education, recruits and trains volunteers to help adults improve reading skills and increase the literacy rate in the area.

Proceeds from the Scrabble tournament entry fees will be used to provide a $500 scholarship for a literacy student or instructional materials used by the DACC Reader’s Route program.

“With last year’s proceeds, we bought a DVR player for our tutor training,” said Scott Heatherton, Reader’s Route coordinator and tutor recruiter.

“This year we hope we can get an iPad with the proceeds that we can’t buy with Secretary of State funds,” he said.

“One hundred percent of the proceeds go to tutors’ betterment or to the students.”

Heatherton also said four to five volunteers are needed to help out in the tournament’s hospitality room in the nearby Laura Lee Room.

“Our hospitality room can always use an extra pair of hands,” he said.

Chuck Jones, a local Scrabble enthusiast, has participated in DACC’s Scrabble tournament since the event started and before it was NASPA rated.

“I enjoy the game immensely. It’s a challenge. It’s a lot like chess but with words,” he said.

“It involves your knowledge, knowing how to rearrange words and the best place you can put the letters. Math is involved in adding up the points,” Jones said. “It involves a whole bunch of skills, and there’s a lot to think about when you play.”

This year’s Scrabble event includes four separate activities so players of all levels of interest and skill can find something to enjoy.

An open house — at which Scrabble boards will be available for casual games and expert tips to improve play will be offered — is set for 2:30-5 p.m. April 6.

The NASPA-rated tournaments are open to rated and unrated players.

Two one-day rated tournaments will be held — one starting at 9:30 a.m. April 6 and one starting at 8:30 a.m. April 7.

Players may participate in one tournament or both. Membership in NASPA is required for participation in both of the seven-game NASPA-rated tournaments. Membership may be obtained on-site for $12.

The entry fee for the NASPA-rated tourney is $40 for one day or $70 for both days.

“Anyone can join NASPA, but tournament play is not the same as kitchen table Scrabble,” Jones said.

“We play with timers and that intimidates some people. NASPA also has an official list of words that are acceptable in club and tournament Scrabble.”

Casual players may compete for prizes in a four-game casual players’ tournament starting at 12:30 p.m. April 7. This event is for players who are unaccustomed to tournament play, and NASPA membership is not required. Modified NASPA rules will be followed and lists of commonly used two- and three-letter words, as well as words with q, x and z, will be given to all players.

Registration for unrated casual play on April 7 begins at noon and the entry fee is $20 for adults and $10 for DACC students with valid school ID. Deluxe playing equipment, including colorful plastic tourney tiles, will be supplied for the casual games.

Prizes consisting of donated items from local businesses are awarded for various categories.

“The prize table is hearty this year,” Heatherton said.

At the DACC event, Scrabble games are played simultaneously.

Jones said DACC’s casual tournament “is a good way to get your feet wet to see if you like tournament play. We love spreading the love of the game.”

NASPA, with a membership of more than 4,000 players, hosts official Scrabble tournaments throughout the U.S. and Canada, with an official dictionary and rules for competitive tournament play.

More information

For more information about the Scrabble for Literacy event, contact Scott Heatherton, Reader’s Route coordinator, at 443-8785 or For more information and registration forms, go to