Title:
Simultaneous play word-forming game
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A word-forming game allows multiple players to form words simultaneously, thereby increasing the speed of the game and enhancing excitement. In the preferred embodiment, the game is based upon the game Scrabble®, and includes substantially complete board sections enabling up to four players to form words at the same time. The four board sections are preferably integrated into a single large board, with the four playing sections being color-coded as a means of separation. The players choose color-coded letters from color-coded bags, placing them on specialized four-tier racks. After the players have had the opportunity to arrange their letters on the multi-tiered racks, each forms a word beginning in one of the four sections of the board corresponding to their particular color. When the words have been formed, the board is turned 90-degrees, and each player then forms a second word that attaches to a word previously spelled-out on the board now in front of them. This process continues until the tiles are used up, or some other event causing the termination of the game. The preferred embodiment further includes specialized playing pieces that enable all of the players to see the various tiles on the board as it is turned from play to play. Once each player uses up a tier on his or her rack equal to the number of players in the game, a new tile-picking sequence begins from the various color-coded bags.



Inventors:
Botzen, James T. (Birmingham, MI, US)
Application Number:
10/891582
Publication Date:
01/19/2006
Filing Date:
07/15/2004
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63F1/00; A63F9/20
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
LAYNO, BENJAMIN
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
John, Posa Gifford Krass Groh Sprinkle G. (Anderson & Citkowski, P.C., 280 N. Old Woodward Ave. , Suite 400, Birmingham, MI, 48009-5394, US)
Claims:
I claim:

1. A board game, comprising: a plurality of playing tiles, each depicting a letter of the alphabet; a board containing a plurality of substantially identical playing sections, each playing section including a grid with areas upon which the tiles are simultaneously placed by different players to form words, with at least some of the areas including score multiplier indicia.

2. The board game of claim 1, including tiles with point values associated with the letters depicted thereon.

3. The board game of claim 1, wherein the playing sections are color-coded.

4. The board game of claim 1, including a plurality of color-coded playing tiles, and wherein the playing sections are color-coded to match the tiles.

5. The board game of claim 1, including: a plurality of color-coded playing tiles, with the playing sections being color-coded to match the tiles; and a tiered rack to hold the playing tiles of each player.

6. The board game of claim 7, wherein the racks include four tiers.

7. The board game of claim 1, including four playing sections.

8. A method of playing a board game, comprising the steps of: a) providing the board of claim 1; b) choosing a plurality of tiles according to claim 1 by each player; c) forming a word during the same period of time in each section of the board facing each player; d) scoring each player according to the word(s) formed in the respective board sections; e) rotating play so that each player is addresses a new section of the board; f) repeating steps c) through e) until new tiles are needed by the players; g) repeating step b) until the tiles are substantially used by the players or the game is concluded; and h) accumulating the scores of each player to determine a winner.

9. The method of claim 8, wherein the board includes for substantially similar sections.

10. The method of claim 9, wherein the sections are color-coded.

11. The method of claim 10, wherein each player is provided with a rack to hold their tiles, with each tier being associated with play on a separate section of the board.

12. The method of claim 8, wherein the board includes score multiplier squares.

13. The method of claim 8, wherein: the board includes boundaries between the sections; and the players are awarded extra points for placing a tile on a boundary.

14. The method of claim 8, wherein: the board includes boundaries between the sections; and the players are awarded extra points for forming a word that crosses a boundary.

15. The method of claim 8, wherein: the players are awarded extra points for forming a word that connects to a word formed by a different player.

16. The method of claim 8, wherein: the board is rotated so that each player faces a new section.

17. The method of claim 8, wherein: a player is penalized if they are the last to form a word with respect to a particular section.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

This invention relates generally to word-forming games and, in particular, to word-forming games that facilitate simultaneous play among multiple players.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Scrabble® is one of the most popular board games in the world. It was purportedly invented by American architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, during the great depression. The popularity of the game increased in the 1950s when Macy's department store began selling it. All intellectual property rights in and to the game are owned in the U.S.A and Canada by Hasbro Inc., and throughout the rest of the world by J.W. Spear & Sons Limited of Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, a subsidiary of Mattel Inc. Mattel and Spear are not affiliated with Hasbro.

Scrabble is played by two to four players on a board containing a grid of rectangles. Each player picks 7 letter-bearing tiles and places them on a rack in front of them. The tiles also show point values associated with the letter on each tile, with larger values being allocated for letters used less frequently; for example, an “E” is worth 1 point whereas a “Z” is worth 10. The players take turns forming legitimate English language words on the board by placing the tiles in the rectangles. Scores are influenced by special rectangles on the board which award extra points for doubling or tripling the value of a particular letter or an entire word.

After forming a word, that player announces his score and it is recorded. The player then replenishes their rack with new tiles, only having 7 tiles in their rack at any time. If all 7 tiles are used in one word, the player receives a bonus of 50 points and takes 7 more tiles, if there are that many left in the bag or face down on the table. Play proceeds to the left. Taking turns, everyone places their tiles on the board to form legitimate words. If other players feel a word is not legitimate they can challenge it. If the challenge is proven to be correct, the player has to take the word off the board, losing the point total and a turn. Players have to add onto other player's tiles to form new words. The goal of the game is to use all the tiles on the board. The game ends when one of the players has used up all their tiles and the tiles in the bag or if no more legitimate words can be formed by the remaining tiles. The point scores left on the other players racks are subtracted from their scores and added to the first place finisher's score. The person with the highest score wins.

There have been several attempts to “improve” the game of scrabble, including some concepts involving expedited play and/or specialized pieces. U.S. Pat. No. 4,550,915 describes a game of forming words on a playing surface including a plurality of triangular shaped playing pieces, each marked on one side with either a letter, number, symbol or combinations thereof, which letters, numbers and symbols are for arranging on a playing surface having correspondingly shaped triangular spaces thereon to form words of the adjacent pieces and to control the playing strategy of the game.

U.S. Pat. Nos. 4,591,161 and 4,637,609 describe a method and apparatus for a game in which a plurality of word-building structures, each having a plurality of playing spaces, are disposed about a game board. The preferred word-building structure comprises a pyramid shaped grid having 49 playing spaces. The pyramid is arranged in seven rows, with thirteen playing spaces in the base row and two less playing spaces in each succeedingly higher row. A word-building structure is associated with each respective competitor, as well as a color-coded set of playing pieces containing alphanumeric characters. These pieces are used by each competitor for building words in the horizontal, vertical, and diagonal directions in his respective word-building structure during a three minute word-building phase. The game board is then rotated to place each competitor in front of an opponent's word-building structure for an offensive phase, during which a competitor may strategically place his playing pieces to block selected spaces adjacent previously built words on an opponent's structure, thereby limiting the opponent's use of the blocked spaces in subsequent word-building phases and capturing the scoring value of the blocked words. Play continues with alternating word-building phases and offensive phases until one of a set of predetermined conditions occurs. Scores are tallied at the end of a game, at which time the point values of words are determined and the final determination of their ownership is made.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,460,854 describes a game for playing a game based on a crossword puzzle includes a field with squares on which pieces can be overlaid to simulate the crossword puzzle. The field is partitioned into zones assigned to the different players. Pieces are positioned by the players in turn to define entries for the puzzle. Points can be assigned to the entries and at the end of the game, when no more entries can be made by a player, the points are tabulated to determine a winner.

Published U.S. Patent Application No. 2003/0057649A1 describes a word game apparatus which comprises of: (1) A supply of four identical sets of 52 printed alphabet tiles, each set with letters printed in one of four different colors for a total of 208 tiles which includes eight joker tiles. (2) A supply of 52 printed game cards specifying four words from two to six letters in length, each word to be assembled in one of said colors for a total of 15 letters. (3) Four alphabet tile and game card holding racks configured to hold 15 alphabet tiles and one printed game card. To play the game, each player (from two to four can play) is supplied at random with one of the 52 game cards described in (2) above. Each player then makes a random selection of 15 alphabet tiles from a supply means, such as a bag or with all tiles lying face down on the playing table. Each player then separates their 15 tiles into four specified colors with the object of making four words of two, three, four, five or six letters in each color specified by game card supplied to him. Included are eight “joker” tiles which can be used to represent any desired letter in any word of three or more letters. The winner is the first player to complete four words in the color and length indicated on player's game card. Winning player receives one point for each unused tile and five points for each unused “joker” on all losing player's racks.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

This invention is directed to a word-forming game which allows multiple players to form words simultaneously, thereby increasing the speed of the game and enhancing excitement. In the preferred embodiment, the game is based upon the game Scrabble®, and includes substantially complete board sections enabling up to four players to form words at the same time.

The four board sections are preferably integrated into a single large board, with the four playing sections being color-coded as a means of separation. The players choose color-coded letters from color-coded bags, placing them on specialized four-tier racks. After the players have had the opportunity to arrange their letters on the multi-tiered racks, each forms a word beginning in one of the four sections of the board corresponding to their particular color. When the words have been formed, the board is turned 90-degrees, and each player then forms a second word that attaches to a word previously spelled-out on the board now in front of them. This process continues until the tiles are used up, or some other event causing the termination of the game.

To further speed the playing process, an optional rule is that all of the players must form their words in a given period of time, such that the player(s) unable to do so lose a turn. A different, optional rule, may be that the last player capable of forming a word on the board during a word-forming sequence loses his or her turn.

In the preferred embodiment, the various sections of the board are substantially similar to a Scrabble® board, except that where the boards intersect, double-letter, as opposed to word-based increases, are utilized. Players are allowed for form words using the colors of the particular section which extend into a different color and, in fact, in the preferred embodiment, extra points are given when a differently colored section of a board is entered and interconnected to words previously formed there. The preferred embodiment further includes specialized playing pieces that enable all of the players to see the various tiles on the board as it is turned from play to play. Once each player uses up a tier on his or her rack equal to the number of players in the game, a new tile-picking sequence begins from the various color-coded bags.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a drawing which shows a preferred playing board according to the invention;

FIG. 2 is a detail drawing showing one of the ways a preferred playing board according to the invention departs from a conventional Scrabble board;

FIG. 3 is a perspective-view drawing which shows a preferred playing tile according to the invention; and

FIG. 4 is a drawing that shows a novel game-tile rack and color-coded bags according to the invention.

DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Turning now to the drawings, FIG. 1 shows a preferred playing board according to the invention depicted generally at 100. In the preferred embodiment, the overall board includes four board sections 102, 104, 106 and 108 that are similar to traditional Scrabble® boards with certain exceptions. For one, the grids are square as opposed to rectangular. In addition, each section is color-coded, as shown by the different hatching patterns. Note that DL stands for “double letter,” “DW” for “double word,” “TL” for “triple letter,” and “TW” for “triple word.” In the FIG. 1, these letter codes are facing in four different directions such that at any time, each player sees one of the sections with the legends oriented in their direction, despite board rotation as described below.

Referring to FIG. 2, another difference between a preferred board and a Scrabble® board has to do with the areas of intersection between the board sections. In particular, as opposed to a few DL spaces along each edge, DL spaces fill the row between the three TW squares. This is done as an incentive to cross these boundaries during play, as also described herein below. Also, note that some of the DW squares are replaced with DL spaces 204 in FIG. 2. This was done because it was found that word multipliers, particularly so close to one another on either side of a section boundary led to inordinately high scores.

FIG. 3 is a drawing which shows a preferred playing tile 302 according to the invention, which has the primary surface 304 and secondary surfaces 306, 308, and 310, all representing the same letter and optional numerical point value 312. This novel tile is used so that each player can view each tile form all four sides, particularly as the board is turned. The numerical value is said top be optional because in addition to the rules of play prescribed below, a variation is to award basic point on the length of the words formed, regardless of the letters used. For example, in addition to word multipliers and special bouts for crossing boundaries and/or connecting, the following values may be award for word length:

Letters in Word FormedPoint Score
22
35
48
520
650
7100

The preferred embodiment includes four color-coded sets of such tiles, such as red, yellow, blue and green, which are drawn from separate, color-coded bags 402, 404, 406, 408 and placed on a special rack 410, as shown in FIG. 4. In each rack, the various tiers are differently staggered, so that the bottom tier of each player starts out with a different color, followed by the next color in sequence, so that the tiles are used from the bottom tier to the top tier by each player as the board is turned.

To play the game, making reference to FIG. 1 in particular, the person sitting in front of board section 102, presumably red in color, will have a rack wherein the lowest tier includes red tiles. The person facing board section 104 will have a rack wherein the lowest tier includes green tiles to match that section of the board, and so on. After each player has chosen tiles from the bags to fill up the rack, and assuming a given amount of time to arrange the tiles within the racks, play begins when each person forming a word on their respective color-coded sections with tiles matching that color.

As with the traditional Scrabble® game, each player starts first with the star in the middle of the board, which also counts as a double-word score. When each player has formed a word, the board is turned 90-degrees, such that each player now uses the tiles on the second tier of the rack, which has been sequenced to match the color of the board now facing them, and a new set of words are formed, with each player being required to intersect with the word on that board section previously made by another player. Play proceeds until each player has used up the tiles on all four tiers, at which time each player chooses enough tiles from each of the color-coded bags to fill-up their respective rack, and the play again proceeds as described above.

Due to the unique nature of this game, there are other differences between a traditional Scrabble® game. In addition to the changes to the board and tiles as already mentioned, given that multiple players can play simultaneously, an optional rule is that if one or more players does not place their word down in a given period of time, or if three out of four players have made words, those players which are “late” may lose a turn. In addition, although play commences with the color of tiles being matched to the color of the board sections, players may form words on differently colored sections of the board, so long as connections to previous words are made.

Indeed this is encouraged in the preferred embodiment, and optional special rules may include: (1) additional points (such as 10 points) if a player lands on the central cross-shaped row and column 110, 112; (2) additional points (such as 20 points) if a player crosses one of the central cross-shaped row and column 110, 112; and (3) additional points (such as 50 points) if a player attaches to tiles of a different color. The game ends when all of the tiles are gone, at which time the player with the highest score wins. As with traditional Scrabble®, if there are any few tiles remaining at the end of the game, they are subtracted from that player's overall score.