Tuesday, the penultimate day of 2012's National SCRABBLE Championship, taking place in Orlando, Florida, the venerable event was hit with a scandal. Cheating! Per the National Scrabble Association website:
Just as round 24 was starting, the tournament director was called over to division 3 and it was discovered that two blanks were not put into the tilebag as they should have been when the board was cleared off to start the game. The player was questioned and admitted to taking them. [2012 NSC Director] Dallas Johnson then ejected (a now ejected player) from the tournament. His opponents at this event will be retroactively given forfeit wins.
Merriam Webster's Peter Sokolowski was tweeting from the event and clarified some of what happened:
The cheater kept his blank tiles aside and hidden, to use in his own time.— Peter Sokolowski (@PeterSokolowski) August 14, 2012
"Directors" (in referee shirts) are called when there are questions about rules or suspicion of cheating at— Peter Sokolowski (@PeterSokolowski) August 14, 2012
Though this is the first ejection of a player for cheating at Nationals, per Sokolowski, this is not the first SCRABBLE controversy to hit a competition. At the World Championships in Warsaw in 2011, Chollapat Itthi-Aree, a 25-year-old Thai player, accused 35-year-old Ed Martin of England of hiding a G tile. He asked that judges strip-search Martin in the bathroom, but the request was denied, and Martin went on to win by one point. According to The Sun, this was "the biggest scandal to hit the event since one player accused another of eating a tile."
As the joke goes, it's all fun and games until someone loses an I.