C-h-e-a-t worth 10 Scrabble points, 3-year ban for ex-champ

One of the world’s leading Scrabble players and former United Kingdom national champion has been banned from playing the game competitively for three years after he was accused of cheating.

It appears that during competition Allan Simmons would draw a tile and, if he didn’t like it, sneakily replace it and draw another. He denied the accusation, leveled by the Association of British Scrabble Players.

Simmons is no hobbyist. He’s a professional Scrabble player. The 60-year-old Scotsman built a reputation as one of the game’s most trusted minds. He co-wrote every edition of “Official Scrabble Words” and recently wrote “Scrabble Trainer,” published by HarperCollins. He earned work as a word expert on the British game show “Countdown” and wrote a Scrabble column and daily puzzle for the Times of London. He even left his job as an IT project manager to become a full-time Scrabble consultant.

The Association of British Scrabble Players — which he co-founded and served as president for 11 years — instituted the ban after finding him guilty of “actions that led to a suspicion of cheating.”

The Times of London dropped then him as a columnist.

He was first reported this summer by Lewis Mackay, 32, who said in a statement on Facebook that he witnessed Simmons cheat repeatedly. The Scrabble world is a small one, with players often attending the same competitions each year.

While waiting for his own match, Mackay idly watched Simmons play a game during a tournament in September 2016. He noticed Simmons draw a tile, look at it and replace it — a clear violation of the rules. So he decided to keep a close eye on the veteran if they ever faced off.

His chance came during June’s British Masters in Yarnfield, England.

The two were playing a timed match, which comes with specific rules. The letter tiles are kept in a bag so players pull new ones blindly. To ensure this, players must raise the bag to shoulder length while pulling new tiles, and they also must splay open their hands to show they aren’t swapping out a common tile for a more enticing one, according to the Times of London.

“While I was scoring his moves, I had my eyes fixed on the tiles on the table as he drew them,” Mackay said in a statement. “He would draw tiles one at a time and lift each tile slightly to look at it once it was on the table. On three separate occasions, I saw him lift the tile out of my vision, having looked at it.”

Mackay was troubled. He wanted to report it but worried he wouldn’t be taken seriously. Compared to Simmons, a giant in the world of Scrabble, Mackay was basically a beginner. He spent the entire next day agonizing “over what I should say.”

“I was greatly distressed by what I had seen,” he added.

He finally reported it to the Association of British Scrabble Players, which investigated Simmons. It found that at least two other players witnessed Simmons draw a tile then, with the tile still in hand, reach back into the bag to grab a few more.

“The natural conclusion had been that he had been cheating,” Elie Dangoor, a committee member of the Association of British Scrabble Players, told the Associated Press.

The committee then launched an independent probe into the cheating allegations, finding at least four instances of cheating that dated back to 2016 — which Simmons denied. But he admitted he may have accidentally held the bag lower than he should have, and he may have forgotten to open his hand with each draw.

“While I believe I always showed an open hand before drawing fresh letters, if drawing one or two at a time I may not have always had an open hand for each dip in the bag,” Simmons told the Times of London.

“Likewise, holding the bag may not have always been strictly at shoulder height. 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.”

Mackay doesn’t seem to buy it.

“I have been completely disgusted by this whole affair,” Mackay said in a statement. “Scrabble is a game that I have enjoyed greatly over the past two decades and more, pitting my wits against the best in the world and meeting fascinating new people. It sours the whole experience entirely when I discover that someone I had a great deal of respect for was not playing in the same manner as the rest of the community.”

“There’s no one person bigger than the game,” Dangoor told the Guardian.

Simmons, who could not be reached for comment, told the Times he “had actually been winding down the number of tournaments” he played in, because keeping up with the game had grown tiring and stressful.

ad-high_impact_4
News
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss React to Dennis Hof's Death
Ron Jeremy and Heidi Fleiss speak about their friend and prominent brothel owner Dennis Hof's death at Dennis Hof's Love Ranch. (Benjamin Hager/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada brothel owner Dennis Hof has died
Nevada brothel owner and Republican candidate for Nevada State Assembly District 36, Dennis Hof has died. He was 72. Nye County Sherriff's office confirmed. Hof owned Love Ranch brothel, located in Crystal, Nevada.
Las Vegas police investigate suspicious package at shopping center
Las Vegas police evacuated a southeast valley shopping center at Flamingo and Sandhill roads early Tuesday morning while they investigated reports of a suspicious package. (Max Michor/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
The Las Vegas Metro hosts the K-9 Trials
The Las Vegas Metro K-9 Trials returns to the Orleans Arena to benefit the Friends For Las Vegas Police K-9 group.
Kingman residents love their little town
Residents of Kingman, Ariz. talk about how they ended up living in the Route 66 town, and what they love about their quiet community. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Service at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Twelve unclaimed veterans are honored at Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Boulder City in Oct. 9, 2018. (Briana Erickson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Las Vegas house prices reach highest level in 11 years
Las Vegas house prices are rising But so is the amount of available homes on the market Still, properties priced below $300,000 are selling fast And September was the first time since June 2007 that the median house price reached the $300,000 mark Las Vegas home prices have been rising at one of the fastest rates in the country over the past year Recent data show the market is now less affordable than the national average
National Night Out
About 100 Summerlin residents gathered at Park Centre Dr. in Summerlin on Tuesday for National Night Out. Lt. Joshua Bitsko with Las Vegas Metro, played with 3-year-old David who was dressed as a police officer. Face painting, fire truck tours and more kept kids busy as parents roamed behind them. (Mia Sims/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Rural homeless issue comes to a head in Pahrump
On Sept. 12, Pahrump sheriff deputies told residents of a homeless encampment on private property that they had 15 minutes to vacate and grab their belongings. That decision might face some legal consequences. (Rachel Aston/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance blood drive on October 1
A blood drive was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center on the one year anniversary of the Oct. 1 shooting. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Remembrance Lights memorial unveiled at St. Rose hospital
A dedication ceremony was held at St. Rose to unveil a memorial and to read the names of those who died on October 1, a year ago. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive Remembrance Wall
(Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October Blood Drive
Vitalent hosts a blood drive at the Las Vegas Convention Center on Monday, Oct. 1, 2018, the first anniversary of the Las Vegas shootings. (Mat Luschek/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
1October sunrise remembrance ceremony in Las Vegas
Myanda Smith, sister of Las Vegas shooting victim Neysa Tonks, speaks at the sunrise remembrance ceremony at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Chitose Suzuki/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
‪Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to crowd at Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬
‪Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval speaks to the crowd at the Oct. 1 sunrise remembrance ceremony ‬at the Clark County Government Center in downtown Las Vegas, Monday, Oct. 1, 2018. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Father of Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim talks about college scholarship in his daughter's memory
Chris Davis, father of a Route 91 Harvest festival shooting victim, Neysa Tonks, talks about a college scholarship in his daughter's memory to assist the children of those who died in the shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Oct. 1 survivor Malinda Baldridge talks about life after the shooting
Malinda Baldridge of Reno attended the Route 91 Harvest festival with her daughter, Breanna, 17, and was shot twice in the leg when the gunman fired on the crowd.
Route 91 survivor talks about lack of progress in gun legislation
Heather Gooze, a Route 91 survivor, talks about lack of progress in gun legislation since the Oct 1. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas/Review-Journal) @reviewjournal
Review held in death of man after encounter with Las Vegas police
The mother of Tashii Brown, who died after an encounter with Las Vegas police on the Strip, not satisfied after public review of evidence. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Museum opening "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials"
The Clark County Museum is opening an exhibit "How We Mourned: Selected Artifacts from the October 1 Memorials" of items left to honor the victims killed in the Route 91 Harvest festival shooting. (Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @bizutesfaye
Memorial service for former RJ lawyer Mark Hinueber
Mark Hinueber, the Review-Journal's former lawyer and defender of the First Amendment, died in Las Vegas on Aug. 23. Hinueber, who was 66, worked at the RJ and other newspapers for 42 years. On Saturday, his friends and family gathered for a memorial service.
Army veteran honored in Henderson event
Army Sgt. Adam Poppenhouse was honored by fellow veterans in an event hosted by a One Hero at a Time at the Henderson Events Center.
Michelle Obama and Keegan-Michael Key urge Nevadans to vote
Former first lady Michelle Obama and comedian Keegan-Michael Key urged Nevadans to vote at Chaparral High School in Las Vegas Sunday, Sep. 23, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
1 dead, 1 wounded in North Las Vegas standoff
A woman was hospitalized with serious injuries on Thursday morning after being shot inside a North Las Vegas house. Police responded about 11 p.m. to a shooting at a home on the 5600 block of Tropic Breeze Street, near Ann Road and Bruce Street. The wounded woman, police believe, was shot by a man, who later barricaded himself inside the house. SWAT was called to assist, and when officers entered the house, they discovered the man dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Las Vegas Teen Makes Clothing Resale His Side Hustle
Las Vegas resident Reanu Elises, 18, started buying and selling streetwear online when he was a high school junior. Like many other young adults, the world of online resale applications like Depop and Mercari have made selling clothing online for a profit easy. Now, Elises spends his free time at thrift shops looking for rare and vintage clothing he can list on his on his shop. Now in his freshman year at UNLV as a business marketing major, Elises hopes to open a shop of his own one day and start his own clothing brand. He estimates that he's made about $1000 from just thrifted finds in the past year, which he'll use to buy more thrift clothing and help pay for expenses in college. (Madelyn Reese/ Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Fruition Vineyards Encourages Young Entrepreneurs to "Buy, Flip, Dream"
Once a month, young adults gather at Fruition Vineyards on South Maryland Parkway near UNLV to dig through a stack of rare, vintage and designer clothing that's marked down well below it's resale value. Shop founder Valerie Julian began the vent, dubbed "Fruition Vineyards" in August after running her streetwear shop since 2005. The event gives young entrepreneurs the opportunity to "buy, flip, dream" according to Jean. Meaning that they're encouraged to buy the clothing for sale and find a way to resell it for a profit, then reinvest that into whatever dream they pursue: college, a hobby or their own resale business. Shoppers lined up starting an hour before noon on the last Saturday in April for the opportunity and spoke about what they hoped to do with their finds and profits. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Local man goes under cover searching for answers to homelessness
Licensed mental health therapist Sheldon Jacobs spent 48 hours under cover posing as a homeless man in an attempt to gain perspective on the complex issue.
Social Work UNLV Lecturer's Calling
Ivet Aldaba-Valera was the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. The 33-year-old UNLV lecturer is now pursuing her Ph. D in public policy at the school and has used her degree in social work to engage with the young Latino and Latina community of Las Vegas. (Madelyn Reese/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @MadelynGReese
Gold Point townsperson talks about why he choose to live in a ghost town
Gold Point townsperson Walt Kremin talks about the ghost town in Nevada he calls home. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @marcusvillagran
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like