Lexicon Crossing

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timelapse (1hr36min in 1min:55sec of video = 25x speedup) of a game in 2021. 85/16=5.31 (left) beats 76/18=4.22... (right)

Score: 76/14=5.428 - record known high score. LC120, 2 players, 2 tile pickup, no jaywalking
Score: 74/14=5.285 - This layout was a hair off a record high score, yet on the day, it lost

A game to test your personal word-list thingy

The concept

Players create the highest scoring crossword that they can with their available letters.

Lexicon Crossing (sometimes referred to as "LC" here) is similar to the Scrabble™ variants "Take Two" (or Speed Scrabble), or it's commercial cousin Bananagram™. From these it draws basic gameplay, but is scored uniquely. The scoring brings forth an emphasis on both longer words and rare (high point) letters - so encouraging wider vocabulary use. This is in direct contrast to my observed results of playing Speed Scrabble and the like. LC gameplay can progress either fast or slow, depending on the players.


  • Scrabble tiles or clones (so long as they have per-tile scores as Scrabble)
    • Lexicon Crossing is playable with a Scrabble set of 98 letters (no blanks) for 2-4 players, however, this page also proposes a 120 tile set for 2-5 players, which tweaks letter distribution to better suit gameplay. These are referred to as the "S98" and "LC120" tile sets
  • Sufficient workspace for each player (equivalent space to a regular scrabble board per player should be sufficient, though be aware that in games with more tiles per player, that the results can sprawl a bit!)
    • A 50x73cm test board was found to be suitable for a 2player game (seen on the timelapse video below)


  • All tiles are placed face down in the center and shuffled (a bag, scrabble style, is also suitable)
  • Half the tiles are divided between players as their starting tiles (see guide below)
    • If required, add extra tiles to ensure equal tiles per player
    • If required, add extra tiles to ensure a minimum of 15 tiles per player at start.
  • The remaining tiles are set between the players to draw from throughout the game (pickup pool)
  • Decide if the game will be a one or two tile pickup per round (two tiles = half as many rounds)
    • This is to player discretion, however as guideline, aim for 10-20 rounds total

Starting tiles guide

Player count LC98 tileset LC120 tileset
2 25 each (leaves 48 = 12 rounds with 2 tile pickup) 30 each (leaves 60 = 15 rounds with 2 tile pickup)
3 17 each (leaves 47 = 15 rounds with 1 tile pickup, 2 tiles leftover) 20 each (leaves 60 = 10 rounds with 2 tile pickup)
4 15 each (leaves 38 = 9 rounds with 1 tile pickup, 2 tiles leftover) 15 each (leaves 60 = 15 rounds with 1 tile pickup)
5 not advised: 15 each (leaves 23 = 4 rounds with 1 tile pickup, 3 tiles leftover) 15 each (leaves 45 = 9 rounds with 1 tile pickup)

It is not viable to play more than 4 players on a S98 tile set, as approx 15 tiles are needed to start, and around 10 rounds to have a reasonable game. The LC120 tile set is usable up to 5 players by this guideline. Naturally, if multiple scrabble tile sets are added, then more players are viable. Scale to suit.

Note: these are a guide only, and variations not listed as fine if all players agree. (for instance, a 3 player LC120 game could start with only 12 (!) tiles each, leaving 84 to be played by 9 rounds of 3-tile pickup, and a 10th round of a single pickup)


  • During play, all players work simultaneously on their own independent crosswords.
  • Once a player has integrated all their current tiles into a coherent set, they can call "green light" - which signals to ALL players to draw tiles (one or two by prior decision) from the pickup pool.
    • You are not required to call 'green light' at any time, perhaps instead preferring to take the advantage of time to pursue improved tile layouts. (also, waiting for someone else to 'green light' means you can benefit from jaywalking (see next rule ;)
  • At any time during a turn, each player who did not call 'Green Light' most recently have the additional option of returning a single tile from their set to the pool, and drawing a replacement. This is "jaywalking" and can be performed only once per player per round. It should be politely announced, but does not otherwise interrupt gameplay of other players.
    • On the first round, all players are building from their allocated sets - everybody is thus allowed a jaywalk at this stage
  • Rounds repeat until the pickup pool is exhausted (or fewer remain than the number of players). At the end of this final round, instead of "green", players call "red light" to stop the game.
    • Other players are given a grace period (recommended: one minute for formal games) to finalise their layouts.
  • Scores are tallied and the winner is the player with the highest calculated result.


  • Tiles that are part of two words are scored by summing their tile values. Ignore leftover tiles at this stage.
    • eg: if KEYBOARD was crossed with 'CAKE' on the K, BED on the B and RUBBISH on the R - then the points for K(5), B(3) and R(1) would be added to a 9 point total
  • Points are then divided by the total number of words to come up with the final calculated score. Note that each individual leftover tile counts as an extra word!
    • 9 points divided by 4 words (KEYBOARD, CAKE, BED, RUBBISH) = 2.25
  • A calculator is handy for scoring as 1 or 2 decimal places may be required to differentiate in close games
  • Display of scores should be in the form of points/words=score. In this way, a sense of the game can also be determined
    • This is not entirely dissimilar to the manner in which AFL scores are given with a goal and behind breakdown.
    • On the rare occasion that there are leftover tiles in a game where results are recorded, then use points/(words made + tiles remaining)=score.


The first two games tested resulted in the following scores

  • 52 points / 17 words = 3.06 final score beat
    • 66 points / 25 words = 2.64 final score
  • 70 points / 19 words = 3.68 final score beat
    • 49 points / 16 words = 3.06 final score

These two games demonstrate the winning possibility of the two main strategies - aiming for a small number of words (which means fewer points because fewer tiles are scored), and aiming for higher number of points (more words makes for more scoring tiles). To put it another way, it's possible to lose despite having more points, or despite having fewer words!)

Dictionary notes

  • All words made must be valid by some prior agreement of what constitutes "valid". For example - a local dictionary, or valid Scrabble™ words list.
  • There are no limitations on word repetition, minimum or maximum length

Tactics and Misc notes

  • Maximise the scoring letter values - ie, intersect words on the high point scorers.
  • Minimise the number of short words.
    • Only a very few short words make sense to use: For instance, adding 'R' inside a corner to make OR and AR is counterproductive (+4 points /2 words, net result is a score of 2 - likely to bring your score down. Even 'W' to make OW and AW only gains +6 points for /2 words - an average of 3. However, 'X' gives OX and AX - that is +10points for /2 words. 5 point scoring average is very likely worthwhile!
  • Best scores are achieved with a small number of words crossing on the 10, 8, 5 and 4 point value tiles. Depending on the tileset and player count, it's quite possible to complete a game with no tiles crossing on lower point value tiles!
  • Take the time to rearrange your crossword when you see better opportunities. Words can be moved at any time (they are only required to be a contiguous set of crossing words for the player to call green or red light. At any other time (including scoring), they can be in any state of (dis)array.
    • Remember, there is no requirement to call 'green light'... take advantage of a completed board to consider alterations!
  • Create loops. Four words linearly has has three scoring tiles, but as a loop, has four. Also: loops within loops!
  • Expect a 2 player game to take between half an hour and an hour (depending on players and their style, naturally). Game length is greatly influenced by the number of rounds, so adjust round length (see House Variations below) to suit
  • With a little practice, scoring between 4 and 5 should be common for an average Scrabble player in a 2-player game (using LC120). A score of 10 has been shown to be possible with a contrived board, and greater than 10 is theoretically possible). In real world play, scoring between 4.5 and 5.5 should be possible for experienced players. (76/14=5.43 is the current known record for a played game)

Comparison to Scrabble™

Score: 61 points / 14 words = 4.36
Score: 36 points / 9 words = final score of 4
Score: 67/14= 4.79


  • Play is simultaneous.
  • Not limited by word length
  • Tiles can be rearranged any time during play
  • No board required
  • Whilst Scrabble encourages targeting set positions on the board to gain points, Lexicon Crossing targets the tiles in the context of your own hand.
  • Scrabble, Bananagram, etc, encourage short words (in Scrabble by the use of parallel words giving rise to multiple point scoring per tile, and in Bananagram due to it being a speed game) Some variants of Speed Scrabble forbid two letter words, but as demonstrated above, Lexicon Crossing needs no such awkward restriction as it encourages longer words more naturally through it's the scoring mechanism.


  • Play is not on a communal board, so the direct interaction of Scrabble is lost. Actual interaction in LC play is dependant on players and can vary widely. ie, how "social" your game of LC is, is dependant on the players :)

House Variations

These have been thought of as variations that people may find more to their taste/style/etc. Some of these are based on earlier revisions of LC as the game was refined, and may be useful if a faster game is desired.

  • Varying the number of starting tiles (up to a maximum where all tiles are divided evenly. Remember: the number of rounds is normally the number of remaining tiles divided by the number of players)
    • lower than 15 is not recommended
  • Jaywalking rule variations
    • disallow entirely
    • allow two-tile jaywalking (esp in conjunction with two-tile greenlights)
    • alter the limitations on how often, and/or which players may jaywalk.
    • Allow a 2-for-1 pickup. (ie, return one, pick up two)
      • note that this can result in players with different hand sizes, and often, larger hand allows more flexibility in creating a good score!
    • returned (jaywalked) tiles are left face up. This is recommended to use with 2-for-1 pickup
  • Including the blanks from the Scrabble tileset

"out of the house" Variations

Many of the best games can be used as easy foundations for new games. For example, drinking versions, strip versions, etc, as well as simple house rule variations on the basic rule set.

These are not official game rules, but give an idea of how the game can be expanded upon to the point of more or less being whole new games (though with clear LC origins). Should the game take off, I'm sure other variants will arise! :)

  • Drinking LC:
    • pay to jaywalk by taking a sip
    • call green light to make everyone ELSE take a sip
      • The green lighter may be challenged, and has to finish/take a drink if any invalid words are found. If all are OK, then the challenger finishes/takes a drink.
    • On red light - A drink for every incomplete board and invalid word.
  • Strip LC
    • spell an item of clothing and call green light - to require the other player(s) to remove that item.

Team Play?

Two forms of team play are proposed.

  1. Multiple individuals per "player". Just like normaly LC but replace "player" with "team", who collaborate on their set of tiles/words.
  2. Collaborative players - where player maintains their own board, but may swap one tile with their team member per green light. In this way one team member may sacrifice their good tiles to the other.
  • Collaborative play would be best suited to four players only (two teams of two) given the tile limitations of the standard scrabble set, though with more tiles, could scale appropriately. Could also be played as a team of two players, against another single player. Be sure to agree on winning conditions before play begins!
    • Winning team?
      • Winning team is the one with the highest individual score?
      • Winning team is the one with the least worst individual score (ie, compare lowest scorer per team, and the best of them)
      • Winning team based on combined scoring of all boards within the team (ie, all points/all words)

Asynchronous play

This is proposed to allow long-running games to occur in a more turn-by-turn style, with a neutral third party allocating tiles. The expected use case would be a (hypothetical) tablet/mobile app, though the concept could be used for play-by-email or other mechanisms, so long as status sharing and tile allocation was handled.

  • Game start: Once all players (predetermined player count) agree to start, then the system allocates tiles, and players can begin play at any time.
  • When a player calls green light, new tile allocations occur globally to all players
    • The 'green light' player does not see their new tile, though can still update and improve their existing board.
    • Other players get their new tile immediately visible the next time they log in
    • The green-light player sees their new tile only once one other player/all other players (which?) connect and see their new tile.
    • Green-light can be asked for by any player during the interim stages before all players are caught up to the same round, but is not allocated till the last player has seen their new tile, plus a leeway of X (5?) minutes.
      • A player may unask their green-light request. Green-light is allocated to the earliest green-light request. (are existing greenlight requests visible to others?)
  • Game end: Note: this is expected to work best with a 2-player scenario, where if not playing simultaneously, each player can easily leapfrog past the other to be the Green Lighter. (but not required, since a player could login and allow the other player to see their new tile, and allow them to Green Light multiple times)


Score: 62/12=5.167 - this was on an S98 tile set
Score: 34/8=4.25 - an exercise in using only highscoring tiles, and minimising word count. Game was using an experimental 80 tile set

"LC120" is a proposed 120tile optimised for Lexicon Crossing that can scale to 5 players and has improved letter distribution. It uses Scrabble tiles (the letter scorings are the same - though should this ever be commercialised, then that may need adjusting!). It can be created as a subset of 2 regular scrabble sets.

LC120 has a greater proportion of high-point scoring letters to reduce the affect of random chance in game outcome (in a two player S98 game, someone who gets 3 of the 4 8/10 point tiles, is very hard to beat! (compared to S98, LC120 has a 22% increase in tile count, a 66% increase in tiles scoring 4+ (and 100% increase in tiles that score 5+). However, only a 14% increase in vowels.

Letter Value S98 LC120
A 1 9 11
B 3 2 2
C 3 2 3
D 2 4 5
E 1 12 14
F 4 2 3
G 2 3 3
H 4 2 4
I 1 9 9
J 8 1 2
K 5 1 2
L 1 4 4
M 3 2 3
N 1 6 7
O 1 8 9
P 3 2 3
Q 10 1 2
R 1 6 6
S 1 4 4
T 1 6 7
U 1 4 5
V 4 2 2
W 4 2 3
X 8 1 2
Y 4 2 3
Z 10 1 2

Feedback on the tile proportions of LC120 is appreciated!

  • September-December 2014 - LC120 version 1
  • December 2014 - LC120 version 2 (+AIO, -RSS)


  • Needs more play testing on 3 and 4 person games

Based on, like, Scrabble™, Bananagram™, our brains, and stuff

timelapse (41min in 41 seconds) of an early game. 53/12=4.42 (left) beats 66/19=3.47 (right)


  • Make the words you always wanted to make
  • fantastic words for fun and profit


Scrabble and Bananagrams were the direct inspirations for Lexicon Crossing

Other tile games not direct inspiration, but may be of interest

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