Welcome to the home of Noah Brier. I'm the co-founder of Variance and general internet tinkerer. Most of my writing these days is happening over at Why is this interesting?, a daily email full of interesting stuff. This site has been around since 2004. Feel free to get in touch. Good places to get started are my Framework of the Day posts or my favorite books and podcasts. Get in touch.

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Scrabble Auctions

Those wacky economists are at it again. This time by reworking the rules of scrabble to allow for tile bidding:

At the beginning of the game tiles are turned over in sequence and the players bid on them in a fixed order. The high bidder gets the tile and subtracts his bid from his total score. (We started with a score of 100 and ruled out going negative, but this was never binding. An alternative is to start at zero and allow negative scores.) After all players have 7 tiles the game begins. In each round, each player takes a turn but does not draw any tiles at the end of his turn. At the end of the round, tiles are again turned over in sequence and bidding works just as at the beginning until all players have 7 tiles again, and the next round begins. Apart from this, the rules are essentially the standard scrabble rules.

The discoveries from the game are pretty interesting, especially around the scores of tiles. Blanks should actually make you lose points (they commanded 20 points on average in the bidding), ‘s’ scores too high, ‘u’ and ‘v’ too low. Interesting.

June 19, 2009