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The Toronto SCRABBLE® Club (NASPA Club #3)

Est. 1975


The City of Toronto announced that all community centres will be closed as of, Saturday March 14th, 2020 to help control the spread of COVID-19. We will not reopen for in-person play until this is permitted by government regulations and NASPA rules.

As of January 2021 however, our club has resumed meeting online using Zoom and - come join us!

About the Club

The Toronto SCRABBLE Club (originally constituted as National SCRABBLE Association Club #3, now North American SCRABBLE Players Association Club #3) is the longest-running NASPA club. It was founded in 1975 by Harold Klesmer and Mike Wise, and directed by Mike from 1976 until he passed away in 1998. Since then, John Chew has been director, joined in 2001 by codirector Lisa Kessler. The club attracts 30–40 players a week and about 150 over the course its September–June season.

Many regular members of our club have represented Canada in international competition at events such as the Can-Am SCRABBLE Challenge and the World SCRABBLE Championship. In 2011, club members Jackson Smylie and Alex Li won $10,000, placing first at the (U.S.) National School SCRABBLE Championship in Orlando, FL. During the club's June tournament in 1997, John Chew and Zev Kaufman set a world record for the highest-scoring tied game at 502-502; their score has since been eclipsed overseas but is still the North American record.

Our club’s activities outside of our regular meetings and tournaments include helping to organize the Canadian National SCRABBLE Championship and Toronto School SCRABBLE Championship (including a Scrabble-expert-in-the-school outreach programme), and charity fundraisers such as SCRABBLE With The Stars and the SCRABBLE Corporate Challenge. Many of our members also serve on committees at every level of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association, including its Executive Committee and Advisory Board.

We have regular players from throughout the greater Metropolitan Toronto region and as far away as Brantford and Hamilton, and have visitors from overseas each year. Newcomers are always welcome, and we have players of all ages and playing abilities.

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For information about past seasons or to see how people are doing this season, see the club archive.

When and Where We Meet

We meet every Wednesday throughout the year, usually beginning our season on the first Wednesday after Labour Day (September 4th in 2019), a little before our annual open tournament, usually with a hiatus when our venue is unavailable around Christmas and ending with a club tournament held on three Wednesdays in June (June 3rd, 10th and 17th in 2020).

We meet regularly at the Earl Bales Community Centre near Bathurst and Sheppard in Toronto. (If you haven’t been to the club since we moved in 1988, we no longer meet at Don Mills Collegiate Institute.)

Maps Public Transit (TTC) Car

PDF, GIF or Google. In the Google satellite image, the community centre is between the large rectangular parking lot and the amphitheatre, and Raoul Wallenberg Road is the name of the park access road. (Raoul Wallenberg Road, with no street number, is a good address to search for in electronic maps.)

Subway to Sheppard or Downsview station, then Sheppard West bus to Bathurst and Sheppard. If the subway is not running (e.g. before 9:00 A.M. on a Sunday for one of our tournaments), you can take the Bathurst bus all the way up from downtown or ask one of our many club members for a ride.

From the corner of Bathurst and Sheppard, walk south along Bathurst until you see a small access road leading into Earl Bales Park, at the end of which you will find a parking lot and the community centre.

If you walk too far south, you'll reach the stoplight at Raoul Wallenberg Road, which is the main public road into the park; if so, follow the road into the park, bearing left until you get to the community centre.

The Earl Bales Park entrance is at 4169 Bathurst Street (at the stoplight one block south of Sheppard). Enter and bear left all the way into the park until you get to the community centre. Parking is free in the lot past the centre, and forbidden in the driveway in front of it.

If you're approaching from the east on Highway 401, take the Bathurst Street exit (kilometre 366), which somewhat counterintuitively leaves you on Wilson Avenue. Turn right (east) from the ramp onto Wilson, then turn left (north) immediately at the first stoplight onto Bathurst Street. Drive several blocks until you see the park on your right.

If you're approaching from the west on Highway 401, the situation is almost as complicated. Take the Avenue Road (Highway 11A) exit (kilometre 367). Turn right (south) at the light onto Avenue Road, turn right (west) again at the next light onto Wilson Avenue, drive through the first stoplight, through the tunnel under the 401, then turn right (north) at the next stoplight at Bathurst Street. Drive several blocks (1.5 km) until you see the park on your right.

If you are driving from Toronto Pearson International Airport (YYZ), allow thirty minutes unless highway traffic is unusually heavy. Follow signs for Highway 401 East (usually via Highway 409 East), then continue with the instructions above on approaching from the west.

If you are driving from Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF), allow at least 2.5 hours. Take Route 33 W 1.6 miles to I-90W (New York State Thruway toward Erie). Take I-90W 4.8 miles to exit 53: I-190N (NYS Thruway toward Downtown Buffalo/Canada). Leave I-190N at Exit 9 (Fort Erie Canada/Peace Bridge), follow signs over the Peace Bridge, go through the border checkpoint. Continue straight on Queen Elizabeth Way (QEW) 85.6 miles to Highway 427 (toward Pearson Airport and Highway 401). Take Highway 427 (north) 4.2 miles to Highway 401 East. Continue with instructions above on approaching from the west.

If you get lost, try calling club director John Chew at 416–876–7675; if he is out of town, his voice mail message should give further instructions.

Registration is from 6:00 (P.M.) to 6:30. If it’s your first time at a NASPA club, please arrive at 6:00, so that our newcomer orientation person has a chance to talk with you. Regular members may arrive between 6:15 and 6:45 if they have called the week’s director (John Chew 416-876-7675 about half the time from September to May, guest directors in July and August, but check the weekly announcements to see who’s on duty this week) before 6:15 to say they’re coming. Players who arrive after 6:30 without calling ahead will be paired more or less at random with whomever else arrives late; players who arrive after 6:45 may have to sit out the first round of play. We play three rounds, beginning at :45 past each hour, and finish around 9:45. If you can’t arrive in time for the first round but want to play anyway, then make sure that we are aware that you are playing no later than fifteen minutes before the start of the round that you want to play (7:30 is fifteen minutes before the 7:45 start of round 2; 8:30 is fifteen minutes before the 8:45 start of round 3). If you call ahead and arrive late, your clock will be started at :55 past the hour. If you call ahead, do not call to cancel, and then do not show up, you will no longer be allowed to call ahead to reserve a place.

Fees and Prizes

Regular weekly fees are (as of 2015-09-09) five dollars, which you may pay either each week as you sign in, or in advance at the beginning of the club season (in which case you are entitled to a 10% discount on the total fee, but with no refund if you attend fewer than 90% of the games). If you attend at least 20 nights between September and May, the club will pay for a year’s membership in NASPA for you, or extend your existing membership. The club cashier accepts quarters, loonies, ‘toonies” and five-dollar bills. If you find yourself at the club with only smaller change or larger bills, please ask a club member to change it for you, not the cashier.

Public school students, high school students and senior citizens (60 and up) pay only four dollars. Occasional visitors from out of town play for free. If you only have time for one or two of the three rounds of play, you still pay the full rate, but please make sure that the director knows that you will be arriving late or leaving early.

You’ll be paired against opponents of similar ability, and if you win all three of your games, you collect a ten-dollar prize at the end of the evening. We also give out nine two-dollar prizes each week, to the highest-scoring bingo (seven-tile play) that uses the week’s designated “bingo letters”, to the winner of a “weekly challenge”, and to the highest-scoring game by a player who does not collect the ten-dollar prize in each of three rating-based divisions.

If you are directed to sit out a game (based on a formula the director uses, which depends on how many times you have sat out and how many games that you have played), we will refund you $2 per game sat out.

Your First Time at the Club

If it’s your first time coming to a Scrabble club, here’s what you need to know. We play tournament-style Scrabble: one-on-one, with chess-style timers set to 25 minutes per person per game, following NASPA rules (you don’t have to memorize them) and using the most recent copy of the TWL lexicon (similar to the Official SCRABBLE® Players Dictionary). To help you get used to the game until you have won at least three games at our club, we give you the following handicaps: you can look at a list of the two- and three-letter words (which we will provide), you may challenge any word that you’re unsure of without risking the customary loss-of-turn penalty, and you do not have to deduct a time penalty if you run overtime. You should bring your entry fee ($4.00 or $3.00, see above) and a pen or pencil. If you’re particular about equipment, you may want to bring a deluxe board, tiles, scoresheets, timer, etc., but there are generally enough to go around. You can also download and print our newcomers' guide which goes over club procedures and includes the list of short words.

The Toronto SCRABBLE Club offers equal treatment to every person without discrimination because of race, ancestry, place of origin, colour, ethnic origin, citizenship, creed, sex, sexual orientation, age (except in providing discounts to seniors and students), marital status, family status or disability. Our community centre is fully wheelchair-accessible.

If you have other questions about coming to the club for the first time, please call club director John Chew at 416-876-7675. You could also read the book Word Freak, by Stefan Fatsis, to see what you may be getting yourself into.

Club Standings

Anyone who plays at our club is given a club rating, based on a system similar to the NASPA rating system. Every year, the player who finishes the club season with the highest championship rating (subject to a minimum games criterion) is awarded a trophy designed by Ron Manson.

Beginning in 1999-2000, the name of the club championship year will be abbreviated to the year in which the championship ends (2000).

Past Club Champions

 Season  Champion(s)

  2019   Tony Leah (3rd title)
  2018   Mark Edelson (3rd title)
  2017   Mark Edelson (2nd title)
  2016   Tony Leah (2nd title)
  2015   Tony Leah
  2014   Jackson Smylie (3rd title)
  2013   Evan Berofsky (10th title)
  2012   Evan Berofsky (9th title)
  2011   Evan Berofsky (8th title)
  2010   Evan Berofsky (7th title)
  2009   Evan Berofsky (6th title)
  2008   Evan Berofsky (5th title)
  2007   Evan Berofsky (4th title)
  2006   Evan Berofsky (3rd title)
  2005   Zev Kaufman (13th title)
  2004   Evan Berofsky (2nd title)
  2003   Evan Berofsky
  2002   Lloyd Mills
  2001   Zev Kaufman (12th title)
  2000   Zev Kaufman (11th title)
1998-99  Zev Kaufman (10th title)
1997-98  Libero Paolella (2nd title)
1996-97  Zev Kaufman (9th title)
1995-96  Zev Kaufman (8th title)
1994-95  Mike Wise (11th title) & Zev Kaufman (7th title), tied
1993-94  Zev Kaufman (6th title)
1992-93  Zev Kaufman (5th title)
1991-92  Zev Kaufman (4th title)
1990-91  Libero Paolella
1989-90  Zev Kaufman (3rd title)
1988-89  Mike Wise (10th title)
1987-88  Zev Kaufman (2nd title)
1986-87  Peter Morris (2nd title)
1985-86  Peter Morris
1984-85  Zev Kaufman & Mike Wise (9th title), tied
1983-84  Mike Wise (8th title)
1982-83  Mike Wise (7th title)
1981-82  Mike Wise (6th title)
1980-81  Mike Wise (5th title)
1979-80  Mike Wise (4th title)
1978-79  Mike Wise (3rd title)
1977-78  Mike Wise (2nd title)
1976-77  Ron Manson* & Mike Schulman** (2nd title)
1975-76  Mike Wise* & Mike Schulman**

* Awarded based on high won-lost percentage
** Awarded based on high average game score

Beginning in 1998-99, we have honoured B and C divisional champions. To be eligible for these titles, a player must have played at least one third of the possible games in the previous season, 55% of the games in the current season, and all of the games in the end-of-season club tournament. (These restrictions apply to the overall champion as well.) Players are assigned divisions according to annually updated club rating cutoffs. Players within fifty points of a divisional boundary may play up or down if they so state at their first evening of the new club season.

B Division Champions


C Division Champions

Lisa Kessler (2nd title) 2019 Ani Migirdicyan (3rd title)
Dave Krook & Eli Shupak (2nd title) 2018 Harry Gopaul
Marcela Kadanka 2017 Ani Migirdicyan (2nd title)
Denis Farbstein (3rd title) & Mad Palazzo (2nd title) 2016 Barry Muskovitch (2nd title)
Nicholas Schneider 2015 Peter Hopkins
Denis Farbstein (2nd title) & Mad Palazzo 2014 Josh Kattsir
Crayne Spanier 2013 Sharon Janssen
Jackson Smylie (2nd title) 2012 Josh Greenway
Denis Farbstein 2011 Jackson Smylie
Vera Bigall (2nd title) & Alex Rodriguez 2010 Eli Shupak
Lisa Kessler 2009 Barry Muskovitch
Lynda Wise 2008 Jillian Bathgate
Michael Lancashire 2007 Joseph Bowman
Roger Cullman (2nd title) & Mark Edelson 2006 Ani Migirdicyan
Gene Rawlins 2005 Vera Bigall
Trevor Sealy 2004 Elizabeth Spivak
Ron Manson (2nd title) 2003 Roger Cullman
Tony Leah 2002 Kristen Chew
Sal Desiato 2001 Betty Collins
Sinnadurai Vijayakumar 2000 Donna Wyonch
Vivienne Muhling 1999 Shirley Drucker

In Memoriam

In 2001, we began compiling on-line memorials for deceased club members.

Club Library and Other Resources

We have an archive of the computer-generated word lists that our club members ask for from time to time.

Our club library was founded in 2000, and all of its books are available to club members on one-week loan.

Our member directory is accessible to members only.

The official organization governing club and tournament play in North America is the North American SCRABBLE® Players Association.

Members are encouraged to subscribe to our club’s electronic mailing list.

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Copyright © 2015 John J. Chew. All rights reserved. HASBRO is the owner of the registered SCRABBLE® trademark in the United States and Canada. The SCRABBLE trademark is owned by J.W. Spear and Sons, PLC, a subsidiary of Mattel, Inc. outside of the United States and Canada. The Toronto SCRABBLE Club is an officially sanctioned club of the North American SCRABBLE Players Association, a trademark licensee, and uses the trademark with permission.