Saturday, November 14, 2009

Scrabble is a game, not a puzzle, Supreme Court

Refuses To Exempt 60-Yr-Old Game From Excise Duty

New Delhi: Puzzling as it may sound, but more than 60 years after an out-of-work architect Alfred Mosher Butts invented ‘Scrabble’ that gained currency world over, the Supreme Court has classified it as a game and not a puzzle and said it was not exempted from levy of excise duty.
‘Scrabble’, which literally means “to grope frantically”, was trademarked in 1948, but a Bench of Justices SH Kapadia and Aftab Alam literally groped frantically studying its history, development and structure to agree with the decision of the commissioner, Central Excise, Mumbai-I, to classify it as “not a toy, not a puzzle but a game”, hence not exempt from excise duty.
Justice Kapadia, writing the judgment for the Bench, said the difference between a ‘game’ and a ‘puzzle’ could be marked by three different features — outcome, clue-chance and skill. “In a puzzle the outcome is predetermined and fixed. It is not so in ‘Scrabble’,” he said.
An important difference was that in ‘Scrabble’ there were no clues, whereas in a crossword puzzle, words were written according to clues, he said, adding that in ‘Scrabble’ there was an element of chance and skill.
“Thus, ‘Scrabble’ is an ingenious mix of anagrams, crosswords, chance and skill. It involves a lot of luck. One of the crucial ingredients is that you cannot know what tiles are on your opponents’ rack or which you will draw next. So, aided by artful strategy, there is a good chance of beating someone with a better vocabulary,” the Bench said.

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