"It's the crossword game you've played all your life, but never quit like this!" That's how announcer Jay Stewart or Charlie Tuna opened each show from 1984-1990 and during a short period in 1993 on NBC. Former Wheel of Fortune host Chuck Woolery was the master of ceremonies.

Based on the popular board game by the same name, Scrabble featured two contestants battling it out in a crossword game to be the first to guess 3 words for a chance to win money in the Scrabble Sprint. A large Scrabble board revealed highlighted spaces to show the number of blank spaces for a word. After a clue about the word was read (For example, it's a nine letter word and the clue is, "they're expected to work the night shift."), contestants selected two numerical tiles per turn to place into an electronic reader that displayed two letters. Contestants then selected one of the two letters. Each letter that belonged in the word fell correctly in its place. However, three tiles in the group contained letters that did not belong in the word, and they were known as stoppers. A contestant lost control of the board if they selected a stopper, or provided an incorrect guess.

Just like the board game, there were blue and pink squares. If a letter fell into one of the colored squares, a contestant had a chance to win bonus money if they could correctly guess the word at that moment. The blue squares were worth $500, and the pink squares were worth $1,000. The first contestant to guess three words won $500 and played the Scrabble Sprint. If short on time, Speedword was played. Instead of selecting tiles, letters would appear randomly (one at a time), and contestants rang in to provide a guess.

In the first few weeks of the show's run, each correctly placed letter added $25 to a pot, while letters placed in blue squares added $50 and letters in pink squares added $100. The contestant who correctly guesses three words won the pot and played for triple that amount in the Scrabble Sprint.

The winner of the crossword game would face the Scrabble Sprint champion for $1,500 in bonus money. Each contestant had their own set of three words to guess. The challenger would establish the sprint time while the champion tried to beat that established time. After a clue was read, two letters at a time popped up on a screen and the contestant called for the letters one at a time, and there were no stoppers. Contestants hit the "plunger" to stop the clock to guess the word. An incorrect guess resulted in a ten second penalty. If the Scrabble Sprint champion guessed all three words in the alloted time, they would remain champion. A contestant who won the Scrabble Sprint five times won $20,000, and $40,000 if they won ten games.

The Scrabble Sprint format changed in 1985. The two contestants played the same set of three words. While the challenger established the Scrabble Sprint time, the champion would be backstage where they were unable to see or hear the game play. After the challenger established the sprint time, the champion would come on the set and try to beat that time playing the same three words. Later, the number of words played increased to four.

The Scrabble Sprint changed again in 1986. This time, the Scrabble Sprint champion from the previous day would play in the first crossword game. The winner of that crossword game would go on to establish the Scrabble Sprint time. The winner of the second crossword game would try to beat that time, playing the same four words that the winner of the first game used to establish the time. The winner of the Scrabble Sprint won $1,000 and played the Bonus Sprint.

The 1986 alteration of the Scrabble Sprint lead to the birth of the Bonus Sprint. The winner of Scrabble Sprint played the Bonus Sprint for a chance to win the daily jackpot. The contestant had to guess two words in ten seconds. The jackpot started at $5,000, and incresed $1,000 every day until the Bonus Sprint was won. At this time, champions could play a maximum of five games. In the 1993 revival, the Bonus Sprint jackpot started off at $1,000 and additional money was added to the jackpot if a contestant landed on a blue or pink square in the Crossword game and solved the word immediately, adding either $500 (blue square) or $1,000 (pink square).


Chuck Woolery

Jay Stewart (1984-1986)
Charlie Tuna (1986-1990, 1993)

Original 1984-1990 Version
Premiere: July 02, 1984
Finale: March 23, 1990
(1,230 Episodes)

1993 Revival
Premiere: January 18, 1993
Finale: June 10, 1993
(105 Episodes)


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