I have just had an enlightening conversation with FT’s own Sarah C during which I made the astonishing – to me and me only – discovery that you’re allowed to change your tiles over in Scrabble if your rack is rub. Sarah’s reply to this was “have you never looked at the rules ever?” and my answer has to be “Erm….no actually.”

The problem is….no, wait, the problem is that I am a nincompoop. But the idiosyncracy of Scrabble is that it is one of the most clearly designed boardgames ever: if you had never heard of Scrabble, and found a complete box – minus rules – on a desert island, then the game you and your Man Friday would create from it would actually be fairly close to the actual game. The letters, the numbers on the letters, the explicit idea on the board that you score for letters and words – it all fits together pretty easily. And certainly if you saw even a minute’s play you would feel you had the hang of it. Which is what, at some point, I obviously did. And since the swapping tiles thing doesn’t actually HAPPEN that often in Scrabble, I managed to play several games of it without ever being aware of this as an option!

Other boardgames which might pass the Desert Island test: Trivial Pursuit yes. Monopoly maaaaaybe. Cluedo surely not. Take the Brain? More so than Chess, obviously. Break The Safe? No chance mate.

An interesting side qn: which boardgames would fail the Desert Island Test in such a way that the derived rules would be more entertaining than the ‘real’ ones?