Top Scrabble player banned amid cheating accusations

One of Scrabble’s best players has been banned from playing the game competitively for three years after an investigation found that he had cheated.

The Association of British Scrabble players has banned Allan Simmons after an independent investigation discovered he had broken the important “tile rule.”

Elie Dangoor, a committee member, said Monday that three independent witnesses saw Simmons put a hand with freshly drawn letter tiles back into a bag to draw more tiles. There were four instances dating back to 2016.

Simmons has written books on Scrabble and worked as a contributor on game coverage for The Times of London newspaper. The Times has since said it would no longer use Simmons as a contributor.

He has also been banned from competitive games for the next three years.

Simmons denied the cheating allegations and blamed the events in question on the intensity of the game.

"You have to remember that at the top level, games can be quite intense and there's a lot going through one's mind -- let alone remembering to religiously ensure tile-drawing rules are followed meticulously," Simmons was quoted by the Times as saying. "From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.