Unplugged

The world’s most expensive Scrabble set costs $30,000…but you can’t buy it (yet)

(Credit: Prague Mindsports Festival)

Got a Scrabble fan on your holiday wish list and a cool $30,000 to spare? The good news is that you can totally afford this gorgeous piece of board-game esoterica. The bad news is that you can't actually buy it.

Why is this Scrabble set so expensive? Although you might associate the word-building classic with low-tech, old-fashioned family fun, this particular board is anything but basic.

For starters, each of its 100 tiles hides an embedded radio-frequency identification (RFID) tag, and both the board and the players' tile racks contain sensors that can tell exactly when and where a tile is played.

It's also packing LED lighting, a carbon fiber turntable unit, and a custom-made system that can broadcast the game directly to the Internet. In other words, it wouldn't be out of place on "Pimp My Ride" -- which is appropriate, really, because it costs as much as a perfectly good car.

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The pricey board was designed for the Prague Mindsports Festival, a shindig kicking off on December 1 that features a top-flight Scrabble contest with a 10,000 euro purse, as well as high-level games of bridge, poker, backgammon, and Risk. As far as we know, the board's a one-of-a-kind...although who knows, it might be worth calling the organizers once the contest is over. Maybe they'll be looking for a buyer.

But if that doesn't pan out, never fear. The previous contender for the world's most expensive Scrabble set, a beautiful, 6'-square wall-mounted offering from curio retailer Hammacher Schlemmer, is still on sale, and at just $12,000, it's a bargain by comparison.

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