For a time, I played competitive Scrabble. I even won a couple of tournaments. I don't play very much these days, what with a new baby and being busy changing the world and all.

But as a lark, I decided to try something: ranking Scrabble players' last names by using Scrabble's own scoring system. I figured my last name, with three Z's (30 points), two C's (6 points), and a K (5 points), would make me very competitive.

So I downloaded the full list of Scrabble players from the North American Scrabble Players Association. Then I ran a couple of Unix commands and wrote a quick Python script to find the answer.

Here's are the Unix commands and the full source code of the script (don't blink):

`cat current2011-01.txt | awk '{print \$1}' > current2011-01-2.txt
time ./scrabblelastnames.py > current_2011-01-3.txt
more current_2011-01-3.txt | sort | uniq | sort -nr | head -30

letter_values = {'A':1, 'B':3, 'C':3, 'D':2, 'E':1, 'F':4, 'G':2, 'H':4, 'I':1, 'J':8, 'K':5, 'L':1, 'M':3, 'N':1,
'O':1, 'P':3, 'Q':10, 'R':1, 'S':1, 'T':1, 'U':1, 'V':4, 'W':4, 'X':8, 'Y':4, 'Z':10, '-':0, "'":0}

for row in rows:
sum = 0
row = row[:-1]
for letter in row:
sum = sum + letter_values[letter]
print sum, row
`

And the results of the top 30 last names, with their respective Scrabble scores, are listed below. I was right to think I was competitive. ;-)

`52 SZCZEPANCZYK
48 PRZYBYSZEWSKI
43 MROCZKIEWICZ
42 MIKOLAJCZYK
41 ZXQKJ
41 KAZMIEROWICZ
38 JANOTA-BZOWSKI
37 ZMORZYNSKI
37 VAZQUEZ
36 KRAWCZYNSKI
35 SZYMKOWIAK
34 MARTINEZ-WOMBOLD
34 KLEMASZEWSKI
34 IMPELLIZZERI
34 GAJDEROWICZ
34 EZEKOWITZ
34 CZERNIKOWSKI
34 CRAWFORD-MACKAY
33 SCHECKWITZ
32 SUJJAYAKORN
32 SCHWARTZBERG
32 NAHACZEWSKI
32 MATLOCK-WASHINGTON
32 JANKOWITZ
32 GRZYBOWSKI
32 GIOVINAZZO
31 ZEBOVITZ
31 ROHATYNSKYJ
31 QUACKENBUSH
31 MACQUEEN-SMITH
`

Some thoughts:

• Polish names dominate. By my assessment, the top four, eight of the top ten, and 15 of the top 30 scores are Polish -- what with a preponderance of Z's, that's little surpriZe. ;-)
• Having a hyphenated last name also helps; of the top 30, four have hyphenated last names; the leading hyphenated last name (JANOTA-BZOWSKI) has both hyphenated parts being Polish.
• I won; good thing I studied hard. Cue Queen.
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