IT is a game where you have to watch your Ps and Qs, and a lot of other letters besides.

But now the genteel world of competitive Scrabble has been rocked after its Scottish champion was banned for allegedly cheating. 

Allan Simmons, 60, The 2008 UK National Scrabble Champion, now has a large X next to his name after being told he can no longer play the boardgame competitively because he broke one of its fundamental rules. 

When players draw new letters, it should be done in as open a fashion as possible with the bag held at shoulder height and the palms open to ensure there's no skulduggery going on. 

The rule-book states: 'You must hold the tile bag as near as possible to shoulder level, and so that no tiles in the bag can be seen. Remove tiles in full view of your opponent.'

But Mr Simmons as found guilty by the Association of British Scrabble Players of 'actions that led to a suspicion of cheating' by keeping his bag lower than it should be and not showing his full hand. 

The Herald: How the bag should be held How the bag should be held

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Fellow competitor Lewis Mackay, 32, complained about Mr Simmons' breaching the rules following their match at the British Masters in Yarnfield, Gloucestershire, in June.

Mr Mackay said in his complaint that he was also concerned with Mr Simmons' techniques in last year's World Championship in Lille.

This led to Mr Simmons being banned for a year, only for the organisers of the Scottish Masters to contact the association with their own concerns, saying they had not raised the alarm before because of Mr Simmons standing in the game.

The 60-year-old is a highly-regarded scrabble author, co-writing every edition of Official Scrabble Words by Chambers, and Scrabble Trainer - published by HarperCollins which now produces the game's official wordlist.

Mr Simmons is a founding member of the ABSP and its president from 1988 to 1999, and chairman 2002-2006.

He has played Scrabble since he joined the London Scrabble League in the mid 70's.

He was Chairman of the Postal Scrabble Club in the 80's, organised Scrabble weekends from 1985-91 and has been running annual courses since 1985. 

As a player, he won the British Matchplay four times (1987, 88, 91 and 2008) and the ABSP Masters twice (1994 and 2007). He has also played at five World Championships to-date.   

He was also formerly a Scrabble newspaper correspondent, but lost this job after writing that his ban was akin to a footballer "getting a red card for a few seasons".

The Herald:

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Mr Simmons has said he will not appeal against the decision, as he did not want to "distract" the association. He now plans to retire from competitive play.

However, he denied cheating, saying records of his games show he has suffered the same 'untimely bad luck from the bag as anyone else', The Times reports.

The former champion, who began playing competitively in the 1970s, said: "While I believe I always showed an open hand before drawing fresh letters, if drawing one or two at a time I may not have always had an open hand for each dip in the bag.

"Likewise, holding the bag may not have always been strictly at shoulder height. 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.

"From the outset I have said that no one is beyond suspicion and complied fully with the investigative process."