Blog Buy About Impressive And how One Up! The Official Man Up Manual


First off, are you recalcitrant and cool? Competitive, social, and a bit larcenous? Then you'll definitely love One Up! — The Wicked/Smart Word Game. Unlike all the other safe, same/same feel-good junk out there, One Up! is hard and fun and unforgiving and takes smarts and nerve, and stealing is not only not frowned upon, it's practically the name of the game.

But you can't steal something if it doesn't cost anything. We are happy to introduce One Up! as a complementary PDF download, which includes the complete rules and construction instructions. Making it yourself will only take about an hour and cost not even a dollar.

Here's how we did it: first we pasted the tile sheet onto a piece of black construction paper before cutting out the letters, carefully. We then spray painted an Altoids tin silver, slapped on the logo, and Bob's your uncle.

How to One Up!

A number of word nerds have told us that the instructions on the can are pretty unhelpful. We actually listened — believe it or not! You can now download the complete How to One Up! and really learn how to play the game...

Or, you can watch this video:

THE KASTNER RULE: Thanks to a suggestion by our good friend Jeff Kastner, we have modified the "Uppity" Tile Rule — the Uppity Tile can still be used as any letter, but can now be changed every time the word containing it is made into a new word. Simple, and way more exciting.


One Up! got a great write-up in Redbook magazine's special Kidbook supplement — which hit the newsstands today. Thanks a bunch, Ashley, and your fab staff too.

One Up! everyone on your list.

We are thrilled that Real Simple magazine selected One Up! as a 'Snow-Day Staple', which has inundated us with new orders. Thanks to all you word snobs/nerds/lovers for all your enthusiasm and support — let it snow!

House Rules Rule.

First and foremost, follow the instructions. But creativity and a level playing field are sometimes just as important. At our house, we have our own variations that make it fairer for all of us to play together - we let the kids (ages 10, 9, 8) make any words; my wife can only make 4 letter words (which she's really good at!); and I can only make 5 letter words or longer. Piece of cake.

We've heard from 2 different people saying they subtract the first 2 letters of each word when adding up the score (instead of one), which gives even more weight to superior thinking ability. An old friend of ours who is always flying back and forth between L.A. and New York for business tells us that he has 5-minute speed games before meetings, or on the set between takes, and it really gets everyone's synapses fired up. The too-cool-for-schoolers who used to be late or were bent gaga over their Blackberrys all the time, he tells us now actually show up early and eager to sharpen their wits!

A League of Their Own.

We received this email from Bob Gillis, author of Bob's Bible (a Scrabble word reference guide), and member of the National Scrabble Association's dictionary committee, and realized what we always suspected was true is true - we're complete amateurs:

Mr. Write,

This is essentially the after hours game of choice at Scrabble tournaments. We take two (or more) sets of Scrabble Tiles and place them face down, mix and everyone slides some near themselves.

Typical minimum is 7 letters though intermediate players may play 5.

Our rules for "steals" has evolved a bit -- to steal a word, the new word must not contain the old word inside it (in order) even if you hypothetically remove letters. In other words, the word cannot be stolen if it is an extension or an insertion or combination thereof. Occasionally this eliminates a few fairly nice plays, but it makes a straightforward enforceable no-quibble rule.

We sometimes play with blanks as well, but they must be accompanied by two non blank letters and only used for steals of a length at least 3 longer than the word being stolen.

Our scoring is based on sum of squares... first we match like length words (since they cancel out) and the remaining are scored as the square of the word length. However, the winner is usually obvious and so most games are never scored.

I can remember seeing the 14 letter word tatterdemalion (aka ragamuffin) played at the 2008 Boston Area (Scrabble) Tournament by Frank Tangredi of NY. His brief account to the national scrabble email list:

"No, I'm not tooting my horn about winning the early bird, though that felt DAMN good. But on Saturday night, I made the best anagrams steal of my life - even better than KINDLIEST + F*.

David Wiegand had RETALIATE....

I stole it with DMNT... And the word was...


It's pretty unbelievable how far certain players go in playing Anagrams. The top players are so good that it's impossible for most good scrabble players to even hold onto any words for the duration of a game.

Kudos to you for introducing it to a new group of players...

Bob Gillis

*Distelfink n. A traditional Pennsylvania Dutch folk art motif of a bird or birds symbolizing good luck and happiness.

In the beginning was the word (game)...

There's nothing new under the sun, just rehash. But that doesn't mean rehash can't be breathtakingly original, and fresh. We'd like to think ours is. But we're also students of history, and want to know where things come from, and how they got from there to here. For a comprehensive and in-depth look at word games down through the ages and around the world, we tip our hat to Steffan O'Sullivan and Graham Toal's excellent and inspiring Letter-by-Letter Word Games blog post.

Are you inspired enough to give our wicked/smart game a go?

What's (one) up?

one up (WUN-up) — (v) To get the better of; succeed in being a point, move, step, etc., ahead of (someone).

Eugene one-upped his opponent with impunity.

Give your brain a kick in the pants.

Calling all literate double-domes: One Up! has always been a bargain college education at only fifteen bucks a pop, but now there's absolutely FREE SHIPPING FOREVER* — No coupon code. No fine print. No B.S.


As our way of saying thank you very much for another year in the black, we're offering free shipping on all orders of One Up!, from now on, forever... with liberty and justice for all.

Seriously, and get your One Up! delivered on a silver platter, metaphorically speaking of course, absolutely gratis!

*Even though One Up! travels well, free shipping is U.S. only. However, our overseas rates are wicked/cheap!

Brown paper packages tied up with...

... strings. For two bucks extra we'll wrap your recalcitrance up perfectly and send it to the lucky object of your affection, with a personal note — just choose the 'gift wrap' option at checkout and be sure to write something nice.

Vocabularians of the world — unite!

From time to time we send out a newsletter that contains the latest goings-on, specials and giveaways, as well as hyphenated-adjectives (good and bad) from the peanut gallery.

How I came up with the idea for One Up!

I always loved playing Scrabble, and every so often we would invite friends to come over to the apartment to have at it. Neuman, around 2 at the time, would sit in my lap and watch. He would very quickly get bored, start fidgeting, and then eventually fall asleep in my arms before we ran out of time and didn't even finish. Which I think is a pretty apt metaphor for Scrabble, isn't it?

Seriously, before he conked out he would always succeed at least once in taking one of my tiles (or someone else's) and eating it.

Me: Neuman, stop taking Whit's tiles.

Neuman: Mine!

Me: That's not yours, Neuman, that's Whit's.

Neuman: Mine!


"I brought one as a gift to a dinner party instead of a bottle of wine. It was a BIG hit."
- Dr. David O-S.

"I'm definitely not going back to Scrabble. Even my son loves playing." - Elyssa J.

"A great game and a good way to waste, er pass, time when I should be doing something more productive." Regards, Sue

"Wanted to let you know that we have enjoyed the game One Up! and that we appreciated all the customer service your company provided to us." - Monica Z.

"Wow! Such speedy delivery! The game arrived today. Thanks for the wonderful wrapping and clever promotions and extra goodies. I am giving it to my brother-in-law Jeff in Arizona. It will be perfect for him.

I hope business is going well. I think your website is SO you! And I love all the local models." - Ann B., Champaign, IL

Buy brains in bulk.

If you're interested in carrying One Up! in your shop, click here for wholesale.

The Wicked/Smart World Game.

One Up! hasn't been around that long, but it's already been around the block, so-to-speak.

The Wicked/Smart Empire State Game.

The birds are singing and the sun's bling-blinging in Cancun:

On the Avenue, 5th Avenue...

From our good friend J.P. in Paris:

One (U) too many.

It has come to our attention that some of the earlier One Up! tile sets came with five letter "U"s. There should only be 4 x U — if you have 5 you need to discard one.

Here is the official tile count:

A x 8, B x 3, C x 2, D x 4, E x 9, F x 4, G x 3, H x 4, I x 5, J x 1, K x 2, L x 4, M x 4, N x 5, O x 7, P x 3, Q x 1, R x 5, S x 6, T x 6, U x 4, UPPITY x 1, V x 2, W x 3, X x 1, Y x 3, Z x 1

There are no guarantees...

... in life, but we're so sure you'll love One Up! that we're offering a money-back guarantee— if you aren't completely enthralled and hooked (or defeated and frustrated), just send it back to us and we'll refund your purchase price, with no questions asked, except what the heck?


One Up! tiles are smallish and can be a choking hazard if mistaken for wooden Chiclets with enormous letters printed on one side, for example, and swallowed. So use some common sense (even if it means acting out of character for a change), especially when playing around very young children, dogs of any description, or friends with oral fixations.

Seriously, we recommend One Up! for IQs of 120 and higher, we mean ages 13+.