Small talk and other noises designed to distract an opponent during a game or sport that requires concentration.
"I have watched her play another novice, Chris, who chats during play. Among the Scrabble elite this habit might be a highly scorned mind-game tactic known as 'coffeehousing,' but in this case it's just friendly banter."
Stefan Fatsis, Word Freak, Houghton Mifflin, 2001
In line with the competitive level of the tournament, there are some strict rules. No 'coffeehousing' (distracting your opponent with chitchat) or smoking. No 'Braille-ing,' feeling for the certain letters in the bag of tiles, even if that turns up something as horrible as an 'Old MacDonald' rack of letters (E I E I O).
Barbara Bradley, "A Scrabble tourney isn't just T-r-i-v-i-a-l," The Christian Science Monitor, July 31, 1985
Coffeehousing has been part of the Scrabble argot for many years, as this earliest citation (below) shows. However, if coffeehousing existed only in the Scrabble world, it would be an entertaining but not all that interesting word. Fortunately for this post, I did manage to find the word used in other contexts, such as bridge and even foxhunting(!):
"'Because the race is spread over 20 miles and many privately owned farms, she'd say in her slightly raspy voice, "Be considerate of others. Stop talking so much. We're here to fox hunt, not socialize,"' Catherine Jackson said.
Another daughter, Sheila Jackson Brown of Upperco, master of the Green Spring Valley Hunt, laughed as she recalled her mother's telling the talkers to 'stop that coffeehousing.'"
Fred Rasmussen, "Sheila McC. Jackson, 76, master of hounds for 11 years," The Baltimore Sun, November 12, 1997