THE WORLD OF COMPETITION SCRABBLE – JUNE
Our focus for this month in World Scrabble turns to Oceania and Asia, with a number of notable tournaments and announcements which augur well for the global tournaments coming up later in the year.
We start in New Zealand: as mentioned last month, the Australian team for the biannual Trans Tasman Challenge was announced and this month saw the announcement of Team NZ. The NZ contingent coming to Adelaide in August are Howard Warner, Joanne Craig, Nick Cavenagh, Lyres Freeth, Glennis Hale, Lawson Sue, Murray Rogers, Liz Fagerlund, Anderina McLean and Patrick Carter. Adelaide in August promises to be an exciting event (in what will be a huge month of global Scrabble!).
Keeping in the region, two of Australia's states held their annual Championships with the top seeds winning in both cases. At the start of June, Russell Honeybun took out the WA Championships from Leif Cooper and Chris Hall (Russell's 570 taking out the High Game accolade). A week later (and over the Queen's Birthday long weekend) in Victoria, the Victorian Championships took place in Melbourne. The top 3 seeds filled the top 3 positions with Andrew Fisher (pictured), Ayorinde Saidu and Esther Perrins taking the major placings. Ayorinde Saidu's 623 (pictured) was the High Game. Two of the next three WESPA Rated tournaments have qualifying criteria; Queensland is the venue for the next "open" WESPA tournament in September.
The end of June featured one of the most popular Scrabble tournaments on the World Calendar: the 31st BRANDS' King's Cup. World Number 1, Nigel Richards has won this tournament numerous times, but the Thai Scrabble scene provides some of the strongest Scrabble players in the world and the tournament itself attracts players from across the globe.
Hubert Wee had taken an early lead, but Thailand's Pichai gained the lead and retained it for most of the next three days. Only in the last two games of play before the final did Nigel Richards end up in the top position after regulation play. It is not unexpected that the Scrabble being played was nothing but the highest of quality: eight scores exceeding 600 (Chollapat's 647 in Round 25 the highest of these). Not only that, as Ricky Purnomo observed on Facebook, the top 3 High Losses in the tournament were 494, 495 and 517 (all against Nigel).
The final was a three game affair, with Nigel winning Game 1 and Pichai Game 2. The third required Nigel to win by more than 53 to win, which he succeeded in doing! The games were played on a stage to an enthusiastic audience at the venue; the games were all live streamed on Facebook, a task made possible by one Thai girl who stood throughout with a phone behind the play. You can see the games on this page.
In all, six Thai's finished in the top 10: in 11th was Gerry Carter who took out the Senior's Crown. It was a truly amazing tournament - you can get a sample of the action with Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, and Day 4 summaries.
Pakistan has appointed Moiz Baig as its coach for the team it is assembling for Lille in August. Fifteen players have been selected and there are two months in which to train the players and give Pakistan its first Champion since Moiz won it in 2013.
One thing is for sure: that event will be a hotly contested one!
We end this summary looking to July. Tournaments in India, North America and Hong Kong are scheduled.
The Hong Kong scene is a new one on the World scene: the HKSPA recently held its first-ever Association Cup Inter-School Scrabble Tournament, with nearly 70 primary and secondary school students participating. Two of the winners in that event were Calvin Ma and Ho Chun Hung.
Calvin Ma represented Hong Kong in the WYSC in Perth last year and finished 55th among 106 players. In the WYSC HK Qualifier held in February this year, he finished first and will represent Hong Kong again at the WYSC in Lille. Ho Chun Hung (described by Hong Kong's Chris Lau as "one of the best youth players in Hong Kong") represented Hong Kong in the WYSC in Perth last year, and finished 31st. He won the first-ever Hong Kong Youth Scrabble Champions Tournament (Secondary Category), HK's Youth Championship, in September last year before going to Perth and qualified to represent Hong Kong in the WYSC in Lille again.
Until next time, happy Scrabbling everyone!