The 32nd Brands International Tournament (previously known as Kings Cup) concluded on July 9 - as always, the tournament delivered on spectacle and drama.
The global Scrabble scene focuses on Thailand in mid year with enthusiasm, knowing that four days of amazing Scrabble is guaranteed: it attracts the world’s best players as well as many others who regularly return to savour the atmosphere. This year featured three previous World Champions and a host of top players from eleven countries. All up 67 players were vying to win the title, the first of these tournaments since the sad passing of the inspirational Amnuay Ploysangngam.
From Round 2, Adam Logan was proving to be the player to beat: Adam’s first loss came in Round 8 and his second in Round 16. Although losing three games on Day 3, his place in the final was assured after being Gibsonized on Day 4.
As with most tournaments, it is not just what happens at the top that produces drama but there are stories at every table throughout the day that help to make the event. In Game 6, Marlon Prudencio played Akkarapol Khwansak. Ricky Purnomo explains the ending to this game:
“Marlon needed to bingo to catch up near the end, played AIA holding the last two R s at the top. Akkarapol, holding AAEIKTW, having to block, played WAT.
Marlon plays SOARERS at the bottom, emptying the bag picking up ZOI.
But Akkarapol picked CM? To go with his KAIE and found ICeMAKE(R) to win against the incredulous Marlon”
Akkarapol Khwansak ended the tournament 22nd, winning 16 of 29 games, whilst Marlon Prudencio finished 35th, winning 15.
John Chew, as always maintained excellent quality web coverage, providing those who could not make it but wanting to follow from afar, regular updates of position changes, commentary and photos. These can still be viewed here.
For those who engage in social media, you would have been able to follow Austin Shin’s progress via his Twitter feed (along with board photos and brief summaries after each game): never far from the top 10 for most of the tournament, his 29th round loss to Thai Taewan Sutthasin ensured a 7th place finish overall.
The World Number 1, Nigel Richards, unexpectedly was not too far from the top either but it took some time to get there, having lost two of his first three games (to Karen Richards and Sanjoy Gupta). His “live” ratings ended up fluctuating but still lower than his initial rating (Karen Richards noted that ‘Nigel doesn't care about ratings - he will just be aiming to be second at the end of play, so he can play off against Adam”).
For those following at the top end of the table would have seen another familiar name up there - Komol Panyasophonlert. Komol is currently ranked 15th in the World and has featured in the WESPA Top10 for most of the last four years.
The final: Adam Logan v Komol Panyasophonlert.
At Round 26, Komol was sitting third, two wins and 500 points spread behind second placed Nigel Richards. Adam Logan’s victory over Nigel in Game 27 ensured his place in the final, whilst a win over Austin Shin meant that for Komol to play Adam in the final, he would need to defeat the World Number 1 twice to do it.
Game 28 saw Komol win 448-400, meaning Game 29 would determine the second finalist. These last two games were streamed live to Facebook by John Chew so players around the world could see everything that went into them.
Komol’s 63 point win over Nigel in that final round earned him a place at the Finals Table.
The final itself was also filled with drama. By Game 2, each player had won one each, ensuring the final went to the third game; as always, the overall winner after the third game is determined on spread. Adam’s tight win in the third was not enough to beat the overall spread of Komol, resulting in an overall victory for the Thai.
As Ricky Purnomo again relates “Bumped into Manop Phipatboonserm, a regular player who no longer plays as he has taken over Amnuay's role to run the whole King's Cup. He said, the Thais were discussing after round 26, there's only about 5% chance of Komol making it to the final. Yet he won all 3 against tough opponents (Austin, nigel x2) and finally won for the first time, after always coming in second in so many other internationals (WSC, NASC, Godswill, etc)”.
“I am so happy for him that he wins it this time” said Michael Tang.
The final quote belongs to compatriot Jakkrit Klaphajone “Komol always shows his intense ambition to get into the final. I admire him personally”
The aura around this magic event continues and we eagerly await next year’s event.