The British Matchplay Scrabble Championship is the ABSP's flagship event and is listed as being one of the five "majors" on the ABSP calendar. It has always been held over the August Bank Holiday weekend and was the basis of the first ABSP ratings system. The current venue is Sutton Bonington Campus of Nottingham University. The AGM is normally held at the BMSC, as this event usually sees the largest accumulation of ABSP members in one place at one time.
From the ABSP website
, the first BMSC was held thirty years ago, with Allan Simmons the inaugural winner. He has gone on to win the title a further four times and is the reigning champion. Other multiple champions include World Champions Mark Nyman (5 time winner) and Brett Smitheram (four time winner) whilst Paul Gallen has won it twice.
The winner receives a perpetual trophy to hold for a year. There are numerous other trophies and cash prizes across all divisions. In 1991 the BMSC was augmented by a Ladies' Day. In the interests of equality a Men's Tournament was also introduced though these have now merged into a 12-game tournament held immediately before the main tournament. The top lady receives the Kay Thorne Memorial Trophy and the top male, the winner receiving the John Rusted Memorial Trophy.
Last year's tournament featured 92 players across three divisions, including a healthy international contingent as a result of the proximity of timing of the 2016 World Championships. As a result, the quality of Scrabble was extremely high. The tournament high game went to the US's Dave Koenig; you can view his 672 game on Twitter
with his opponent, 2014 World Runner-Up Chris Lipe, scoring 459. For those who like to play through the game, you can do so on Cross Tables.
Allan Simmons (pictured here in victory at the 2016 tournament) dropped only the five games, to win by two games from Rob Robinsky, with Lewis Mackay and Dave Koenig a win further back. Neil Scott rounded out the top 5 with 16 wins.
As Wayne Kelly, tournament organizer for this year's BMSC observes, "The BMSC has always tried to be all things to all members, providing a very tough open group along with some competitive lower divisions. It has always been a chance for all members to come together for something they love to do"
The "Early Bird" tournament commences on August 25, concluding the next day. Shortly after, on the 26th, the Main Event commences: for details about the event, you can check out the ABSP website
or email Wayne Kelly.
Photo with thanks to Mauro Pratesi, from the British Scrabble Facebook page