Global Scrabble Festival at Easter

Four tournaments, four continents

The WESPA Tournament calendar typically provides the Scrabble enthusiast with plenty of action to follow around the end of March/early April every year. The Easter period usually features at least three tournaments: this year, there are four. Across four continents. We take a look at them below.


Easter MatchPlay (UK)

This year sees the first time the ABSP have organised the Easter Matchplay in over 20 years. It was traditionally held in the South West of England moving from Exeter to Bristol in the last few years (with Gloucester in between briefly).

In its early incarnations the A division used to be the group of death with 18 or so players above 170 fighting it out; in recent years it has become one of the gentler majors, though the top group can still be tough as the size of each division is smaller.

This year the usual organiser was unable to run the event, so at short notice the ABSP stepped in to the breach: the event has gained an extra game and there is a warm up event on Good Friday - Easter Saturday am.

At short notice, the newly refurbished Harben House in Newport Pagnell was chosen as the best venue, being closer to London and better placed to fill the event. The event is nearly up to minimum numbers within a few weeks with high profile players, such as Lewis Mackay and local hero Austin Shin, as recent additions to the line up.

Keeping with the tradition, the carved wooden ducks will be given as keepsake trophies, and there will be Easter eggs for all.

Tournament organizer, Wayne Kelly mentions "The Easter tournament is always one of my favourite on the calendar, it has a relaxed feel but retaining a competitive edge, and I have had a couple of successes in the past. Now I get to organise it, and have tried not to change too much other than the location!"

Elie Dangoor is taking part in the event and has said he is "looking forward to one of my favourite events in a new location this year."

At the time of writing, Lewis Mackay and Austin Shin are the top two seeds for the event.


ECASA (Zambia)

The WESPA pages have been keeping some focus on events in Africa on the eve of ECASA; ECASA in 2018 will feature players from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, South Africa and Zimbabwe with 49 players currently listed for taking part. The venue is the Fairmount Hotel in Livingston, Zambia.

The Ugandan number 1 seed is Richard Geria and he leads a strong contingent to Livingston this year. Tanzania represented by Mushtak Esmail, the host nation is represented by Mwenya Munkonge, South Africa have three players with their highest ranked player in attendance being Solomon Lephoto. Zimbabwe is represented by Richard Semba.

The number one seed overall is Kenya’s Gitonga Nderitu. In writing a report for the recently completed Eldoret tournament, Kinyanjui Munge has given us an insight into Kenya’s top ranked player.

“The mercurial Gitonga Nderitu reminisced on his almost three decades of competitive scrabble as he wound up the Eldoret National Scrabble Kenya Championship in the fabled home of Champions.

Gitonga, better known in Scrabble circles as Gigaton, the Scrabble compliant anagram of his moniker, recalled the first tournament that he competed in in 1991. In a field of a hundred participants, Gigaton was a measly 86th in the very first formal tournament held on Kenyan soil. 28 years later, he has lived up to his name becoming one of the most fearsome wordsmiths in the country.

Gitonga, who is Kenya's top seed to the East, Central and Southern Africa Scrabble Championship, emerged victorious at Eldoret (an event sponsored by the area Member Of Parliament Hon. Dr. Mishra), which served as a qualification tournament to this year’s African Scrabble Championship. Gitonga averaged 473 a game to finish on 15 wins and a spread of +1897."

(Another player to watch in Livingston is Allan Oyende, ranked second in the tournament, and as Kinyanjui Munge explains for the Eldoret tournament “the imperious victor in HomaBay in February, came home second two points adrift with 13 wins and a spread of +745.")

In his Eldoret victory speech, Gitonga urged his teammates to intensify preparation to defend the team and individual title in Livingstone Zambia over the Easter Holidays.

ECASA 2018 Logo


ASCI (Malaysia)

ASTAR Scrabble Challenge International (ASCI) was first organised in the year of 2006 by First Residential College. Since then, ASCI has been held every year, with a steady growth in the number of participants and fame in the world of Scrabble. It has become one of the world's largest international Collins events, with around 500 participants of all levels and ages in the last session held in April 2017.

WESPA Youth Committee Chair, Karen Richards, notes "Last year there were 500 players at ASCI - 50 adults, 450 young players. This year, they have accessed more equipment, so we expect closer to 600 players.

"Whilst this is smaller than Pakistani tournaments, it is still a huge CSW event by world standards. The sections are Under 12, Under 15, Under 18, and Open. The tournament is run annually by students from university of Malaya and players mostly travel from Thailand, Singapore, Philippines, Hong Kong, Sri Lanka, India and Australia."

Ganesh Asirvatham, the world number 1 player, will be tournament director.

The ASCI website can be viewed here. Be sure to check out their videos, which are always of great quality.

2017 ASCI Prize winners


Australian National Championship

We featured a preview for this long running national event a couple of months ago - you can click here to remind you about what is in store in Canberra at Easter.

There is a warm up event (also WESPA rated) being held two days prior, meaning a total of over 30 games are on offer!

The venue for the event is Manuka Oval located on Manuka Circuit in Griffith. It is located just south of parliament house and close to the Manuka precinct.

Manuka Oval is the largest oval stadium in Canberra. It regularly hosts international and domestic cricket matches and holds regular AFL matches. The playing area will be in the upstairs Bradman Room. The players warmup rooms will be used as the breakout space. Lift access is available in the venue for those who require it. Depending on technical capabilities and volunteer assistance on the day, it is hoped that 1-2 games from the top tables can be broadcast from the nearby boardroom.

At the time of writing, 80 players are listed to play the Championship, which has a minimum ASPA rating of 1300 to qualify. Players ranked under 1300 can take part in the Plate Division: there are 53 entries currently.

The numbers suggest this will be a huge event and one well worth following.

Which of these four will you be following? Or maybe it's all four?

Text with thanks to: Wayne Kelly, Muema Muumbi, Kinyanjui Munge