Lekki - A New Tournament

Letters from Nigeria By Fashola Kayode

Great Expectations is the 13th novel of Charles Dickens, set in Kent and London in the early to mid-19th century. The novel is full of extreme imagery—poverty, prison ships and chains, and fights to the death —and has a colorful cast of characters who have entered popular culture. These include the eccentric Miss Havisham, the beautiful but cold Estella, and Joe, the unsophisticated and kind blacksmith. Dickens's themes include wealth and poverty, love and rejection, and the eventual triumph of good over evil.

This classics originally published in 1861 can be compared with the scenario that played out in the nouveau riche background of Lekki/Ajah axis of Nigeria.

In line with the vision of Nigeria Scrabble Federation of taking scrabble to the nooks and crannies of our country, the LEKKI SCRABBLE CLUB, the youngest and latest took up the gauntlet of throwing a Scrabble retreat for the month of January. This relatively new Club is made up of young (and not so young) professionals in the highbrow locality of Nigeria's billionaires' neighbourhood.

The idea was initially mooted on the Nigeria Scrabble Friends WhatsApp forum by Nsikan Iyanam, a member of Lekki Scrabble Club, and, in line with our tradition, players started populating and the numbers of players indicating interest to play exploded to an unprecedented throng of over 50. It became a stampede of sort as Scrabble matadors and matadoras scrambled to indicate their interests to attend with the date fixed for 27 January.

The D-Day at LEKKI came on the 27th and players started on their way as early as 6 am to avoid arriving late at the venue, a journey of about 3 solid hours for most coming from afar after factoring in ubiquitous Lagos traffic and the attendant logjams and hold ups.

Our host, Engineer Ebikemi Ebikeme Adowei, who also doubles as The Lekki Scrabble Club Coach was on hand to chaperon us to the venue; on arrival at the venue (Cowlso Hotels and Suites off Ogombo Road), it was already agog with early birds who were already testing their abilities on the boards.

The organizers lived up to their billings as the venue was in a serene environment with scenic beauty and well organized as early breakfast was served and players were taking their fills in a serve yourself buffet style.

Meanwhile registration was on going and each player was expressing his/ choice of Lunch which is an admixture of continental and African dishes.

Pairings were made in a straight first 6 rounds which will be followed later by 4 king of the hill(KOTH) rounds.

At exactly 11am, Engineer Ebikeme Adowei declared the retreat open while a short opening prayer was given by the current National Champion (Engineer Monsuru Oladipupo Akanbi) who also doubled as The Chief Adjudicator.

The first upset of the day was witnessed as former WESPA Champion Wellington Jighere was roundly defeated by a relatively unknown player, Hussaini Yakubu, a member of Lekki Scrabble Club, who gave a scintillating dance of victory occasioned by the euphoria of the success to the consternation of all present.

A one minute silence was also declared for the memory of the late Special Adviser on Sports of Lagos, State Governor Mr Deji Tinubu, who passed on few days earlier.

At the end of round 6,lunch was served which is delicious to say the least and immediately thereafter we moved in to the king of the hill round of 4 games.

The Tournament ended around 9pm in the evening as one of the Nigerian Master players Cyril Umebiye emerged the winner with Umogbai Andrew 2nd while Olawale Fashina, the former African and UK Champion, was 3rd. Wellington Jighere was beaten to the 4th position confirming earlier predictions that he will not win.

It was indeed a quintessential retreat as the bars were raised in all areas of tournament expectations - we didn't witness any untoward occurrences as players maintained decorum in a rancor free atmosphere.

Prizes were distributed as earlier announced and all left for their different destination.

On behalf of Nigeria Scrabble Federation and Nigeria Scrabble Players, I say Kudos to Lekki Scrabble Club as we look forward to the next edition in not too distant future.See you all as we prepare now for Kano.

With thanks to Fashola Kayode, from the Nigeria Scrabble Federation.