From The Alchemist Cup to Nigel v Ganesh

With Michael Tang

2017 has featured over 70 WESPA rated tournaments and, for the seasoned player (and/or traveller), the calendar for next year is already filling up.

Announcements from Michael Tang regarding two new events in 2018 have already caught the eye; the Alchemist Cup and, as a joint initiative with WESPA Chairman, Elie Dangoor, a winner take all 20 game marathon between current World Number 1, Ganesh Asirvatham, and former World Number 1, Nigel Richards.

So, what is The Alchemist Cup? As Michael says “I am pleased to announce that "Alchemist Cup" will be held in Penang, Malaysia from 5th till 9th December 2018. This is a World Team event with 10 teams and 5 players per team.”

Nine games per day, making a total of 45 games all up. As it’s a team event, no team member plays their fellow team members.

This format is a return to previous Causeway Challenges; the last of these in this format was run in 2011 with the name being resurrected for what must surely would have been one of the most amazing tournaments of 2016! In its time, the format attracted the World's best players and has featured team wins by Australia and Thailand, amongst others in its earlier versions.

For eager observers of the game, an online search reveals many blogs and commentary on previous events (and not forgetting the videos)

There will be ten teams

1. Australia
2. Canada
3. England
4. Malaysia
5. Nigeria
6. Singapore
7. Thailand
8. USA
9. Rest of Asia
10. Rest of World

Qualification will be based on ratings as of 30th September 2018. Selection for Rest of Asia and Rest of World Team will be based on WESPA ratings.

It is intended that The Alchemist Cup will be held in every other year during the 1st week of December; it will alternate with the WESPA Championship every two years.

The prize money is yet to be determined with the prizes purely on a team basis and for the Top 3 teams only. As Michael notes it means “15 out of 50 players will win prizes”.

For those who want to take in the atmosphere at the venue, the Malaysian Scrabble Association is intending to run a side tournament during the event.

Eager Scrabble watchers who cannot make it to Penang for this spectacular event will be treated to at least one game being live streamed each round. Michael adds: “As the pairing are pre-drawn, my plan is to invite players around the World to vote for which game to be streamed for every round.”

This promises to be an exciting way to effectively end the Scrabble year.

The most keenly awaited Scrabble battle ever?!

Whilst a date has been set for The Alchemist Cup, this next one has a tentative date of mid 2018.

Inspired by conversations at WESPAC17 in Nairobi, Ganesh v Nigel sees involvement from both Michael Tang and Elie Dangoor.

With more details to be announced at a later date, this will be a 20 game marathon over two days - featuring live streaming and annotation, this is a winner take all event! Michael confirms that Elie Dangoor has kindly agreed to sponsor £1,000 for the winner of Nigel Vs Ganesh.

Ganesh Asirvatham maintained strong tournament performances up until 2008, when he ceased global tournament play. His international return (appropriately, at a Causeway tournament, earlier in 2017) was eagerly awaited and he did not disappoint, averaging over 520 per game in a comprehensive individual performance that saw Malaysia win the team event.

Nigel and Ganesh have met in a major event previously: the WSC at Mumbai in 2007 with Nigel winning 3-0.

You can play through Game 1, Game 2, and Game 3 from Mumbai.

How will it play out this time? We cannot say for sure, but as Elie Dangoor notes: “this is the most keenly awaited matchup in Scrabble history!”