MISO 11 - The Open by The Ocean

Looking ahead to Malta in April

For the last eleven years, around late April/early May, one Scrabble event has continued to shine. The trio of events under the banner of the Malta International Scrabble Open is one of the most popular on the circuit with many players making it one of their “must-dos” at some stage.

This year’s Open (shortened to MISO) is tagged 'the Open by the ocean~~~'. As Malta’s Nicky Vella Laurenti explains, “The phrase conveys the symbiosis between the event and its venue. The significance of the open sea: being an island in the centre of the Mediterranean, crossing the sea is the only way Malta can be reached. Hence, the sea is like a bridge that allows players from many different and far-flung lands to meet and play Scrabble together. The sea signifies the potential for so many players from across the world to meet in this way.”

Further, the complex is called LUZZU (a traditional Maltese fishing boat), and is located on the shore of Qawra Bay in the northern village of St Paul's Bay, meaning the Open will truly be 'by the ocean'.

The average number of unique participants (i.e. counting once those who take part in more than one MISO event in the same year) in the last ten editions of the MISO is 72, and has featured players from England, Israel, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, USA, New Zealand, Japan, Poland, Canada as well as the host nation.

2017 Champion Evan Berofsky in action last year

MISO attracts players from around the globe

Five previous winners are currently in the top 50 of the WESPA Ranking List and include Chinedu Okwelogu (2012), David Webb (Main Events 2015 and 2016), Evan Berofsky (Main Event 2017). Nicky adds that “you can also count Nigel Richards amongst the notable previous winners if you consider the European Open Scrabble Championship which was held every year in Malta between 2010 and 2014 back-to-back with the MISO. The EOSC was owned by CentreStar (Amy Byrne) but its logistics and organisation were in our hands. Nigel won the 2010 edition.”

This year’s tournaments are intended to have more of a communal aspect to it than did previous editions. All participants will have lunch at the restaurant that is part of the complex that includes the playing hall. There will also be a BBQ Dinner in the lido within the same complex.

After four days of play, an excursion, dubbed tourISMO, will be organised to allow participants to discover the natural and historical beauties of Malta.

If you are looking to stay on, Nicky recommends “visiting Valletta in 2018 since it will be the European Capital of Culture. There will be a special vibe in the capital city because of this and a host of cultural events. This is over and above what Malta always has to offer, the history spanning millennia, its fantastic weather and sea, and the typically Mediterranean tranquillity that can be felt just by walking around any of its village cores.”

Organised Scrabble in Malta is made up of one club, the Malta Scrabble Club, co-founded in 1984 by Angele Andrews, who now lives and plays in the UK. Whilst the Club is made up of around 30 active members, Malta has a relatively high rate of 7 registered Scrabble players per 100,000 of its population.

The Malta Scrabble Club meets twice a week and has almost a one-day tournament a month, other than the MISO.

You can also find them online and on Facebook.

Text with thanks to Nicky Vella Laurenti