Oman - establishing a dynamic Scrabble community

Megel Barker invited us to visit Oman, with a number of goals in mind.

Obviously, he was keen to get some young players interested, but also wanted to improve the scene for adult players. We only had sufficient time for an introduction. We offered to run a coaching clinic. Approximately 50 participants arrived ranging from for very young people to adults who were already experienced with internet Scrabble, but wanted to try face-to-face tournaments.

The numbers were incredible, for a first such intervention.

After the coaching, we ran three competitions.

For the thirteen Under 10's there was an unrated event of three games, and all players took their games seriously.

The youth division (16 people) played 6 games, with a combination of 10 to 12 year olds, and 13 to 19 year olds in the same group, but prizes were awarded to each group within the entire field.

The winner of the under 13 was Sandraresh Sundaragopal from Dubai, who also won overall , with a clean sweep. This was no surprise, as he has previously competed in two WYSCs plus another WESPA-rated event in Dubai. It was great to have him there, to inspire the other young beginners. The best Under 20 player was Gaurav Shankar.

The Masters group (24) included a number of absolute beginners, but they all performed very well, as many had previous experience online. As usual in Middle East countries, the majority were expats, and well educated. There were at least two doctors in this group of newbies. (The young players were similarly intelligent and focused, and we didn't see a single tear - a real pleasure to work with such people)

On leaving, Paul established a local rating system for the Oman players, which will be incorporated in their website soon. This will help them to chose their best players to compete in events such a WESPA Championship, and WESPA WYSC. It also facilitates them playing tournaments with sections, such that players are matched with those of similar abilities. They are aware that this new rating system will be volatile until 50 games have been played. However, Megel will be organising many more local events in future, and we expect the number of players in Oman to double and even triple, in a very short time. Oman could become the new Hong Kong, with a dedicated group of people working to increase their expertise and exposure of Scrabble in their country.

In closing, I must give tribute to the generous sponsors who made this event possible - Spar Oman and Kelloggs, in particular Spar Oman, who donated magnificent trophies as well as numerous prizes. Paul managed to win the Masters section, and was loaded up with an enormous trophy, an ice cream maker, an iron, an air-frier, plus three vouchers for use at Spar Supermarkets. Anyone who realises that we travel with enough equipment to host a 40-player tournament, would realise there is no provision in our 60 kg luggage allowance for such a haul.. but it was fun for him to hold them for a few minutes.

In the words of Arnie.."We'll be back"

Karen and Paul Richards

Photos from Oman - December 2016. Photos: Oman Scrabble Group (Facebook)


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