Sri Lanka excels at international tournaments

Report from Sri Lanka

WESPAC 2017 attracted the best and most talented Scrabble players in the world to Nairobi last month.

Lakshan Wanniarachchi and compatriot Janul de Silva were selected to represent their country based on the selection criteria of the Sri Lanka Scrabble League.

Lakshan is a 10 time Sri Lankan National Champion whilst fifteen year old Royalist Janul de Silva was the youngest player at WESPAC 2017.

Amidst tough competition Lakshan finished day 1 in 32nd place with 5 wins out of 8, after a slow start. On day two, having lost the first two games, Lakshan won 6 in a row to end the day at 7th place. His wins on day 2 included a win over former world Champion Mark Nyman of UK. Playing amongst the crème of the competition on day 3, Lakshan managed only 2 wins out of 8, to be placed 35th. One of these wins came against the eventual Runner Up of the Championship, Peter Moses of Nigeria. On day 4, Lakshan won 6 out of 8, to finish the tournament with a total 19 wins out of 32 games to finish 18th.

After the tournament, Lakshan observed “In finishing 18th, I have achieved my lifelong target for WESPAC, which was to finish within the Top 20. Now that I have achieved it, I have set my eyes on a Top 10 finish”

Janul, after winning 7 out of 8 games on the third day was placed 28th at the end of the 27th round with 16 wins, but defeats in the last 5 games including two narrow defeats saw him having to be content with the 65th position.

Lakshan’s and Janul’s performances earned Sri Lanka an extra place at the next WESPAC to be held in 2019.

However, this was not the end of international Scrabble in November for Janul, with his next trip being to join the Sri Lankan youth team at the WESPA Youth Cup (WYC) in Kuala Lumpur.

Sri Lanka produced its first youth Champion as 16-year-old Royalist Aabid Ismail was victorious from his fellow team member, Janul de Silva.

Aabid who obtained 20.5 wins out of 24 games edged out 15-year-old Janul De Silva, also from Royal College, who secured the 1st runner up position with 20 wins out of 24 games. Vignesh Pirapaharan (15 years) of Lyceum International School, Panadura secured the 8th place with 16 wins.

The Sri Lankan Youth Scrabble team also secured the Team Title at WESPA’s flagship annual event conducted for under 18 Scrabble players Association. The Sri Lankan team victory was secured amidst a tense battle with Pakistan with wins by Aabid, Janul and Vignesh in the 22nd and 23rd rounds ensuring the all-important points required for victory.

Experienced players Aabid and Janul were among the leaders from the first day and a strong finish on day 3 enabled them to outshine the competition. As the Tournament Director at the WYC, Martin Teo, notes “both play the game with good sports, confidence and grace. I am very proud of their progress and looking forward to see more from these two word wizards!”

Winning trio from Team Sri Lanka: Vignesh Pirapaharan, Aabid Ismail and Janul de Silva

WESPA Youth Cup Champion 2017: Aabid Ismail

Vignesh, who was a strong contender on 3 previous occasions, ensured a well-deserved place in the top ten after overcoming a few setbacks on the all-important last day to conclude the event on a high note.

Janul also secured the Under 16 title at the WESPA Youth Cup whilst Vignesh emerged third in the same age group. Nine year old Adheesha Dissanayake (Willesden College) participating in his first international tournament was crowned the under 10 champ with a splendid record of 14 wins out of 24 games. The youngster maintained his concentration and cool during a heavy three days of play where he had to compete with much older players.

Fellow Sri Lankan team members Qays Sangani (Royal) and Thirandi de Silva (Ladies’ College) were placed 20th and 21st respectively. Thavalakshman Yoganathan (Lyceum Wattala) the 1st runner up in 2016 came in at 35th place closely followed by Radinka Dissanayake (Bishops College) at 36th. Newcomers to the national team Pasindu Malawaraarachchi (Royal), Hemaka Gunasekera (Lyceum Nugegoda) and Therunee Karunaratne (Musaeus College) won 14, 14 and 12 games each.

Sri Lanka has been a consistent performer on the international stage with Aabid being the 2nd runner-up and Under 16 Champion at Lille in 2016 and Janul emerging 4th as well as the Under 14 Champion in Perth in 2015. Sri Lanka performance proves its capacity to excel in specialized mind sports at international level.

The Chair of the WESPA Youth Committee, Karen Richards was glowing in her statement about the Sri Lankan team. “Their persistence in winning the team event in the face of tough opposition from Pakistan and Thailand, indicates the strength and breadth of their young players. [It] was no surprise to see [Aabid and Janul] take out the quinella.”

“I am sure the adult players are starting to realise that there is a whole batch of youngsters coming through our youth events”.

This year’s youth team was generously supported by Phoenix Industries Limited who came forward to sponsor many events and tournaments conducted by the Sri Lanka Scrabble League. They were also the main sponsors of the National Scrabble Championship played in Colombo.

Sri Lanka's Youth Scrabble Team