Starting Monday November 27, 200 of the World’s best young Scrabble players will be in Malaysia for this year’s premier event for players under 18: the WESPA Youth Cup.
Karen Richards has performed tirelessly this year, ably assisted by the WESPA Youth Committee, to bring together what promises to be an amazing tournament in a great location. This has involved travelling the globe, from Canada to Nigeria, in an effort to make this tournament a success.
This will be the twelfth such tournament that Karen has run, after eleven previous World Youth Scrabble Championships in previous years.
In Malaysia, Scrabble is recognized as a sport (as it is in other parts of the World) with the Malaysian Scrabble Association registered with their Sports Commission - it is also the home of other notable youth tournaments (eg ASCI, which is run earlier in the year).
Team Pakistan from the 2016 World Youth Scrabble Championship
The tournament director is Martin Teo; it will be his fifth time in charge and he notes in his foreward to the event, there is something of a "revolution" occurring. Players who have come through these Youth tournaments are becoming more dominant on the main stage, with players such as Austin Shin, Goutham Jayaraman and the current World Champion, David Eldar, all having taken part in youth tournaments run in this way.
So, who will take out the title this year? Last year's WYSC runner up in Lille, Thavalakshman Yoganathan, is here; his compatriot, Janul De Silva (having returned from WESPAC earlier in the month) is also listed to play, and forms a strong Sri Lankan contingent ready to take home the Cup. Aditya Iyengar, from India, came fifth at last year's WYSC and should not be discounted. Team Pakistan have listed some of the best youth players on the scene currently in their squad, including Daniyal and Sohaib Sanaullah, and Abdullah Abbasi Ahmed.
Or, will the winners come from elsewhere? Countries that are represented are sending substantial numbers of players, with some receiving government support to get over to Malaysia. Countries with strong Scrabble pedigrees, like Thailand, Nigeria and Australia are all supporting this event along with players from Hong Kong, The Philippines, Kenya, Indonesia, Trinidad and Tobago and others. This is before we consider that the host nation is providing over thirty of their best for the event as well.
Madhav Kamath from India will be the youngest player there, aged 7.
The tournament will also feature a new award, called the Amnuay Ploysangnam Award, to recognize those who work hard to mentor young players.
Collins have kindly donated eight book prizes for players with SamTimer also donating a Flip Timer.
The next three days promises to be exciting and is sure to feature the next big names on the scene.
We are eager to see what the WESPA Youth Cup provides.
Group Photo of young players from the 2015 World Youth Scrabble Championship