Pakorn reigns supreme at 6th Godswill Akpabio Scrabble Classics

The Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics is one of the most prestigious events on the Nigerian Scrabble calendar. The 6th edition took place from 26th-30th September 2012 at the Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort in Uyo, with former world champion Pakorn Nemitramansuk of Thailand winning the impressive top prize of USD 15,000 in the Masters division, closely followed by Nigerian aces Ogbakpa Rex and Paul Sodje.

David Okunmuyide from the Nigerian Scrabble Federation reports on the tourney:


The trophies The news of the world champion, Nigel Richards cancelling his participation due to visa issues filtered in, but we are thrilled to learn that Sam Kantimathi, Austin Shin, Femi Awowade, defending champion Sammy Okosagah and former world champion Pakorn Nemitrmansuk are already in Uyo. Nicholas Mbugua from Kenya and Phillip Edwin-Mugisha from Uganda arrive in style and Phillip is quick to remind everyone that they call him 'the Phenomenon'.

After accreditation players moved to the Pool Bar for the opening ceremony with cocktails, light music from a live band and a lively cultural troupe performance.

Round 1-6

The pairings have Femi Awowade squaring up against defending champion Sammy Okosagah on table 12. TRAGOPAN can be seen on their board. Austin Shin is playing Mayuku Tuoyo, the only female player in the Masters. He’s played the tricky word LONGUEUR, but Mayuku holds her own as he wins by only 45 points. Pakorn wins his first game against Balogun Rasheed (by 90 points) and so do Sam Kantimathi, Ogbakpa Rex and Okoroigwe John against Curtis John, Nicholas Mbugua and Phillip Mugisha respectively. Eta Karo and Akanbi Dipo have on their board JAPERIES, YEASTING and DIVALENT.

In round two, a game of wits goes on on table 4 between Olatunde Oduwole and Samson Asare. There’s the valid word ZENAIDAS tucked side by side with LAURIC and ATHERIDS which is invalid. The drama unfolds as Oduwole plays the invalid word EYECOMER. It would have been his last move had Osare taken the bait, but he challenges it off.

In round three, Austin Shin scores a win over Ejiro Fuoye by 132 points. His play of PETITIONS across the floating P and T and GASALIER were eyecatching. Olaiya Kabir has just beaten Pakorn by 10 points. As they reconcile scores at the end the words ECLOGITES and DEPONING stand out. Pakorn is not happy about his last move. Asare is playing Nsikan on table 2. The board is spread nicely with the with RESEATED, BOGGIEST and FANTIGUE quickly following MERCHILD. Round five pairing sees Phillip the 'Phenomenon' playing on table 14 against Tetteh Julius and Phillip starts out with SYENITE for 76 points. John Okoroigwe on table 10 plays RANCHER on the triple across CABLINGS only for Charles to hook the O in OX for RANCHERO.

Games in progress
The 2012 Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics in full flow

Players are just returning to their seats after the lunch break for round 6. It’s been a fiercely contested tournament and so far only 2 players (Omosefe Prince and Nsikan Etim) have won all games. After round 6 Nsikan is the only player unscathed so far in the Masters category. Winning his game against Prince by 37 points guarantees he remains on table one.

It’s a tense game on table 1 between Paul Sodje and Nicholas Mbugua in round 10. Words like SQUANDER, GHERAOED, KIAAT, ICTAL, EXEUNT, PREPOSES adorn a tidy looking board. On table 12 Phillips isn’t looking too pleased to see CINEOLS (84 points) hooked on his RIZA. Paul Sodje (9 +651), Nsikan Etim (9 +510) and Pakorn Nemitrmansuk (7 +634) are the top three at the end of day 1

Rounds 11-20

Games in progress Games start at 8am prompt and there are still a few players who are yet to arrive. Nsikan Etim, Olaiya Kabir and Sammy Okosagah are some of the players who already have the clock ticking against them. In the end it was an outrageous round of scrabble by Sammy Okosagah on table 7 against Samson Asare. Sammy comes in with 3 minutes left on his timer and still wins the game!

Austin Shin wins his game against Noble by 131 points. Noble plays THORIUM for 79 and Austin scores a 9-timer with TSIGANES for 140 points. On the next table there's Igali playing RENNASES for 74 and Charles Okoye dropping OURARIS for 70. Pakorn also wins on table 1 having played words like PALEOSOL for 73 to edge Paul Sodje by just 20 points. Paul's play of SKENNED for 83 caught my eye on an expertly managed board. The Phenonmenon is starting quite strong this morning even though winning with just 6 points against the experienced Balogun Rasheed. His play of ORNERIER, NIELLOED, and RADIATE sees him win as Rasheed played WESTLIN and ABSTAINS.

After Sammy’s spectacular game in round 11, in round 13 he plays Igali Precious and within the first few moves there’s REPTANT, CATMINT and SURLOINS on the board. On table 11 it's Dennis Ikekeregor vs Akanbi Dipo and on table 12 Onoshevwe Noble against Balogun Rasheed. Dipo plays LEGENDRY for 86 and then SERIATE below HAUD for 66. On table 12 some of the bingoes were ALGESIS, TORNADE and BOGYMAN.

In round 14 Austin Shin is playing Saheed Tayo on table 10. Austin plays AERIFIES for 76 just as Akanbi plays the invalid word FLAMENGO on table 14. Oduwole challenges and gets an opportunity to play his bingo DEAIRING on the same spot. Oshodi is playing Pakorn and this game started really late as a result of the delay from Pakorn’s 12th round tie with Eta Karo. Then of course, Pakorn always uses up his time. He has 11 seconds left in this game and there are still tiles left in the bag. He ends up winning though with words like ROLFINGS and MOSEY.

It's round 15 and Igali has played CHESTILY for 67 on table 7 against Omosefe Prince who plays KAMME and PIGNORA for 74 points. On table 17 round 16, Adebola Samuel and Charles have words like MUSTELID and SOPRANI. Eta Karo on table 8 plays OVERJUMP for 92. Nicholas Mbugua and Oshodi Sunday’s board have words like SPINULAE, ORAGIOUS and SANCTITY. In round 17, on table 3 Phillip plays UNDEAFS for 80 points and ELOINERS for 66 in between the play of AIRIEST for 79 by Umujose Emmanuel. Round 18 pairs Pakorn (12 wins) on table 1 against Sammy Okosagah, Ogbakpa(12 wins) against Eta Karo on table 2. The other top five contenders Nsikan(11 wins), Olaiya Kabir(11 wins) and Paul Sodje(11 wins) are on table 3, 4 and 5 respectively.

In round 20, Olaiya and Balogun Rasheed have their board laced with QUOINING and QUBIT while Adebola Samuel and Oduwole on table 18 have 3 eight-letter words – OBLIQUER, ISATINIC, ABROGATE. On table 1 Samson Asare battle Pakorn. Asare has assumed an incredible lead in this game. In the end, Asare’s 3 bingoes – WAISTED for 87, AROUSED for 65 and BRATTICE for 76 is just enough against Pakorn’s 2 – SANTERA (69) and his last move of MELTING for 90. Asare joins the exclusive league of only 5 players who have thus far beaten Pakorn in this tournament! On table 2 Austin Shin and Nsikan are squaring up. With giants playing, words like GOONDA, INORNATE and RODINGS seem common place. Austin has just lost his first game by 103, not too good for his spread.

Rounds 21-28

With 8 games to go Pakorn is still glued to table one with 15 wins. Olaiya Kabir and Paul Sodje follow with 14 wins. As at this morning Nicholas is placed 8th, Samson 9th, Sammy 15th, Austin Shin 20th, Mayuku 26th and Sam Kantimathi is 37th. It’s a glorious morning by the way, the rains from Friday and Saturday have stopped and everyone is ready to fight for their share of Governor Akpabio’s bounty. Games on table one in the intermediate category between Idahosa Bright and Omorogbe Friday and on table two in the masters with Olaiya Kabir and Charles Tachie-mensn have just ended. In the intermediate game Idahosa wins by just 8 points while Olaiya wins by 34. Idahosa scores 77 with LUSTRING and his last move of JOB for 33 on the floating AGOUTA is telling because Omorogbe ends with RET for 34 points. Omorogbe had earlier played OVERNICE for 78 and SEDATING for 83. Olaiya’s play of DONSIER for 71, NIQAB (45) and TORNADE (87) were instrumental to his win in a game where Charles played ZESTIER for 115 but he agrees that his most strategic play was HUIPAL for 36 across FRAP to close up an open board. Pakorn has garnered his 16th win against Ogbogu Azu. Who can knock him off his perch?

In round 23, the game between Akpome Oghenemere and Pakorn began with Akpome’s play of OBEAH for 28. Words like TONNAGES, TENURIAL, REPTILIAN and CONIINE have sprung up in all directions.

Pakorn vs Rex
Pakorn Nemitrmansuk(r) and Ogbakpa Rex face off in a crucial match as Chief Toke Aka and the annotators look on

Pakorn is all smiles now as he wins his game against Moses Peter in round 24. With two more wins he will have the $15,000 in his kitty. His play of TRIATICS for 90 points was probably the deftest move of the game. On table 3 Ogbakpa Rex scores a stunning 140 points with SILUROID. He is playing against Austin Shin who plays the words DELATION for 80, ISODICA for 70 and MELODISE on SPINY for 80. Rex’s only other bingo in the game was HINTING for 76 points. At the end of the high scoring game, Rex won 586 - 434.

Round 25 sees Ogbakpa Rex take on Pakorn in the first of 4 straight King of the Hill games to determine who carts home the grand prize. On table 2 Olaiya Kabir and Paul Sodje are also battling for the 3rd and 4th spot and perhaps the chance to unseat Ogbakpa Rex for 2nd. Rex wins 444-383 to move a point short of Pakorn's 19. Olaiya also wins against Sodje.

Top 10 at GAISC 2012 - Masters
1. Pakorn Nemitramansuk21-7+1636
2. Ogbakpa Rex19-9+1096
3. Paul Sodje19-9+639
4. Olaiya Kabir18-10+702
5. Sammy Okosagah18-10+172
6. Nsikan Etim17-11+467
7. Akpome Oghenemere16.5-11.5+290
8. Eta Karo16.5-11.5+99
9. Nicholas Mbugua16-12+406
10. Avwenagha Oshevire16-12+383

Tables 1 and 2 remain unchanged with Pakorn, Rex, Sodje and Olaiya battling for the top 4 spots in round 26. Sodje wins this round against Olaiya and Rex routs Pakorn again 534-322. Rex and Pakorn are now tied at 19 points but Pakorn has a higher spread +1570 to Rex's +1162.

Round 27 sees Ikekeregor Dennis drawing a challenge from Lukman Owolabi with the valid word PARKADES on table 16. On table 15 Phillip is looking to OUTSHINE Onota Ojiru with the words TEPAL and QUOAD. Table 3 has the duel between Sammy Okosagah and Nicholas which Sammy wins.

The battle on table 2 is stiff. Paul edges out Olaiya on the bingo count with 3 bingoes – ONEYERS for 78, RAILINGS for 72 and SILKIEST for 86 but Olaiya still manages to win by just 7 points with just one bingo - SCAURIER for 91. The last round has begun and all eyes are on table 1 and 2 in the masters category. Except something really dramatic happens (Rex winning with more than 246 spread), Pakorn already has the first prize so it’s a battle for the other spots. Pakorn comfortably wins this last game and gets about a million handshakes and congratulations. Rex claims second spot with 19 wins and a cumulative of 1096. Paul Sodje with a cumulative of 639 and 19 wins come third. A wonderful end to an amazing tournament.

The final game between Pakorn and Rex (playthrough provided by

Closing Ceremony

It had been a very tough tournament and the duels were fought with everything in the bag. Friendship and warmth permeate the venue after the games. It wasn’t just Pakorn, Idahosa Bright, Ayo Saidu, Okoridem Bob and Afolayan Bukunmi - winners in the Masters, Intermediate, Opens, Veterans, and Female - who were laughing heartily. There were not a few warm embraces and photo sessions all around. Pakorn and Austin Shin must be tanned after all the flashlights from photographs with players and friends. Afterwards players and officials were conveyed in buses to the state Banquet Hall for the Gala Night.

Governor Godswill Akpabio was grinning from ear to ear. He had successfully hosted the highest paying Scrabble tournament in the world after the World Championships. Also, everyone in the hall expressed delight at the positive changes they witnessed in Uyo after last year’s event. Mish and the etighi dancers performed to thrill the audience. Stand-up comedians Elenu and Pencil performed as well Darlene Benson who serenaded the audience with songs. There was nothing as thrilling however as the announcement of N100,000 each to all female participants and Salem Emmanuel - the youngest player at the classics at 11 years (he won 10 games out of 24).

All winners got special handshakes from the governor himself and the champion Pakorn had a game with the governor. Akpabio won in the first-to-200-points game after starting with BOTHRIA for 80 points. He was later presented with a metal Scrabble board by the Akwa Ibom State Scrabble Association chairman, Umoh Bassey, one of only five such specially made sets in the whole world. Tournament director Faruq Baba-Inna and National Coach Victor Owokere presented the awards, calling on the state deputy governor, the past governor and other special guests to hand out the plaques. The dates for the 7th edition of the Akpabio International Scrabble Classics were announced. It will hold from 26 – 29 September 2013. Mark your calendars, the countdown has begun already!

Governor Godswill Akpabio Pakorn Nemitrmansuk The governor being presented with the special SamTimer board
Governor Godswill Akpabio(l) has a game with champion Pakorn Nemitrmansuk(c);
The governor was also presented a custom edition metal Scrabble board (r).

Images courtesy Emmanuel Oyeleke and the Nigerian Scrabble Federation

October 2012