Four continents feature in our news this month in what has been a global festival of competitive Scrabble.
We start in Hiroshima, where the inaugural East Asian Championship took place at the start of the month. An international fixture pitting Hong Kong vs Japan, WESPA followers would have enjoyed the preview we featured in March.
Hong Kong started strongly taking an early 7-3 lead after Game 2 and by Game 7, and 35 games having been played, their victory was confirmed with an unassailable 26-9 lead.
It was not the only tournament in April that had Hong Kong organizing: their national Championship qualifiers were held on the 14th.
Sixteen players made it through to the finals, which were held on the 17th at The Foreign Correspondents Club. Carson Ip emerged victorious from the 16 and he was awarded the Lion Rock Trophy. You can read some more about this, and learn more about the HKSPA by heading to this article.
is one of the biggest tournaments that appears on the WESPA calendar; whilst 56 players vied for the title in the Open Division, 166 players took part in the Under 18 section and 190 in the Under 15.
The Open fielded 8 countries and 56 players. Two Singapore players made it to the top 5 (Tony Sim 3rd and Jeremy Khoo 5th) as well as two Thais (Pichai Limprasert 2nd and Thacha Koowirat 4th). The winner, only dropping 2 games and with a spread that exceeded 100 points per game was the world number 1, Nigel Richards. Nigel now extends his rating point lead out to 77 from World Number 2 David Eldar.
With WESPAC17 coming up at the end of the year, the first major African tournament on the WESPA calendar took place over Easter in Tanzania. WESPA followers would have been well prepared for this with Ariaka Geria’s preview a week previous. Tanzania was also on the itinerary of World Number 10 Allan Simmons the week prior to ECASA - he was able to take in a tournament there and in a post to Facebook noted “Great day yesterday at a Tanzanian 10 Game event thanks to my host Mushtak, followed by a lovely feast in the evening”. The TASPA website reported on his victory at the tournament here.
The host nation for WESPAC17, Kenya, featured heavily in the top 20 standings overall. In fact, there were only 2 non-Kenyans in the top 20. Uganda’s Edgar Odongkara (4th) and Zambia’s Patrick Mpundu (11th). Gitonga Nderitu, the Kenyan number 1 player, was victorious on spread from compatriot Willy Mwangi, both having won 19 of the 27 rounds played.
The highest finisher from the host nation was in 21st position - Mushtak Esmail, with 658 the high game score for Bernard Sinyika in round 23. There were 5 scores over 600 in all - after the event, Solomon Lephoto (from South Africa) observed “Dr Mushtak, Muema Muumbi , Nick Mbugua and the organizing team organized a great venue and the food was amazing. If you could not feel welcomed in Tanzania, then you can't feel welcome anywhere. If this was in any way a dress rehearsal for WESPAC 2017 in Nairobi(Kenya), then scrabblers are in for a treat”.
Asia and Australia
The Scrabble world was shocked and saddened with the sudden passing of inspirational Thai Amnuay Ployngngsam. Gerry Carter penned a very personal statement which we were honoured to share here.
He also shared his thoughts with those in attendance at the Australian Championships that occurred at Easter.
The tournament has been a regular Easter feature in Australia with the WA capital Perth the venue for 2017. 100 players took part over two divisions - defending champion Trevor Halsall was there to attempt to retain the title but the competition was fierce. In the end, the defending champion became the new runner up as a new - and first time - champion was crowned. Russell Honeybun (pictured, right), outgoing CASPA head, became the first Western Australian to hold aloft the trophy having won by 1 game and spread from Trevor. Esther Perrins, Nick Ivanovski and Rod Talbot rounded out the top 5.
Two other former champions, Daniel Piechnick and Andrew Fisher, featured in the top 10 with another (Singapore’s Cheah Siu Hean) just outside: Tim Mason and Gerry Carter recorded 600+ games (Gerry is pictured over his game board left
) during the tournament but Malaysia’s Yeo Kien Hung bettered both with a 655 game in Round 11.
The next Championships are being held in Canberra, the nation’s capital and Australia is looking forward to a huge turnout for this event.
We end in the UK: Easter is a popular time for Scrabble tournaments: whilst Dar Es Salaam and Perth were hosting travelling Scrabble players, Bristol was playing host to the UK’s Easter Championship.
Harshan Lamabadasuriya took out the honours from (WESPAC15 runner-up and MSI WSC Semi Finalist) Lewis Mackay, by three games and spread, leading to a jump in the WESPA rankings to Number 15 in the world. Harshan dropped 4 games out of 22 (to Lewis Mackay twice, Phil Robertshaw and Elie Dangoor). Rafal Dominiczak, Piotr Andronowski and Phil Robertshaw made up the top 5 over the Easter period.
Allan Simmons featured two of the more amazing plays from this tournament in his Scrabble feature in The Times: a 12 letter play from Lewis Mackay hooking the already played TRANQ with his rack of DEIILSU and a 10 letter play from John Ashmore using his rack of EEIMT?? through unconnected PI and a C!
As we write this, there are two other countries playing host to international tournaments. Our reports from Malta and India will join together with our coverage from Niagara Falls in the May report.
Until then, happy Scrabbling!
GALLERY IN APRIL
Photos from Scrabble around the globe in April: In order, Hong Kong v Japan, Carson Ip crowned Champion, Bob Jackman at the Australian Championship, Gerry Carter v Trevor Halsall in a tight game in Perth, TASPA welcomes ECASA and tournament shot at ECASA