WESPA Whispers

WESPA Whispers — Issue 1, November 2010

It's nice to see the proliferation of Collins tournaments and fields in North America, even if the numbers are still very small. (Apart from the word source, these are not yet played under WESPA rules - but it's a good start.) We'll bring you regular updates on North America's efforts towards unification with the world. Read more. Check out tournament results.

Causeway 2010 is nearly here - bigger and better than ever. It includes the the first ever 'Champion of Champions' event, featuring nine of the 10 world champions (plus former Causeway winner and world youth champ David Eldar) battling it out for supremacy. Follow all the action here. The World Youth Champs follows straight after - follow all the action in Scrabble's version of the 'Thriller from Manila'.

While one New Zealander, Nigel Richards, defended his title at the second World Players Champs in Dallas, another (Joanne Craig) struck a blow for women in taking out the Trans-Tasman Challenge in Wellington, New Zealand. Wellington JighereWellington (the man, not the city) got up to his usual Jighere-pokery in winning the 30-game, four-day-long African Champs in Accra, Ghana. The Nigerian is only the second person, after his countryman Dennis Ikekeregor, to win the event twice. Directing the African Champs was American Sam Kantimathi, fresh from winning the 3rd Israeli Open. The Godswill Akpabio International Classic in Uyo, Nigeria, attracted a strong international field, including current world champion Pakorn Nemitrmansuk. After 24 rounds, it was Peter Moses, a relative newbie in global tournament terms, who prevailed. Read more coverage and results.

Stewart Holden of the UK has stepped down from his role of chair of the Ratings Committee. He is replaced by Edward Okulicz, of Australia. Okulicz has just developed an international ratings archive tool, called 'Aardvark'. Global Scrabble fanatics can now burrow into the archive and find out all sorts of fascinating ratings and results information about all WESPA-rated tournaments. Read more about it. Try it.

Slang words and proper nouns (names) are now allowed??!! For most global Scrabble players, Mattel's announcement of a "major change to the boxed-set rules" was just a storm in a tile bag, but the world's media made a meal of it. Read what they wrote.

We are hoping to bring you a regular round-up of media coverage of our great game, but we can't be in all places at once. We need your help. If you see a great bit of coverage in any medium (print, radio, television, online), please let us know so we can share it around. Send links to editor@wespa.org. Also, a plea to organisers of WESPA-rated tournaments to send us (either editor@wespa.org or webmaster@wespa.org) the link for on-line coverage well in advance.

The Features page on the WESPA website is very much a work in progress. In time it will be a smorgasbord of puzzles, downloads, links - and other fun, fascinating or fantastic features. Here's a small taste.

Also in this section, we hope to bring you regular reviews of new books, reissues, software, products etc. If you have something coming out soon, send an advance copy or link or blurb to editor@wespa.org and we'll give it a plug.

This segment of 'WESPA Whispers' will reflect the latest hot topic of debate. Players are always talking about prize money - or lack of it. This year's Causeway Challenge breaks new ground for the size of its prize purse, spread across four different divisions. See how much 2009 prize money was on offer and who benefited. If you have any thoughts about prize money for international Scrabblers, get writing on world-scrabble@yahoogroups.com or drop a line to editor@wespa.org.

Nigel Richards has got to be the hardest person to pin down on the subject of Scrabble, himself, life - anything. Fortunately, Nigel RichardsStefan Fatsis managed to break through the great man's defences for a chapter in his seminal book Word Freak. Unfortunately, the chapter never made the book. Fortunately, Fatsis has made this outtake available for your reading pleasure. Read it here. More recently, the 'Sunday Star-Times' in New Zealand produced a lengthy and very flattering profile of Richards - without actually talking to him. Read it here.

How do our rules and word source look from the outside? You can get an inkling from what Nick Ball writes in the NASPA wiki. The former UK player, now resident in Canada, who has juggled both the Collins and CSW regimes, presents the arguments well. It's not just all the extra words of Collins that will faze North American players, but the switch from double challenge to a five-point penalty. Read it here.

Players and followers of global Scrabble love to follow the ebb and flow of rankings after each tournament. Now this operation is much improved, for your pleasure, in a number of ways. The main rankings list is accessible directly from the WESPA website, rather than from an external site as before. A top-10 list is always available in the top-right corner of the home page, for quick reference. There's also Edward Okulicz's 'Aardvark' archive tool, which can yield a whole raft of statistical information about individual players or tournaments.