2016 World Scrabble Championship – The Quarterfinals

The preliminary 24 rounds of the 2016 World Scrabble Championship are done, and we have 8 qualifiers for the quarterfinals. Screen Shot 2016-09-02 at 11.33.44 PM

A few things to note. Some people think that 24 games is too short to determine the 8 quarterfinalists, and  5 of the 8 qualifiers are seeded 10th or higher (3 are seeded 20th and above!).  However, even the lowest rated qualifier, American Rob Robinsky, is a great player who just finished 2nd at the elite BMSC (British Matchplay Scrabble Tournament) last week, so he is certainly underrated.

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Pakistani youngster Moiz Ullah and a crowd are hushed over his round-24 game against Adam Logan, which he lost by one point. (Photo taken by Jesse Day)

The Pakistani Scrabble players are truly becoming a force to be reckoned with. Several of them finished at the top of division B at the championship. As with any tournaments with qualifiers, this tournament has its share of heartbreaking stories. Moiz Ullah lost by just one point to Adam Logan to get knocked out of the quarterfinals. I’m sure it’s just a matter of time for him.

Nigel Richards sadly finished out of the money, but even if he had won his last game to Brett Smitheram (a barn-burner I watched earlier on the train over the Twitch live stream), he would not have made it to the top 8 anyway, due to the way the other games turned out.

Kenji Matsumoto, a top American Scrabble expert, commented on Facebook that this year has not been too great for young players. Indeed, most of the quarterfinalists are in their 40s or above. Maybe the youngsters are getting surpassed again! Kenji is a top American Scrabble expert from Hawaii who has recently written a book called Breaking The Game, which is available for purchase through his website.

The best player in the top 8 is probably Canadian Adam Logan, who has won the World Championship in 2005, the US National Scrabble championship in 1996, and multiple Canadian National Championships.

Below are the expected quarterfinal matches, along with my predictions for how they will do — best of 3 for the quarters, which is very prone to high variance.

(1) Mark Nyman vs (8) Joel Wapnick – two former world champions. I’ll give Nyman a slight edge because he finished with the best record after 24 games, but it’s probably a coin toss since it’s just three games!

(2) David Webb vs (7) Lewis MacKay – Lewis made it all the way to the finals last year against Wellington Jighere before going down 4-0 in a series that was more hard-fought than the scoreline would indicate. David Webb is known for creating a series of YouTube videos in his Dweebovision channel, wherein he commentates on his online Scrabble games. I’ll pick Lewis to win this mini-series due to his experiences from last year.

(3) Allan Simmons vs (6) Adam Logan – Allan has won the UK National Championship once, and the BMSC multiple times, but I’ll give Adam the edge as he is possibly the 2nd or 3rd best player in the world currently. (After His Nigelence)

(4) Robert Robinsky vs (5) Brett Smitheram – I know Rob from our days on Yahoo! Literati (I need to write an article about my Literati experiences at some point…) and he’s always been a great player. Brett has more experience with the Collins dictionary, although Rob has been playing Collins for almost 5 years now. Although Brett might be the better player – he is seeded best out of the top 8 – I’ll give Rob the sentimental pick (he did just get 2nd in the BMSC).

The semifinals and finals will both be best of 5. Assuming the brackets are as they were in the 2014 WSC, my picks would be:

Mark Nyman vs Rob Robinsky – Mark gets the edge

Lewis MacKay vs Adam Logan – Adam gets the win

And our winner will be Adam Logan over Mark Nyman 3 games to 2. Mark my words… maybe.

 

 

 

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2016 World Scrabble Championship

The 2016 World English Scrabble Championship started in Lille, France, earlier today. This edition is the third held by Mind Sports International (MSI), a company based in the UK. They have been involved in the Scrabble scene for several years now, as well as poker, chess, Magic: The Gathering, and other mind sports. Among their innovations is an RFID-based Scrabble board that automatically keeps score, as well as their live camera coverage of games and annotation software. This particular tournament is extra special because it also features the championships for French and Spanish language Scrabble.

As you may know, Scrabble is quite an intense game and many people take it very seriously. We know of a particular player who has taken a several-month sabbatical (Scrabbatical?) from work just to prepare for this tournament and he is doing quite well as of day 1. This is the kind of obsession that makes Scrabble players unique and that makes the game so interesting.

The standings in the English edition so far are as follows (thanks much to Nicky Deco and the wonderful team in Lille who got these standings to us):

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Many of the old favorites are here, including Wellington Jighere, Nigel Richards, and a significant Thai contigent (Komol leading his compatriots with a 6-2 record). On top is the only undefeated player, and a former world champion himself, Englishman Mark Nyman.

There was a bit of a snafu earlier today with the MSI-developed tournament pairing software, which was not quite ready for prime-time. The organizers have now decided to switch to tsh, an old but stable and well-maintained tournament pairing software used in most large Scrabble tournaments worldwide. This software also has the ability to provide live results, so we’ll try to get you a link to follow your favorite players.

You can also follow live on twitch.tv – our good friend Jesse Matthews is in Lille providing live commentary. He has been doing great live commentary for major tournaments since the National Scrabble Championship in 2015. This is his first time doing this at Worlds, along with Robin Pollock Daniel, a top Canadian expert. Their dynamic duo are quite entertaining and worth watching. Day 2 begins in just a few hours!

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2015 World Champion Wellington Jighere playing against Shan Abbasi earlier today on the live board.

 

-Cesar Del Solar

Cooper Komatsu and Jem Burch win the National School Scrabble Championship!

Cooper Komatsu and Jem Burch, two 13-year olds from the Los Angeles area, have won the National School Scrabble Championship! You can play along with the final game here: http://www.cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=23279#0 – thank you to Craig Beevers for the annotation.

This year, the championship was held at the New England Patriots stadium in Foxborough, Massachusetts. Featuring over 100 2-person teams, this is the largest NSSC so far. The tournament consists of 7 2-on-2 games across 2 days, and each team is given 30 minutes to make their move. The rules are largely the same as those of “adult” tournament Scrabble, but the dictionary is an expurgated one with no curse words. Wouldn’t want to teach the kids any bad words!

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Cooper Komatsu and Jem Burch win the 2016 NSSC as part of team Lucky 13 (apparently a reference to their ages)

I (Cesar) remember the first time Cooper came to Los Angeles Club #44 with his mom Deborah. He was just 6 years old! And he already showed a lot of promise. Early in his club career he was already taking down expert players, making bingos and scoring left and right. I never got to play him, but I’m sure it would have been a good game. He became good friends with Jem Burch, another young player, in the coming years.

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The youngest and oldest members of Club 44 at the time – 82 years separate Cooper Komatsu and Ralph Crosby (who is sadly no longer with us, RIP)

Jem and Cooper came to a lot of our LA tournaments in the last few years, always placing well and often beating experts along the way. I remember at one tournament in Long Beach there was a little basketball hoop and rim where we were playing for prizes and Cooper and Jem were owning it.

Jem and Cooper both play quite fast and still make good plays despite this. I thought this would serve them well at the NSSC and I’m not surprised at all that they won it. They played the final game at a very high level – you can see some great plays in the board picture above. You can also see the stream of the final game here. Some plays of note: a natural 7-letter bingo AGNOSIA, making GESTATES. Also, the word QUARrELS, for what appears to be 101 points, AWAITED, JARINA, GOFER, and some other cool parallel plays.

Craig Beevers, 2014 World Scrabble Champion, had the following to say about their game in a Facebook forum:

I watched all the games today and caught bits of yesterday. They played a really great game in the final, pretty much flawless and kept their nerve in the endgame. Congrats and well played.

Very impressive, and looking forward to what Cooper and Jem achieve in the Scrabble world over the next few years.

Congratulations to Cooper and Jem!

Crescent City Cup

Only one week until the Crescent City Cup in New Orleans! This is the fifth installment of this illustrious tournament, one that Jesse Day won 3 times, and was about to win for a fourth time last year until Morris Greenberg stopped him. We at Scrabble TV Live will be there shooting footage and participating in the revelry of this unique city.

We are going to be doing some filming for an upcoming project. If you are comfortable and willing to be on camera, we’d like to sit down and chat with you. We mostly want to focus on Scrabble overall and peoples’ lifetime careers, but we also want to hear about how your tournament is going.

Check out the entrant list here:

http://cross-tables.com/entrants.php?u=13237

141 entrants and counting across the Collins and TWL divisions. If you want to talk to us at the tournament make sure to look for Cesar or Emily (one of us will have a camera most of the time). We are rooting for our Bay Area friends to do well! The Berkeley tournament tomorrow should be a good warm-up, stay tuned for news about it.

Tournament information can be found here: https://sites.google.com/site/nolascrabble/

See you in the big easy.

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Scrabble Chat: Cesar Del Solar

ScrabbleTVLive’s very own Cesar Del Solar took home the victory at the California Open in San Francisco last weekend! We talked a little bit with him about what it was like to win his first big tournament, and he gave us a play by play of his final game against Rafi Stern.

 


Starring Cesar Del Solar, creator of Aerolith.org
Directed & Edited by Emily Dowgialo

Want to write an article or blog post for Scrabble TV Live? Email us at scrabble.live@gmail.com.

The 8th Annual California Open

Players from all over are making their way to beautifully foggy San Francisco where games start at 9:30am sharp.

This year there are only 42 entrants. They announced the tournament a bit late this year, which made for difficult planning for some players, but the turnout is still pretty decent for being last minute and during the holiday season.

The California Open started in Santa Nella in 2008, a small town known for Pea Soup Andersens, a favorite pit stop of travelers driving down Interstate 5. It then migrated to San Francisco, first at Fisherman’s Wharf and has been at its current home, the Parc 55 hotel in Union Square, ever since. No Californian has ever won the California Open.

I’ll be there taking pictures and schmoozing with everyone, and most likely dining and boozing in the evening. I will also be posting updates so check back for those.

More information about the tournament can be found here.

Live coverage is hosted on Cesar Del Solar’s site Aerolith.org: https://aerolith.org/co2015/html/.

See you there! I’m a native Californian myself, so I’ll be rooting for my home team to finally take home the gold.

-Emily Dowgialo

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Want to write an article or blog post for Scrabble TV Live? Email us at scrabble.live@gmail.com.

Who Is Wellington Jighere? For The First Time In History Someone From Africa Wins The World Scrabble Championship

Wellington Jighere just took the win at the 2015 World Scrabble Championship. He beat his opponent Lewis Mackay 4 games to 0. He is the first player from Africa to ever win a world championship.

Wellington Jighere

Wellington Jighere

Wellington Jighere, besides having a pretty cool name, has been one of Nigeria’s best Scrabble players for a long time. In 2007, he was just one game away from making the finals of the World Scrabble Championship in Mumbai, but he fell in round 24 to, would you know it, Nigel Richards, who then won his first World Scrabble Championship.

The coolest Scrabble Champion ever?

The coolest Scrabble Champion ever?

Still, Jighere announced his presence to the world by finishing 3rd in his first Worlds ever. In 2008 he won the Africa Scrabble Championship, held in Nairobi, Kenya, and defended his title in 2010 in Accra, Ghana. He was 11th in the 2009 Worlds, being as high as 4th at one point but losing a few close games, and also won the prestigious Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics that year. He purchased a brand new car with his winnings.

Jighere started playing Scrabble in 1996 after an older brother introduced him to the game. He has been hooked ever since. In his beginnings, he was a very strong player, but it seemed like he would always fall just short of victory. He had played in several major tournaments but seemed to lose steam towards the end. He would start off well then would start making mistakes. He began having more success in 2007, when he got third at Worlds.

Then, in late 2010, he retired. Citing a few disagreements with the way things were being run in the Nigeria Scrabble Federation, he hung up his boots (tiles?) and decided to focus on his studies. Wellington finished up his career in crop studies and performed his NYSC (National Youth Service Corps).

Luckily for the world of Scrabble, he came back with a fury in 2013, and the rest is history. He triumphed in the 2015 WSC, playing 4 nearly-flawless games:

http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=22364

http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=22365

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Wellington Jighere, 2015 World Scrabble Champion

Wellington Jighere, 2015 World Scrabble Champion

The winning Scrabble board

The winning Scrabble board

The president of Nigeria has called Wellington to congratulate him for his win and for making his country proud!

Want to write an article or blog post for Scrabble TV Live? Email us at scrabble.live@gmail.com.

-A collaboration by Cesar Del Solar of Aerolith.org, a Scrabble study site, and Emily Dowgialo, Scrabble Enthusiast

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The World Scrabble Championship – The Finals!

Looks like we called the two finalists: Wellington Jighere and Lewis Mackay. Lewis lost a few in the afternoon and was almost out of it, had he lost to Komol in game 32, but he was able to emerge victorious.

At the time of writing this article, the two finalists are starting their third game of the best-of-7 finals, and Wellington is up 2-0. Wellington won the first game, and the second game was neck-and-neck until the very end; Lewis missed his final play of CEILIDHS (the plural form of CEILIDH, a night of song, story, and dancing) and it cost him the game. You can follow the action live here:

http://www.cross-tables.com/annolistself.php
Search for Wellington Jighere and/or Lewis Mackay to see the latest game. Thank you to Evans Clinchy for annotating and providing these games for us!

The top 10, after the aforementioned finalists, were:

3. Esther Perrins (AUS) – Highest finish by a female Scrabble player in a WSC
4. Komol Panyasoponlert (THA)
5. David Wiegand (USA)
6. Marlon Prudencio (SGP)
7. Evans Clinchy (USA)
8. Nigel Richards (NZL)
9. Craig Beevers (ENG)
10. Austin Shin (ENG)

Some awesome talent in the top 10. Craig just won the 2014 edition of the WSC, in London; and we’ve all heard of Komol, Dave, and Nigel a few times in this blog.

A picture of the prizewinners, minus Nigel who had to leave early, and the top 2 finalists:

Prizewinners of 2015 WSC in Perth

Prizewinners of 2015 WSC in Perth

Who are the finalists?

Wellington Jighere

Wellington Jighere

Lewis Mackay

Lewis Mackay

In a previous blog post, we wrote about the best Scrabble cities in the world, and a couple of players pointed out to us that we left out Lagos, Nigeria. Whoops! There are some fantastic players in Nigeria, and although no one from there has won the WSC (yet), many Nigerians have come close. In Nigeria, Scrabble is basically a national sport, and there are actually Scrabble training camps where players hone their craft with the help of some top talent such as Femi Awowade, Sammy Okosagah (who resides in the US), Dennis Ikekeregor, and many other top players. Sammy came in 3rd at the 2013 WSC – he actually had the best record at the end of the regular tournament, but was eliminated in the best-of-4 finals. Wellington is another fantastic player who has come close in the past, and it looks like this might be his finals to take, thus making him the first African player to ever win the WSC. But we’ll wait and see.

Nigerian Scrabble players cheering for their countryman!

Nigerian Scrabble players cheering for their countryman!

Lewis Mackay is a perennially strong British player who has placed at Worlds several times, coming in 20th, 24th, 11th, and 19th in past years. He’s been playing great and having a great tournament this year, let’s see if he can turn this around in the final 5 games. It is a tall order as he will need to win 4 of them, but Scrabble has plenty of unpredictability.

Good luck to all playing! What a fun event. We will try to be at the massive event in Lille next year.

Want to write an article or blog post for Scrabble TV Live? Email us at scrabble.live@gmail.com.

-Cesar Del Solar

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The World Scrabble Championship – The Standings As Of Round 27

It’s the final day of games, and we are currently at game 28 of 32. The standings are as follows:

Lewis Mackay from England is a game and a half ahead of the field in first place. Wellington Jighere from Nigeria is a game and a half ahead of third place. It looks like they might be our most likely contenders for the playoffs on Sunday. However, you can’t count out Komol Panyasoponlert from Thailand and Dave Wiegand from Portland, Oregon who are in third and fourth, respectively. Komol got second at the 2013 world championship in Prague and is a fantastic player. We discussed Dave in our last Worlds update.

Nigel Richards is currently in 9th but with 5 games to go he is still mathematically in it – he will just need to win all of them and have some luck break his way.

Check the latest standings here: http://www.scrabble.org.au/events/15WSC/inv/latest.html

Want to write an article or blog post for Scrabble TV Live? Email us at scrabble.live@gmail.com.

-Emily Dowgialo

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The World Scrabble Championship 2015, Day 2

After round 12, our very own Dave Wiegand is in first place! Dave Wiegand is a resident of Portland, Oregon, and he has won the North American Scrabble Championship twice, once in 2005 and then in 2009. In 2009 he had to beat the legendary Nigel Richards 4/5 times to come out on top. When he’s not being a Scrabble hero, he enjoys hot sauce (no really, check out his player profile) and is known to toss back a good beer every now and then.

I (Cesar) have a fun story about playing Dave that happened a few years ago at a Berkeley tournament. This tournament was right before nationals of 2013. It also happened to be the highest rated division 1 tournament ever by average rating. The 6 top players had an average rating of 1997. It’s the only tournament I’ve come in last place in, but the competition was pretty stiff, so I’m not too bummed. Early on, Dave plays a 9-letter word, AIRMOBILE, through BI, and it stopped one short of a double-word score. Of course, I just assumed it was good, since he’s Dave Wiegand.

I never got to put an S on it as I bingoed elsewhere, and I lost by a few points as I could never quite catch up. But at the end of the game, he told me that he would have challenged if I stuck an S on it, since he knows that it doesn’t take an S! If you don’t know much about Scrabble, know that learning lower-probability 9-letter words is usually not done by anyone except top experts, and then knowing which ones of them can be pluralized is even crazier.

The current standings are here:

http://www.scrabble.org.au/events/15WSC/inv/round12.html

Tournament favorite Nigel Richards had a bad start, but he’s currently in 35th and there’s 20 games to go. Many of our friends are amongst the top 20.

Jesse Day played Adam Logan, the second highest rated player in the world, and came out victorious: 556-427. He made a nice play, QUAICHES, for 125 points. Fun fact: a quaich is a shallow drinking cup from Scotland.

Jesse Day vs Adam Logan

Jesse Day vs Adam Logan

As the days pass, people get more tired. Jet lag comes into play during the world championship, as many players travel from across the globe to compete. It may be fun and games before the competition starts, but once you’re in front of the board, your best friend becomes a competitor. Your first loss chips away at your psyche and it becomes important to maintain focus and not let that cloud your concentration because it becomes a slippery slope. Long tournaments are tough, and we send our good thoughts to everyone in Perth!

Want to write an article or blog post for Scrabble TV Live? Email us at scrabble.live@gmail.com.

-A collaboration by Cesar Del Solar and Emily Dowgialo

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