Oakland Nerd Nite: War Of The Words

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Nerd Nite East Bay: 20K Leagues, Scrabble & Human Senses

I’m presenting at Oakland Nerd Nite tomorrow night! One of my buddies from college, Rick Karnesky, organizes the event, and asked if I’d be interested in speaking about Scrabble (apparently Scrabble is acceptably nerdy). Come nerd out and drink some brewskis with us! This event is 21 and up.

When: Monday, November 30th, 2015 @ 7-10:30PM (lectures begin at 8)
Where: Club 21 – 2111 Franklin St, Oakland, CA
Cost: $10

Check out the Nerd Nite website for information: http://eastbay.nerdnite.com/

-Cesar Del Solar

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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

http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=22367

http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=22368

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!

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-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!

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-A collaboration by Cesar Del Solar and Emily Dowgialo

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The World Scrabble Championship, Day 1

The WESPA Championship 2015 (World English Scrabble Association) started today in Perth, Australia. As we write this, players are just completing the 4th game of 32; after 4 days the top two go to a 5-game playoff to determine the World Scrabble Champion.

Check out the event page here: WSC 2015

As of right now, the current results are not up, but we are following several of our friends via Facebook and Twitter. Top US expert (he placed second at this year’s North American Scrabble Championship) and good friend Jesse Day started the tournament out with a bang, beating Nigel Richards 438-413.

Jesse Day vs Nigel Richards, Day 1

Jesse Day vs Nigel Richards, Day 1

He started 4-0. Keep up with his progress and find frequent tournament updates on his twitter. Good luck to him and to the other contestants! The US has over 15 players, many of whom we know personally. Our good buddy Jesse Matthews from Canada, who has also been featured on this blog before, is also competing. He It looks like there are about 140 people playing at Worlds, plus another 120 in the Open Division (a smaller side tournament mostly for local players). We would love to be in Perth right now!

Word has it that tournament favorite Nigel Richards has lost his first three games. This may just be a rumor, but we’ll keep you informed when results start rolling in. Starting 0-3 in a 32-game tournament is not the worst thing in the world, especially when you’re Nigel Richards, so we hope he can pick it up soon.

We have been enjoying keeping up with the Scrabblers on their journeys down under. Jesse Matthews had a luxurious first stop in Dubai, flying first class on Emirates all the way. Several people spent a few days in Hong Kong where they made our taste buds envious by documenting their culinary adventures.

The BBQ stingray looks particularly delectable

The BBQ stingray looks particularly delectable

It looks like everyone has been having some fun in the sun in the southern hemisphere, with photos of day trips to Rottnest Island and adorable run ins with quokkas (which apparently are only found on Rottnest. Fun fact!).

Quokkas are 100% cute

Quokkas are 100% cute and are a cool word to boot

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Jesse Matthews, Dave Koenig, Jesse Day, Cecilia Le, Jennifer Lee, John O’Laughlin, and Evans Clinchy splash around Rottnest Island

Games began early with Dave Wiegand and Evans Clinchy battling it out at ping pong

Games began early with Dave Wiegand and Evans Clinchy battling it out at ping pong

Good luck to everyone. We’ll be rooting for ya, mates.

Send us your pictures and we’d be happy to post them up! If you’d like to write an article or a blog about your experience at Worlds, contact us! We’d love any and all contribution.

-Cesar Del Solar and Emily Dowgialo

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The State of the Game

Haven’t seen you guys in a while, but lots going on!

The California Open was just announced and it’s taking place at the Parc 55 hotel in downtown San Francisco, on Dec 18-20. I’m also directing the next Berkeley tournament on November 1st – contact me (Cesar Del Solar) via Facebook or by emailing Scrabble TV Live if you want to play! I also just won the last San Jose tournament this past weekend, making it two in a row. Had to get very lucky and beat Jesse by almost 200 points to win the tournament; second place was only 30 spread points behind.

The World Scrabble Championship is taking place next week in Perth, Australia, starting on November 4th. A few of our good friends will be playing, and we’ll keep you up to date on the progress of the tournament.

Scrabble TV Live will also be at the New Orleans Crescent City Cup on MLK Weekend next year – January 16-18. Photos, reports, and more coming soon.

Finally, I will be giving a talk on Scrabble at Nerd Nite East Bay on Monday 11/30/2015 in downtown Oakland. Doors open at 7pm then lectures begin at 8. I’ll be the second speaker. This is a fun event in which three lecturers talk on a variety of nerdy topics, interspersed with drinks and food. A friend of mine from college is the organizer, and he asked me to talk about Scrabble. Anyone in the area is welcome to come check it out! It costs $10 and is 21+.

-Cesar Del Solar, Aerolith.org

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Congratulations to Leesa Berahovich!

Berkeley Scrabble player Leesa Berahovich took the $25K Wordie Games championship! Massive congrats to her. The finals were exciting; you can take a look at the broadcast here:

On the way back from Reno Nationals last month, Leesa and I played a few practice games of Wordie while Emily drove. I think Leesa won all of them!

Although our good buddy and 2014 Scrabble Nationals champion Conrad was eliminated prior to the final round, he did a great job, playing a pretty flawless semifinal game, which you can also see at the link above. This version of Words With Friends is extremely volatile and anyone could have won it, so we’re glad it went to one of our own 😉

Made it to Best Of the Bay!

I wrote last week about trying to qualify for this year’s Best Of the Bay (“B.O.B”) tournament and not having many more opportunities to do so. To qualify to play in B.O.B you have to win at least one tournament in the Bay Area. Luckily, I was able to qualify at this past weekend’s San Jose tournament. Since most of the tournaments in the Bay Area are only 6 games long, it takes a lot of focus and some luck to be the one chosen by the Tile Gods on that given day.

After losing the first game to Chris Patrick Morgan, mainly by chickening out on my opening-rack bingo of HUMPIER, my mental state declined and I did not feel like I had a chance to win. However, since I had no choice but to keep playing, I decided to make the best of it. I won the next 2 games, and then faced off against Jesse Day, one of the top players in the country and recent 2nd place at Nationals. This game was actually pretty well played by both of us, with few mistakes, and I felt fortunate to come ahead with a victory at the end:

Game 4, vs Jesse Day: http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=21931

The final two games were against the two lowest seeds of the tournament, but they both put up a hell of a fight:

Game 5, vs Aditya Kini: http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=21930

Game 6, vs Jeannie Wilson: http://cross-tables.com/annotated.php?u=21929

For dinner, a group of us went to Smoking Pig BBQ Company, a super-delicious restaurant a short walk away from tournament host John Karris’ home, and celebrated with a beer and an abundance of Texas-style barbecue food.

Look at those ribs

Look at those ribs

As you can see, the Bay Area is super strong, and I hope my good luck continues into the Best Of the Bay tournament.

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Wordie Games Update!

Our buddy Conrad Bassett-Bouchard, 2014 Nationals Champion, made it to the $25K Wordie finals, starting this Thursday in Burbank, CA! Check out this YouTube highlight video from the semi-finals.

Our Bay Area Scrabble friend Leesa Berahovich is also among the final four. The other two semifinalists are not tournament Scrabble players, but they might surprise us!

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