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

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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 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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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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