Location: Kesdem Hotel, Tema, Ghana, West of Africa. Date: 18th of December 2016. Event: 12th Africa Scrabble Championship.

It was the last day of the thirty-two round 4 day tournament and the new king of Scrabble in Africa was about to be crowned. Nigeria had taken a formidable team of 21 players to the tourney including 4 previous winners of the tourney viz Ikekeregor Dennis (2004,2006), Jighere Wellington (2008,2010), Rex Ogbakpa (2012) and the defending champion Nsikan Etim (2014). Team Nigeria's performance was looking good going into the last rounds with at least eight out of the top ten places occupied by Nigerians with two Kenyans (Njoroge Stanley and Nderitu Gitonga) giving Team Nigeria a run for her money.

ASC 2016 Trophies

5th seed Ayorinde Saidu had displayed his intention of being a serious contender for the African title by establishing a foothold among the top 5 midway into the tourney. By round 20 he had usurped compatriot Oshevire Avwenagha from the top spot. From that round onwards he parried all attempts to displace him from the summit, the strongest and most consistent threat coming from 6th seed Nderitu Gitonga. Gitonga eventually caught up on points with Saidu after winning round 29. They had equal wins (20 wins each), Saidu however had superior cummulative margin and they they were to face each other again in round 30. It was evident that whoever won the next round will have the edge going into the final two. Round 30 proved to be dramatic! Leading Saidu 380 - 317 with no tiles left in the bag, Nderitu chose to play GUTCHES* an unacceptable word which was challenged off instead of blocking the only spot where Saidu could play a bingo (i.e use all his 7 tiles). That was all Saidu needed to play RAILERS a bingo and win 423 - 380 to regain the 1 point lead. You can play back that game. After dispatching former Africa Champion Rex Ogbakpa 575 - 479 in the penultimate round (round 31), Saidu had established an unassailable lead of 2 points (23 wins, 9 losses) over the nearest competitor becoming the 12th African Scrabble Champion and the 11th Nigerian to win the title.

Nigeria's Eta Karo (10) beat 4th seed Ogbakpa Rex in the last round to finish as the first runner-up (2nd) while 13th seed Umebiye Cyril dispatched Nderitu Gitonga 489 - 393 to finish in 3rd place. Nigeria was also adjudged the best team with a mean post-tourney rank of 17.7 followed by Kenya and Ghana in that order.

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Play back recorded (annotated) games

Round 32 Board 2 Karo, Eta (NGA) vs. Ogbakpa, Rex (NGA)
KOH Round 31 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs Ogbakpa, Rex (NGA)
KOH Round 30 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs Nderitu, Gitonga (KEN)
KOH Round 29 Board 1 Nderitu, Gitonga (KEN) vs. Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA)
KOH Round 28 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs. Ogbakpa, Rex (NGA)
KOH Round 27 Board 1 Nderitu, Gitonga (KEN) vs. Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA)
Round 26 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs. Etim, Nsikak (NGA)
Round 24 Board 1 Mutahi, Martins (KEN) vs. Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA)
Round 23 Board 1 Ogbakpa, Rex (NGA) vs. Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA)
Round 22 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs. Oyende, Allan (KEN)
Round 21 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs. Jighere, Wellington (NGA)
Round 20 Board 1 Jighere, Wellington (NGA) vs. Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA)
Round 19 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs. Omosefe, Prince (NGA)
Round 18 Board 1 Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA) vs. Nderitu, Gitonga (KEN)
Round 17 Board 1 Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA) vs. Saidu, Ayorinde (NGA)
Round 16 Board 1 Edwin-Mugisha, Phillip (UGA) vs. Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA)
Round 15 Board 1 Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA) vs. Idahosa Bright (NGR)
Round 6 Board 1 Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA) vs. Etim, Nsikak (NGA)
Round 10 Board 1 Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA) vs. Nwangi Willy (KEN)
Round 9 Board 1 Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA) vs. Tachie-Menson, Charles (GHA)
Round 7 Board 1 Avwenagha, Oshevire (NGA) vs. Tachie-Menson, Charles (GHA)


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nigeria scrabble

In what could be tagged a world Scrabble jamboree in faraway Malaysia, the world Scrabble community just concluded the longest number of games 45 in all in the richest Scrabble fiesta brazenly organised by one man and his family, Mr Michael Tang. Tagged Causeway Challenge, about 240 players from all over the world cutting across all plausible categories of Scrabble players participated in a weeklong Scrabble Festival the Youth, the Premier division, the Masters, the Intermediate and the Opens comprising the who is who in the global Scrabble community led by World undisputable numero uno Nigel Richards participated in the World Richest Scrabble end of year fiesta.

It is the best well organized Scrabble Tournament so far using all criteria as a yardstick of measurement in all departments of the game, Technical Directorship, Venues and hotel accommodation, feeding, Scrabble appurtenances, prize money which ran into thousands of Dollars and players demeanours name it, Causeway Challenge scored alphas all the way through. Even for observers from afar, streaming of live videos of the events was unmatched in the annals of Scrabble Organisations as candid realtime pictures were posted leading to on the spot analysis of events even as they unravelled.

With this background no doubt that the players played their hearts out as all games were contested fiercely and only the bold and the best emerged as the winners. In the elitist category, it was a roll call of World Best as former world Champions were adequately represented apart from the shouting absence of the two current World Champions British Brett Smitheran and Nigeria's Jighere Wellington who may have preferred to savour their present spotlights positions a bit more before their likely eventual dethronements in Kenya next year.

Team Nigeria was a cynosure of all eyes as the members demonstrated for the umpteenth time that Nigeria is the best Scrabble playing nation worldwide even as recently acclaimed in an empirically espoused research not too long ago. Apart from the Youth category where Nigeria did not feature, Nigeria swamped all other categories winning a whopping 70% of all the available prizes. From the Premier where Saidu Adebanjo the Coach of Ogun State Nigeria placed third to the Masters, Intermediate and Opens Team Nigeria performed a wonderful feat unprecedented in the annals of Scrabble aficionados convergences. The World-renowned best player of the game Nigel Richards maintained his number one position as he won the star prize of $10,000 against all resistance by Scrabble best from all over the globe.

In conclusion, I am using this opportunity to call on our leaders and sports administrators to hearken to the global call and give Scrabble the deserved recognition by funding this game that placed the nation indisputably on the global map as the best Scrabble playing nation. Scrabble has a lot of roles to play in amelioration of the downward trend of our educational sector, hence let it be included in the curriculum of our youths for the attendant gain of educational development.


Culled from Mr Kayode Fashola's (NSF Players Rep) report as posted on 6th December 2016 on Facebook

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