Jighere Wellington outscored 43 other players representing all the states of the Federation to become the Asaph Zadok National Scrabble Champion held from Friday 23rd to Sunday 25th August 2019. The annual event named in honour of the former Grand Patron of the NSF, was held at the VIP Lounge of the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja. The tournament was graced with the presence of the Honorable Minister of Sports, Mr Sunday Dare on the opening day. The minister revealed his delight in meeting the Nigeria Scrabble players and officials. He also expressed his belief that the National Championships "deserves more media coverage and support" on his Twitter handle.
With five games remaining it was evident that this year's national champion title was between three former African Champions viz Wellington, Moses Peter (defending National Champion) and Dennis Ikekeregor.
The ongoing National Scrabbles Championship deserves more media coverage and support, as do other sports. - Sunday Dare (Hon. Minister of Sports)
Wellington took over the lead from Moses Peter at round 21 by beating him 529-286 on Table 1 but by round 23 it was Dennis who occupied the apex leading with a point after a heavy 487-299 win against Wellington. The final round (24) was going to be the decider. Going into the final round, Wellington (18-5 +1957) paired against Ikekeregor needed only to win by any margin because of his hefty +1957 spread. Ikekeregor (19-4 +1241) needed at least a draw as he had the highest points while Moses (18-5 +1066) playing against Oshevire Avwenagha on table 2 could only aim for the second position.
Wellington showed resilience to beat Ikekeregor 407-374 for the title while defending champion, Moses Peter defeated Oshevire Avwenagha 516-355 to finish in second place. Ikekeregor finished in third while former national champion Olatunde Oduwole and Igali Precious placed fourth and fifth respectively.
GM Wellington who represented Delta State was presented with a trophy, two-hundred thousand naira cash prize and the traditional Green Jacket by the President NSF, Suleiman Gora at the closing ceremony. Delta State also won the Best State Trophy with Bayelsa and Oyo, the first and second runners-up respectively.
The world Scrabble community held her breath on the 8th of November 2015 as Nigeria's Wellington Jighere outmatched and outscored 129 players from 33 countries all over the world including his five teammates at the World English Scrabble Association Championship (WESPAC). The championship was held from Wednesday, November 4th to Sunday, November 8th, 2015 in Perth, Australia. Mr Jighere along with Messrs Eta Karo, Ayorinde Seidu, Cyril Umebiye, Onota Oteheri and Emmanuel Umujose made up the small contingent of 6 (six) top-rated Scrabble players Nigeria presented for the tournament. The team travelled to Australia without any accompanying officials from the Nigeria Scrabble Federation who were sadly denied visas to travel for the competition.
Wellington Jighere ranked 7th before the tournament eventually garnered the highest points after 32 gruelling games to emerge as the first qualifier of two finalists. The finalist will meet to play a best of 7 games series to determine the next champion of the game. Jighere led the 130-strong field with 25 points out of a possible 32 with a spread of +1347 and automatically qualified for the finals. Lewis MacKay of England whose pre-tournament rank was 8th finished with 23.5 +1054 to emerge as the other finalist. While Jighere had qualified for the finals with two games to spare, Lewis Mackay had to play Komol Panyasophonlert (Thailand) twice in the last two rounds to emerge as the second finalist. On Sunday the 8th of November 2015, the last day of the tournament, the finalists met to determine the winner behind closed doors in a best of 7 (seven) series. Jighere Wellington had come close to the crown twice, coming 3rd in Mumbai, India in 2007 and then 11th two years later in Johor Bahru, Malaysia. This time he triumphed in grand style with four (4) straight wins (Finals 1: 529-398, Finals 2: 438-410, Finals 3: 563-459, Finals 4: 449-432) winning the 14th World Scrabble Championship title, the first African ever to do so.
The six-man Nigeria team performed creditably well at the tournament. The Nigerian team was rated overall best after the tourney with an average rank of 32.5.
The six members Wellington Jighere (1), Ayorinde Seidu (16), Emmanuel Umujose (17), Cyril Umebiye (41), Onota Oteheri World (44) and Eta Karo (76) all finishing above the bottom third of the 130-strong field (the highest number of entries at the championship). Mr Jighere won the sum of ten thousand (10,000) USD for his efforts.
The 2015 WESPAC tournament featured several former holders of the WSC title including Craig Beevers (2014), three-time winner Nigel Richards (2007, 2011, 2013), Adam Logan (2005) and Mark Nyman (1993). Esther Perrins (Australia) 22 +1125 placed third, the best ever performance by a female player in the history of the tournament.