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The National Scrabble team led by the NSF President, Garba Gora successfully defended her 'Best Scrabble Team' trophy at the third edition of the WESPA Championship held in Goa, India. The Nigerian team had previously won the title at the inaugural WESPA championship in 2015 and successfully defended it at the last event in 2017.  Also, Nigel Richards (New Zealand) overcame stiff opposition from Jesse Day (USA) 4-3 in a gruelling seven-round final to join Jighere Wellington (2015) and Ashkay Bhandakar (2017/defending champion) as winners of the World English Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) Championship.

Nigeria Dominate Pre-Tournament Goa Open and the Indian Championship

Team Nigeria started brightly despite their late arrival to the tournament due to funding issues. At the 1-day pre-tournament (Goa Open) held on Wednesday 16th November, Nigeria's Emeka Mbagwu won the top prize, while Ojior Oshikhena and Jack Mpakaboari were first and second runners-up respectively. National coach, Anthony Ikolo and former president Toke Aka also picked the first and third-place prizes respectively in the A division of the Indian Open played from 18th to 20th November.

WESPAC Finals and Team Nigeria

In the main tournament, Nigeria was represented by Team Captain Moses Peter, former Champion Jighere Wellington, Olatunde Oduwole, Etim Nsikan, Dennis Ikekeregor, Ben Quickpen, Enoch Nwali, Eta Karo, Emmanuel Umujose, Bukunmi Afolayan (female) and Oshevire Avwenagha.  A total of 140 players from 32 countries participated in the tournament.

Nigel Richards WESPAC 2019 championAcclaimed world best player, Nigel Richards triumphed after round 30 of the 32 game round-robin to qualify in style for the finals with two games to spare. Jesse Day later joined him in the finals, after subduing Oduwole (544-362) in round 31 and fellow American David Wiegand (520-328) in the final round. In the finals, Nigel Richards beat Day in the first (523-445) and second (424-403) rounds while the American hit back (459-363) in the third and (457-402) fourth rounds. Day won the fifth round (414-393) and Nigel had to dig deep for a 503-434 win in the sixth round to make the tally 3-3 and set up a nervy final round. Nigel Richard later won the 7th and final game 562-408 becoming the third winner from three different continents to win the prestigious title. Tacha Koowirat of Thailand finished in third place.

Overall team Nigeria put up a creditable performance at the main event with youthful Enoch Nwali who finished in 5th place at the forefront. The National Scrabble Team shrugged off stiff opposition from hosts India and the very strong Malaysia team to come first overall. The team finished with an average rank of 19.9 to finish ahead of India (25.4) and Malaysia (36.4) in the team (country) rankings.

Team Nigeria (Individual) Final Positions

Enoch Nwali - 5th
Ben Quickpen - 10th
Eta Karo - 11th
Olatunde Oduwole - 12th
Umujose Emmanuel - 16th
Dennis Ikekeregor - 23rd
Avwenegah Oshevire - 25th
Wellington Jighere - 30th
Nsikan Etim - 31st
Moses Peter - 36th
Bukunmi Afolayan - 58th

PANASA representatives and other Notable Performances

Other Pan African Scrabble Association (PANASA) members viz Kenya, Uganda, Sierra Leone and Ghana also had representatives at the championship. Kenya's Alan Oyende who finished in 17th place was the best-placed non-Nigerian PANASA member at the tournament. Nigerian-born Niyi Adebayo (117th) and Lukeman Owolabi (78th) played for Scotland and Ireland respectively. Teenage sensation Tarin Pairor (17 yrs) of Thailand who finished in 23rd place turned more than a few heads for his stellar performance at the tournament.

Photos

The following players have been invited to the first of four Nigeria Scrabble Federation camping toward the WESPAC tournament holding in Goa later this year. They have until January 15, 2019, to respond and signify their intent to participate by contacting the National coach or the Technical Director.

Also, wildcards have been extended to the following persons

Schedule of activities

Date:  January 24 - 28, 2019.
Arrival Date: January 24, 2019.
Venue: NLNG Bonny
Number of games: 40
Round 1 - 2: SWISS Pairings
Round 3 - 34: Lagged Pairings
Round 35 - 40: KOTH Pairings
WESPA Rules Version 3 applies for the duration.

Important Notes

Scrabble Meet Selection Series reemerges with Four Meets to be played between January – May 2019 with the following on the outlook:

The following Clubs/Associations have agreed in principle to collaborate and be the host.

  1. NLNG – January 24 – 28, 2019.
  2. Lekki Scrabble Club – February 14 – 18, 2019.
  3. Shell Club/Total Club Collaboration – March 14 – 17, 2019.
  4. Edo State Scrabble Association – May 1 – 5, 2019.

Hosting Clubs/States will be given a minimum of Four Wildcards. These wildcards will be extended to selected outstanding players in club retreats, tournaments, etc. All the 4 editions of the Scrabble Meet to be rated by NSF. Top 12 male and 3 female players will be invited for each of the Editions of the Scrabble Meet according to updated ratings. All invited players must attest to NSF Code of Conduct/Exclusive rules to participate at any of the Scrabble Meet Editions and must be fully licensed before they can participate. NSF to provide full media coverage.

After the 4th edition, the top 6 provided they remain in the top 10 after the rating must have been administered in cognizance with cumulative performances from the Four Editions and the 7th slot goes to the best female player to arise from the Series. May, June and July 2019 will be probationary test period for the 7 selected players (6 male & 1 female) that must keep their form or be replaced by the next in line player. Invited players to register with a token of N2,000.00 (optional) at the venue of each of the Editions. To qualify to represent Nigeria such a player must be consistent in the top 6 for Male Players as per NSF Ratings and cumulatively at the end of 4 Qualifying Scrabble Meet Series. The same applies to the top/most consistent female player.

The 7 qualified players selected will be on a probationary period of 3 months where their performances will be thoroughly monitored and their general conduct, carriage, and behaviour closely followed within the same period of time. Every other necessary means to check on the preparedness and abilities of the players will strictly be followed and implemented.

Prince Anthony Ikolo
National Scrabble Coach

WESPA chairman Elie Dangoor has announced that GOA [note]Goa is a state in India within the coastal region known as the Konkan, in Western India. It is bounded by Maharashtra to the north and Karnataka to the east and south, with the Arabian Sea forming its Western coast. It is India's smallest state by area and the fourth smallest by population. Goa has the highest GDP per capita among all Indian states, that is two and a half times that of the country. It was ranked the 'best placed State' by the "Eleventh Finance Commission" for its infrastructure and ranked on top for the 'best quality of life' in India by the National Commission on Population based on the 12 Indicators. Source WikiPedia [/note] has won the right to host the World English-Language Scrabble Players' Association Championship WESPAC from 21st to 26th October 2019.

In a closely fought battle, Goa pipped Kuala Lumpur to host the next WESPAC. Thanks also to Trinidad & Tobago for an exciting bid. Both these places will hold great events in the not too distant future. More details and full article to come after June 8th, when Nick Ivanovski is back from holiday.

Cover photo by Satyajit Nayak - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, Link

Nigeria successfully defended her title as the best Scrabble playing nation at the 2nd edition of WESPAC (World English Language Scrabble Players Association Championship) tournament held from the 6th to 12th of November 2017 in Nairobi, Kenya. The championship tournament featured 119 players from 30 countries who played 32 round-robin games each at the end of which two finalists emerged. At the first edition of WESPAC held in 2015 in Perth, Australia, Nigeria's Jighere Wellington emerged world champion. This edition also produced a superlative performance from another Nigerian, Mr Moses Peter, a top Scrabble player and captain of our team.

The finalist

Moses Peter finished the 32 games in second (2nd) place with 22 wins +1762 behind Akshay Bhandarkar of Bahrain who had 23 wins and +1082 spread. The two players played a best-of-7 finals where Moses Peter gallantly lost 3-4. Ashkay with PeterBhandarkar won the 1st and 3rd games. Moses Peter made sure he was not left behind by winning the 2nd and 4th games. He then pulled ahead with a 3rd win in the 5th game. Bhandarkar then needed to win the last 2 games for the title which he did. For his efforts, Bhandarkar went home with $7,000 and a trophy while Peter got $6,000 and a trophy. In third place was Nigel Richards of New Zealand, arguably the best player on the planet whom Peter had to defeat in round 32 to qualify for the finals.

Strongest Scrabble Playing Nation

Overall, our representatives were expected to put up a formidable challenge at the tournament and they did not disappoint. 2016 champion Wellington Jighere with 21 wins +1181 spread, finished strongly in fourth place while Olaiya Kabir (6th), Eta Karo (9th) and Dennis Ikekeregor (13th) also rallied to ensure Nigeria dominated the top 15 places. Worthy of note also in 11th position was former African champion, Nigeria's Femi Awowade who represented England at the championship. With the team performance, Nigeria retained her title as WESPAC Best Scrabble Playing Nation.

Team Nigeria in no particular order (position after 32 rounds in brackets)

  1. Moses Peter  (2nd) - qualified for final
  2. Dennis Ikekeregor (13th)
  3.  Eta Karo (9th)
  4. Wellington Jighere  (4th)
  5.  Dipo Akanbi (72nd)
  6. Nsikak Etim  (31st)
  7. Olaiya Kabir (6th)
  8. Olatunde Oduwole (28th)
  9. Tuoyo Mayuku (64th)
  10. Ben Quickpen (44th)
  11. Ojior Oshikena (56th)
  12. Curtis John (22nd)
  13. Dayo Tayo (57th)
  14. Mpakaboari Jack (60th)

Photos used courtesy of the 2017 WESPAC event website and various sources online.

 

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.

Final game board 2015 WESPA Championship

Final game board 2015 WESPA Championship

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.

team nigeria

Team Nigeria (l-r) C. Umebiye, E. Karo, W. Jighere, A. Seidu, O. Oteheri and E.Umujose

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.

Team ranking for the top five countries

  1. Nigeria 32.5
  2. Kenya 44
  3. England 44.8
  4. Singapore 44.9
  5. Scotland 45.5

Top Ten Standings

  1. Wellington Jighere (NGR)
  2. Lewis Mackay (ENG)
  3. Esther Perrins (AUS) 22 +1125
  4. Komol Panyasoponlert (THA) 21.5 +1031
  5. David Wiegand (USA) 21 +1200
  6. Marlon Prudencio (SGP) 21 +640
  7. Evans Clinchy (USA) 20.5 +1326
  8. Nigel Richards (NZL) 20 +1287
  9. Craig Beevers (ENG) 20 +913
  10. Austin Shin (ENG) 20+910

 

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