|A total of 144 players made the trip to Deakin Sports and
Social Club in the nation's capital this year for the 2004 National Scrabble
Championships. Next door, the Embassy Motel was overflowing with players
from every state as well as Singapore, Malaysia and New Zealand. One guest
wondered whether there was a spray available to deal with the infestation of
Final round victory
The National title went to Cheah Siu Hean (Singapore) with 18 wins from 21
games. It is his second Australian title, having previously won in Fremantle
in 2002. Cheah won an exciting 'Doyen of Deakin' playoff in the final game
with Paul Cleary (NSW). Paul graciously slipped to second place with 17 wins
and an impressive margin of 2349 (average margin 111.8 points per game).
Third place was claimed by Andrew Fisher (Vic). Fourth place went to Esther
Perrins (NSW) — a late entry who left her mob of four children at home.
Alistair Kane (Vic) came in fifth.
High word was awarded to WA's Faye Williams who knocked any
ordinary triple-triple play out of the water with her outstanding 203 points
for EXORCISE. This was a turnaround for her as last year the high word was
played against Faye. High game award went to a deserving Paul Cleary for his
score of 624, clearly ahead of numerous other players who scratched the 600
mark over the weekend.
Edward Okulicz made a beautiful play, wrapping the tiles ENJ+BING around AM
to form ENJAMBING as a double-double for 126. He was playing against Trevor
Halsall, who's first move in the game was ACRIDIST. Trevor later plopped
down three bonus words in a row: GANTLOPE, ESPALIER and OUTSNORE. Although
Edward had OUTDROVE, Trevor outplayed and won 491-453.
An outrageous margin was gained by Gary Pollard who beat his opponent by an
astonishing 392 — a new record for the year.
A record-breaking 42 players vied for the Open title, which was held over
three days for the first time. Helen Mauris (Vic) took the honours with 16.5
wins and an exceptional margin of 1239. Canberra's own Justin Moyle (playing
in his second tournament) was runner-up and enjoyed a fabulous ratings
increase of 322. Ann Fiddler (NSW) took out 3rd, with Rick Khul (Qld) and
Christine Foot (ACT) winning 14 games apiece to come in 4th and 5th.
Justin also took out high word with 149 points for REMAINED. Mal Ramsdale
(NSW) was awarded high game with 579.
Keeping things in order
International director extraordinaire Wilma Vialle was called on a few times
for rulings and on the final day an interesting dispute was resolved with
Wilma 'undoing' the last few turns in a nail-biter between young David Eldar
and fellow Victorian, Frank Csarics. They needed to work out who owned the
hidden tile that was left in the bag. The win eventually went to Frank, but
Wilma was quick to point out David's graciousness and maturity when the game
turned from a win to a loss.
In her usual humour Wilma awarded spot prizes and Graeme Lock Lee (NSW)
deliberately played overtime to finagle one of these prizes! It is not like
Graeme to EVER go over time in his games, but this time it was worth the
sacrifice. Another spot prize awarded went to the 'tidiest table'. It was a
great way to get players to clean up the numerous crumpled challenge slips.
The prize went to some clever players who used tiles to spell WE LUV WILMA
and adorned the racks with flowers!
Drama followed after the tournament when players celebrating (or drowning
sorrows) in the Deakin Sports bar were met with a power outage that took
down 4 suburbs in the area for nearly an hour. Players huddled in the dark
and the 52 Club was formed by Chris May, Rod Talbot and Edward Okulicz. They
are 3 top players who discovered they had each lost 52 ratings points. The
venue was being set up for the presentation dinner and the staff worked by
emergency lighting and dinner managed to be served almost on-time.
Singing the praises
It may have been the extra time in the bar, or the wine provided
with dinner that caused John Barker to grab the mike from the MC, Tim Reddan
(ACT president). But soon the place was swaying with John singing old
favourites and the crowd joining in. The mike was passed round to all who
wanted to entertain and provided the rest of us with great insight into how
Chris 'Boombox' May spends his spare time (as back-up percussion to
Australian Idol wannabes).
Even Esther Rolfe of Wollongong, who had celebrated her 90th birthday over
the weekend, had a go. She brought the house down to rounds of applause,
hoots and cheers.
Tasmania to host
The next Australian Scrabble Championships will be held in Tasmania.
We look forward to seeing lots of players there.