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Cheah Siu Hean
  Cheah Siu Hean

Australian Championships 2004

Cheah wins final round

- Susan MacGillivray  

Full results               Photo gallery 1             Photo gallery 2

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 Scrabblers!

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 scores
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.

Open title
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!

Drinks blackout
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 in 2005
The next Australian Scrabble Championships will be held in Tasmania.  We look forward to seeing lots of players there.

Full results      Photo gallery 1      Photo gallery 2

 
ASPA
 
Australian Scrabble Players Association (ASPA)
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