City of Sydney Masters - 25th & 26th Jan 1997

This years City of Sydney Masters continued the tradition of being one of the prestige events on the nation's tournament calendar, with the seven highest rated players in the country taking part. In addition, the event had a somewhat British flavour, with Richard Evans taking part, and Esther Perrins (nee Byers) making one of her rare appearances between child-raising responsibilities.

But the event was far from British in terms of games played, with ten on the first day and eight on the second making it a veritable Scrabble feast.

We chose the same venue as that which was used for the Trans-Tasman, the Macquarie Boutique Hotel. Unfortunately, the hotel is far from boutique, as when Jeff Chelton (the inventor of dingle challenge) complained about not being able to get sound or picture on the TV, he was told this was standard reception for Sydney CBD. When Jeff said this was garbage, the management invited him to find some place better. He did. Jeff and his wife, Rene, packed up and returned to their home in Wollongong for the night. So much for customer service. The hotel has been renamed Fawlty Towers.

But the playing area there was ideal for the 40 players assembled to play Scrabble, and in many cases including mine, lose hard earned rating points. Richard Evans had a particularly strong start and established an early lead. However it was his British couterpart, Esther, who took over late on the first day, and from that point on held on to her lead. The final round was only a formality, with Alistair Kane from Victoria beating Esther to grab second, and Roger Blom, Alistairs travelling companion hanging on for third.

Roger did cover himself with glory by finding DROMICAL(1) for 176 against Gloria Gallagher, surpassing his 122 for BANJOIST in an earlier round. Incredibly, Roger lost the game against Gloria.

Two stars of the future identified themselves over the weekend. Kris Logan from Syney's North Shore Club, and Grahame Lock Lee, recently relocated in Sydney from Wollongong, picked up 176 and 172 rating points respectively.

But it was Esther's tournament. Mother of four, she has managed to combine the skills of playing top-class Scrabble, and bringing up at a young family simultaneously. This may well have been the first tournament in history where the eventual winner has been required to undertake breast-feeding responsibilities during the long breaks. Well done to Esther, a much-deserved victory, and pity help the rest of us when she find the time to learn a few new words.

Bob Jackman

(1) DROMICAL: pertaining to a race-course

Here are the final placings:

Rank Player            Wins  Mar
  1 Esther Perrins      14   778  $200
  2 Alistair Kane (VIC) 13  1170  $120
  3 Roger Blom (VIC)    12   969   $70
  4 Ivor Zetler         12   717   $40
  5 Richard Evans (UK)  11  136
  6 John Holgate        11   530
  7 Jean McGiffen       11   187
  8 Gloria Gallagher    11  -247
  9 Bob Jackman         10   794
 10 Peter Shaw          10   736
 11 Joan Rosenthal      10   678
 12 Trevor Halsall      10   302
 13 Jeff Chelton        10   112
 14 Paul Cleary         10    65
 15 Rod Talbot          10    32
 16 Graeme Lock Lee     10     1
 17 Peter Tobler (ACT)   9 -141
 18 Kris Logan           9 -259
 19 Geoff Wright (VIC)   9   693
 20 Nicole Findlay (VIC) 9   277
 21 John Barker          9    15
 22 Rene Chelton         9  -147
 23 Moana Nepia          9  -198
 24 Jean Noonan          9  -471
 25 Marie Knight         8 -266
 26 Betty Foreman        8 -429
 27 Sue Gergelifi        8   245
 28 Dianne Davis (VIC)   8  -437
 29 Hanne Marks          8  -456
 30 Jeff Spring          7 -122
 31 Audrey Newman        7  -253
 32 Jan Serisier         7  -279
 33 Joanne Craig         7  -308
 34 Siva Sivapalasundram 6  -426
 35 Robert Tomkins       6  -762
 36 Judy Nelson          6 -1102
 37 Ian Close            5  -567
 38 Eileen Seaborn (SA)  1 -1567

HIGH GAME: Joan Rosenthal    551
HIGH WORD: Roger Blom        176
HIGH RATING GAIN: Kris Logan 177