Australian Masters and State Challenge
Melbourne 2008


The Australian Masters and State Challenge Tournament is into year four, and finds itself back at the popular Jika International in Fairfield. Since its origins in 2005 this gathering of the best players in the country has become one of the most hotly contested and prestigious events on the Australian Scrabble scene, and once again all forty-one contenders have done well to qualify.

Just as in 2006 when Bob Jackman guaranteed his trip to Mumbai, the 2008 Masters winner will earn a spot at the next World Scrabble Championship (in accordance with a CASPA board decision). No doubt this will add a little extra spice to the final few games, though we don't yet know where the 2009 WSC will take place; will there be another new name on the trophy? And will David be able to maintain his streak of coming second?

Our jet-setting TD of yore, Wilma Vialle, is unavailable this weekend and we are very pleased to have secured the services of Barry Harridge. He will rule us with a firm but fair hand, while at the same time overseeing the collation of information and photographs for the hordes viewing the progress of events online.

Masters contenders will have to squeeze in nineteen rounds in accordance with the schedule featured elsewhere, and will also play with five-point penalties per move in place for incorrect challenges. SCT players will each have a bye at some point to even up the games, but are playing without challenge penalties.

The social activities also promise to be enjoyable, including the gala dinner on Saturday evening which may well feature some more tortured anagram quizzes supplied by Richard Jeremy.

We are once again hugely grateful to Mattel, who have provided very generous sponsorship for the tournament; we would also like to thank the Victorian committee, who have continued to work hard behind the scenes in planning and organising the weekend's activities.

Andrew Fisher and Naween Fernando

The Australian Masters field

The field for the Australian Masters is David Eldar, Edward Okulicz, Chris May, Naween Fernando, Andrew Fisher, Joanne Craig, Michael Hornung, Trevor Halsall, Bob Jackman, Esther Perrins, Joan Rosenthal, Peter Kougi, Richard Jeremy, Rod Talbot, Alastair Richards, Anne Drew, Glenys Lawrie, Carmel Dodd, Russell Honeybun, Alistair Kane

The format for the Australian Masters is a round robin, where each player plays every other player. The nineteen rounds will occur over just two days, eleven games on Saturday and eight on Sunday.

The State Challenge Trophy

The other event held at the same time is the State Challenge Trophy, where players are playing as teams of three representing their state or territory. Here are the teams:
VIC Geoff Wright Harry Malcolm Norma Fisher
NSW John Barker Karen Richards Peter Shaw
WA Edie Mueller Chris Hall Dianne Ward
SA Michael Vnuk Simon Walton Heather Lowden
QLD Helen Maurus Olga Visser Sheryl Davidson
TAS Marie London Khen Meerding Dianne Brumby
ACT John Spaan Susan MacGillivray Tim Reddan

Over 19 rounds, each player will meet the 18 players from states other than their own, and have one bye.

Round by Round

Click the tabs near the top of this page to see the latest results from each section. The "CD player" controls allow you to go forward or back one round.


2007 2006 2005
Masters 1 Naween Fernando Bob Jackman Trevor Halsall
Masters 2 David Eldar David Eldar David Eldar
Masters 3 Joanne Craig Naween Fernando Naween Fernando
State 1 Tony Hunt (NSW) Edie Mueller (WA) Carmel Dodd (SA)
Best State VIC WA SA

Coming together

There is a superb feeling of conviviality as old friends from across Australia come together for this event. The first day of the event is Harry Malcolm's birthday, and he promises to wear his birthday suit to the evening dinner. Harry's Chile is radiantly expectant (no more so than Harry himself), the twins due to arrive at the end of the year.

Masters Round 1

Glenys Lawrie was trembling as she handed in her result slip. "This is an historic moment," she said. She had just beaten Naween 529:379. "I had great tiles" she went on to say.

The New South Wales matchplay event, a series of knockouts had resulted in the final playoff between Joan Rosenthal and Esther Perrins, with Esther winning. Here they played off again, but this time it was Joan who won.

Boards: Eldar v Kane and Jackman v Halsall

Masters Round 2

Boards: Craig v Jeremy and Halsall v Perrins and May v Kane

Masters Round 3

Alistair Kane was much happier this round, he'd got all the goodies this time. In the two earlier rounds he had had only one S. Edward was much amused at his initial rack which spelt a far fetched and filthy compound word, which we refrain from mentioning. He was at least pleased to get the legitimate compound word BEDSHEET.

Board: Eldar v Drew

Masters Round 4

Board: Fisher v Jeremy

States Round 4

Much hilarity from Norma Fisher and Khen Meerding. Norma was pleased to get BETTING, but then Khen turned the B into a triple triple for DEBATING. Khen then promptly got another bingo FIERIEST.

Board: Visser v Hall

States Round 5

Harry Malcolm noticed that Dianne Brumby had overdrawn. Because it was he who noticed it he chose the one tile to go back from a rack exposed to his sight. He chose to put an S back, and it turned out be crucial in giving him the game by a narrow margin.

Masters Round 6

Richard Jeremy was pleased to break the drought.

States Round 6

Geoff Wright wasn't a happy man. His record was 0:5 and he now faced Olga Visser on 5:0, but as so often happens in Scrabble, the underdog won.

Masters Round 10

Richard Jeremy noted with admiration Bob Jackman's extending PA into PASSERINE.

Boards: Jeremy v Hornung, Kane v Okulicz, Kougi v Halsall

Masters Round 11

Alastair Richards remarked after his victory over Bob Jackman by 5 points that that was the third time he had been given a gift.

Saturday evening dinner

Players enjoyed their evening meal after the strenuous efforts of the 11 games in the day. Richard Jeremy traditionally offers players a difficult anagram quiz based on player names. At last year's dinner, some had jotted their working out on the dinner napkins, which unfortunately were cloth. This year the tables were covered in large sheets of paper. Try for yourself Richard's quiz

States Round 12

The game between Simon Walton and Helen Maurus attracted much post mortem interest. Helen won, 358 to 352.

Masters Round 13

A quiet tense room suddenly erupted into laughter as they heard Anne Drew exclaim "I hate this game!". I have heard of someone who has created a tile bag which has "I hate this game" on one side and "I love this game" on the other. She thought she was sure to win until Alistair's last try of a plausibility, EXHAUST extended to EXHAUSTER for 36 points gave him the victory.

States Round 13

Michael Vnuk's last play of HOMESITE onto an H gave him a score of 92, and caught Norma Fisher with AXIIRN and clinched his victory 425:347.

Board: Eldar v Hornung

Masters Round 14

Peter exhibited his magnificent ZEBRASS which caused an exclamation from Edward, but Edward won the game. Bob Jackman played ANGULATE, David Eldar replies with PROXIMAL for 116. Three bingos each, but Bob was caught with Q in the endgame.

Boards: Fernando v Fisher, Eldar v Jackman

States Round 15

Current number 1, Helen Maurus played number 2, Harry Malcolm in a superb game with good scores on both sides and a win to Harry, 483:470.

Board: Malcolm v Maurus

Masters Round 16

Andrew Fisher has been one game ahead of the field for many rounds. But this round he loses to Alistair Kane, so David Eldar is now equal to Andrew on 13 wins, but ahead of Andrew on spread.

States Round 16

Chris Hall played DISOBEY as a double double for 107. Heather Lowden replied with WEARIES for 74. Chris cleverly fitted PILOT down beside DISOBEYS for 57.
Harry Malcolm played J(ET)LINERS as a triple word score and then delivered a further blow the next move with FASH(I)ONS for 101.

Masters Round 17

The board at right shows the position and final racks of Chris May (EGLLNS?) and Trevor Halsall (EEIIR?). It is Chris's turn, what should he play? It would have won him the game but he missed it.

States Round 18

Norma Fisher played the bad word HOSTILER* for 95, but this was seized upon by Simon Walton to make JETLINER for 95.

Masters Round 18

Richard Jeremy won on his last move, going out with DREDGiN(G) against Alistair Kane.

Masters Round 19

David won his last game, so emerged as winner, and thus is immediately selected to represent Australia in the 2009 WSC.

States Round 19

Harry Malcolm lost his last round, so thought he had lost the winner's crown. But Helen Maurus also lost her last game, so Harry emerged as winner.


Masters 1st place
David Eldar
Masters 2nd place
Andrew Fisher
Masters 3rd place
Chris May
Masters High Game
Chris May 611
Masters High Word
Trevor Halsall 167
State Team 1st
State Team 2nd
South Australia
State Team 3rd
State 1st player
Harry Malcolm
State High Game
Edie Mueller 575
State High Word
Khen Meerding 167

More photos

Thanks to Khwanjai for her photography. She has made her photos available in three Facebook albums.
Results (60 photos)
Game Boards (25 Photos)
Players (54 Photos)

Organising Committee: Andrew Fisher, Naween Fernando, Marj Miller, Norma Fisher, Barry Harridge
Tournament Director & Webmaster: Barry Harridge
Assistant Tournament Director: Marj Miller
Runner & Photographer: Khwanjai Thammaping