Countdown


22nd March 1995, Series 29, programme 51. I lost the first letters round (I got 7 (“ingrate”), Sue got 8 ) and I never recovered. I remember Carol Vorderman being a very nice person, the dictionary guy being a bit stuck-up, and David Jacobs being very old.

Excuse me?

I’ve been playing more Scrabble lately, having rediscovered¬†ISC. It’s possible to play games as short as 8 minutes, making it quicker than the new Facebook Scrabble. Anyway, I’m used to a lot of the weird and wonderful words that are allowed, but tonight a new one on me was “BOEP“. I couldn’t find it at all the first time I searched on Google, and thought that maybe it’s a trap street, but then I discovered it’s an Afrikaans word for belly, and adding .za to my search I was able to verify that English-speakers in South Africa do indeed use this word, a word that I assume sounds like “burp”! How do I get rid of my beer boep, indeed…

HIMPRTU!

The scene at Stonnall

After I visited the UK Open in Coventry I noticed there was a small local Scrabble tournament coming up so i decided to enter. That was the Sutton Coldfield tournament that took place yesterday at Stonnall Village Hall. And guess what, beginners luck struck bigtime and I won my section. ūüôā That despite spending the last three weeks carrying round a list of 3-letter words without actually looking at it…

I enjoyed my day (obviously!) and met a lot of nice people,¬†several of them members of the local club, but many also having travelled considerable distances to be there. I didn’t start off too well, losing my first game by 7 points, despite having gained 50 bonus points early on for playing HORNIER.

First game

After that my run of good luck began, with opponents struggling with awful letters. This included David Woolley, the leader, who I was shocked to beat in my penultimate game.

DavidOne game to go

That left me in the lead with only the mercurial Chris Hands to play. After one move each it was 72-74 but the game degenerated from there and I was lucky to finally squeeze out a win. Victory (and £20) was mine!

Coventry Scrabbleathon

Yesterday I visited the UK Scrabble Open in Coventry. It was interesting to compare the event with a poker tournament. It certainly didn’t look much different (although the average age of the participants was somewhat higher) and the sound of tiles being rattled in bags echoed all the toying with chips that goes on in a poker room.¬†The event is taking place over five days, which is the same length as the top poker tournaments, but the prize money isn’t in the same league. The winner will receive ¬£3,000, compared¬†with the ¬£500,000 Vicky Coren received for winning last year’s European Poker Tour event in London.The Scrabble Elite in¬†action

The elite end of the room

Allan v Richards

Paul Allan & Nigel Richards Рthe start of a 975-pointer

Ogbogu v Nyman

Azu Ogbogu and Mark Nyman discussing their game

Still, the sight of 100 people simultaneously cogitating against the clock was pretty impressive, and even a little exciting. It’s a shame that there’s no giant scoreboard displaying¬†everyone’s progress – statistics always give me a thrill!

While I waited to have¬†a chat with Mark Nyman – the only Briton ever to have been world champion – I made myself useful by ferrying word-challenges to the adjudicator. One of these was when current world champion Nigel Richards – who’s flown in specially from New Zealand for this event – made the play “pheesing”. (I’ll let you find out whether it’s valid.) Some of the challenges on other tables seemed a bit desperate – “yam”?? – as did some of the plays, proving that Scrabble-players can be bluffers too.