Our youths rise to the challenge at the World Youth Scrabble Championship 2010 held in Manila last month.
Our youths rise to the challenge at the World Championship 2010 held in Manila last month.
Ker Jen Ho, who won the CIMB National Youth Scrabble Championship in June last year, ended the year on a victorious note when he was hailed the 2010 World Youth Champion. STUDENTS from primary, secondary and tertiary institutions are invited to take part in the ASTAR Scrabble Challenge International which aims to create history in the Malaysia Books of Records for having the most participants in a Scrabble tournament. With a total cash prize of RM24,000, this is a tournament not to be missed! Registration ends on Jan 31 For details, please visit: www.asci-scrabble. co.cc/
THE Malaysian contingent heading to the World Youth Scrabble Championship 2010 in Manila last month, had a rough start.
First, their flight was delayed by a few hours before they were informed that the flight was cancelled. That started off a frenzy of sorts as parents rushed from counter to counter, frantically enquiring about the earliest departure time for any available flight.
Finally, the team boarded an airline past midnight and arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila about four hours before the start of the tournament at 8.30am.
All the team had was a few hours’ sleep before they faced their biggest Scrabble challenge. The kid who was stuck in KLIA for hours, hoping for an available flight early enough to not miss the tournament, went all the way to clinch the World Youth Scrabble Championship (WYSC) 2010 title, making Malaysia the only country to have won the title back-to-back after our Scrabble princess Ong Suanne clinched the title in 2009.
The whiz kid is none other than 16-year-old Ker Jen Ho.
Karen Richards, the organiser of the World Youth Scrabble Championship, once again pulled off a big success as she gathered 82 aspiring players from 14 countries for the most anticipated tournament among teen Scrabble players. This year also witnessed two new countries that were roped into the World Youth Scrabble fraternity – South Africa and Pakistan.
Hailing from a country where Scrabble is rapidly garnering interest among youths, Pakistani player Javeria Arshad Mirza, 13, said: “Scrabble is a game of vocabulary, analytical skills and strategy; these are the very things that interest me.”
The Scrabble championship began amidst an air of anticipation and nerves.
Oluwafemi Akinlosotu from Nigeria positioned himself as a front-runner when he garnered a 12-point winning streak, surpassing all expectations from the crowd. With 2 points clear from the player next in line, all he needed was to be in the game and win all his matches before the draw reset in Round 16 to give him a comfortable lead and put pressure on the other contenders to catch up.
However, Oluwafemi suffered a shock defeat to upcoming Thai player, Sirinapa Srinornil. Her victory over the Nigerian was the talk of the day.
The defeat could have greatly affected Oluwafemi as he finished Day 2 with another three losses to Malaysians, Jagan Narayanan and Jen Ho, twice. As the Nigerian faltered to fourth place, Preedee Khongthanarat (Thailand) and two Malaysians, William Kang and Jen Ho, leapfrogged to the top three spots.
William led the pack at the end of Day 2, followed by Jen Ho who shared the same number of wins, with the former having a slight advantage on spread.
With just half a point ahead of Preedee, William and Jen Ho had to win all their final six games to yield a 1-2 victory for Malaysia. The boys did not let their supporters down. After the penultimate round, Jen Ho was ahead of William by a modest amount of spread. All the former had to do was to win his last game, while the latter had to win by a large margin to grab the title.
William was pitted against fellow compatriot, Vinnith Ramamurti, while Jen Ho had to deal with experienced Jessica Pratesi from Britain. In the end, William lost 357-460 to Vinnith and fell one spot to third place, while Jen Ho beat Jessica 418-334 in style to lift the championship title. Preedee whitewashed Yasiru Fernando from Sri Lanka 417-251 to finish second ahead of William by half a point.
Two other Malaysians who finished in the top 10 were Vinnith Ramamurti (7th) and Looi Yih Feng (10th).
Jen Ho was not picked as one of the early favourites. He had his share of tough luck in the previous WYSC but he brushed off challenge after challenge posed by early favourites, Oluwafemi, Michael McKenna (Australia) and fellow Malaysian William Kang to clinch the prestigious title.
The 16-year-old champ was ecstatic, especially since this was his fourth attempt.
The 2010 World Youth Champion will be representing the youths in the 2011 edition of the World Scrabble Championship.
When asked about his plans post-WYSC and his preparations for WSC 2011, Jen Ho said: “I will probably enter fewer tournaments in 2011 due to my mock exams in January and O-Level exams in May, but I will review as many wordlists as I can and practise online as part of my preparation for the big tournament.”
During the prize-giving ceremony, the Best Under-16 player went to William Kang, while Vinnith Ramamurti won the Best Novice award as a first-time competitor.
The Encouragement Award for the youngest player in the Top 25 went to Penangite Cheong Yi Hua, 12, who finished 19th overall in the tournament. This very promising and talented lass will surely taste more victory in future WYSCs as she is eligible to take part for the next five years.