Sunday News

Blind Scrabble player Olivia has a brilliant touch


BEING blind is no hindrance to spirited Scrabble competitor Olivia Godfrey.

Godfrey, right, from Palmerston North, is one of 96 young and old opponents battling it out at the National Scrabble Tournament, at Auckland’s Mt Eden War Memorial Hall this weekend.

Despite having lost her sight to measles as a toddler, the clever B Grade competitor is better than most at the board game.

Godfrey has claimed 158 points with the word ‘‘sloshing’’, has been beaten with a 220-point scoring ‘‘esquires’’ and her point rating sits at a healthy 1604 on the scoreboard.

‘‘It’s about strategy, I don’t always know what the words mean, just that they’re words,’’ the young mother and part-time lawyer said.

‘‘I like that it’s a mix of brains and luck. Chess is too much about brains for me. But I like words and patterns and being competitiv­e.’’

Godfrey’s been playing with her family since she was six. She uses a special set with braille tiles and a board to locate letter and word score tiles, a braille note-taking device to record used letters and a braille clock.

Godfrey had won one game out of three when Fairfax spoke with her yesterday, which she put down to a lack of time to practice due to caring for her active two-year-old son Callum.

Godfrey’s husband Jonathan is also blind, so raising full-sighted Callum, with another child on the way, is an added challenge.

The annual National Scrabble Tournament is held over two days, with 15 games all up. Competitor­s include national champion Howard Warner and junior representa­tive, 11-year-old Dunedin boy Alex LeckieZaha­ric.

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