BENGALURU: To say Nigel Richards is a man of many words is a correct and an incorrect statement. The Malaysian resident, who hails from New Zealand, is among the world’s best scrabble players of all time, and has won the world championship more than once. Richards has also won the French title, despite not speaking the language. So when 29-year-old Thacha Koowirat lost to Richards at The MuSigma International Scrabble Tournament in Bengaluru, the former shows little remorse. “It’s very tough to beat him,” the Thai national told CE at the annual tournament, which was organised by the Karnataka State Scrabble Association for the 17th time in a row.
The event was held from January 9 to 12 across four divisions, based on expertise, and the scene remained the same all across. Once the games start, the room is filled with silence and yet words are thrown all around. One table saw Chennai resident A Krishnan play against Australian Karen Richards (not related to Nigel, although Karen’s son is another top-ranked player himself), while another saw a 72-year-old play against a nine-year-old. For Krishnan, the game holds ‘deep value’ since it helps him improve his memory, word knowledge, numeric and mathematical abilities, besides also helping him connect with like-minded people all over the world. The 46-year-old dramatist from Chennai, who was in town for the tournament, has even started introducing the game to students in the fifth grade.
According to Karen, the game has many benefits for children, including time and risk management. The 66-year-old played against 19-year-old Mumbai resident Samrath Singh Bhatia, and the result left her with mixed emotions. “I’m happy he won, but of course, grumpy I lost too,” she laughed. Bhatia, on the other hand, was over the moon, having finally won against Karen after facing her six times before at other tournaments.
The teenager’s next game was against Nigel. Though he lost by 100 points, it was a special one nonetheless since it was his first against the top player. For 72-year-old Cecil Fernandes, it came as a huge relief that he didn’t have to play against Nigel. “It’s too much stress,” said the septuagenarian, who won against his opponent, nine-year-old Madhav Gopal Kamath, one of the youngest players present. Ask Kamath about the one thing he enjoys the most about the game, and he beamed, “Beating someone much older? That’s amazing.”