Word of Mouth: Meet Samarth Manchali, 2022 World Youth Scrabble Champion

After India’s successful bout at the 2022 World Youth Scrabble Championship, one of the tournament’s youngest players, Samarth Manchali from the city, speaks to CE about his experience.

Published: 02nd November 2022 02:40 AM  |   Last Updated: 02nd November 2022 02:40 AM   |  A+A-

Samarth Manchali

 Samarth Manchali with elder brother, Suyash.

Express News Service

BENGALURU:  There is a global stereotype that runs across the world about Indians being good at word games. For example, Indian children and teenagers have continuously dominated numerous spelling bee competitions. Well, now we can add scrabble to that list as well. At the recently held 2022 World Youth Scrabble Championship, two youngsters, from India finished among the top ten candidates. But this story is not about them. 

This is about one of the youngest players in the international competition, Bengaluru’s Samarth Manchali, who was judged as the best Under-10 player of the championship ‘for a highly commendable showing in his first-ever global tournament’. Samarth is only nine years old.

His mother, Shubha Manchali, was one of his inspirations to get into the game. “Samarth started playing scrabble when he was seven years old, so a couple of years back.

Samarth Manchali

He got into it through me since I used to play it since my childhood days but I wasn’t aware of the competitive scene at all. I found out about the tournaments and clubs around 2017 when my elder son Suyash started getting into scrabble competitively,” says Shubha.

Samarth’s elder brother, Suyash, has represented India in the World Youth Scrabble Championship for a total of five times so far. 

Learning under his mother and elder brother, this was Samarth’s first venture into a global tournament of this scale. During 2020, when COVID stopped children from playing outside, Samarth, due to being confined in his home, developed an interest for scrabble.

“So during the lockdown, Suyash and I used to play scrabble during the evenings to kill time. It was during then when Samarth started joining us. At first, it began as a way for him to learn more words but eventually he developed a liking for the game,” shares Shubha, who mentions that before 2020, Samarth used to always watch his brother and mother play the game. 

Initially, Samarth took his steps into the competitive zone by participating in online competitions.

“Since everything was virtual in 2020, he started taking part in various online tournaments. After the world opened up, he participated in the Mu Sigma International Scrabble Tournament and also some one-day tournaments organised by the Karnataka State Scrabble Association. But this was the by far the toughest competition he has taken part in. To play in the World Youth Scrabble Championship, you first have to go through the qualifiers, where he came first,” she says. 

This being his debut in the global championship, Samarth feels he was a little intimidated in the beginning. “I was very nervous in the beginning. All of us had to play 36 games in order to qualify further. I tried my best to get into the top ten but I could not. The most I scored in a game was 512 and I got 97 points for the word ‘thinners’, which was my highest for a single word,” says Samarth.

Both Samarth and Suyash have qualified for the finals of the Collins National Scrabble Championship, which will be held in New Delhi this weekend, and are looking forward to next year’s World Youth Scrabble Championship. 


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