What’s the good word?

Nandita Raman
Filed on November 5, 2013
Whatís the good word?

Dubai players get ready for World Youth Scrabble Championship

Fifteen-year-old Navya Zaveri spends every day preparing rigorously for an upcoming tournament. He dedicates at least an hour every day on practice apart from concentrating on his school work. Wondering if there’s some cricket or tennis match coming up? No, this is the World Youth Scrabble Championship scheduled to take place next month in Dubai.

Like Zaveri, who is currently the under-16 world champion, 20 other children are also working hard to do well at the tournament. Making all this happen is the UAE Scrabble Club which is not only helping organise the tournament but also training the children and giving them important tips and lessons.

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Navya Zaveri, the under-16 world champion and (right), youngsters preparing for the big game.

The UAE Scrabble Club was established in 1991 and has been regularly having meetings and play sessions to keep the board game active in the country.

“Our main aim is to create awareness about the game and we are doing just that by talking to youngsters and encouraging them to take up the game seriously,” explains Nikhil Soneja, President of the club.

Becoming a member of the club, Soneja says, is not very hard. “The club is open to all and all you need is a love for the game.”

The club has about 120 members, spread across different age groups and professions. “We have kids who are hardly 10-years-old as well as people over 60 or even 70-years-old,” said Selwyn Lobo, a member of the club.

Lobo, who has been part of the club since its inception, says he has seen the club grow from strength to strength and he also spends time mentoring youngsters and giving them tips. The club also organises the Gulf Scrabble Championships. These championship has been taking place every year since the inception of the club and is open to all age groups. The most recent GSC was won by 71-year-old Mohammed Sulaiman of the UAE, who qualified along with Selwyn Lobo, to represent the UAE at the World Championship in Prague.

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The Gulf Scrabble Championship in Dubai is one of the biggest events the club organises every year. —Supplied photos

The club’s biggest challenge yet is hosting the World Youth Scrabble Championship. The tournament was awarded to the UAE by World English-language Scrabble Players’ Association (WESPA), and will take place from December 12-14 at the etisalat Academy of Sports and Leisure. “A record 120 entries have been received making this the largest WYSC ever,” said Soneja.

The tournament will see participants from UAE, Pakistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Thailand and Sri Lanka, among other countries. In order to better prepare the participants from the home country, the UAE scrabble club is conducting practice sessions every Saturday. “The players are also practicing online and learning words in a systematic way using special software for Scrabble word study called Zyzzyva,” said Soneja.

The scrabble club has produced many champions in the past and the members are hoping that this year’s world championship will be from the club.

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