Let the word wars begin

Let the word wars begin

The 8th annual World Youth Scrabble Championship (WYSC) is happening at the Etisalat Academy in Mirdif.

By Staff Reporter

Published: Fri 13 Dec 2013, 12:13 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 6:14 PM

Participants at the World Youth Scrabble Championship in Dubai on Thursday.— KT photo by Shihab

Here’s one to silence the critics. Dubai often gets negative word-of-mouth press for not being enough of a ‘literary’ place. The oft-heard lament is people don’t read — despite the fact that the Emirate has its own literature festival. And now, here’s another feather to Dubai’s hat.

The city is hosting the 2013 World Youth Scrabble Championship (WYSC) till December 14, in which 136 kids are slugging it out to be crowned the next under-18 world champion.

The competition is stiff. Anyone who has played scrabble will be able to imagine the quiet tension felt by a player seated across his challenger. On December 12, prodigies from over 20 countries were in the emirate to fight it out for the coveted title of under-17 world champion.

The 8th annual World Youth Scrabble Championship (WYSC) is happening at the Etisalat Academy in Mirdif. The participants —– all 136 of them — are aged 17 and under. The competition, which started on Thursday and will conclude on Sunday, will see the mind geniuses battle it out over 24 rounds and 1,500 games of Scrabble, where only one winner will emerge.

The participants have qualified from local tournaments around the world, which have seen thousands of bright young minds engage in a war of words to secure their seat in the global competition. The WYSC is the flagship tournament for the World English-language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA), the international body for the fast growing mind-sport, and has been held since 2006 in countries such as Australia, the UK, the Philippines and Malaysia, before making its way to the Middle East region for the first time this year.

Karen Richards, youth committee chair of WESPA and founder of the WYSC, said: “We are delighted to bring the tournament to Dubai. My first visit to Dubai was in 2011 to conduct a coaching camp at the Academic City, and the precocious talent on display was a big factor in our decision to award the 2013 event to the UAE. The superb performance of the UAE team at the 2012 WYSC in Birmingham cemented this position, and we seem set to have our biggest tournament yet in terms of participation, hence it is apparent that Dubai has been a popular choice too”.

In Birmingham in the UK, 14-year-old Indian High School student Navya Zaveri was crowned the under-16 world champion while 12-year-old Sanchit Kapoor of GEMS Modern Academy finished 18th overall and was the youngest player in the top 25. Zaveri and Kapoor will lead the charge at this year’s tournament, as part of the biggest UAE team ever, with 18 school children from across the emirates representing the country. “We are very excited to host the WYSC. Though competitive Scrabble in the UAE dates back over two decades, this is our first chance at hosting a world tournament, and we hope to make it truly memorable. The UAE is ideally placed as a global hub, and we foresee it becoming the Scrabble capital of the world by 2020, ” said Nikhil Soneja, chairman of the UAE Scrabble Club and a former youth player who now coaches the next generation of Scrabblers.

“Our training sessions have been going exceedingly well, the kids have put in a lot of hard work for word study and practice, and we expect this intense preparation will bear results against the more experienced countries, as it did last year”.

Visitors are welcome to watch the young minds at play. Parents might want to take their children to the spot to inspire them to improve their vocabulary as well as that of their children. Khaleej Times will continue to cover the championship and report on the winners. Watch this space.


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