OnBoard 185 available
The latest edition of OnBoard is now
available from the
ABSP database website
and postal copies should also be arriving soon.
- Cover story: NSC 2019 report
- WESPAC report
- Many more goodies hidden inside ...
The renewal season is now in full swing, with less than 4 weeks to
go until the end of the year. It's easy to renew - just go to the ABSP membership renewal and sign-up
on the website. You can also gift a membership to another person or
you could try to persuade somebody to gift one to you!
A quick reminder for members taking part in the ABSP Online league
on Facebook: you must be a current ABSP member in good standing to
take part in the league. The first round of the new year will start in
early January, so please get your renewals in to Nuala in plenty of time.
All new members are welcome to join the league. New rounds start
every 2 weeks, in a multi-divisional format with promotion and relegation.
Last Updated 4/12/2019
Last Updated 3/12/2019
Nigel Richards wins 2019 World Scrabble Championship
(Photo credit: Bex Sutton, MSA)
Congratulations to Nigel Richards who secured his 5th
title with a 3 games to 1 victory over David Eldar at the Mattel World
in Torquay this weekend. Nigel overcame a game
1 loss to win 3 in a row to take the title in a high quality match that
featured very few sub-optimal plays by either player. He was presented
with the trophy by the recently elected head of WESPA, Chris Lipe.
The two finalists, seeded 1 and 2, had finished top of the standings
after the preliminary 35 games. On Saturday, Nigel beat Syed Imaad
Ali of Pakistan in the quarter-finals and then Paul Gallen of Northern
Ireland in the semi-final. David Eldar beat Dave Wiegand of the USA
and then Peter Armstrong, also from the USA.
Paul Gallen beat Peter Armstrong in a deciding game in the play-off for
third place - another strong tournament in 2019 for the Northern Irishman.
The remainder of the top ten was headed by the defeated
quarter-finalists, Dave Wiegand, Jason Keller, Harshan Lamabadusuriya
and Syed Imaad Ali, with Dave Koenig 9th and Rik Kennedy in 10th.
Daniyal Sanaullah won the challenger division play-offs, with Mirza
Taha being the runner-up.
Last Updated 25/11/2019
Harshan Lamabadusuriya wins the Winter Matchplay
Harshan Lamabadusuriya has won his 6th
major UK title
, taking this year's Winter Matchplay at Millton Keynes
Leading overnight, Harshan kept up the pace, clinching the title with
a win in the penultimate round rematch over Bob Linn, after Bob had just won a
tight game in the previous round. Harshan and Bob had also matched up
in the final game on Saturday in another tight game that ended in a tie.
Ricky Purnomo finished in second place, with Bob in third, making
for a strong showing by our overseas visitors, a theme touched upon
by Harshan in his winner's speech. Elie Dangoor picked up the ratings
prize for A division, with a performance 22 points above his rating.
Speaking at the prize-giving ceremony, Harshan welcomed the diversity
of the players in the field in this weekend, noting that there were
players in their 20s to their 80s, players of all different colours
and players from all over the world, all brought together by a love
of Scrabble - a sentiment heartily endorsed by the other attendees.
John Matthews won division B with 12 wins, but the battle for this
division went down to the final game, with several players having an
opportunity to win in the final round. Richard Spencer had been near
the lead throughout the weekend, but in the end, he had to settle for
second place with 11 wins. Phil Kelly finished third with 11 wins, too.
Stephen Wintle and Graham Bonham also had 11 wins, but finished just
outside of the place prizes, although Stephen picked up the ratings
prize in division B with a performance 20 points above his rating.
Over half of the 18-player field in division B was still in with a
chance of winning with 3 rounds to go - a measure of just how close
this division was.
Division C was decided in the penultimate round, as Barbara Morris
clinched the division, finishing with 14 wins.
Paul Habershon took second place, with Robert Springer in third place,
continuing the strong performance of overseas players this weekend.
Pat Llanwarne won the ratings prize in C division with a performance 12
points above rating.
The tournament was run smoothly by the management team, led by Mike
Willis. In his closing remarks, Mike thanked tournament director James
Burley, computer operator David Wilson and entry co-ordinator Yoke Shin.
The prizes were presented by Steve Thomas.
An ABSP record
was also eclipsed
during the tournament: the highest scoring non-bonus
The play was TWEEZERS
, played as a nine-timer
through a ZE
already on the board, scoring 180
points. It was played by Stewart Brodie, i.e. me - your webmaster himself! This beats the
old record of 153, held jointly by Brenda Northcott and Heather Laird,
originally set by Brenda in 2011 and matched by Heather earlier this year.
was also formerly
the record highest overall scoring play, played by Ruth MacInerney.
Last Updated 24/11/2019
Missed out on Goa? Try Bangalore this January!
(Photo credit: Shankar Prasad)
Fancy going to somewhere warm after the UK Open?
Always wanted to go to India but didn't qualify for WESPAC?
If so, here's some news from Shankar Prasad of the KSSA that may be
just what you're looking for:
Mu Sigma, in association with the Karnataka State Scrabble Association
(KSSA), is proud to announce the 16th International Scrabble Tournament
to be held at the Mu Sigma campus in Bangalore from January 9th-12th, 2020.
Now in its 16th year, the tournament, formerly sponsored by Capgemini,
has a new headline sponsor, Mu Sigma. The tournament venue is Mu
Sigma's campus at Whitefield, only around 3km away from the venue in
The top three divisions will play 34 games over the full four days
of the tournament. A fourth division, for tournament newbies, will
be playing 15 games over the 11th & 12th only. The tournament is
(Photo credit: Shankar Prasad)
Additionally, each player will receive a wooden rotating board like
the one shown in the photograph as a return gift. Hence you may choose
not to bring your boards. But please carry your tiles, timers, racks,
etc. Also, you may want to carry a bag to take the board back with you.
More details, including the entry form and payment details, can be found on
the tournament website
Last Updated 24/11/2019
Mike O'Rourke Memorial Tournament - more than £1225 raised
(Photo credit: Nicky Huitson)
More than £1225 has been raised for the
Bone Marrow Unit at Leicester Royal Infirmiary
through entry fees, the raffle and donations at the Mike O'Rourke Memorial Tournament weekend, which took place in Grantham over the past weekend.
John Ashmore triumphed in Sunday's main event, defeating Paul Allan
in the final game to take the title. John was presented with the
Mike O'Rourke Memorial trophy by tournament organiser Nuala O'Rourke,
Wayne Kelly finished second and Paul Allan in third, with Chris
Harrison winning the ratings prize.
Lesley Trotter defeated Ellie Mackin in the final game to take division
B on spread, with both winning 6 games, ahead of Margaret Pritchett in
Sandra Davey completed a clean sweep of division C, wrapping up the
division with one game to go, ahead of Tricia Walker and Juliet Green.
Nuala's busy weekend included the baking of a wide selection of cakes.
These met with widespread approval and were all gone in short order.
Plenty of raffle prizes were on offer, as the draw took place just before
the final game, whilst the pairings were being prepared. Whilst some
people unluckily missed out on a prize, some others were wondering how
to carry their prizes home!
In the Saturday warmup tournament, Chris Hawkins had a clean sweep to
win division A by two clear games from Matthew Pinner and Victoria Kingham.
Peter Thorpe took division B, ahead of Ginny Dixon and Heather Burnet.
Division C was won by Val Hoskings, with Marlene Skinner and Tricia
Walker close behind.
Last Updated 12/11/2019
Most Improved Player of the Year
As we move into November, at the moment, it looks to be a two-way
race for the Most Improved Player award for 2019.
rankings from the database
With two months to go, Rory Kemp has a narrow lead over Joseph Bennett,
with both players improving their rating by a fraction over 32.
However, don't count Richard Spencer, Reuben Moisey or Paul Thomson
out just yet - a stellar November and December could see any of them
make a late run. A further six players have an improvement over 10.
There are plenty of tournaments left (see article below!) so the
table won't be final until the results from Twixmas are in just before
New Year's Eve.
Last Updated 1/11/2019
2019 Home Stretch - Dates for Your Diary
As the nights draw in, winter approaches and the clocks go back an hour
this weekend, there only two more months of the year to go - yet there
are still plenty of Scrabble tournaments on offer up and down the country!
The closing dates for many of these tournaments are coming up soon -
some in the next few days! So get in touch with the organisers this
weekend. All the dates, places and contact details are on the main calendar
page. The entry
forms are linked here too.
There are still three Ilford
to go, starting with the one this Sunday - remember that
the clocks change in the early hours,
as Kevin Synnott and the team will be expecting you on time!
David and Ros Wilson will be welcoming players to the Luton
tournament to kick off the
month on Sunday 3rd.
The following weekend, Nuala O'Rourke hosts
the Mike O'Rourke Memorial
in Grantham, featuring a warm up on the Saturday
and the main event on the Sunday, with all profits being donated to the
Bone Marrow Unit in Leicester Royal Infirmiary
The middle weekend of November is busy with the Edinburgh Open
Saturday 16th, hosted by Margaret Harkness and the two-day All-Ireland Tournament in
, hosted by John Cunningham-Ryan. Meanwhile, Milton Keynes
is the venue for the final UK major of the year, as Mike Willis is
ready to welcome you to the Winter
that runs through the weekend.
The same weekend sees the week-long
Mattel World Scrabble Championships
kick off in Torquay, starting with the World Junior Scrabble Championships
(Saturday-Monday). The Main Event begins on the Tuesday, with the
final 8 decided by the end of Friday's play, with the quarter-finals,
semi-finals and final played over the weekend. There's also a final
fling on the Saturday for those who didn't make it to the quarter-finals.
November is rounded off by the Warrington Round Robin
hosted by Wayne Kelly on Saturday 30th before heading off straight
into December at
with Colin Northmore on the 1st, Burnham-on-Sea
Roderick Winfield in the South-West, alongside the penultimate Ilford tournament
year, with the final Ilford
of 2019 taking place on the weekend before Christmas,
on Sunday 22nd.
The year is rounded off with the traditional Twixmas tournament
by Amy Byrne in Derbyshire, offering two days of respite from seasonal
And there's no time to relax as we move into the new decade, as the
gets underway on
January 3rd. The closing date for this is approaching quickly too,
so contact Len Moir and Linda Ford to enter the main event and final
Last Updated 26/10/2019
Putting the 'Grand' into 'Grand Slam'
The inaugural Grand Slam event has received a significant boost
to its prize fund thanks to a generous donation of £1,000 from
The Grand Slam tournament, which will take place in Warrington
across the weekend of 29th February & 1st March 2020, is open to
any person who has won an 'A' division in an ABSP-rated event during
the 2019 calendar year.
For more details, see the entry form on the calendar
Last Updated 12/10/2019
OnBoard 184 and ABSP Membership Renewal forms available
The latest edition of OnBoard complete with ABSP membership renewal forms is now
available from the
ABSP database website
and postal copies should also be arriving soon.
- Cover story: BMSC 2019 report
- Personality: Stu Harkness
- BEST 2019: the final 8
- Continental Scrabble Championship
- TabScrab NSC
- Bristol Scrabble Club's 30th birthday
A reminder that we have an ever-growing
discussion group on Facebook
which is getting busier over time. If
you would like to join in with the chat, we would love to see you there.
The group is appropriately titled ABSP Discussion. For anyone interested
in taking part in regular online leagues with members, we also have a
with around 150 members signed up. New leagues
run every 2 weeks, in a multi-divisional format with promotion and
Both these groups are for current ABSP members only. To join or renew,
visit the membership renewal and sign-up
page for further instructions.
Last Updated 11/10/2019
Scrabble-inspired Comedy Gig
Multi-award winning comedian and actor Ian Smith is performing two
dates of a Scrabble-inspired show in London later this month, on 22nd
and 23rd October.
The show is basically about trying to de-stress. His
fiancée found playing Scrabble together helped her anxiety -
so as a show of commitment, Ian entered Aylesbury Scrabble tournament
completely out of his depth to try and show he could learn how to play
and win a game. Ian had a great time in the process and hopes to attend
more events in the future.
You can check out this board photo for an idea what to expect
in the show and hopefully overlook the uneven distribution and a little
poetic licence. Also, if you are interested in checking the show out, you
can use the promo code SCRABBLE which will give you 50% off ticket prices.
Ian Smith: Half-Life
2Northdown (King's Cross)
Tuesday 22nd and Wednesday 23rd October at 7pm
Press for Ian Smith: Half-Life (Edinburgh Fringe 2018):
★★★★ The Scotsman
★★★★ The Wee Review
★★★★ Edinburgh 49
★★★★ Fringe Monkey
“An effortlessly brilliant stand-up show” The Scotsman
“The tale of love at the heart of the show is a joy to hear, and very funny” British Comedy Guide
“Ian Smith manages to combine an incredibly well structured gig with almost Basil Fawlty levels of anger” ThreeWeeks
Last Updated 10/10/2019
Phil Robertshaw wins the 2019 UK National Scrabble Championship
Phil Robertshaw has claimed his 6th major UK title, winning the
National Scrabble Championship in a nail-biting finish at Warrington
With the top spots all to play for in the final round, the deciding
game was a 1-point victory for Phil over Paul Gallen, which left the top
3 players all with a 12-4 record, but with a 31 point spread advantage
Wayne Kelly (TO, CO and TD for the weekend) presented Phil
with the winner's cheque and the champion's shield - the second time
that Phil's name name will have been engraved on the shield, as he
also won the 2016 championship.
In his acceptance speech, Phil paid tribute to his opponents' skill
and tough competitive play, and then dedicated his win to his late mother.
The top 5 finishers won place prizes - none of them new to major
championships. They own 31 major titles between them!
Paul Gallen, already winner of two majors in 2019, finished as
runner-up. The overnight leader, Harshan Lamabadusuriya also finished
on 12 wins but 152 spread points behind the winner. Dave Koenig made
fourth place with 11 wins, having only qualified for the tournament in
the Last Chance Qualifier on Friday, with Lewis Mackay in fifth position
heading the group of 10 game winners.
There were two ratings prize for best performance above rating which
were won by Stu Harkness and Tim Hebbes.
The board from the final round game between Phil Robertshaw and
Paul Gallen is pictured here. Many great words, but the talking point
as everybody gathered around to see the winning board was the play of
SURANCE and EYEHOLES in the bottom
two rows, which combined to make a phoney hook of EO!
Gary Oliver went unbeaten on Sunday in the Plate tournament to win by
4 clear games with a dominant 15-1 record, and was Gibsonized for most
of the final afternoon. Ray Tate, who narrowly missed out on qualifying
for the main event in Friday's Last Chance Qualifier, finished runner-up
(11-5) one game clear of Steve Graston in 3rd place.
Only Graham Harding managed to beat Gary over the weekend, and he
finished in 4th place, heading a group of 5 players who finished with
NSC Main |
Last Updated 8/10/2019
National Scrabble Championship reaches half way stage
The National Scrabble Championship is in full swing at the Park
Royal hotel in Warrington. There are 36 players in the main event,
with 16 playing in the plate event.
After a long day, the tournament has reached the half way stage,
with the unbeaten Harshan Lamabadusuriya leading the main event field
with 8 wins. Here's Harshan in action, against Ahmed Khan in the final
game of the day. Paul Gallen is in second place with 7 wins, whilst Chris
Cummins, Phil Robertshaw and Dave Koenig are on 6 wins, with Dave having
qualified yesterday through the Last Chance Qualifier. Graham Haigh,
the other person to qualify through the LCQ, sits right behind Dave,
in 6th place.
Meanwhile, Gary Oliver is leading the plate with 7 wins, with Sumbul
Siddiqui hot on his heels, also with 7 wins. Here's Gary, wearing his
trademark union flag cap, in action against Ray Tate, who's also in the
running with 5 wins alongside with Stewart Brodie and Steve Graston.
As usual, there are frequent congregations around the coffee machine
between games, with stories of amazing last-gasp victories being
recounted, along with the tales of woe from the victims, plus high score
comparisons (Graham Haigh leading the way with a 693 in the 2nd game)
Stretton is only a tiny village on the outskirts of Warrington,
but it does support three pubs - to which the majority of the players
have now decamped to spend the evening recounting further war stories -
and in some cases, to play more Scrabble (or If Only or Lonify!)
NSC Main |
(Updated 6/10/2019 to link to live standings)
Last Updated 6/10/2019
National Scrabble Championship Preview
The first weekend of October will see the two-day National Scrabble
Championship take place at the Park Royal Hotel in Warrington.
Ed Martin, pictured, will be there, defending
the title he won last year. It's not going to be easy, as the field is
packed with major winners, including four former national
champions. There are already 6 Grand Masters, 2 Experts and 2 other top
players rated above 170.
The field is headed by 10-time major winner, 2012 champion Paul
Gallen, already winner of the Festival of Scrabble and the ABSP Masters
this year. Lewis Mackay will be looking to add a national championship
to his 9 major titles, adding to the 2019 Easter Matchplay trophy.
Harshan Lamabadusuriya, 2003 champion, will likely be in contention.
Phil Robertshaw is another former winner, with David Webb, another
winner of multiple majors, being the other Grand Master in the field.
Natalie Zolty, Elie Dangoor, Colin Northmore and Robert Richland round
out the top 10 seeds, with no fewer than 7 further players rated 160+.
Just in case you thought that this tournament wasn't already looking
tough to crack, 2017 BMSC champion David Koenig will be looking to join
the party through Friday's Last Chance Qualifier.
Alongside the main event will be the plate event, open to anybody who
has not qualified for the main event. Both events feature 16 rounds,
with the champion due to be crowed Sunday evening.
Entrants: NSC LCQ |
NSC Main |
Last Updated 1/10/2019
Three Busy Weeks of Tournaments
There was a veritable feast of Scrabble on offer across the country over
three weeks, culminating in the National Scrabble Championship
on the first weekend of October.
The weekend of 21st & 22nd September saw 4 events take place.
Colin Nicol, Samantha Beckwith and Lucy Beckmann won the three divisions
at the Newcastle-upon-Tyne tournament; Ross MacKenzie took down Hexham;
Gareth Williams and Sue Lilley were the division winners at Nailsea;
and Ed Martin and Janet Adams triumphed at Ilford.
The weekend of 28th & 29th September saw 4 more events take place,
starting with a couple of one day events on the Saturday at Warrington
and Glasgow. 40 players played at Warrington, split into 5 divisions
won by James Burley, Diane Bromilow, Steve Balment (unbeaten), Bernard
Mayhew and Mike Handley (also unbeaten) Meanwhile, north of the border,
another 22 players contested 7 games with Simon Gillam and Rory Kemp
taking the division wins.
Sunday saw 28 players take part in Caroline McLaughlin's inaugural
Holmfirth tournament. Wayne Kelly (unbeaten), Marjorie Struggles and
Michael Thomas triumphed in the three divisions there.
Sunday also saw the final day of the Irish Open at Waterford in
the Republic of Ireland. Congratulations to Feargal Weatherhead, who
clinched victory on spread from Kay McColgan and John Kennedy, after all
three finished on 11 wins. Kay beat Feargal by six points in a close
final game, but short of the 164 point margin of victory required to
take the title.
The first weekend of October is National Scrabble Championship weekend,
starting with the Last Chance Qualifier on Friday, then the main event
and plate event over the Saturday and Sunday. See the later articles
for more coverage of the NSC.
Last Updated 6/10/2019
Membership Renewals for 2020
It's that time again!
The cost of ABSP Membership for 2020 has been set at £25 for
paper copies of OnBoard or £12.50 for electronic copies. The
50% discount for under 18's remains in each case. You can make
payment by BACS Bank Transfer, Paypal or cheque. We have updated the
"Join Us" page recently in response
to feedback received, and to make it more user friendly. Full joining
details available there. Please let Nuala know if any of
your personal details have changed, or your membership has been paid
for by an account not in your own name. She does not need to hear from
you otherwise. You can contact her by email, post or Facebook message.
Last Updated 19/9/2019
David Eldar wins 2019 British Matchplay Scrabble Championship
The August Bank Holiday saw the hottest temperatures on record for
that weekend and there was no shortage of sizzling encounters at Kents
Hill Park, Milton Keynes, which played host to the 2019 British Matchplay
Scrabble Championship. 80 Scrabblers including 7 Grandmasters took part
in at least one of the events, swapping the summer sunshine for indoor
pursuits although there was still the odd friendly game played al fresco
after hours for those for whom 36 games could never be enough.
Around half of players warmed up nicely with an 11 game competition
battling for our perpetual Ladies and Mens trophies in memory of fondly
remembered Kay Thorne and John Rusted. 3 ladies won 6 games, but spread
wasn't enough for Anne Ashmore to retain the silverware, with Moria
Conway pipping Paloma Raychbart by just a single point of spread. John
Ashmore suffered just 1 loss to finish 2 games clear of the field ensuring
their household still had something to take home this year, whilst Joseph
Bennett continued his recent good form, one win less but the same margin
of victory separating him from Division B rivals.
Early standings in the main event saw the expected competition begin
to play out at the top although Robert Richland, Andrew Eames and Karen
Willis had strong day 1s. By the end of day 2, both Lewis Mackay and
David Eldar had 13-5 records, with Phil Robertshaw and Pauls Allan and
Gallen just 1 win behind. It was 12 wins too for Natalie Zolty helped
by a Nigel-esque play of NITRIFIED through disconnected tiles. There
might be a few people who still haven't heard about it.
David made the strongest start of all to the final day, wrapping
up victory with a round to spare and finishing 3 wins clear, on 20-5,
+1486. Paul Gallen finished 2nd, with Phil, Lewis and Natalie rounding
out the top 5. Visiting player James Curley recovered from a poor Warm
Up to take one of the ratings prizes with Nuala O'Rourke putting in
a strong late run to clinch the other.
David's win is the 2nd UK Major win for a player who has a string
of global achievements to his name including the World Championship in
2017. Since that time he has become one of the pioneers of the Tablet
Scrabble variant, and will be hosting the
2nd National Championship in London next weekend. I am sure any
late entries will be warmly welcomed.
Caroline McLaughlin took the ratings prize in Division B in 2018,
but only entered late this time after some other plans altered. It looks
like a good decision, as she dominated Division B from the off finishing
2 wins clear with a record of 19-6, +1323. Paul Thomson took 2nd place,
with Colin Nicol 3rd and Graham Buckingham taking the ratings prize in
4th. A 164 tournament rating has propelled Caroline's overall rating
up 6 points.
Ellie Mackin is a relatively new name on the scene, but if her Braille
tiles do not stand out enough, her performances certainly do. She
was also 2 wins clear in Division C (18-7, +1334) with Robert Springer 2nd
and Syd Berger 3rd. Christine Cartman took the ratings prize.
Due to a few pre-tournament issues and a late family emergency, the
ABSP committee were low on Tournament Officials at our flagship event;
something we hope can be remedied next year. The last 2 years have been
mostly positive for the BMSC, but we recognise there are still areas
that need looking at so the event can become bigger and better in the
future. Special thanks this year go to Wayne Kelly for all his hard work
organising and directing amidst a few unexpected challenges.
BMSC Warmup |
BMSC Main Event
Author: Chris Harrison, Stewart Brodie
Last Updated 28/8/2019
24 Hour Scrabble Challenge - £1000 Raised For Charity
10 plucky individuals did battle this weekend playing 36 games of
Scrabble over 24 hours in the village of Stillington, near York. That's
Stillington, York not Stillington, Stockton-On-Tees where two more
Southerly players found themselves first...
The Scrabbling marathon was organised by Craig Beevers and also
featured a couple of side events for any less hardy souls, with all
profits going to charity. Many entrants also took the opportunity to
raise money for good causes close to their heart including Daisy Chain,
The British Heart Foundation and Cancer Research UK with around £1000
raised in total.
You would have struggled to script a more exciting finish as highest
rated player Chris Hawkins stormed into an early lead, not losing until
Round 9, but a strong fightback by Stu Harkness saw him just half a
win behind heading into the crucial final round. A valiant attempt at
HALIOTS* ultimately proved costly as Chris lost his final game by just
19 points to finish runner-up for the 2nd year running, and Stu ascended
back to the top of the pile for the first time since the opening round,
just in time to snatch victory.
The battle for 3rd place was similarly tight – ultimately Donna
Stanton came out on top but at the expense of a ratings point pipping
Alan Abela who may console himself somewhat with his 4pt ratings
Taking part in memory of his late mother Sandra, Stu described his win
as an "extra Brucey Bonus" and headed straight for a much needed lie
down. I am sure most others joined him, even if not literally.
All participants received a commemorative T-shirt, as modelled here
by Craig. Craig is hoping to run the event against next year, so keep
your eyes peeled if you feel like giving it a go!
24 Hour Main Event |
Night Owl |
Last Updated 5/8/2019
OnBoard 183 and ABSP AGM Pack
The latest edition of OnBoard complete with AGM pack is now
available from the
ABSP database website (login required), and postal copies should also be arriving
There are two motions on the AGM agenda, and members
have until 21st August to vote by
post or by email
to the secretary, Laura Finley. Ahead of the AGM,
votes can also be passed to Laura in person at the BMSC until
12 noon on 25th August. Full details are on the voting page of the AGM
We have hundreds of members, but last year, motions were decided by
around 60 voters, with fewer than 20 proxy or postal votes received.
This year, in particular, the motions really do deal with topics that
will affect all members and so we encourage everyone to make their vote
count, whether they can attend the AGM or not.
We have an ever growing
discussion group on Facebook which is getting busier over time. If
you would like to join in with the chat, we would love to see you there.
The group is appropriately titled ABSP Discussion. For anyone interested
in taking part in regular online leagues with members, we also have a
ABSP Online with around 150 members signed up. New leagues
run every 2 weeks, in a multi-divisional format with promotion and
relegation. I would reiterate that both these groups are for current
ABSP members only, and any applications to join from non-members
will be rejected. To join or renew, visit the
membership renewal and sign-up page for further
Last Updated 29/7/2019
ABSP Masters 2019
Congratulations to Paul Gallen who has become 2019 Masters champion
with another dominant display that mirrored his efforts at the Festival
of Scrabble against arguably much tougher opposition.
In a field packed with experts and grandmasters, including a
string of former champions, Paul secured victory with a round to spare
finishing 13-3, +1005. It’s his 3rd Masters title following back to
back victories in 2013 and 2014, and the 10th Major of his career -
his 2nd in successive weekends. Now rated 199, only Nigel Richards (204)
ranks ahead of him in current UK ratings lists. Paul dedicated his latest
win to his recently deceased grandfather who had always been proud of
his Scrabble achievements.
David Webb was Masters Champion way back in 2006, and last won a Major
(BEST) in 2009, but he rolled back the years this weekend pushing Paul
much of the way to finish a very creditable 2nd on 11-5, +918. A strong
Sunday in which he won six of his last seven games was enough to elevate
Lewis Mackay into 3rd place on 10-6, +477.
Finishing 5th it was also a good weekend for Natalie Zolty, who is
now the highest female on the ratings list. In a little over a month,
performances of 201, 211, 197 and 191 have seen her advance 10 points
to a new ratings peak of 180.
For many players, qualifying for the Masters is a major achievement in
itself, so kudos to all who took part. Here's a picture of the contenders
for the 2019 Masters. Could you be there in 2020?
Back row: Rafal, Lewis, Elie, Paul A
Middle row: Vince, Neil, David, Colin, Chris
Front row: Wayne, Harshan, Natalie, Bob, Rik, Paul G, Diane
Last Updated 22/7/2019
2nd UK Tablet NSC
News update from Austin Shin:
Entries are now open for the UK Tablet NSC 2019 on Sunday 1 September
2019 at the Sir Naim Dangoor Centre, London! Games start at 10am. We will
play a minimum of 14 games in one day. After 12 games, the top 2 players
will enter a best of 5 final to determine the winner, taking home the
trophy. The finalists will win extra prize money also. During this time,
all other players will play their remaining 2 games. There will be 2-3
money rounds where winners of specific round numbers will instantly win
£5 each time. Players can "opt-out" from winning any money and play the
entire day for fun for a super low entry of £10. Opting in for the full
works is just £20. Entry via bank transfer, PayPal or cash on the day are
Check out all the information on the tournament flyer and on
the UK Tablet NSC 2019 event page
in the Scrabble International Facebook group.
RSVP if you can make it! We'd like as many players as possible to take
part and for it to be bigger than last year. Thanks!
Last Updated 17/7/2019
Festival of Scrabble 2019
Congratulations to dominant champion Paul Gallen and all other prize winners at the Festival of Scrabble which took place at Bournville this weekend. Not to be outdone by Lewis Mackay and Brett Smitheram, Paul now joins the pair on 9 Major victories, suffering only 2 losses across 19 games and accruing a mammoth +2340 spread in the process. Wayne Kelly finished 2nd, Chris Harrison 3rd with Alan Abela taking the ratings prize with a +8 performance.
In Division B, Marion Keatings ran out the winner 2 games clear of her rivals, with just 29 spread points separating Colin Nicol and Marjorie Struggles in 2nd and 3rd. Lowest rated of all, Aileen Morrison took the ratings prize with another +8 increase.
Next weekend will see the fifth Major of the year with a strong field assembled for the Masters. Paul and Lewis will be joined by 3 other previous champions - Harshan Lamabadusuriya, Paul Allan and David Webb as well as last year’s surprise runner up Chris Vicary. The standard was so high this year that 2018 champion Gary Oliver could not even qualify to defend his title!
Last Updated 15/7/2019
Publicity, Promotions & Media
Following the recent webmaster changes, you may have already noticed a few things look a bit different on some sections of the ABSP website. Stewart and Pete have a lot of ideas and it’s great to see some renewed focus into what is in many ways our shop window to the outside world. It’s by no means a small task, but hopefully the positive improvements will continue over the coming months, and please share any feedback that you have with us – thanks to all those who have already assisted with our recent Clubs refresh.
We are also implementing a number of changes in other areas, including Publicity, Promotions and Media. Having a single point of contact to deal with the media can often prove useful, especially when that person has experience, contacts and a proven track record in that field. The committee have therefore accepted an offer from Brett Smitheram to act as our Media Liaison. As many of you will know, Brett has had plenty of exposure, especially since becoming World Champion in 2016. Most recently, he worked with Collins on their media campaign surrounding the dictionary update making a number of TV and Radio appearances, coupled with features in printed and online press. Opportunities like this are golden in terms of publicity and we believe the ABSP will have a lot to benefit from Brett in such a role. Brett is also available to offer advice to any members should they require guidance on dealing with local media or similar.
Whilst Brett won’t be joining us on full committee, he will maintain close links in what we plan to be a slightly different structure. Natalie Zolty has done a great job as Publicity Officer, but by her own admission it hasn’t necessarily been the perfect fit and was dictated by circumstance as much as anything. She also now struggles to find the time she feels the role requires and was recently considering her future on the committee. I am pleased to say she will be staying with us, but in a new role of Social Media Officer. Natalie will continue to admin on the Facebook group, and also look to build our presence on other platforms such as Twitter, as well as giving some input into content and structure on the ABSP website.
Clearly, we could still use a committee member more directly involved in promotions and publicity, and are therefore keen to hear from anyone else who might be interested in helping out. Any role moving forward will probably be less demanding in the new set up, so if you have some ideas and any enthusiasm at all, please get in touch. Even if this area isn’t right for you, we’re always keen to hear from people who think they have something to offer, so do what Brett did, and let us know.
Last Updated 11/7/2019
We have now published an updated Clubs List. Thanks to Laura Finley for her hard work, and to all those who responded quickly to our contact.
We hope the new list is both comprehensive and free of error - it includes a number of additions, corrections and deletions from the previous one.
With such a big task, there's always the possibility of the odd mistake, so if you spot anything amiss, or have details for any new clubs, please let Laura know
We're still looking for a new Clubs Co-ordinator, so even if you'd just like to find out more about what may be involved, we'd love to hear from you.
Last Updated 29/6/2019
FREE One Day Tournament Offer
A keen Scrabble player but never played in an ABSP tournament before? Now any first-time player can enter their first one day event FREE. Look at our tournament calendar to find an event near you.
CSW19 - Official Adoption 01 July 2019
The ABSP Committee are happy that all relevant software is now in place, and therefore confirm that as previously suggested, 1st July 2019 will be our official adoption date for CSW19. All ABSP rated games that take place on or after this date should be adjudicated using the new word list.
The first full tournament to be held will be Manuden on July 7th and I am sure James Burley will welcome entries from anyone keen to be among the first to play some of the new words. It’s also likely some league games or BEST matches may take place earlier that month.
Four software programs, each with fully licensed word list will be considered acceptable for adjudication purposes as follows:
Collins Zyzzyva - for Windows & Apple Desktops and Laptops
ULU - for portable Apple devices
Scrabble Checker - for portable Android devices
WALI Timer - for portable Android devices
All should be set to use CSW19.
A number of study tools , including the latest version of Collins Zyzzyva, and updates to LeXpert can be found on the Collins Site here.
Dictionary Update 2019
Over 2500 new additions (617 2-8 letter words) have been included in the latest edition of Collins Official SCRABBLE® Words, published today. For those who want to purchase a copy, Collins have kindly offered 50% discount using the code 50Scrabble here between now and 1st August 2019.
Thanks go to the Dictionary Committee made up of ABSP Members David Sutton & Darryl Francis for producing the updated word list. David has also created another invaluable initiation kit.
WESPA have announced an official intended adoption date of 1st July 2019. The ABSP hope to implement the dictionary changes in line with this assuming that all necessary software is updated in time. If so, it is likely Manuden on 7th July 2019 may be the first full tournament played to the new dictionary, although there could be rated games such as league or BEST matches taking place before then.
As expected, there has already been plenty of interest in the update, with many members taking part in interviews with local and national media. Former World Champion Brett Smitheram is also working with Collins to promote the changes and is happy to pass on any advice or information to anyone that may need it.
Some of you may have noticed some recent changes on the ABSP website.
Calum Edwards has over the last couple of years been a great webmaster, committed, diligent and always keen to maintain the site. However due to increased personal commitments in recent months, a short time ago he made the committee aware of his intention to quit in the near future. The committee extend our sincere thanks to Calum for everything he has done during his tenure and wish him all the best with future endeavours, both in and out of Scrabble.
I'm very pleased to say we have found a new Webmaster who, along with Peter Thorpe (who has seized the reins in the interim), will be taking over in June.
Stewart Brodie will be taking over the role of Webmaster, supported by Pete, much in the same way as Mike Whiteoak and Wayne Kelly work together as Ratings Officers. Stewart has plenty of relevant technical skills and experience, and also the interest and enthusiasm to get involved with other matters, and as such will be joining us on full ABSP committee.
Over time, both Pete and Stewart are keen to take a more active role in sourcing and improving the site and its content so hopefully with both of them involved, we may be able to improve the look and feel of the website. For now, their most immediate priorities will be maintaining the calendar, and fixing some out of date information on existing pages. Please keep in mind both Pete and Stewart are still getting to grips with a few things, so bear with us, but by all means let us know, if you do notice any problems. We'll probably be aware already, but if never hurts to make sure.
If you have any ideas as to how you want your webpage updating please share them with us either via email or in person.
Committee Update & Vacancy
We are delighted to announce a new addition to the ABSP Committee. For some time we felt in danger of lacking real expertise in tournament organisation, with only a couple of committee members currently running regular events. I'm happy to say that situation has now changed, and we now welcome Peter Thorpe to the position of Tournament Officials Liaison. Pete will be able to offer assistance and advice to both active and prospective tournament organisers, directors and computer operators. Pete has also agreed to be Deputy Webmaster for the ABSP Website, will be regularly updating the calendar and Home Page, and in addition, will be helping to get some out of date documentation such as the Tournament Organiser's Guide updated. He is also keen, with the new WebMaster (in due course) to completely review the webpages, to bring them up to date and improve their functionality. Pete will also be taking up a position as UK representative on WESPA's Executive Committee.
On the flipside, we are sad to say goodbye to Colin Nicol from the role of Clubs Co-Ordinator he took on last Summer, due to personal and family commitments. Colin already has many Scrabble-related responsibilities involving the various leagues in Scotland and has found that he is constantly managing a backlog and struggling to find the time to see his plans through to fruition. As such, he has made the difficult decision to step down as he feels the position will be better filled by someone else with more attention to devote.
The purpose of the Clubs Co-Ordinator role is to provide a link between Scrabble Clubs, Leagues & the ABSP, but in many ways the role is a blank canvas and could be taken in a number of different directions depending on the candidate. In truth, liaison with Clubs is an area where we have just been treading water for a little while, and is crying out for someone to come along and put some renewed focus into it. It's an ideal opportunity for someone with some drive, who enjoys interacting with a wide and diverse base of people, and perhaps already has some strong club links themselves. If you think this may be you, or are interested in serving on the committee in any other capacity, please get in touch with any committee member.
Keeping it Simple
In recent years, Amy Byrne has usually put on the Spring Matchplay event over May Day Bank Holiday. For 2019, she teamed up with Nicky Huitson and Peter Thorpe to keep things SIMPLE, hosting Scottish International Matchplay Live in Edinburgh, at a once familiar location that had played host to many ABSP rated events in years gone by. The triumvirate hoped to attract a strong international field, and substantial sponsorship, delivering on both counts as well as attracting universal positive comments from those who took part.
In total 64 entrants contested the 2 divisions, with a third of all players taking home a cash prize. In addition, there were a number of special prizes available to be won, and all entrants received a Passport with discounts on local activities, food and drink and attractions. NSC 2018 champion Ed Martin led the early charge averaging 500+ to top the standings on day 1, but most of day 2 was dominated by close friends and rivals Brett Smitheram and Dave Koenig. Brett would hold a two game cushion overnight, with Craig Beevers moving up to third.
I don't know if Brett was "wild and wired" on day 3, and he was probably speaking more than the "language of love" but some other lyrics of his entrance song "The Best" by Tina Turner did prove prophetic as his lead was soon enough unassailable and his 9th Major was secured. Dave Koenig held on for 2nd place with a rallying Ed recovering from any day 2 blip to finish 3rd. Special mention must also go to Ahmed Khan who finished 4th despite being ranked only 17th and Steve Perry who denied his D classification (ranked 26th) to finish 10th.
In the Rated division, there was a similar story. Tom Wilson led the early pace, despite being ranked only 12th, but ultimately was overhauled by Hong Kong's Jason Tsang Wai Yin, now studying in Brighton. In the end, it was an equally dominant display by the youngster, only losing 3 of his 22 games on the route to victory, and recording a 171 tournament rating. Terry Kang Rau finished in 2nd place with Caroline McLaughlin 3rd. Tom was the top B class player in 5th place, with other impressive showings above rating from Margaret Harkness, Caroline Foy and Maria Marczak. Both division winners are pictured here.
There are many individual reports to be found on social media and Lewis Mackay will also be uploading some annotated games onto Cross-Tables. A fuller report from Nicky Huitson will also appear in the next edition of Onboard. It's not clear yet when SIMPLE will return to the tournament calendar, but it's sure to be a popular addition when it does.
Reflecting on the 2019 event, Brett said "SIMPLE was the kind of tournament that brought me to love Scrabble - fun, well-run, friendly and in surroundings that you could enjoy outside of the hard work of actual playing! My opponents were of top quality and the play was outstanding. I'll be back, as I'm sure everyone else will."
Easter Matchplay 2019
Over 50 players from all over the country took part in the Easter events at our brand new location, College Court in Leicester. The conference venue has won awards for its catering and the food choices certainly did not disappoint. Facilities, staff, and playing area also earned universal praise from attendees, and even the weather played ball, with many players opting to spend their free time relaxing with a cold drink in the sunshine. Feedback was so positive we have already provisionally booked the venue for next year.
The scrabble itself kicked off with a Warm Up event . In Division A, organiser Wayne Kelly was two games clear of allcomers with a game average of 477 to boot. Divisions B and C were more hotly contested, with just spread points seeing Ginny Dixon win Division B, and a draw proving crucial for Stany Arnold to take Division C.
The main event had 44 players across three divisions with #1 seed Lewis Mackay looking to retain his title. It was a bumpier start than he may have expected, just scraping the first game by seven points, but he was the only player unbeaten after five games and remained in pole position for the duration of the event. His final record of 18.5 wins from 23 games could not fail to impress, with +2153 spread and 483 average also some way clear of any rivals.
The battle behind him was less clear cut, with Wayne Kelly overcoming a poor first day to finish runner-up with John Ashmore 3rd and Elie Dangoor 4th. It was a good weekend for the Ashmores with Anne taking the ratings prize and both enjoying a five point ratings boost. You do have to feel for Nuala O'Rourke though - in the prizes for much of the final day, she eventually missed out by just five spread points.
For Lewis it was his ninth Major taking him into 5th place on the all-time list. He is also only the second player in history to retain the Easter Matchplay title. Among his plays this year were SHUDDERS and GUNBOATS as nine-timers and the nine-letter play PRECOITAL through IT.
Division B saw a number of different early leaders but came down to a battle between Nicky Huitson and Caroline McLaughlin for the title. Caroline had to survive a recount, but clinched the final game by just five points, with Gillian Street pipping Nicky for 2nd place. All 3 ladies were on 15 wins so it was just spread points that decided things. In Division C, a dominant Mary Allen matched Lewis with 18.5 wins and a big gap behind. Jack Mitchell and Stephen Robinson rounded out the top three. It wasn't all about Leicester this Easter either, with Pauline Johnson clinching the inaugural Teesside Easter Championships, describing it as her biggest win for a decade.
Congratulations to all prize winners and thanks to all who contributed in making the Easter events such a success. Division winners Mary, Lewis and Caroline are pictured here with their trophies.
Life Membership Award
From time to time, the ABSP Committee likes to recognise contributions that individuals have made to the scene in the UK, or further afield, by awarding them lifetime membership of the association. Recent recipients of life membership include Amy Byrne, Laura Finley, John Grayson, Stewart Holden and Philip Nelkon.
I am pleased to announce that we have a new name to add to this list - Austin Shin. The committee have decided to award Austin life membership in recognition of the fact, that he has, in effect become an international ambassador for British Scrabble. We acknowledge his many achievements in the game, both here and across the globe which began in childhood some two decades ago. Aged just 12 years and 4 months in 2002, Austin remains the youngest ever winner of an A division at a UK rated event, and this was only the beginnings of his successes.
Austin's unfailing sportsmanship, and the fact he is always a gracious opponent whether in victory or defeat are other factors the committee have considered when unanimously deciding to bestow this award. We would also like to take this opportunity to wish Austin, and his wife Lindsay every happiness in their new life together and hope to see both over here for visits as often as possible.
P.S. A list of all Life Members has been added for information here.
UK Open 2019 - Goodbye Austin
Another year and another excellent UK Open to kick the Scrabble year off. Chris Harrison opened his campaign in the Warm Up with five bonuses in a row against a globe-trotting Richards, but it was Karen, not Nigel and wasn't even enough to top round 1 standings. That honour went to Theresa Brousson on the comeback trail, with Nigel only 5th. Normal service was resumed from round 2, with Nigel hitting the top spot, a position he would hold right through until the end. His closest rival in the Warm Up was Natalie Zolty, but she would need to beat him in the final round by a meagre 557 points... In any event, she was secure in 2nd place and Theresa won her final game to finish 3rd. Other Division winners were Paul (Tranmere) Thomson, Ian Nichol and Geoff Cooper.
Natalie hotfooted it home for an interview on BBC Radio Coventry and Warwickshire's Culture Club. Having heard some of the words played, presenter Dave Marshall Barrett is not about to enter next year's event, but Natalie assured him that clubs around the country welcome players of all levels!
It would largely be business as usual for Nigel in the main event too, but he didn't have it all his own way with Harshan Lamabadusuriya, Ed Martin and Wayne Kelly pushing hard, and giant-killing Mick Healy taking his own personal record against Nigel to 2-0. Ultimately, it was Austin Shin who would come out of the pack to launch the strongest assault, but he would need to beat Nigel five times in a row, and fell at the 4th hurdle. He had done enough to claim Runner Up's spot though, with Harshan rallying for 3rd place. Other strong performances came from Rik Kennedy in 4th and Ahmed Khan 5th earning him a new ratings peak of 172.
For Nigel it was his 10th UK Open title, and including side events, he now has 20 wins from 22 attempts at this tournament. For Austin, pictured here with the UK's 2nd biggest improver of 2018, Sumbul Siddiqui, it was his last event in the UK before his move overseas, and whilst we all wish him well, it will be sad not to see him as regularly on the UK circuit. He has been a permanent fixture across more than two decades, evolving into a true ambassador at the very top of the global game. #Scoringneverstops and I am sure he will continue to be a force to be reckoned with in his new surroundings.
Ebi Sosseh was the top seed in Division B and for the most part looked the one to beat. However, it was Andrew Eames who was amassing the best spread and by the final round, it was almost double that of any others. Although still behind on wins, a victory in the last round could still be enough if Ebi lost. Ebi did indeed lose, but so did Andrew, by just 11pts and so the top 2 remained unchanged. Division C was very tightly fought with 4 players all on 19 wins going into the final round - Ann Golding, Breda O'Brien, Stany Arnold and Jack Mitchell. Ann had the best spread, but needed to win which she duly did, and with the four all matched against each other, Stany was the other victor, vaulting her above Breda into 2nd place. Full results for all divisions can be viewed here.
Craig Beevers streamed many of the top games so you can get at least a flavour of what a great event the UK Open is, by checking out his twitch channel. Videos only stay on twitch for 2 weeks but will also be available on youtube soon. Congratulations to all prize winners, and thanks to everyone who contributed in making the event such a success.
ABSP Discussion Group
We have a new Facebook discussion group solely for ABSP members to enable more interactive and responsive communication within the community around ABSP matters.
There are already over 100 members. Please come and join in at https://www.facebook.com/groups/absp.forum/
ABSP Online Scrabble League
Do you enjoy playing friendly Facebook Scrabble games against other members?
Would you prefer to pit your wits in a more structured competition?
Well now you can.... ABSP Online is a new league exclusively for ABSP members.
The league will run fortnightly on a Tuesday, starting on Tuesday July 11th. Games will be played on the Facebook Scrabble app and you'll have two weeks to complete all your games.
Initial divisions will be based on ABSP rating and thereafter by promotions and demotions at the end of each round. This is initially a trial and as things progress, we may add other types of competition.
(Note - online games are, of course, not ABSP rated!)
To find out more and register to play, join the facebook group (you will need a Facebook account and the EA facebook scrabble game).https://www.facebook.com/groups/absponline/
You will also need to be registered on myscrabbleapp.com
Registration is free for ABSP members - we will add you when you join the facebook group.
If not currently a member, you can join the ABSP at here
Give it a try, let's see how many ABSP Scrabblers we can fit into a virtual room.
Spread the word!
The ABSP aims to keep members informed of changes to the committee. At the 2018 AGM new committee members were elected alongside those remaining in office for the coming year. These changes are all listed on the committee page which is accessible here
Vacancy (May 2019) - Clubs Co-Ordinator