David Eldar wins the 2023 WESPA Championship
David Eldar has defeated Harshan Lamabadusuriya 4-3 in the finals of
the WESPA Championship to become world champion for the second time in
a thrilling match that was in the balance until the end of the deciding
The two finalists shared the first two games, with Harshan winning
a close first game after challenging off David's play of FARRINER. After opening game 2 with an exchange, David
continued with an impressive sequence of high-scoring bonus
plays as well as LUZ for over 60. Game 3
was a tight affair with a tense end-game as, with Harshan leading by
around 25 with just 3 tiles left in the bag, David found a low-scoring
play of TAN needing to draw A,E from the bag
for a guaranteed win, but drew A,O allowing Harshan to out run the
come back and take a narrow victory.
After the lunch break, in game 4, David had another barnstorming game
LOITERING to win by over 100 despite Harshan's double-double of
EQUATING for 122.
Game 5 was a closer game again, with David's early SOSATIE opening up a lead early on before
Harshan hit back with VERMINED
TEUCHEST and the out-play of RESEMBLE to win by 90 and put him one win away from
Game 6 started with many high-scoring plays with David's
opening PROTEGE giving Harshan EPITAXES and David responding with SNIFTER. As the game neared the end game, Harshan
played ENTASIA opening up a second triple-triple
lane and although David played in both places, it wasn't with a bonus
and Harshan continued with TENIOID but David made
a key play of CUT setting himself up to level the
match at 3-3 and send it to a decider.
Harshan had the advantage of going first in the deciding game, courtesy
of finishing the preliminaries with the best record and he opened with
ECHOIER using the first blank, following with
PEPONIDA. David immediately came back with
ZEP for 67 and after struggling with vowel-light
racks, used the second blank for VERSING.
Unfortunately, faced with clunky vowel-heavy racks, Harshan played the
phoney LUE which gave David the momentum and
a late 30 point lead.
As the end-game arrived with 8 tiles in the bag and a 10-point lead,
David bonused with DAUNTERS and despite
an excellent rack of AEILMRS and plenty of
floaters, no bonuses would play and David outlasted Harshan, who played
out with RAMILIES, but it wasn't enough and
so David won the final game narrowly
to win the tournament and to be crowned a 2-time world champion.
David and Harshan
contested the best-of-7 final after finishing
in the top two places
after playing 32 preliminary games over the previous 4 days. The field
was one of the strongest in a world championship event in recent times,
with over a dozen players rated above 2000 in an overall field of 134
Four players were in with a shot of qualifying for the final contention
going into the last round of the preliminaries, although none of them
were guaranteed a spot. David and Harshan defeated two former world champions,
Wellington Jighere and Adam Logan, respectively in win-and-you're-in matches.
Lewis Mackay finished top of the other home nations players, and
indeed all the other players in the field, as he finished in 3rd place
overall after winning his final 9 games to finish 22-10, +1763 in front
of Wellington and Andrew Fisher, with Adam Logan's loss in the final
round dropping him to 6th.
Neil Scott (19-13) was the highest-placed Scot in 24th place, one game
ahead of Paul Allan (18-14) in 40th and Stu Harkness (14-18) in 114th.
Northern Ireland's sole representative, Rik Kennedy, finished in 84th
place at 15-17. Team England had Jason Carney, Natalie Zolty, Jack Moran
and Elie Dangoor finish with 17-15 records, Bob Violett with 16½,
Fidelis Olutu with 15½ then 4 more on 15-17 (Femi Awowade, Wayne
Kelly, Donna Stanton and Jared Robinson) with John Ashmore, winner of
the warm up event, and Stewart Houten one game further back.
Apart from John's victory in the Hearts event, James Wilkie and Ruth
MacInerney finished 6th and 7th in the 24-game Diamonds event, with
Sumbul Siddiqui just behind in 10th before going on to finish 6-2 in
3rd place in the Clubs challenge event.
Last updated: 27 July 2023