CNY Scrabble Tournament 2009

Reported by Aaron Chong

34 Scrabble players of all ages had keenly participated in the recently concluded CNY Scrabble Tournament. The tournament had been a resoundingly successful kick start to a brand new year in the local Scrabble calendar. Despite the absence of some of the top guns, the presence of up and coming youth players such as WYSC2008 runner-up Khoo Beng Way, Ramaraj Sundraraj, William Kang, Ker Jen Ho and Chang Ching Wei had sent a strong message that they were ready to overthrow the veterans who had been enthroned at top positions for a very long time.

The tournament was initially dominated by the youth players, who had easily trounced veterans such as Vannitha Balasingam, Jocelyn Lor, Pui Cheng Wui and Tan Jin Chor. Khoo Beng Way had successfully retained pole position round after round, but faced stiff competition among his fellow compatriots.

Khoo Beng Way and Ramaraj Sundraraj faced off in the first two rounds of the King of the Hill matches. Ramaraj defeated Khoo comfortably in their first KOTH match and eventually both of them had equal wins but with different spread. In their second KOTH match, Khoo paralyzed Ramaraj with awkward, low scoring tiles that seemed to be an assured win for Khoo at first. Ramaraj’s final outplay of VOLTAGE surprised Khoo, but it was not enough for Ramaraj to pull a rabbit out of the hat as he only managed to lessen the damage.

A couple of tables from Khoo and Ramaraj’s playing field, William Kang garnered a huge spread boost after walloping Jocelyn Lor with WHEEZIER for 146 points. Subsequently, Kang overtook Ramaraj by spread and a win to challenge Khoo for the lion’s share.

Kang was comfortably ahead of Khoo all the way in the 3rd KOTH round. In the crucial endgame however, witnessed Kang desperately closed the last bingo opening with a six letter word, drew the remaining three tiles from the bag, thinking that the win was his but went aghast as Khoo sneakily laid a bingo overlapping three tiles of Kang’s foolishness.

Despite Kang’s reckless loss, he redeemed himself by defeating Khoo handily in the 4th KOTH round. Khoo and Kang had to settle it once and for all in the final 5th KOTH round.

Kang’s hastiness had shown once again. Kang fished with ED on his first move, without considering that he had a natural STEENED on his rack and Khoo had opened an I for NEEDIEST. Kang subsequently played an easy DENOTES and drew BLEOTUV that could be form a very stylish OBVOLUTE through the O, but instead Kang played a phony LUB* that ironically was left unchallenged.

Khoo retaliated with a humble MODESTLY. A couple of turns later, Kang had EEGHIIS, a difficult looking rack but contained a deceptively simple EIGHTIES through the T from Khoo’s bingo. Kang missed the bingo and Khoo grabbed the chance to silence Kang with RELAXINS.

Khoo was ultimately crowned the winner of the tournament. Vannitha, although suffered a setback in the first day of the tournament, bounced back to claim second position, overtaking Kang by wins.

Alex Tan, vice president of MSA, is planning to organize another tournament in February for the diehard Scrabble players. His personal highlight in the CNY tournament was a successful gamble of playing SARTORIAN through AN against Tan Jin Chor in order to win the game. It was also notable that on the same board, Tan played PRETENDED through ED. Having two nine-letter bingos laid on the same board was a very rare but delightful sight indeed!