The MINES Mensa Scrabble Challenge 2008 was held recently on the 16th of August, 2008, at the MINES Shopping Fair. This is the 8th Mensa scrabble tournament since its inception in 2001 and the second tournament held in collaboration with MINES Shopping Fair who have been very generous with their sponsorship.

Yes, for two years running, entrance fees have been waived enabling scrabble aficionados of all ages, race and backgrounds to take part. Spaces this year were limited to 40 due to space constraints. I honestly believe that if there was no such limitation, numbers would have touched at least 80!

By 10am, the scrabblers appeared, ranging from novices, teenagers, young working adults and retirees. They came from all over Klang Valley , Sungai Pelek, Teluk Intan and Melaka, ready to put their grey matter to the challenge!  The sound of tiles echoed in the mall and it was heart-warming to see young and old faces deep in concentration, totally immersed in their game.

Various spot prizes were given during the day to make the event a little more exciting for the young ones. For example, prizes went to those who could string together words containing the letters “M” and “M” (symbolizing “MINES & Mensa”). Surprisingly, only one student managed to snap this up. His winning word was short and sweet: “MUM”, and for his efforts, he walked away with a Mattel TRIBOND game.

Life is full of unexpected events. As our country’s Merdeka celebrations are just round the corner, MINES had organized a surprise Merdeka concert for two slots, 2pm and 6pm. A team of talented pretty girls donned costumes from the 50s right up to the 70s representing the three main races of our country. They delighted MINES customers by their rendition of popular songs which included “Madu dan Racun”, “Tian Mi Mi” and several dance numbers comprising energetic Indian and funky seventies agogo routines. Unfortunately, this performance clashed with round 4 of the tournament but our brave scrabblers gritted their teeth and focused on the task at hand. One Masters’ player ( Khoo Beng Way ) can be seen to trying to tune out the festive music by placing both hands over his ears. Other scrabblers seemed oblivious to the pretty performers’ antics on stage.

For the non-competitors like Alex Tan, Ganesh Asirvatham and myself, we wholeheartedly enjoyed the show. It was a change from the usual for us. J

But seriously, as a competitive scrabbler, suffice to say, one has to face many challenges. Ganesh Asirvatham tells me that from his personal experience, the noise level at the Kings’ Cup in Thailand is much louder as the venue is right smack in the middle of one of the busiest shopping complexes in Bangkok . In fact, there is music blaring for the entire duration of the competition, “Boom, boom, boom” he says. That is why many competitors bring along ear plugs - just in case. His personal take is that once you focus on the game, everything else becomes secondary, the noise just fades out. That is exactly what full concentration is about and I believe such mental strength can be acquired and cultivated.

For me, the most rewarding aspect of organizing this tournament is seeing how each young player develops and improves his/her game over the years. It is also an opportunity to meet up with familiar faces and maintain links with old friends in the scrabble community. The tourney also provides an avenue for novices to observe the Masters' players in action and to pick up some tips.

Here are the results:

MASTERS:

1ST

PUI CHENG WUI

2ND

RAMARAJ A/L SUNDRARAJ

3RD

VANNITHA BALASINGAM

4TH

KHOO BENG WAY

5TH

WILLIAM KANG WEI LIANG

6TH

ALVIN LAU YUEN ANN

7TH

SREEPATHY IYER

8TH

TENGKU ASRI TENGKU ABDULLAH

HIGHEST GAME

587   KHOO BENG WAY

HIGHEST BINGO

110 “QUINTES” KHOO BENG WAY

HIGHEST AVERAGE SCORE

449 KHOO BENG WAY

 

NON-MASTERS:

1ST

REYNOLD LIM DAO-WEN

2ND

TEO WEE SEONG

3RD

VIJAYARAJ A/L MAHENDRARAJ

4TH

BRYAN LAI TONG YIN

5TH

LOOI YIH FENG

6TH

BRIAN CHANG WAI ONN

7TH

TAN KAR HEE

8TH

YEW WENG KEAN

HIGHEST GAME

525 REYNOLD LIM

HIGHEST BINGO

120 “JILTERS” BRYAN LAI TONG YIN

 

Finally, I would like to thank the following people who are instrumental in making this tournament a success:

a)      MINES Shopping Fair for sponsoring the venue and prizes. Thank you Ms Koay Poay Shin and Mr. Gary Hor;

b)      Mr. Kenny Lim of Mattel South East Asia Ltd for their annual sponsorship of the prizes;

      c)      Mrs. Yap-Song Kim Lian for the loan of the scrabble sets and clocks;

      d)      Dr. Adele Tan, President of the Malaysian Scrabble Association for her responsiveness to my queries;

      e)      my ever supportive Mensa President, Mr. Low Keng Lok;

      f)        my two charming Tournament Directors, Mr Alex Tan and Mr. Ganesh Asirvatham; and

    g)      last but not least, to my husband, Kelvin Loh, my sister-in-law, Jadryn Loh and my parents, Mr. & Mrs Goh Hooi Beng who have all pitched in to help look after my little daughter, Shyen Yii (in three separate shifts) whilst I was away the whole day at the tournament.

 

Hope to see you all again next year!

 

(For those who would like to know more about the Malaysian Mensa Society, please visit: http://www.malaysianmensa.org)