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Subject: The Scrabble champion who doesn't speak the language! rss

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John Bradshaw
United Kingdom
Newcastle Upon Tyne
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Extraordinary story - how is this even possible?!

Quote:
New Zealand's Scrabble genius Nigel Richards has stunned lovers of the game by winning the francophone Scrabble world championship without being able to speak any French. The 48-year-old has been labelled a "freak", "enigmatic" and "amazing" by those in the Scrabble world. He claimed the title in Brussels after memorising virtually the entire francophone Scrabble dictionary, and then needed a translator to thank the audience.

Federation spokesman Antoine Rousseau said Richards had just nine weeks to prepare for the competition.Richards beat Gabonese player Schelick Ilagou Rekawe in a three-hour final match to take the title.The New Zealander already dominates English-language Scrabble with three world championships, five North American titles and 11 wins at the prestigious King's Cup in Thailand, sponsored by the Thai royal family.

Nigel Richards fast facts:
Ranked No.1 in the world at Scrabble according to World English-Language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA)
1,927 victories from 2,549 games — a winning percentage of 75.59.
Average score of 461.37

"Nigel's a word freak," said John Baird, secretary of New Zealand's Christchurch Scrabble Club. "He is already recognised as the best Scrabble player in the world and this [win] certainly cements that position."

A trained engineer, Richards reportedly began playing Scrabble at 28 years old at the request of his mother, who was frustrated that his photographic memory was making their card games too one-sided. He proved dazzling at the word game, even though he favoured mathematics at school and was never much of an English student.

"My understanding is that Nigel can look at a page and retain the whole thing, it sticks like a photograph," Mr Baird said. "On top of that, he's obviously got a very good ability to mix up the letters and see the word possibilities."

Mr Baird feels the great chess masters are a more valid comparison to Richards, who like many of them, appears awkward in the spotlight, refusing interview requests and sharing little of his personal life. It is believed Richards travels the world competing in Scrabble competitions, keeping largely to himself, with bicycle riding being his only other known hobby. "He's a very elusive character," Mr Baird said. "I think the American press get very frustrated with him when he wins over there because he's a man of few words. "He only comes out with one or two-word answers, which is completely ironic."

Richards remains number one on the World English-Language Scrabble Players Association ratings after amassing 1,927 victories from 2,549 games, a winning percentage of 75.59.


I love the quote "he's a man of few words" !!!

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-22/scrabble-championship-...
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Julien Robert
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The news was discussed on french TV this morning and I must admit this is quite impressive.
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Christopher Ross
United States
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I used to be a competitive SCRABBLE player and I'm still a certified club director. I can explain it this way. At its highest level SCRABBLE is a game about pattern recognition. You have to know that when you see a group of 7 letter that there are at least x of them that you know makes a word and then the trick is to have the board vision where you can place it for maximum points. There are players from Southeast Asia and Pacific island nations who compete at the National Scrabble Championship (USA) who do not speak English every time who compete at the highest level.

This does not mean that Nigel is any less impressive. He is a brilliant guy. I met him at a National Scrabble Championship in 2009 (he won that one) and he is just on a different level than 99% of the world.

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John Farrell
Australia
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Buster Keaton from 'Go West'
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The winners of the World Scrabble Championships in 2003 and 2009 were Thai guys. At least the 2003 guy did not speak much English.
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