Collins becomes first ever C’bean Scrabble champion
- Guyana end runner-up in Team Competition
Guyana’s Frederick Collins became the first ever Caribbean Open Scrabble champion when he defeated a strong field at the recently staged Tri-Nations Championships which was held in Trinidad and Tobago.
The former national champion and World Championship representative upset the favourites Orlet Bullock of Barbados and Pat John, who is the current Trinidad & Tobago national champion, and Leslie Charles – former T&T national champion en route to becoming the first Caribbean Scrabble Champion, a title he will hold for two years when the tournament is held in Guyana.
On the day of the individual competition the game between Anthony Modeste a top ranked player who represented T&T at the World Scrabble Championship in Mumbai, India in 2007 and Bullock, the ‘Bajan Pharmacist’ was an enthralling affair.
Thirteen moves were played in their game and at the end of the 12th move Modeste led by 45pts and with no more tiles in the bag after he replenished his rack he may have felt that with careful play he could retain his lead and bring home the victory.
He then made his play for 9 points exposing an ‘A’ but knowing that it was going to be very difficult for his opponent to make a word ending with that ‘A’.
It was a fatal error and to his consternation, Bullock (who at his young age is well known in the scrabble fraternity for his wide knowledge of words, especially rare and unusual ones), began to place his tiles 7 spaces away from that ‘A’ – P,A,R,O,E,?,.I. – one after the other using the blank as an ‘M’ to make the word PAROEMIA (a rhetorical proverb, hence ‘paroemiac’) which gave him a score of ‘85’ pts and the game.
Bullock had won his 6th game 441 to 390 the PD being 51, taking 2nd place and ousting Modeste (who was still in shock) from winners’ row.
However, it was Fred Collins of Guyana who played magnificent scrabble and exhibited true grit on Easter Monday to win the tournament from over twenty (20) very formidable opponents at the National Library (NALIS), Port of Spain.
Collins has been playing Scrabble for more than thirty five (35) years, and is the secretary and one of the driving forces of the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players.
Fred lost his first game of 8 by 40 points, but was in no way discouraged as he went on to win his next 7 games.
He was unstoppable from that point and at the end of the 7th round was in the lead having defeated Bullock with the extension of the word PROM to EPROM , (a computer science term meaning a type of read-only memory chip) , but he had to win that 8th game to keep his lead. He was then matched up against Pat John, T&T’s current champion, and the vice captain of Team T&T, they had the same number of games won, only the points difference separated them with Fred’s being the higher. It was a battle indeed, a battle for scrabble supremacy, a battle of keen minds and strategies, a battle of the sexes. One player called for ‘utmost silence please’, and the battle royal began.
Early in the game Collins spotted the word ‘OUTWILES’ (to surpass in wiling, i.e., enticing according to Webster) hiding among the tiles on his rack. This resulted in an early lead which John was never able to reduce. At the end of the game Collins emerged the victor by a margin of 114 points.
He was now declared winner with 7 games won and a PD of 503. This year for the first time Guyana could be justly proud of its performance overall. The other highlights were as follows:
Guyana beat Barbados to take back the Guyana – Barbados Challenge trophy and to take second place overall in the team competition.
Sterling performances from James Krakowsky on his debut in the competition where he won 4 games out of 6 against T&T and the same number against Barbados.
While Trinidad retained the Tri-Nations trophy, Guyana prevailed as the winner of the Caribbean Individual Open Championship.