The old idiom that advocates that ‘Rat and his tail must part’ will be exemplified when two staunch friends, Abigail McDonald and Leon Belony square off in a three best in five showdown for the former individual’s national scrabble crown when the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players (GASP) stages the finals for the National crown at the Bank of Guyana Sports Club starting at 12:00hrs today.
The two earned the right to battle for the prestigious prize after procuring the most points during the recently staged preliminary sessions over a three day period and though both players had amassed 17 games apiece, it was McDonald with a higher spread of 2013 as against Belony’s 1728 that walked off with the top prize. However, both principals would have suffered setbacks during the preliminaries with Belony, who was set to top the averages conceding shock defeats to Wayne Cave in the second day’s play and Prudence Edwards on the final day.
McDonald won the title two years ago after dethroning Fred Collins in a tournament of a similar format as the impending one and has improved immensely since. She subsequently represented Guyana in Malaysia in the 2009 World Scrabble championships and though she failed in her bid to win the top prize, had defeated several top seeds in the world and would have garnered valuable experience from that outing.
That she had taken a self imposed hiatus and then returned to win several Open championships planned by the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players (GASP) in the run up to the Nationals, speaks highly of her diligence coupled with an extensive vocabulary.
Belony also is no slouch and his rise to his current stratus is phenomenal. Ever since the young banker entered the spelling arena he has demonstrated the required aptitude, skill and determination and should he enter today’s contest with similar determination then McDonald will have to pull off all the stops to retain her crown. Belony has also pushed his game up several notches and his eventual second place has hardly raised eyebrows, rather it was his shock defeats that sparked discussions.
Even amidst such analysis and speculation one must be wary of the bag. Simply put, even the best player had been constrained to win games after enduring ill fortunes with the bag. However, both players are adept at the sport and have braved such ill fortunes to eventually turn the tide in their respective favours.
With the scales evenly balanced and when all the variables are taken into consideration, the player with the most extensive vocabulary, not to mention a little luck with the bag, will prevail. Even so, a highly competitive battle is envisaged as the duo establishes once and for all which is more competent to win the crown. Who will it be? For now speculation is high and the answer would only be provided when the first tile is laid at about midday today. (Michael Benjamin)
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