By Michael Benjamin
An astounding stock of unorthodox vocabulary coupled with shrewd brainpower segregated national scrabble champion, Abigail McDonald and Leon Belony from a competent group of word formers to eventually share the top spot when the curtains came down on the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players (GASP) national championships at the Bank of Guyana Sports Club, Sunday afternoon last.
Both players amassed 17 games apiece but it was McDonald with a higher spread of 2013 as against Belony’s 1728 that walked off with the top prize. However, the reigning champion will now have to face off with the runner up in a three best of five encounter at the Bank of Guyana Sports Club on Monday November 7 next to decide the eventual champion starting at 12:00hrs.
The pre-tournament prognosis by the analysts of stiff rivalry was further supported by the intense battles over the three competition days and several upsets none more stunning than the one earned by relative newcomer, Wayne Cave (86) over Belony in the second day’s play. Another lowly seed, Prudence Edwards inflicted a similar blow and shattered Belony’s dreams of ending the tournament ahead of the defending champion, McDonald, with a crunching 119 spread victory.
Earlier, at the commencement of the final day’s play, several seeds started the session with a realistic chance of wearing the crown. Among them were Belony (11 points; positive 1081), McDonald (10 points; positive 1236) Moen Gafoor (10 points; positive 948 spread), Orlando Michael (10 points; positive 795) and Ulric Harris (9 points; positive, 839).
McDonald started her quest with a crunching 139 spread victory over Colin Chichester while Belony emulated her feat against Ulric Harris (121). Gafoor also out-pointed Orlando Michael by a 234 spread to stay in the top bunch.
Belony followed up his first round victory with another, this time against Orlando Michael (134) while McDonald prevailed over Julian Skeete (129). Gafoor also stated his intentions with a win over Ruby Cummings by a spread of 19.
Belony continued his journey to the top, defeating Ruby Cummings (188) at the lunch interval to go off with 14 points and a positive spread of 1520. Up to that point McDonald had amassed 13 points and a positive 1554 spread.
Both McDonald and Belony distinguished themselves just after lunch with the former player defeating R O Michael (51) while the latter disposed of Grace Hercules (147). Consequently, McDonald continued her winning ways with a 154 spread drubbing over Kampta Ramnarine in the second post lunch match while Belony inflicted a 66 spread whipping on Maurice Munru. McDonald then notched up wins over Dillon Moffatt (209) and William Woolford (45) while Belony continued his winning ways with a 214 spread victory over Michael Benjamin shortly before the Prudence Lewis upset.
McDonald won the title after dethroning Fred Collins in tournament of a similar format as the impending one and has since improved immensely. Belony has also pushed his game up several notches and his eventual second place position has hardly raised eyebrows. He would be required to be at the top of his game if he is to succeed in dethroning McDonald. Word forming time is 12:00hrs on competition morning.
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