Jul 06, 2013 Sports
By Michael Benjamin
Moen Gafoor is thinking WIN while Abigail McDonald will be thinking RETAIN; both are scrabble words and the person with superior vocabulary, buys the right tiles and form the most bingos, is sure to cart off the spoils when they square off for the coveted crown when the Guyana Association of Scrabble Players (GASP) stages a 3 best of 5 duel to determine the National Scrabble Champion at the Bank of Guyana Sports Club, Avenue of the Republic Georgetown, this afternoon.
The two players have earned the right to contest for the accolade after occupying the two top spots in the just concluded qualifiers where McDonald scored 19 points and a positive spread of 2951 while Gafoor amassed a tabulated total of 18 points and a positive spread of 3955.
Indeed, both players are in top form; Gafoor had enjoyed two phenomenal days where he had compiled a huge spread and at the start of the final round, was comfortably placed at 17 games and a positive spread of 3767.
Up to that point, McDonald had amassed 18 points and a positive spread of 2671 while the other front runner, Fred Collins, was placed at a threatening 17 points and a positive spread of 2196. In reality, it was anyone’s game for, had McDonald lost and Gafoor win the final game, the latter player would have advanced while the former would have suffered a setback.
Further, with Collins lurking in the third place slot, just one point adrift, with a large spread, McDonald could have been relegated to the third place slot thus paving the way for a showdown for the national championship between Gafoor or Collins.
The astute word former threw a monkey wrench into the equation when she humbled Michael Benjamin by a large spread of 180 points while Gafoor triumphed over Grace Hercules.
At last year’s nationals McDonald and Leon Belony had scored the highest points and had proceeded to battle for the top prize.
During combat, fortunes had swayed like a pendulum, from one way to the other, before McDonald eventually prevailed by a mere 7 points to retain the accolade 3-2. When she faces Gafoor today the situation is expected to be just as grueling but it is difficult to predict a winner. Both players possess impeccable concentrative powers coupled with a wide array of unconventional words. McDonald has had immense exposure and has represented this country at the 2009 World Scrabble Championship in Malaysia.
Gafoor might not have had such exposures but he has demonstrated verve and alacrity that has stood him in good stead. He has also carted off the lion’s share of prizes at most of the competitions staged for the year and his meritorious
rise to the top where he has outshone top seeds the likes of Collins, Leon Belony, James Krakowsky and Colin Chichester among others speaks highly of his determined spirit.
Otherwise, both players will ponder on the luck of the bag; there are days when fate works terribly against the players and sometimes one may buy a plethora of vowels or consonants. For this reason, both McDonald and her foe will be keen to learn words where the vowels outweigh the consonants and vice versa.
Game strategy will also play a decisive role in the determination of the champion and both players have employed witty strategies in the past. Scrabble can hardly qualify as a spectators’ sport but supporters have viewed the actual matches on close circuit television at the venue while debating on the validity of plays and wits and offering moral support to their choice.
Whichever way it goes, this afternoon’s duel is shaping up to be intense and only one champion can emerge. Who will it be? The nation will just have to wait until the final tile has been placed.
The winner of this year’s Nationals 2013 will cart off $50,000 and a chance to represent Guyana at the World Scrabble Championships in Prague, Czech Republic, December 3 – 8, next.
The runner up receives $30,000 while the third place finisher receives 20,000. The 5th and 6th places will receive $10,000 and $5,000 respectively while the best newcomer pockets $5000. There will also be other prizes for the highest individual score and most bingos among others.
Both principals may be in line for some of these auxiliary prizes but for now their thoughts are on the bigger stakes—the National Scrabble Championship of Guyana.
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