Records Tumble in April

Three Special Games

When it comes to the global Scrabble calendar, April is one of the months that provides the most excitement. It is a popular month for event organizers - and this year was no exception.

Over a dozen events took place on four continents last month and, with it, many stories of amazing word play.

We have taken the opportunity to look at three special games: special because in all three cases, as it celebrates one of the players exceeding 700 as an individual score.

The New Zealand Masters was only the fifth rated event in the country in the last nine years and the first since mid 2018.

With Alastair Richards winning the event from Blue Thorogood and Howard Warner, it was an exciting and competitive event! The high game came in 15 as Dylan Early took on Jennifer Paterson.

We asked Dylan to describe what happened next…

“Going into the game against Jennifer Smith at the NZ Masters in April 2019, I didn’t realise I was about to break the NZ record for high game. The game started quite normally with YEOMEN (30) followed by HAW (25). I bonused on my 2nd turn with AEROLITE/THAW (76), opening a 9-timer along the top row which Jennifer couldn’t use. Holding EPIGEAL, I managed to wrap it around the A of AEROLITE, making EPIGAEAL for 172 (adj: growing close to the ground). I bonused again on turns 5 and 6 with PRODUCED (90) and CROOKEST (90+5). After 6 turns, the score was 503 – 189 and I realised a 600 was within reach. After my 5th bonus, LUNATICS (64) on move 8, I started to think a 700 might be possible after all. I stopped worrying about creating openings for Jennifer and switched my strategy to chasing the highest score regardless of leave or defense. I made short words to make the game last longer and played EX (50), NOSY (37), VAN (21), HIM (28) and BIDE (29), taking my total to 756. Jennifer was a gracious opponent throughout and congratulated me heartily after the game, despite not playing any bonuses herself. We checked with the records officer and discovered that this was the highest game in NZ.”

Meanwhile, as events in NZ unfolded, Malaysia hosted what is, up to now, the biggest WESPA rated event in terms of numbers (and will more than likely hold that record for the remainder of 2019).

Whilst most of the eyes were on the world number 2, Nigel Richards, there were many other stories occurring.

In the first round of the tournament, Thailand’s Thacha Koowirat topped 700 against Usha Pollucksingh. With a score of 744 to his opponent’s 394, the game was notable for making it into the top 25 games of all time, coming in at number 11.

It did not last long at number 11 - in fact, a week later, in Malta, records broke.

The Round 7 match up at the Main Event in MISO 12 between David Webb and Bob Violett has been celebrated pretty much since the game completed.

The 711-502 scoreline, making a combined score of 1213 was the first time ever that the 1200 barrier had been broken in a WESPA rated event.

It also broke the near 10 year record of all time combined scores: Philip Edwin-Mugisha’s 627-530 win over Vannitha Balasingham in 2009.

Many games have come close to beating that game (one as recent as 2017) - David and Bob’s game not only beat it, but set a high benchmark for players wanting to take the mantle.

From the opening play of VIDAMES, the triple triple of GUTTATED and the wonderful GEROPIGA, the game was a joy to observe.

With thanks to technological advances since the initial highest combined score, there are many ways you can follow this game.

Unlike previous efforts, this game was not just available on annotation after the event - indeed, with thanks to the work of the excellent John Chew, this game was live streamed on his Facebook page Poslfit.

Moreover, on David’s own YouTube channel, he has included an analysis of the game as part of his Dweebovision series.

With April (and May) now complete, there are a further 50 Scrabble events on offer for the seasoned player.

Will we see more records broken as the year goes on?

Additional text with thanks to Dylan Early