Scrabble in South Africa has a long history: the first clubs started in the late 1960s and the first Nationals occurred around the mid to late 1980s. Since the late 1980s, SANSPA (the South African National Players Association) and now known as Scrabble SA has been in operation.
There are two major centres - Johannesburg and Cape Town (around 1400 kms apart!) with around 10 clubs open to players. There are typically three national tournaments a year - the Masters, the Nationals and the Collins Cup.
In recent times, though, club Scrabble and tournament attendance had been declining. With the election to the provincial committee of both Andrew Goldberg and Steven Gruzd, there has been energy placed into growing the Nationals, which at the time, was about to be held. The venue, Huddle Park, had been chosen to host the event.
Money had been invested to growing two Facebook mediums, Scrabble SA
and ZA Scrabble
. There is now an active WhatsApp group which has attracted plenty of banter and has been greatly appreciated by players. Prior to the event, Scrabble SA met with Mattel, who were keen to support a forthcoming schools event (see below) with plans to meet Jonathan Ball publishers (publishers of Harper Collins in South Africa) after the event.
Prizes for the Nationals came in from Mattel, Collins and two other sponsors (the Stingray Group and Goldberg Attorneys) as well as players Sheba Bagg and Ike Obidike.
One of the more novel ideas in the lead up to the Nationals involved inviting of journalists interested in playing and who wanted to write a piece in return - Steven Gruzd noted that one journalist (Nechama Brodie - @brodiegal on Twitter) took them up on this offer and played in the social section (which preceded the Nationals).