Saturday, September 12, 1998

1998 1st Asia Pacific Scrabble Tournament News

(Appeared in Leisure page of THE STAR, Malaysian newspaper)

September 11, 1998

Local Scrabble goes international
by Wong Siang Hume

While the world's attention will be on the 16th Commonwealth Games in Kuala Lumpur for about two weeks starting with the opening ceremony tonight, Scrabble make its international debut in the country in the form of the first Asia Pacific Scrabble Tournament (ASPAT) from Sept. 16 to 20 at Parkroyal Kuala Lumpur.

Organized by Mattel in collaboration with the Malaysian Scrabble Association and Parkroyal KL, the tournament has attracted participation of the game's supremos from 11 nations.

Selamat datang to Aussies Robert Jackman (national champion 1993, 1996) and John Holgate (eight-time national champion who also played in four world championships, a record).

Haerernai ("welcome" in the Maori tongue) to Kendall Boyd (New Zealand Masters champion 1998, sixth in the world championship 1997) and Mike Sigley (twice New Zealand champion, and trice New Zealand Masters champion).

A warm welcome to Rashid Khan of Pakistan (national champion 1997 who played in the world championship 1997), Ronald Credo of the Philippines (national champion on 1996), Naween Fernando of Sri Lanka (four-time Gulf champion, rated world No. 19), Suresh Chinnaiyah (Gulf champion 1997), Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn (winner of 1996 Thailand Internatonal Championship), Singaporeans Tony Sim (1991, 1993 and 1995 representative to the world championship) and Michael Tang (1998 Singapore Open champion), and all players at ASPAT.

And a special syabas to Ken Nakai of Japan who at 67 is the oldest competitor.

How will Malaysia fare at ASPAT? A clean sweep is presumptuous, but I should say our chances are between fair and excellent. Here is a dossier of the Malaysian representatives.

Pui Cheng Wui: Arguably the best Malaysian player who won the last three local tournaments (the first and sceond Central Capacitors Scrabble tournaments, and the Zamri Majid Open). Top ranked in the country, the metallurgist is a player of unmatched vocabulary who emerged 32 (out of 80) in the last world championship in Washington DC.

Ganesh Asirvatham: At 19, our youngest representative. Won the Bentong Open 1996 and the YMCA Open this year. The top qualifier for ASPAT, Ganesh's game combines speed and a faultless eye for esoteric bingos.

Raja Fuadin Abdullah: National champion 1993 and 1997; represented Malaysia at the world championships in 1993 and 1997. Winner of Singapore Mattel Championship 1996. A solid Scrabbler who has played against the best in the world.

Kong Chick Heng: Won the second De La Salle Language Institute Invitaional, the first Datuk Fadzil Che Wan Challenge Trophy 1997, the third Parkroyal Masters 1997, and the inaugural Penang Open this year. ASPAT will be his first international outing.

Tengku Asri Abdullah: One of the most experienced champions in the country, having played in Australia, the Philippines, Thailand and Singapore. Winner of many tournaments including the first Mbf Countdown card 1977 and the 1998 Hong Kah/St John's meet in Singapore. At the Diliman rounds in the Philippines last year, he scalped some of the world's best.

Alex Tan: Runner-up in the 1997 Diliman Rounds in the Philippines, losing narrowly to American Sam Kantimathi in a thrilling five-setter. He followed this up with his only title at the St. John's Institution Invitational in the same year. His game has mellowed from devil-may-care to staid and careful play.

Tan Teong Chuan: A veteran who represented Malaysia in the 1995 world championship, emerging 31 out of 64 world players. The player with the most local titles (including the Parkroyal Masters, YMCA Open, St John's Invitational and St John's Open) whose comeback to the competitive Scrabble has been smooth and easy.

Ong Yeam Chim: Although he has yet to win, Ong's fourth position in the Terengganu Parkroyal Open 1997 and seventh position in the ASPAT qualifying rounds show that he has improved tremendously.

Mohd Ali Ismail: Another veteran whose return to Scrabble has been marked by great success. He was the Malaysia's first rep at the inaugural world championships in 1991 held in the United States. He won the inaugural De La Salle Institute Invitational in 1995. In 1997, he was seventh in the national championship.

John Lam: This Mathematics teacher from penang won the Penang Closed in 1997. In the Penang Open this year, he finished fifth. ASPAT will be his first international experience.

Mohd Idrus Ismail: Won the national title three years ago, and was once second-ranked in Malaysia behind Raja Fuadin.

Azmil Abdul Aziz: A young player who plays good Scrabble. He won a junior title last year and slowly climbing up the ladder.

Leonard Wong: Winner of the 1994 Parkroyal Scrabble Masters and runner-up to Toy Sim in 1996 in the same tournament. He was a losing finalist to Raja Fuadin Abdullah at the Singapore Mattel Championship in 1996, third in the Hong Kah/St John's in last year's SCRC championship in Singapore.

ASPAT will be played on a modified Swiss-paired format of 18 games to decide the two finalists. Pairings for the first round will be random, but thereafter will be based on the rankings after each round (the first to play the second, the third to meet the fourth and so on).

For the first 13 rounds there will be no repeat, meaning that no player shall have to play the same player more than once. From rounds 14 to 18, the King Of The Hill format will be used where repeats (meeting the same opponent) may take place.

The tournament starts on Sept. 16 with registration, opening and cocktails. Six games will be played on Sept. 17, six on Sept. 18, and another six on Sept. 19. The two finalists (top two in the final rankings) will then play best of the five games on Sept. 20. Presentation of prizes is at 6pm.

ASPAT is co-sponsored by Parkroyal KL and Nestle Kit Kat. Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd najib Tun Razak is scheduled to open the tournament.

The public is welcome to watch the games; there will be closed circuit TV during the final playoff. Here's the full list of foreign competitors.

Australia: Robert Jackman, John Holgate, Sal Costanza, Zina Costanza, Barbara Berlin

India: Mohan Chunkath

Indonesia: Ricky Purnomo

New Zealand: Peter Sinton, Kendall Boyd, Mike SIgley, Nigel Richards, Howard Warner, Patrick carter

Pakistan: Rashid Khan, Wahid Iqbal, Anwar Siddiqui, Mushtaqq Inaye3tullah, Nadeem Omar

Philippines: Mario Miranda, Odette Rio, Ronald Credo, Virgilio Morales, Butch Maniego, Maida Manaog, Oscar Rivera, Ador Ruiz, Gerardo Leopoldo Onate, Antonio Malonzo

Sri Lanka: Naween Fernando, Suresh Chinnaiyah, Harshan Lamabadasuriya, Nashad Najmudeen, Lakshan Wanniarchchi

Thailand: Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn, Manop Phiphatboonserm, amnuay Ploysangngam, Arun Methaset, Gerard Carter

Japan: Ken Nakai

Singapore: Thong Liew Kee, Michael Tang Tun Kin, Cheah Siu Hean, Quek Sim Ho, Tony Sim, Joe Mohd Abdullah

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