Wednesday, December 02, 2009

WSC 2009 Report by Phillip Edwin-Mugisha

Phenomenon: Invincibility Postponed
by Phillip Edwin-Mugisha

I jetted into Malaysia, one of the most beautiful countries in the World full of morale and vim.After all, when you are a man of my calibre, you don't waste much time underrating your abilities.As I settled into the glamorous opening ceremony at the stately dining room of the posh Zon Regency hotel, I had to say, yes, I was a contender, maybe even THE contender for the WSC.

DAY1

GAME 1
PAUL ALLAN (England)
What do I remember of Paul? A gangly lad ripe for the taking.There had been some loose talk about him being a very good player with a number of premier UK titles under his belt.
Pish tosh! The bloke was up against the Phenomenon. The guy sprinted off the mark like a stratled hare with SPIGOTS for 77 points as I struggled to balance in this
game.The man couldn't stop scoring with FEZ for 52, FEEB (38) and TAXITE (48). despite my RERAILS# (64), VULCAN# and UNTARRED# (72 + 5) Paul rubbed my patrician nose in the mud.
PAUL ALLAN  465   EDWIN-MUGISHA  380

GAME 2
MARTIN HARRISON (England)
A quiet thoughtful looking gentleman  who looks like he couldn't hurt a fly, he certainly wasn't going to hurt me! QANATS for 38 set my ball rolling, swiftly followed by MERLING# (84) and ANDROID (79). Imagine my astonishment as Martin refused to go away, keeping pace with AGREEING (70) and LEACHES (85). The fellow even put on JIVER for 46. But I JIVED away with ZAFFER (68) and JIVED his ill fated end game sippier* off the board.
EDWIN-MUGISHA   499   MARTIN HARRISON   424

GAME 3
LESLIE CHARLES (Trinidad and Tobago)
A likeable, urbane MUN from the Caribbean, I was determined not to like him too much on the board. I came out with fists flying. ABIOTIC (72) was my first move. Next was WENNIEST (76) and in less time than it takes to tell NAILSETS (69) had followed suit. I had a lead at some stage of  nearly a hundred. Game over, you might think. Not quite. Leslie CLAWED back some ground for 45 and flatfooted me with his double timer STRAFERS for a clossal 99. By the time the game ended I was clinging on desperately for dear life!
EDWIN-MUGISHA   441   LESLIE CHARLES   423

GAME 4
ADRIAN TAMAS (Romania)
Aah, the famous Adrian Tamas who writes a blog with his much, much, better half featured on it.Once again I felt I struggled. The man showed no respect for my reputation with AIRSIDE# for 87 points and my ZINE(69) was only to level matters. He played a strategic game which I REJECTED for 73, as he parried back with TENOURS (72). He came on thick with AVIATION for  62 towards the end and I had to lay down SWEDE for 74 points got challenged. You know, that it the sad thing about this game. I freely and out of the goodness of my heart educate a chap with words he doesn't know and he returns the favour by still beating me! They say in Swahili, "Asante yamapunda
ni mateke." That is, the thanks of a donkey is its kick
ADRIAN TAMAS 453   EDWIN-MUGISHA   443

GAME 5
WARADOM GEAMSAKUL(Japan)
Waradom is a bubbly, good natured fellow, a real credit to the game . I like him. I am arfaid I wasn't too gentle here. I kicked off proceedings with the double timer NEMATODE (95) and I simply scored straight though.I poured it on with ITERANT(73) , JOMO# (33) and SARONGS (71). His INCH (50) snd MAQUI (56) couldn't save him.
EDWIN-MUGISHA   499   WARADOM GEAMSAKUL   365

GAME 6
CHRYS PLACCA (Ghana)
But now you my dear reader must be wondering, but what about the state of the tournament? Yes it is true that some unknown chap from Nigeria, Jellington Swighere, is it, was going geat guns at 5-0. It is also true that lurking around what we call the zoo, that is the top three tables, was another anonymous from New Zealand, Little Pilchards. But you, my dear reader are only interested in the most potent player in the game, moi. Having won two on the trot I flew into the upper thirties. The stage was set for the man of history. I could even afford to preen in front of the BBC and other media who covered the event straight through.This only underlines my importance as the face of the global game. You, know, the way Muhammad Ali represented boxing. Back to Chrys Placca, a mild manered, soft-speaking gentleman. Alas, over confidence got the better of me. I should be amothered with honey and buried in an anthill for starting off with catmang*. The word is CATJANG. I was punished severely with WAGONER (83), UNSTATED (61) and HASTIER (80). The less we say about this game the better.
CHRYS PLACCA   437   EDWIN-MUGISHA   282

GAME 7
MARTY GABRIEL(USA)
There is something about Marty' rugged earthiness that endears itself to me. He didn't hang around, shooting off GRENZ# for 50. Scoring like he had a train to catch he came with FABLINGS# (72) which I challenged. Its AIBLINS I remember. I posted with BESPEAKS (61) and a nice play, QASIDA# but he CAVORTed to victory.
MARTY GABRIEL 436   EDWIN-MUGISHA   357

GAME 8
CHARNWIT SUKHUMRATTANAPORN (Thailand)
Hmm. Challenging basic eights is not how to cover myself with glory and I had to jack up my performance, raise my game, pull up my socks, every tired cliche you can think of. Charnwit is the kind of guy with the spiky hat and dreamlike eyes that some young girls might find hot. Perhaps he would have done better as a matinee idol because with me he ran into an impenetrable wall. I played ANTRUMS (74) and the guy stroked the double timer SEQUOIA through my U. My HAJI (41) didn't stop him and he unleashed NAILERY (82). I had an unplayable OUTDOES on my rack and chose to throw playing outdone on the N of NAILERY# keeping the S and totally missing DUOTONES. Goodness gracious! I paid the price as the guy exploded into a lead, hammering SATINET (67) and ERODENT (78). Luckily my CREATINS (70) and BUILDING (65) kept me afloat.
EDWIN-MUGISHA   481   CHARNWIT SUKHUMRATTANAPORN   463

DAY 2

GAME 9
MARUT SIRIWANGSO (Thailand)
I must talk about these WSC mornings. The AC is set so low that the brain can freeze and stop working as soon you step into the playing hall. People were packing sweaters and parkas as if they were trekking to the Arctic. What do I recall of Marut? An impish looking face, the kind of cunning fellow whose hand as a kid was always in the cookie jar when Mummy wasn't looking. I remember him only too well because I allowed him to play peronal* against me. Imagine! This was a pivotal error as I was chasing him after that. My STONIER (63) was humple pickings and he maintained the lead with AEROLITH (62). He could even afford, with two blanks, to fumble with swailed* before coming back with SWALIER# (81) which I couldn't block.
MARUT SIRIWANGSO   418   EDWIN-MUGISHA 367

GAME 10
SAM ROSIN
Sam Rosin is another of those fresh faced young Scabblers who are sprouting up like weeds on the Scrabble scene, tormenting us their elders, and generally making a nuisance of themselves with incredible Scrabble plays.  He too, with his height and lean looks, could be considered a hunk by those aforemenntioned young girls. Maybe he could act alongside Charnwit Sukhumrattanaporn. Yes indeed, I can see the script. They are two thirds of a love triangle, tussling over a Miss something or the other. Perhaps that Miss Uganda who Sam Kantimathi thought should have been at the WSC instead of me! When Rosin changed I knew he was cooking trouble and indeed his GRATINEE (63) wiped out my QUIPO# (52). This would not have been a problem if he hadn't also cancelled out my LATENTS (72) with REWIDENS (90). Forced to burst the game wide open with BIDDY (40), he smashed me upside the head with NOTICES (85). EINA#! His FAVUS (40) further cooked my goose.
SAM ROSIN   443   EDWIN-MUGISHA   500

GAME 11 
AKSHAY BHANDARKAR (UAE)
I saw Akshay paired with me and my eyes lit up. Rating points! But when this cool, collected smooth operator banged off with REWRITE first up, I knew I had a fight on my hands. FINDINGS (62) kept me in the game. At the end, with time on the clock winding down I figured the guy was sitting on a stem and would comfortably play out in two moves. I had IU and a blank and I played out to take his last two tiles which were TT. Its only after the game that he showed me if I had only been a little more perceptive, I would have realised he couldn't play out both TTs however open the board looked! All I should have done was play the blank as an S on MAXI for 23 then I would have had the opportunity to come later with the IU and take my Akshay scalp and his rating points. Endgame bummer!
AKSHAY BHANDARKAR   376   EDWIN-MUGISHA   372

GAME 12 
Who, pray tell, is Ron Hoekstra? Another even more gangly looking fellow ripe for the taking. It is true that the guy has a formidable reputation on the Web but this is real life not myths and tribal legends spun in cyberspace! When I played JELAB# (44) things were going swimmingly but two rubbish racks meant a couple of washes. I challenged his glump* off the board. He put me under pressure with FLINDERS. The real booboo in this game was when I failed to cover the left hook of BETTING. He came with OUTHEAR on the triple for for a colossal 90 points, effectively knowking me out cold!
RON HOEKSTRA   428   EDWIN-MUGISHA   347

GAME 13
ANDREW GOLDING (England)
Are we noticing a downward spiral of defeats here or is it just me? My WSC hopes were hanging by a thread. I was stuck in the funky bedroom, the last place I wanted to be! That is when Christmas came early gift wrapped in the angelic form of Andrew Golding. A bespectacled, thoroughly nice easygoing fellow, he offered to help me lift my load of negative spread. There is nothing really much to tell. I commenced with SIGNORE (66), gathered steam with LEAPERS for 71, before delivering the coup de grace, OEDEMAS (82) for a spread of 200. I felt grateful to Andrew. Good Samaritans are not easy to find in these trying times.
EDWIN-MUGISHA   506   ANDREW   306

GAME 14
VANNITHA BALASINGAM (Malaysia)
The Monster game. I have been called KAINGA# and OQUASSA in Uganda cause I have written these words in spectacular games. Some of my red hot fans like Geoff Cooper who breathlessly anticipate their hero's every move call me the Eagle. And of course the planet knows me as the Phenomenon.But I prefer to think of myself as a daft puzzle, wrapped in a moronic mystery, wrapped in a dumbass enigma. Why else on earth would I start this game with REBUILT (74) just short of the triple? Obviously she came with PREBUILT and ZAP for 83. Ouch! The stunning Vannitha, (ten times more stunning than the glamour teen movie heartthrobs, Charnwit and Rosin) blazed with WOK (51) and FURY (40) even as I balanced for READIEST (63).She then came with DEMOING (71) exposing the triple. That's when I used the D to play my FIRST ninetimer ADENINES for a mammoth 131!
(I am the Phenomenon and this is my Universe!) Vannitha played HAWED (49) and as I was gasping for breath trying to keep up with her scores, produced GETABLE (70). I promptly used the first E of GETABLE to plant AERIFIES for a gargantuan 178 + 5. My SECOND ninetimer! What ho! Any man at this stage would have gotten off his seat, bowed very low to the Phenomenon and acknowledged that he wasn't worthy to untie my shoelaces with his teeth, let alone share a game with me! But Vannitha is not a mere male Scrabbler. She fought on with REENACTS on the triple for a useful 80. (It is not 178 but it is useful.) And I did point out to her that SARCENET would have been the better play as the C was landing.There I go again, giving of my wisdom freely to develop fellow Scrabblers, I mean come on! Is there no end to this man's attributes! Philip Nelkon, when is my Scrabble Humanitarian Award of The Year going to be delivered!?
EDWIN-MUGISHA   637   VANNITHA BALASINGAM   530

GAME 15
JASON IDALSKI (USA)
I sensed that Jason was lacking positive energy flow and I pounced on this. I was on him like white on rice. When he played INTRUDER for 74 I  hit back with DETENTES for 66. Then I simply shut down the game. Oh, you the dear reader are wondering what he looks like? Well, he is not going to win the Mr. Universe title anytime soon but then neither is Elie Dangoor or me so that is alright.
EDWIN-MUGISHA   408   JASON IDALSKI   325

GAME 16
ROBERT LINN (USA)
Bob is a redoubtable figure with a poker face and a cap stating  "CAPITAL PUNISHMENT" in bold relief. He took the lead playing TREACLE (63) and NIX (41) and started to block the game. My clanger in this affair was fundamental. There was a floating TI on the board and I spotted IODATIONS, a word I eventually chose not to play. Poor call. By the time I came through with PUISNES (66) he lay in wait with GAUZES (84) This was another game in which I was outmaneuvered and outthought.
JASON LINN   432   EDWIN-MUGISHA   359

DAY 3

GAME 17
PHIL APPLEBY (England)
I had to admit things had gone pear shaped. I simply had no chance of staying up there on the leaderboard with the likes of multi millionaire playboy, tycoon philanthropist and crime fighter by night, Lord David Bowman. Still, I was in contention for a second slot for Uganda. Phil Appleby stood in my way. A bespectacled, throroughly polite, easygoing, methodical gentleman, he flew into the lead with DECRIER (80) as I struggled with OEUVRE and other gems. My shocker in this game, and they were coming thick and fast, was to sense he was coming next move with a bingo and try to block it with wowie*. There is only one version of this word.He hit ASTERIA for 70 and controlled the game despite my RAILMEN# (75) later on.
PHIL APPLEBY   447   EDWIN-MUGISHA   379

GAME 18
RASHEED ATEEQ KHAN  (Pakistan)
Rasheed is an animated, enthusiastic Scrabbler who enjoyed the competition at the WSC. I ran in the beginning with OUTWILES for 95 and he hit back with CHORIAL (87).The man consistently scored and my DRAFTEES (72) merely brought me back into the game. At the end I fought without vowels like a wounded buffalo with PREMS# (35) and FRITZ (54) but he was a wily fox, balancing to hit me last move, lala salaama with EXCLAIM (88).
RASHEED ATEEQ KHAN   449   EDWIN-MUGISHA   413

GAME 19
CHRIS ABORDO (Phillipines)
Chris was a sullen looking chap with a brooding air about him. I guess the reason he was looking so surly was that he too was probably also having a nightmare tournament. Think about it. We were meeting on Table 758, stuck in the danged kitchen, covered from head to toe in fine white powder courtesy of all the chappattis and rotis we were busy pounding amidst the smoky fumes! I scored QUALE (48) and MAZED (54) either side of his REASONED (68). Chris'  error here was to write the unholy feinty*. This was a golden gift to me and I was able to balance for INSULAE# (68) and ELANETS# (71). 
EDWIN-MUGISHA   506 CHRIS ABORDO   294

GAME 20
WILLI MWANGI (Kenya)
I had no chance in this matchup. I was forced to wash twice early on as at one cruel stage I found myself with 4 IIIIs and when I finally balanced, it was for a peanuts 61 (SENARII). The jovial, ever cheerful Willi Mwangi feasted on me like UGALI# and sukumawiki with DOMINATE (74) and PICQUETS (89). There is one huge positive about this game. Its over.
WILLI MWANGI   466   EDWIN-MUGISHA   334

GAME 21     
MARLON PRUDENCIO (Singapore)
Marlon Prudencio is a smart young man who is going places. He approached me with trepidation, "Are you the guy who played that game against Vannitha?" He needn't have been too concerned. My racks from hell continued in this round even as he got hot off the blocks with ENAMOUR (67) and  SIXAINES# (78) as his first moves. There would have been more of my blood on the floor if only he had seen he could have placed the SIXAINES# as a double timer and got a 100 from it! In the end it didn't matter. The Scrabble gods were not smiling on the man of destiny, the face of the game. If PATINATE (65) didn't bury me, SENILITY (65) surely did. I was slapped around silly in this game.
MARLON PRUDENCIO   493   EDWIN-MUGISHA   291

GAME 22
SAM KANTIMATHI
That extra qualification slot for Uganda was at this stage ebbing away. Enter Sam Kantimathi, a most interesting looking character. Yes Chris Ntege had mentioned this gentleman to me and now the guy sat opposite me on the board. The guy wears, a utility belt? Fishing belt? around his waist. His clipboard is huge, certainly the largest I have ever seen but perhaps this is to provide space for the ten markers of various shades that the gentleman slapped down on the table. And he was to use all of them as he wrote furiously  away on the clipboard, cap pulled down but face occasionally exposed to reveal those expressive, intelligent and huge eyes. This picture is not complete without mentioning the round flask? kettle? from which he occasionally sipped a liquid from as the game progressed.  The flask? kettle? was a crimson red? maroon? matching his shirt. And then he pulled out from his fishing? utility? belt a small vial containing a modicum of some transparent liquid which I was too busy to ask him about. Oh, the game. We were neck and neck as his MEROPIA (83)  cancelled out my ANILINE (71). I tracked his final rack with one letter left in the bag and saw he had rubbish. a V, C, U, O, T , A and so forth. The man was doomed, especially as I played REGALING for 61. The first sign of trouble was that I picked the T. This meant he didn't have to worry about playing some impossible OUT- word. Then he coolly laid down on my R of REGALING, VACUOLAR. He punched the air triumphantly as I just sat there in disbelief. As fellow American Bob Linn came over to congratulate him, I realised with utter disgust I should have played LAGERING.This is one of the OQUASSA 's 13 000 Anagrams. Another strategic cockup, through overconfidence thinking I had the man beat. I told him afterwards, very aggrieved, how could he do such a thing to a living legend.His response; "But I am also a legend!" Well!
SAM KANTIMATHI   435   EDWIN-MUGISHA   385

GAME 23
RALPH LOBO (United Arab Emirates)
I was not amused at this stage. Surely this was not how the script was supposed to go? With the Eagle defeathered and ass up totally exposed? These Scrabble players were not reading from my page of history! Ralph Lobo is a calm man whose laidback persona masks a dangerous game. He hit the ground running with HENLIKE (91) and LIBELEES even as I was stopping myself from getting distracted by pondering my 2011 campaign. I balanced for  ENCASTRE# (83) and threw with VATMAN# (30) but my BRATTLES (72) in the end was no much for his IMpoliter (39) and HEROINS (79). Only one win on Day 3 so far for such a talented player with the largest vocabulary in Africa? Criminal!
RALPH LOBO   513   EDWIN-MUGISHA 427

GAME 24
RICARDO GONZALEZ
Chief Toke Aka, Mpundu from Zambia (who had bet dollars and won that I wouldn't make the top 90) and I am sure a host of other players were giggling themselves silly at the pickle I had got myself into.I was speeding recklessly into last place. The tradition at the WSC is that the winner of the final game gets the board and the loser the tiles. In the persona of Ricardo, I felt I had the board already in my hands.He was licking his wounds, utterly downcast that he was getting smashed from all sides.He implied his vocabulary wasn't that large and it seems some players do nothing but read the dictionary while he is just a "recreational player' He wearily commented that we should get the game over with and go home. I smugly agreed. What happened to that smugness? It turned into a bitter cup of sorrow, that's what happens. The guy picks everything. Sometime after he has built up a lead of 100 he lets drop this is his THIRD WSC. I feel like I have been mule kicked in the gut.I have been hustled! The highlight of this game is his  TESTIER for 69, although let's face it, he didn't do too badly with the X for for 52 and BLUEY (41). Suddenly he perks up as he picks up his new board. His fatigue has worn off. He is bouncy. Ay caramba, thanks, he tells me, for letting him beat me. Thanks for not beating him badly the way other Scrabblers have been doing. Ay caramba. You are welcome, I tell him. What else can the genius who thought he was a Contender but turned into a Pretender say?

NOTES
Position : 101st out of 108th
Wins:       8
Spread  :  -400
Bingos  ;  36
Average game score    : 409
Equity loss      : 75

ANALYSIS
Why the underperformance,  my concerned diehard fans will want to know? Those who know me will know that, in the words of Akon's song, "I went through hell to get here." My preparations in the weeks leading up to the WSC were inadequate as opposed to my rivals and my games show I wasn't in the proper state of mind. There are many issues at work here but the biggest reason is my being let down by incompetent and possibly corrupt sports officials. I can't speak for other continents but in Africa it is a malaise that affects not just Scrabble In the FIfa World Cup next year the best any African team will do is reach the quarter finals. That is the brutal truth. Don't grieve for them, don't mourn. Celebrate the African talent that makes it to the Quarter finals DESPITE not BECAUSE of hopeless administration. Celebrate the African talent that makes it to the World Cup of Scrabble or Soccer or Athletics DESPITE not BECAUSE of hopeless administrators. There has never been an African World Champion in Scrabble or Soccer and now we know there won't be one until 2011. God knows, its not because we the sportsmen don't try!

THE FUTURE
I am an optimist and things will change. Certainly when I am President of the East African Federation, for those of you who know what the EA federation is, things will change. YES WE CAN! said an East African triumphantly last November when many said he couldn't. They look like stupid fools today!

PREDICTION
I have acclimatised for a week now, in lovely Malaysia I predict it will not be whether OQUASSA wins Causeway, but by how many games.

PHILLIP EDWIN-MUGISHA
THE PHENOMENON

SCRABBLE WORLD CHAMPION 2011

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