Scrabble Among University Games

My proudest moment as a child was the time I beat my uncle Pierre at Scrabble with the seven-letter word FARTING – Tina Fey

Scrabble is an all fun game. Its a jolly game played when family and friends gather at home. Nevertheless upon the start of the game, as each player plots to win, kith and kin become rivals. This is what makes scrabble so exciting and enjoyable.

When it’s someone’s turn, and their rack is filled with tiles, they start jumbling the rack to create some words. Sometimes they create a word that sounds correct, but in fact doesn't exist. Being unsure and yet hopeful they place the word somewhere on the board with a straight face trying to act normal. And its funny when as the opponent, you know the word is not there (probably because its a three letter word with “V” and you know all of them) and you look at your opponent who is trying to look totally normal!

During the game, players have fun by playing words like “GJU” and “XYSTER” which are allowed in scrabble but sound very spurious to their opponent. They know its valid because they learned the word even though they have no idea what it means.

GJU - an old Shetland viol
XYSTER - a surgical instrument for scraping bones

All this fun was felt at the “The Spell”, the Invitational Scrabble Encounter of Universities, organized by University of Kelaniya last Sunday. This was the third consecutive time such a tournament was organized for university students. Teams from Universities of Colombo, Moratuwa, Ruhuna and Kelaniya were ready that morning to make some words and battle for the trophy.

The games started at 9.30 in the morning. The rounds were conducted according to round-robin. For those deeply passionate about scrabble, the sounds of muddling up the little squares in the bag of tiles as players randomly picked tiles, definitely kicked excitement.

A misleading but interesting thing to do while playing, is to make words that look wrong because they are spelled differently normally. Words like "ANNEXE” and “DRAUGHT” are examples that will trigger your opponent to say “I challenge that word”!

ANNEXE – an extra building added to a larger building
DRAUGHT – a current of cool air in a room or other confined space.

Amid the game playing, players learned a number of allowed words and learned the hard way that some words are invalid!

The highest scoring word played during the event was RELAXING for 110 points by Shannon Constantine from University of Colombo. The highest game score was 669 by Supuni Liyanaarachchi from University of Kelaniya. The games ended with the A Teams from University of Colombo winning the championship in both the men’s and women’s categories. No team has managed to beat University of Colombo in championing during the past three years. University of Moratuwa Team B were runners-up while University of Kelaniya Team A were second runners-up in the men’s category. In the women’s category University of Kelaniya Team A were runners-up while University of Colombo Team B was second runners-up. The Best Scrabbler - Men was won by Malinda Gunewardana and the Best Scrabbler - Women was awarded to Aysha Ziyad, both from University of Colombo.

The game of scrabble is yet to be recognized by SLUSA. However as inter-university scrabble tournaments have been held for three times as of this year, we hope to see it officially in Inter-University Games 2018. Kudos to University of Kelaniya for introducing this exciting game among the local universities. Congratulations to everyone who played that day making the matches very competitive and yet amusing.

Article by: Yumna Albar

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