Representing Polish coins and ear seals respectively, “grosze” and “sea lions” are some of the obscure terms that the soft-spoken Madhav had to defend as valid words in an ongoing virtual tournament including the finals. might well see India and Pakistan engaging in an enriching war of words, if not a formal handshake.
Welcome to the World Youth Scrabble Championship, an annual international under-18 tournament that this year lacks the trademark-tournament Scrabble buzz of clicking tiles, stubborn poker faces and friendly coffee (luge). Hosted online for the first time due to the pandemic, the 2021 edition of the game sees 96 players from 16 countries outdo each other in virtual groups of six. As of now, all six Indians have qualified for the quarter-finals.
Among them are Devansh Malpani and Ayush Bhatia from Mumbai, tenth grade students who can neither see their opponents nor the invisible eye that watches them through the webcam as they play. Although the duo wrote their foreplay online under a similar aloof gaze, it sounds more unnerving, says Devansh. “During the exams, you can see the proctor,” he explains.
Five years ago, they both switched to Scrabble during their “hobby” period at school when their date with his absurd lexicon began. “It’s good to know the meaning of Scrabble words, but it’s not necessary,” Ayush says, referring to obscurities such as “Usquabae” and “Zyzzyva,” which also happens to be the name of the Scrabble. online database of Scrabble words.
While knowing terms like ‘onions’ may not be academically useful, Harvinderjit Bhatia – Honorary Treasurer of the Indian Scrabble Association (SAI) and ‘whipping boy’ to his two scrabble-headed sons – says an international victory gives players an advantage while applying for graduate studies abroad. This is probably why Bhatia’s Scrabble Coaching Academy saw the number of inquiries from schoolchildren on non-subways increase during the lockdown. “Online learning eliminates the boredom and cost of travel,” says Bhatia.
The rapid and recent rise of online chess in India has brought hope to Scrabble. SAI is not only trying to persuade the company that makes Scrabble to partner with Scrabble associations in various states to encourage focus promoting gambling, but also to get the Department of Sports to give it sport status. . Meanwhile, filled with live broadcasts and match commentary in English and Urdu, the mood for Pakistan’s World Youth Scrabble Championship is charged. And while Devansh and Ayush will fail to read opponents’ expressions for clues until 2022, as all offline world scrabble tournaments have been canceled so far, there are things they are happy to be under. – process at a remote computer. “Once, in an offline tournament, I lost because of a stupid mistake,” Devansh recalls. “I wrote down my score in the losers column instead of the winners column.”