Meet Ranganathan Chakravarthy Scrabble Champion Mohan Verghese Chunkath


Two of Chennai’s top scrabble players Ranganathan Chakravarthy and Mohan Verghese Chunkath say gambling should be seen as an after-school activity in schools

VIOLON It took Ranganathan Chakravarthy five seconds to assess the letters he had, form the seven-letter word on his scrabble board, then spin the board on top of glass – like a turntable – to get me. to face. I had no idea what the word meant, and he himself must have looked, before informing me that the violin is a musical instrument of the viol family. “I knew that, because of the way it’s structured. ‘Violone’ had to be a word, ”he says.

Meet the Chennai Scrabble Champions

Put simply, because he had studied and practiced words, their origins, formats and structures for decades, Ranganathan was able to take a basic word he knew, develop it using the letters he knew. he had in hand and to find a new word on his own, without having read it in a book or heard it in a conversation. That’s the beauty of scrabble.

“Language and vocabulary aren’t the end of scrabble, however,” says the Chennaiite ranked third best competitive scrabble player in the country. “There’s a lot of math involved, especially probability. You know how many letters there are in a game of scrabble, and you know which ones have been used. Using this information to calculate what your next hand would be can give you a much needed edge.

WESPA World Ranking as of May 2018

  • 1 Ganesh Asirvatham, Malaysia
  • 2 Nigel Richards, New Zealand
  • 3 David Eldar, Australia
  • 4 Conrad Basset-Bouchard, United States
  • 5 Wellington Jighere, Nigeria
  • 6 Brett Smitheram, United Kingdom
  • 7 David Wiegand, United States
  • 8 Adam Logan, Canada
  • 9 Lewis Mackay, United Kingdom
  • 10 Komol Panyasophonlert, Thailand

Yes, scrabble can become that competitive. And no, neither Chennai nor India as a whole have managed to harness their full potential, if Ranganathan and teammate Mohan Verghese Chunkath are to be believed. Fresh out of the Scrabble Association of India’s national open in Mumbai – where he came third in the Premier Division – Chunkath reckons: “We have quality players, but the game is not as broad as it would have been. could be. ” For example, he says, schools in other countries in Southeast Asia and Southeast Asia have scrabble as part of their extracurricular activities, which serves as a springboard for young people to do so competitively. .

Ranganathan takes this point further, silently handing me a sheet of paper. He has the world ranking, according to the results of the 2017 World Association of English Language Scrabble Players (WESPA) Youth Cup. Sri Lankan, Thai and Pakistani players dominate the list, along with a small handful. names from New Zealand and Australia. As Ranganathan points out, “the first Indian name is number 21”.

Ranganathan and teammate Krishnan Arumugam have consistently worked to shift the image of gaming from a light weekend pastime to one that requires focus and a constant eye on the 50 minute time stamp. In recent years, they have focused on schools. So far, however, only four to five schools in the city have adopted it. “Scrabble builds vocabulary and hones a child’s mental math skills. This is why it would not be an extracurricular activity, but an extracurricular one.

Currently, scrabble is considered a “spirit sport”, like chess and contract bridge. And if the aptitude of young Indians for the first time – as well as their meteoric track record on platforms like spelling bees – is anything to be done, there is a lot of potential here to be tapped.

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