WATCH: New South African Scrabble Champion & Missing Survivor Idol


Io is not a valid Scrabble word. You did not know it ? Well, new South African Scrabble champion Dr Harry Wiggins does, and it’s one of the many words in his arsenal that has taken him to the top.

The University of Pretoria lecturer, who has played Scrabble for a decade, took top honors last weekend in Johannesburg after placing a number of important words on the board.

An elated Wiggins told News24 that one of the words that helped him win was Qats – an evergreen shrub – which scored him 50 points. He won 12 of the 16 games and ultimately the tournament.

“I’m over the moon. It’s a super strong field; a lot of these players have been playing Scrabble for over 10 years,” said Wiggins.

“I was delighted to win this tournament, I participated in it six or seven times, each time [coming] in short. I was very shocked, it was surreal. “


Wiggins also appeared in Season 4 of Survivor South Africa in the Maldives in 2011. Believe it or not, his Scrabble skills have served him well.

Wiggins explained that in one of the challenges, his team had to row a boat to collect letters to form a palindrome.

“You had to come up with a palindrome sentence, but when I saw the letters, I immediately saw the answer,” he said, beaming.

“I had to use my Scrabble skills to win the challenge because physics is not my strength. But I knew the puzzles were.”

Wiggins lasted 15 days before being elected off the island, but not until he managed to find and lose an Immunity Idol.

“I still have sleepless nights about this blunder.”

Wiggins found the idol, which he could have used to avoid being rejected.

But after changing the idol’s hiding place several times, it became a puzzle that he couldn’t solve – he couldn’t remember exactly where it was hidden.

“I managed to hide it so well that I can guarantee you it’s still on the island. I hope if they have another season of Survivor on this island, someone else can find it and use it. “

World’s Championships

Following his victory, Wiggins will join Dr Trevor Hovelmeier to represent South Africa at the English Speaking Scrabble Players Association World Championships in Goa, India in October.

Wiggins said he hopes to make the top 20, adding that of the 200 expected most have started playing Scrabble as youngsters.

The Word and Math Wizard adds that he will most certainly be training in hopes of beating some of Scrabble’s top players.

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