Thursday 8 December 2016

Wordsmiths in Scrabble title fight

Published 06/11/2011 | 03:51

The winning board in the National Scrabble Championship final
The winning board in the National Scrabble Championship final
Wayne Kelly from Warrington won the National Scrabble Championship final

The 40th national Scrabble champion has been crowned after winning a high-stakes war of words at the final of the annual competition.

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Wayne Kelly, 37, beat Gary Oliver, 39, to the title by outfoxing him with high-scoring words including "caromel" - meaning to turn into caramel and worth 69 points - and "travails", worth 74.

The financial adviser from Warrington in Cheshire was celebrating with a night on the tiles after bagging the £2,000 cash prize at the event in central London.

Mr Kelly, who had been the favourite to win the best-of-five-match showdown, said he was "quite high" after his victory in what had been a difficult contest.

He said: "I was really up against it for most of the competition. There were some tough games. I was really nervous about the final - it is so much easier to play when no-one else is watching your every move."

Describing the board game as "a big part of my life," he said he had always enjoyed playing but never considered himself particularly good at it when he was younger.

It was only when he made it to runner-up on TV game show Countdown in 1994 that it was suggested to him he might be talented at Scrabble.

His victory, watched by a crowd of his Scrabble-playing friends, came after a number of near misses in previous years when he failed to reach the final. "I really didn't want to settle for second place again," he said. "I am so happy to have won."

Mr Oliver, from Southampton, was something of an unknown entity, meanwhile, having entered relatively few tournaments in the past.

The 40th National Scrabble Championship final took place at the Hallam Conference Centre near Regent's Park.

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