In case you missed it, the 16th World Scrabble Championship happened recently. While it had its moments of scandal, it was also a weekend with some very intense matches and tricky words. Hundreds of the world’s best Scrabble players from 25 countries competed in London to claim the title of the best Scrabble players, but of course only one can win.
It came down to Nigel Richards and Jesse Day. Richards had been the three-time champion going into the match and managed to secure his win against Day with a score of 575 to 452 points. He clinched the victory by spelling “groutier,” which is defined as “cross or sullen.” Another word that Richards played was “zonular” which scored an impressive 100 points.
For Richards, who is from New Zealand but lives in Malaysia, this is not the first time he has had success at major world championships. He was the World Scrabble Champion in 2007, 2011, and 2013. And that isn’t even the most impressive of his accomplishments. In 2015 and again this year, he won the French edition of the championship. While anyone who can win a Scrabble tournament in not one but two languages is clearly a lexicon genius, Richards was able to do it without speaking an actual word of French. Apparently, he memorized the French Scrabble dictionary. Just goes to show that memorizing lists is the key to success in Scrabble.
“He does have a reputation for being the best Scrabble player ever, and they know about him already,” Liz Fagerlund, a former president of the New Zealand Scrabble Association, told The New Zealand Herald in 2015, in regards to Richards’s French opponents.“But they probably didn’t necessarily expect him to go in for the first time and beat them at their own game.”
This year’s English-language finals saw a matchup between Jesse Day and Nigel Richards. Day is a data scientist who lives in New York and described Richards as the best Scrabble player “of all time.” Richards said, “It was a closely fought championship, and Jesse was a very impressive opponent.”