National Scrabble Festival begins in Ijebu- Ode

..As 10 states, FCT name teams to championship

The 2nd edition of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation National Scrabble Festival begins today (Monday), with the Asaph Zadok National Scrabble Championship – Gateway 2024, at the serene and spacious Rolak Hotel and Suites, Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State.

58 players from 10 States and the Federal Capital Territory will be vying for honours in the individual and team events at the annual Championship that is set to bring together the best minds in the game of words and mind.

Host Ogun State, Akwa Ibom, Bayelsa, Cross River, Delta, Edo, Kwara, Oyo, Lagos, Rivers and the FCT, produced the teams that are set to grace the three-day, 28 rounds of games Championship.

Africa’s highest rated player with 1760 rating points, West Africa Scrabble Champion and tournament top seed 500 level UNILAG undergraduate, Oluwatimilehin Doko, bears the badge of hosts Ogun State and leads the 58 man strong cast.

Hosts also have in their fold 2022 National Sports Festival gold medalist, Jimoh Abdulmumini, 2023 South-West Closed Championship winner Cyril Umeriye, Adebola Samuel, the hard fighter Gbadebo Olufemi, with Khaleel Adedeji adding to their number, as the lowest ranked member of ‘Team Ogun’ to the National Championship.

Defending champions, Delta State, storms the Gateway State with a loaded engine room, lead by former World Champion and tournament number 4 seed Wellington Jighere, with 1642 points, PANASA President Cup (PPC) winner, Godwin Victor comes one spot behind, 9 points short of Jighere’ tally.

Captain of ‘Team Delta’, two-time African Champion, Dennis Ikekeregua, enters the playing field with 1600 ranking points at number 7, with the likes of multiple National Sports Festival Gold medalist, Emmanuel Umujose, Whiskey Godsfavour, Jacob Tone and Ochuko Akpoiotor completing the list for the scrabblers from the sports capital of Nigeria.

Tega Okiemute, who narrowly missed out on glory at the 2023 West Africa Scrabble Championship (WASC) and the recently concluded 13th African Games, Scrabble Event in Ghana, will be looking to write a different story in Ijebu-Ode with Edo State, with hopes that being tournament 2nd seed will give him an edge.

Championship 15th seed, Ezinore George, Zoafa Perez, Osawe Victor, Samuel Eromosele and Izebere Choice are the other names from Edo State.

‘Team Lagos’ will feature a well-groomed and equally mature lineup with the likes of current African Champion and tournament third seed, UNILAG final student of Health Education, Enock Nwali, John Aiyedun who recently captured the hearts of Africa by winning African Games Side Event, winner of the first edition of Lekki Classic, Ewruje James, Adeyemi Adeosun, who engraved his name in the Scrabble history as the inaugural winner of the South-West Closed Championship, held in Ibadan in 2022, 2017 NSF Green Jacket holder, Dipo Akanbi, Olatumde Adigun and Joseph Okere are holding it tight for ‘Team Lagos’.

Bayelsa State who are down when it comes to numbers, fielding only two players, the least in the event, has 9th seed and captain of ‘Team Nigeria’ to the last West African Scrabble Championship, Ben Quickpen and Ohaka Bright as their torchbearers.

Winner of the 2023 Janet Adowei Scrabble Classic Jacob Ryan, who comes in 12th spot, will be assisted by Nsidibe Frank, Owokere Victor, Emmanuel Ekpo and Prestige Archibong as they seek to represent the Land of Promise, Akwa Ibom State the best way possible in Ijebu-Ode.

Cross Rivers has 5 players on its bill, that team is led by 2023 MGI Patrons Cup winner, Anthony Odok, Ogedengbe David, Olabiyi Olabode, Ewarah Victor and Akeem Ogundokun.

Rivers State is sponsoring four players to the annual event, Etuwa Larry being the highest ranked player, with Sunday Oshodi, Inoyo Friday, Gbanaye Itiye and Passfine Chinkere completing the quintet.

FCT have NSF Technical Director John Curtis, and his brother, Peter Ebomah, Friday Ogbunyomi as their team for the NSF season opener.

Raji Kazeem, Kareem Jamiu, Dokun Esan, Adebola Abiola, Adebowale Qamar and Segun Adegbenro are the word makers from Oyo.

Kwara State, will be taking care of five players, who incedentally find themselves at the bottom of the pre-tournament standings with only Passfine Chinkere from Rivers State setting the marker between them.

Kwara’ Abdulsalam Bayo on 950 points tops the bottom 6, with Passfine recording two less then Bayo, 248, while Abdulrafiu Olojoku, multiple gold medalist at the last National Youth Games Abdulqudus Aliu, Sofyan Olojoku and Khaid Olosun are joint bottom.

Though Kwara State will be fielding a relatively young and youthful team, they have a very experienced, talented and tested coach, Ganiu Ajimati, backing them up.

The Asaph Zadok National Scrabble Championship is a 28 rounds of game event. 1 Random, 22 Lagged and 5 King of the hill and each player has 25 minutes per game, while the 2021 Collins Scrabble Word Dictionary; CSW21 is the lexicon for the competition.

Ten rounds of games will be decided today (Monday) and an equal number will be played on Tuesday, while eight rounds of games is scheduled for Wednesday, at the Festival supported by Ogun State Government.

The Ogun State Scrabble Association (OSSA), is also using the weeklong event as a build-up to the 2024 National Sports Festival tagged Gateway Games, also scheduled to hold in the State.

The President of the Pan Africa Scrabble Association (PANASA), Adekoyejo Adegbesan, who also doubles as the chairman of Ogun State Scrabble Association (OSSA), who has been pulling the right strings for a smooth Festival is grace the event.

Eta Paul Karo, is the reigning Champion in the Individual event, while Delta State are the defending champions in the Team Event that is rated by NSF, PANASA and WESPA.

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