Bahraini Teenager Wins Scrabble Crown

Dec. 24, 2006 – With two convincing wins, Bahraini Mohammed Zafar won the 21st Bahrain Scrabble Cup championship at Yateem Centre. In a 2-1 match, the 17-year-old played against 2004 champion Adeeb Ahmad.
The new champ, who was last year’s Bramco plate winner, seized opening victories of 465-385 and 462-398 to become the 13th Bahrain Scrabble titleholder.
A nonobligatory third game was played which Ahmad, a 40-year-old investment banker, won 448-407. A flurry of bonus words, or bingos, went on the board with Ahmad particularly pleased with his “nonelite,” even if it pulled in only 71 points though “lesions” was another of his good plays. Zafar’s “hernias” (80 pt.) was a bingo he especially relished.
Both players are noted for plonking down seven-letter words as Ahmad was cited twice in 2004 for having the Bahrain Scrabble League’s most bingos while Zafar earned the same honour last year.
In the Crystal Orb awards (BSL’s answer to the “Oscars”), Ahmad was named the player one learns the most from in 2004 while in 2004-05 Zafar was voted twice the most up-and-coming player. Ahmad said he was “sort of” the new champion’s teacher in Scrabble.
After being declared the winner, the teenager said he was “just very, very happy being the champion which is my dream come true.”
He is the first teenager to be Bahrain Scrabble champ since Mario Ranasuriya became the titleholder four years ago.
Zafar thought no game was easy in the championship match but the second one was a “lucky one with a nice flow of tiles.”
The match had “hard games” for Ahmad who admitted that he “made a few mistakes along the way.” He shrugged his shoulders and concluded, “It wasn’t my day, I guess.”
Zafar was disappointed with his placement of 31st place in this month’s World Youth Scrabble Championship in Australia though he now has his sights set on the King’s Cup Tournament in Bangkok, the world’s largest Scrabble event, in June.
The championship match was part of the 38th Mohammed Salahuddin Consulting Engineering Bureau playoffs.
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