A Briton has been crowned as the Scrabble world champion after he won the title with the word ‘talaq’, a Muslim form of divorce that netted him 42 points to give him an unassailable lead in the final.
Craig Beevers, 33, from Guisborough near Middlesbrough, became the first British world champion in over 20 years, and only the second Briton to clinch the accolade.
Beevers and his opponent, Chris Lipe, from New York, competed in the final after intense competition between 100 players from 25 countries at the World Scrabble Championships 2014, the 13th edition of the bi-annual tournament first held in 1991.
The win in the final yesterday netted Beevers the title and 3,000 pounds prize money at the ExCeL Centre in London, The Telegraph reported.
In a tense final, Beevers, who organises Scrabble tournaments for a living, beat the American Chris Lipe by 440 points to 412 in the final game. It sealed a 3-1 victory for the Englishman in the best-of-five match.
Proceedings in the decisive fourth game had been more or less neck and neck until Beevers’ decisive play of ‘talaq’.
The word scored 42 points, after which there was no realistic way back for Lipe, a relative newcomer from Clinton, New York, could win.
Beevers had raced into a 2-0 lead, but a mistake in the third game, in which Beevers opted not to play ‘updrags’, a portmanteau of ‘up and ‘drags’, allowed Lipe to reduce his arrears to 2-1.
But Beevers made it over the line in the fourth board with words including ‘ventrous’, an archaic synonym of ‘adventurous’ scoring 65 points, ‘gleet’, inflammation of the urethra with a slight discharge of thin puss and mucus scoring 24, and ‘diorite’, an igneous rock, for 69 points.
For Beevers, it is also the culmination of a Scrabble-playing career that began after he dropped out of a Maths degree at the University of Sheffield, where, the champion said, he had spent most of his time in the computer room playing online word games, including Scrabble, because he found the course “too abstract”.
While occasionally unemployed, he slowly got into the real form of the game in the following years and gradually began to enter and win competitions.
Beevers, who was the British Scrabble Champion in 2009 and was also crowned champion of the Channel 4 words and numbers game-show Countdown in 2007, said he was “absolutely thrilled” and “relieved” to win.