"Give them the gift of words"


Vocabulary Masters: The World Scrabble Championship

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The 2011 World Scrabble Championship was held last week in Warsaw, Poland, and New Zealand native and two-time WSC winner Nigel Richards came out on top after playing words like insular, omnified, zenaidas, parodies, and angriest. This tournament, which has been held every other year since 1991, brings the top players from around the world to compete during five intense days of increasingly nerve-wracking challenges. While the top prize is only about $20,000 (US) some competitors spend the entire two years between events memorizing words, practicing placement strategies, and playing word-scramble and anagram games to help them quickly see the words hidden in a rack of tiles. They also compete in local and regional tournaments, and get a ranking assigned to them based on their scores and results.

The 2004 documentary “Word Wars” (inspired by the book “Word Freak” by Stefan Fatsis) follows four of the dedicated Scrabble players as they prepare for the 2002 US National Championship. These four men have essentially memorized dictionaries; they carry vocabulary flash cards with them, work crossword puzzles daily, and take “brain-enhancing” supplements to power them through the pre-tournament schedule. It’s a fascinating movie about talent, obsession, and vocabulary.

You’ll get an extra dose of vocabulary improvements when you watch the movie, because words and definitions used in the games pop up on the screen at regular intervals. If you can’t find a copy of the film, look for Fatsis’ book in the library, or look for a local Scrabble club. You can observe these “word warriors” in person, and might even be inspired to join the game yourself.

You might also be interested in the World Memory Championship – click here to find out more.