By Patrick Omorodion
Over 300 scrabble players from Nigeria and other parts of the world are expected to storm Uyo, the capital city of Akwa Ibom State this weekend for the 4th edition of the Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics.
This year’s event is expected to be stiff with the star prize money jacked up by $2,000 to $12,000.This is against the $5,000 star prize the winner of the elite category, the Masters earned at the inaugural edition.Current world champion from Thailand, Pakorn Nemitramansuk is here to challenge for it.
President of the Nigeria Scrabble Federation, NSF, Chief Toke Aka said in Lagos Wednesday before he led the country’s team of 10 players to the African tourney in Accra, Ghana said that two players are also expected from Zambia, one each from Uganda and Kenya.
“After the African Championship in Ghana, we expect many more players from Ghana to attend since they are close to Nigeria. Last year we had 280 participants but so far about 300 have registered for this year’s edition,” he said.
The event, which Chief Aka said would hold at the Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort will see players vying for honours in four categories namely Masters, Intermediate, Open and Veteran.
The Masters category are for both non Nigerians and Nigerians who have a rating of 1500 and above while those who can vie for the Intermediate category should rate 1200 to 1499 while the Open category are for players rated below 1200 as well as new players.
Chief Aka said the Veteran category is for players over 55 years as well as inactive captains of industry, adding that the Akpabio International Scrabble actually began with veterans before it was widened to include active players.
For the Masters category, players are to play 24 round of games, seven on day one, nine on day two and eight on day three, Chief Aka said, adding that the “Games format is modified Swiss Pairings with no repeats for first 21 games with lagged draws after game 1, and KOTH (King of the Hill) rounds for the last 3 games.”
To be eligible to participate, non Nigerian international players had to pay a registration fee of $300 while their Nigerian counterparts rated over 1500 paid N10,000. A two-week registration period was allowed by the federation and it ended last Wednesday.
The federation stated on its website that “Only the first 80 players to register in the Intermediate and Open Categories, and 40 for Local Master Players categories are guaranteed to play.”
The opening ceremony of the event which will be performed by the Akwa Ibom state governor, Chief Godswill Akpabio who incidentally will play in the Veterans category, on Thursday October 28, 2010 while competition proper begins the next day.
While the winner of the Masters category takes home the star prize of $12,000, payers who place second to 10th position are to share $13,000 between them.
Among the Nigerian players who will jostle for the top prize with the world champion, Nemitramansuk are Wellington Jighere, who won the title last year, former African champion, Dennis Ikekeregor, Balogun Rasheed, Emmauel Umujose, Eta Karo, Cyril Umebiye, Omosefe Prince, Oshodi Sunday, Faloye Ibukun, Saidu Ayorinde, Anthony Ikolo and Wale Ilori, all of whom are currently in Ghana for the African Championship.
Governor Akpabio has assured all the participants, players and administrators alike of the usual Akwa Ibom hospitality and security while they are in Uyo. The closing ceremony is expected to be culminated with a dinner Governor Akpabio after presentation of prizes.