NAIROBI, Kenya- Bahrain’s Akshay Bhandarkar was crowned the World English-Language Scrabble Players’ Association Championship (WESPAC) winner in Nairobi on Sunday evening.
Bhandarkar won four in a best of seven finals showdown against Nigeria’s Peter Moses to take home the USD20,000 prize money as well as deny Africa a second title since the 1991 maiden edition in London.
Wellington Jighere was the first African to feature in the finals in 2015 and went on to win the title beating Englishman Lewis Mackay after four straight wins.
Allan Oyende was Kenya’s top finisher in 26th after notching 18 wins in 32 rounds.
Scrabble Kenya Secretary General George Nyakundi termed the event as a success.
“Going by the large turnout of teams in the just concluded event, we are proud of what we achieved. The biggest challenge is lack of composure from our players,” Nyakundi, who was one of the participants in the championships, said.
Oyende had a stellar performance on the first day; winning six of the eight rounds, including beating Nigeria’s Jighere. However, he stumbled on Day 2 as he managed just two victories before adding 10 over the last two days.
“It was a tough championship. We had prepared but our opponents are on a different level especially Nigerians.
“I had a bad run off on the second day and that slowed my momentum. We have to go back to the drawing board as a country if we want to be world champions,” said Oyende who finished 14th at the last championship held in Perth, Australia.
He is optimistic that Kenya will earn an extra spot in the World Cup due to their general performance.
Patrick Nderitu who was undefeated on the second day and looked poised to finish in the top 10, struggled later on managing only five wins in the last 16 to finish in a lowly 46th. Nicholas Mbugua was third after finishing at position 55.
In the overall team standings, Nigeria was crowned the overall winners followed by India with Uganda coming in third.