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Same old words, no big deal

It was business as usual, dictionary-wise, as players gathered from far and wide for three WGI-rated internationals in Sydney.

There is no words controversy to report. (Players were too focussed on scores and strategies, let alone placings and rating changes.) No members of the public got up in arms. And no one was hurt in the making of these tournaments!

First up was the three-day Seniors World Championship. Several players – including Rocky Sharma, John Holgate and Joanne Craig – had a period in the lead. New Zealander Howard Warner took the lead on the final afternoon and then hung on to lift the trophy, with a 19–24 record. Second was Joanne Craig, the 2017 winner, and third was defending champion Esther Perrins. It was Warner’s third title – he also won this event in 2014 and 2015.

The Trans-Tasman Challenge is a biennial challenge between the top players of Australia and New Zealand. Over 28 rounds, Australia retained their team trophy and ‘big brother’ bragging rights. In a very tight finish, Sydney’s Bob Jackman snatched the individual title from Trevor Halsall (who had led the entire way), Naween Fernando and Perrins. He finished on 20–8. It was a significant result for the veteran Jackman, coming exactly 27 years after he won the very first edition of the Trans-Tasman Challenge, also in Sydney.

In the one-day Revesby Round Robin, held between the two three-day events, alumni of Tony Hunt’s youth academy were very much to the fore. One of them, Patrick Huynh, emerged the winner, on 7–2.

For the record, the highest word score in the Seniors was Jackman’s 167 for PRIVIEST. In the TTC, it was Howard’s 212 (EQUISETA) – which equals the record in Australia this year. And in Revesby, it was another youngster, Vihn Nguyen, with 149 for STRAYING.

Warner picked up top game score in both three-day events: 624 in the Seniors and 639 in the Trans-Tasman event. He also managed to play six bonus words in one game in the Seniors. And in the Revesby event, yet another kid, Jefferey Lam, was the top game-scorer with 537.

Malta will host next year’s edition of the Seniors, after having to cancel in 2020 due to COVID. And Auckland will host the Trans-Tasman Challenge in 2024.

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