Teen Scrabble champs ready for war of words

The event takes place from December 12 to 14 at the Etisalat Academy in Mirdif, with almost 140 participants from over 20 countries.

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DUBAI // This year’s World Youth Scrabble Championship is to be held in the emirate – a first for the UAE and the Middle East.

The teenage competitors will face 24 rounds and 1,500 games over three days.

“We are delighted to bring the tournament to Dubai,” said Karen Richards, youth committee chair of the World English-language Scrabble Players’ Association and founder of the World Youth Scrabble Championship (WYSC).

“My first visit to Dubai was in 2011 to conduct a coaching camp at the Academic City, and the precocious talent on display was a big factor in our decision to award the 2013 event to the UAE.

“The superb performance of the UAE team at the 2012 WYSC in Birmingham cemented this position, and we seem set to have our biggest tournament yet in terms of participation, hence it is apparent that Dubai has been a popular choice.”

The entrants qualified after competing in local tournaments worldwide.

“We are very excited to host the WYSC,” said Nikhil Soneja, chairman of the UAE Scrabble Club.

“Though competitive Scrabble in the UAE dates back over two decades, this is our first chance at hosting a world tournament and we hope to make it truly memorable.

“The UAE is ideally placed as a global hub, and we foresee it becoming the Scrabble capital of the world by 2020.”

The UAE will be represented by 18 children from across the country. They will be led by Navya Zaveri, 14, a pupil at the Indian High School who was crowned the under-16 world champion in Birmingham last year, and Sanchit Kapoor, 12, of Gems Modern Academy, who finished in 18th place and was the youngest player to make the top 25.

“Our training sessions have been going exceedingly well,” Mr Soneja said. “The kids have put in a lot of hard work for word study and practice, and we expect this intense preparation will bear results against the more experienced countries, as it did last year.”

The event is from December 12 to 14 at the Etisalat Academy in Mirdif, with almost 140 entrants from more than 20 countries.