ASTAR Scrabble Challenge International 2019: The Might Of Words
ASTAR Scrabble Challenge International (ASCI) is an annual international project organised by a board of committee which consist of students from the first residential college of University of Malaya in collaboration with Malaysian Scrabble Association (MSA) and World English-Language Scrabble Players’ Association (WESPA).
The main objective of ASCI, which was to broaden the knowledge, thinking skills and intellectual understanding of participants as well as to expose the beauty of the game of scrabble to the public was a huge success when it was held on the 20th and 21st of April 2019 at the prestigious Dewan Tuanku Canselor of the University of Malaya recently.
The event that had just celebrated its 13th anniversary this year was participated by a total of 476 students from all over the world including India, Australia, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand, Hong Kong and Trinibagonian.
Throughout the two days of event, it was a beautiful sight to see that the hall was filled with participants of different nations and ethnicity coming together with one motive ; to fill the scrabble boards with overwhelming knowledge and vast vocabulary of words.
ASCI has a history that started way back in year 2006 when a team of students from first residential college organised the international event for the first time and from that year onwards, the firing passion for scrabble had continued to keep the event alive and thus it marks the 13th anniversary of ASCI this year.
The tournament was divided into four categories – Under-12, Under-15, Under-18 and Open, each with 118, 150, 174 and 34 participants respectively which totalled up to an overwhelming amount of 476 participants.
After two days of competition with multiple rounds for every category, 10 winners with the highest scores were selected from each category. Nigel Richards, 51, from New Zealand who is also the current scrabble world champion and the winner of ASCI open category 2018 dominated the Open category once again this year and came out on top, taking home RM3000. Nevertheless, Vannitha Balasingam, from Malaysia managed to make our country proud as she had won third place in the recent ASCI 2019.
For the U-18 category, victory was given to Tarin Pairor from Thailand while his fellow teammate, Manat Panmanee managed to obtain the 8th place. As proud Malaysians, it was also a huge victory to us when Yalleni Gunenthiran, Amerenthiran and Khor Jia Wayne managed to score the position of second runner up, fourth and fifth place respectively.
While for the U-15 category, Napat Vatjaranurathorn from Thailand proved to everyone his unbeatable skills in scrabble when he repeated the feat on ASCI 2018 and held the throne once again for ASCI 2019. Hong Kong participant, Thomson Law Long Yin did not fail to make his country proud by obtaining the position of runner up in ASCI 2019. Not forgetting, Our Malaysian youth managed to make our country proud as well when we managed to obtain five places between fourth and tenth place.
Young Malaysians of the U-12 category were in the spotlight when Ariana Onyinyechukwu Daniel grabs the title of champion while Ahmad Aqmarul Harraz won the runner- up. Despite the third and ninth place scored by our fellow participants from the Philippines and Indonesia, whom we are truly happy for, the rest of the prizes were won by Malaysians. Thus, Malaysians dominated 8 out of 10 places in the U-12 category.
‘ASCI is my ‘holiday’ in the world of scrabble.’ said Napat cheerfully, who was the defending champion of the U-15 category of ASCI for two consecutive years when we invited him for a short interview.
He also added, ‘I have met a lot of new friends from other countries and I’ve gained good experiences and meanwhile, I am also having a good time here since every committee members are very friendly.”
The two-day event wasn’t an easy task for the participants and the committees. He added, ‘They must be sleep deprived over the few days but they still gave unconditional care to the hundreds of children. ‘
When asked whether he will join ASCI 2020, he exclaimed, “Hopefully, I can join it every year”. He also stated that if he gets to join ASCI 2020, then he would change to compete in the U-18 category.
This year, ASCI 2019 was honoured to have Martin Teo as our tournament director. Martin Teo is the champion of scrabble in Malaysia and a part of the World English Scrabble Players Association (WESPA) who represents Malaysia under the Youth Committee. He has directed World Youth Championship for several years including year 2011, 2014, 2015 and 2016.
ASCI 2019 director, Ang Ru En, a second-year student from the faculty of science, managed the entire flow of the competition with the help from about 100 committees from the first residential college.
“Initially, leading ASCI seemed to be a dream and a huge challenge as it is an international event that needs to meet the standard of WESPA and it would not be an easy task.” explained Ru En.
“However, the moment I was given the responsibility as the director of this project, I knew I wanted to bring ASCI to a higher level. I wanted to spread it not only in Malaysia but I hope that it could be known globally.” Ru En added.
“This time, I was lucky to have a team of members who always have my back and I definitely appreciate everyone in this big family as well as the participants who gave full cooperation throughout the event.” Ru En said, while putting her palms together to show gratefulness.
“I hope that we could continue this tradition and made it even bigger next year.” Ru En said, as an end to her interview.