Eighty enthusiastic Scrabble players will descend on Howick this King's Birthday weekend to decide New Zealand's 43rd Scrabble Champion.

The premier event in New Zealand's Scrabble calendar has entries from around the country, as well as abroad.

One of those is 11-time national champion and number one seed Howard Warner, the reigning 2022 World Seniors Champion.

Warner, who is also the president of NZ Scrabble Players Association, shared some Scrabble tips with First Up.

The scrabble veteran said he had played hundreds of thousands of words in his career, but unlike other competitors with photographic memories, he could not recall many.

But one word did stick out - the highest score ever in a world championship, a whopping 257 points.

The word? FIBERIZE.

"It was a triple triple, you go from one triple word score to another. There has to be a letter in that channel already.

"So you get the whole thing nine times and then you get 50-point bonus for playing out all your letters, and it mounts up very quickly if you've got big letters like the Z, the F and the B in there."

Warner said his advice for aspiring scrabblers out there was simple.

"I follow the line said by Nigel Richards, a Kiwi living in Malaysia who is the greatest Scrabble player ever in history.

"If anyone asks him how to play, he says the same thing every time.

"'Score the most you can on each turn, and in general that gets you a win'," laughed Warner, clearly not wanting to give away too much.

On a steady training diet of memorising combinations of seven-letter and eight-letter anagrams every day, Warner conceded he had also fallen for popular crossword game WORDLE.

"I resisted for quite a long time because I thought this is nothing compared to the anagram training that I do for Scrabble.

"Eventually, my sister got me into it and I found it a little bit addictive. I think I've done about 150 of them."

In his mid-60s, Warner said he was conscious of attracting youngsters to the sport.

"We're on a bit of an odd treadmill where older people play it in clubs, and younger people go along to the clubs and think, 'oh, this looks like an old people's game'. And yet we've got lots of young people playing it online and playing it at home.

"It's been quite hard to break that cycle to be honest. At the highest level, it's very much a young people's game, because it requires a young brain for memory and a young brain for strategy."

The format for the New Zealand Championships is a double round robin, consisting of 22 games for each competitor. Chess clocks are used, with 25 minutes allotted per player of each match.

Play across the multiple grades takes place from 9am to 4.30pm Saturday to Monday at Howick Bowling Club. Spectators are welcome.


2023-06-01T17:57:26Z dg43tfdfdgfd