Thanks to Murray Landon and John Baird, instant results from all NZASP tournaments are now available on the day after each round of games finishes – from this link: Elixs Results


by Cathy Casey, NZASP President
(and currently lurking between C and D grade)

Congratulations to organiser Cicely Bruce and the Whangarei Scrabble Club for hosting the first (and longest) Open Scrabble tournament in New Zealand under competition rules. Twenty five Scrabblers from all over the country played 30 games against each other over three days. Many thanks to Murray Landon who had to tweak his scrabble scoring programme (Elixs) to cope with 25 players at one grade level.

The Giant Round Robin tournament was a roaring success with very high quality Scrabble, which led to a tight finish between Chris Tallman and Lawson Sue to decide the winner (Chris won on spread). It was also hugely successful for building new friendships among the 25 contestants. Players from lower grades (like myself) got to play with Scrabblers that we would never normally have the chance to play, including Grand Masters like Lawson Sue, Liz Fagerlund, Cicely Bruce and Anderina McLean.

In NZASP tournaments we usually play in allocated grades but the Open format of the Giant Round Robin allowed me to meet a wonderful bunch of new people from higher grades (that ordinarily I didn’t really know very well).  And what a lovely bunch they are.  The tone was set on the first morning by Jennifer Smith who opened the tournament with a very funny poem that mentioned every single player in the tournament.

Many people remarked that the mix really helped to improve camaraderie and social bonding between players across all grades. All in all, the Open tourney was a lovely way to get to know people better and I think we are a closer-knit Scrabble family as a result.

It was an amazing educational opportunity for players from lower grades too.  I learned lots from playing against higher grade Scrabblers.  I found out that just like we bottom dwellers, higher grade players can: (i) Play phoney words  (ii) Make mistakes and (iii) Get beaten! Our friendly post-mortems at the end of each game allowed us a glimpse of others’ successful (and unsuccessful) strategies.

I wasn’t among the winners and didn’t quite meet my expectancy, but I absolutely loved every game including the textbook thrashing I received from Lorraine Van Veen (which gave her 497 points and a spread of 223 points). Lorraine got three bingos: CORNIEST (68), GELATING (75) and TRIPODS (65). 

One of the highlights of the tournament for me was making both Chris Tallman (the eventual winner) and Lawson Sue (the close second) sweat blood to scrape their wins over me.  Both games went to the wire. Such fun.

Another highlight was playing against New Zealand’s only blind Scrabble player Olivia En.  It was awe inspiring to watch Olivia play using her fingertips on specialised braille equipment. She is one of the top players in the country and she finished 9th in the Round Robin. (I also remember it for being one of my 11 wins!)

So all in all, the Open tourney was hugely successful and enjoyed by all players. Thank you to all the entrants, especially those in lower grades who were initially nervous. Playing 30 games over three days is a hard slog and everyone who competed should be well proud of themselves.

Let’s have more tournaments with just one grade. Who’s next?

PS A huge shout out to the Whangarei Scrabble Club Committee for providing the delicious buffet lunches.


 Left: WINNER: Chris Tallmann (IND) – 25 wins  (Spread 2952)   Centre: SECOND: Lawson Sue (MTA) – 25 wins  (Spread 1641)  Right: THIRD: Jennifer Smith (KIW) – 20 wins (Spread 531)

Left: FOURTH: Val  Mills (MTA) – 19 wins (Spread 2205) Centre: FIFTH: Liz Fagerlund (MTA) – 19 wins (Spread 1462)   Right: SIXTH: Lynn Wood (IND) – 19 wins (Spread 995)

The Spinoff documentary of the National Scrabble Championship 2023 was released 07.11.2023 and is now available to watch – go to the media page for the link!

In “Every Word Counts”, meet Scrabble players from around the country as they hone their skills ahead of the National Championship.

If you’ve ever known the thrill of landing a triple word score or the magic of shuffling your tiles into a seven letter bonus word, a new documentary on The Spinoff is for you.

“Every Word Counts” goes inside the world of competitive Scrabble following three passionate players on their journey to the National Scrabble Championships, you’ll have front row seats to the highs and lows of this fiercely competitive game, and see what it takes to come out on top.

Thanks goes out to Alexander Gandar and his Spinoff crew for this poignant portrayal of the three featured competitors.

Auckland Scrabble player Lyres Freeth has become New Zealand’s 43rd Scrabble Champion. After a thrilling weekend Lyres won 18 of her 22 games to fend off a strong field of experienced international players and grand masters from NZ and overseas. Her win was all the more exciting because Lyres returned to the championship after nearly two years off from competitive Scrabble after having a baby.  It is her first national win. After the weekend, Lyres is now ranked 3rd in the New Zealand rankings. Her husband Dr Alastair Richards is ranked number one in NZ and is the current world champion.

Another exciting win at the national champs was a stunning performance by Christchurch Scrabble Club player Laura Griffiths in C grade. Laura was playing in her first ever national championships and won 16 of her 22 games. Laura also won the Georgie Trophy for the most improved player. After the weekend she has moved up 17 places from 62nd in the NZ rankings to 45th.

The tournament attracted 68 players from all parts of New Zealand and of all ages and occupations. Whangarei Scrabble Club took out the team prize.

Presentations were made to the prizewinners by our new prez Cathy Casey!

Cathy, who was elected at the AGM held during the weekend, now hails from the Whangarei club, along with treasurer Cicely Bruce and webmaster Suzanne Liddall. Stan Gregec from Tauranga has joined the exec as the new veep, and we have gladly retained Liz Fagerlund from Auckland as secretary of the association. Liz managed the 3-day tournament like the professional that she is, and a fabulous time was had by all.

Milestone badges for tournament games played were also presented to the recipients above by incoming President Cathy Casey.

Photos by Barbara Derrick

The 2023 Masters is being held during Easter weekend and hosted by the Whangarei Scrabble Club for the first time. We can now all follow the results when they start going live on Saturday 8th April, after which they will be updated after each game until play ends on Monday 10th. Many thanks go out to John Baird and Murray Landon for their work in setting up this online system.

Big congratulations to New Zealand scrabble’s new Grand Master – Gil Quiballo.
Gil achieved the title this year, having three top 10 ranking finishes in the last 12 months. In January 2022 after the Wellington tournament he had a post tournament ranking of 10th, followed by the Masters in April with a ranking of 8th, and the third was after the Wellington tournament in October where he once again finished 10th on the rankings. A remarkable achievement considering the only other tournament Gil played in 2022 was the Nationals in Christchurch.
Gil had a long break from scrabble, and we are delighted to welcome him back on the scrabble scene. Well done Gil.

Congratulations to our Prez Howard Warner who won the 2022 World Senior Champs in Sydney, with Joanne Craig in 2nd and Cicely Bruce who came 4th. Howard also won the Best Kiwi award for the 2022 Trans-Tasman Challenge. Many thanks to Karen Richards and team for organising these fabulous events!

Karen and Howard – Bob Jackman and Howard – Cicely

Winners of the World Seniors Champs 2022 – The Trans-Tasman NZ Team – the “All Blanks”

Our NZL-based Zebra Word Judge app is now available for Android (non-Apple) devices. You can download it from the Google Play Store. See installation instructions. Before you can use it, you will need to install the NZL21 (New Zealand Lexicon 2021) file. Apply to scrabblenz@gmail.com for a link to this file.

The versions for iOS (Apple devices such as iPhone) and Windows (PCs and laptops) are under development. We hope to get them to you soon. Note, all versions will include accessibility features for blind players.

A huge thank-you to Dylan Early for all his hard work in designing, developing and testing the app. It will allow us to continue word-judging using our own unexpurgated word source.

Check out the widespread public interest in the NZ Scrabble scene in Media coverage.
Anyone, regardless of age or ability, can join one of our many friendly NZ Clubs, enjoy playing Scrabble with others, and improve their game.
See who has been winning the recent club, independent or national

To contact NZASP, email scrabblenz@gmail.com

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