Another annal in the catalogue of Nigerian Scrabble came to a glorious end on last weekend as former world champion Wellington Jighere and Christopher Monday claimed the Premier and the Lite categories of the 4th Emmanuel Egbele Annual Scrabble Tournament (EEAST).

The two-day event created a spectacle for the mind game lovers and enthusiasts as over 100 players added spark to the convivial atmosphere of the prestigious Eko Hotel in Lagos after 18 rounds of games.

Like a phoenix, former world champion Jighere emerged stronger from the ashes to re-establish himself as he sealed victory in round 17 after he sustained a healthy lead of 4 wins ahead of his closest rival Umujose Emmanuel in the Premier category.

In the end, the Lekki Scrabble Club maestro would finish at the top with 17 wins with just a single defeat and an unassailable cumulative point of +1516 to take home 400,000 naira, a trophy and some pecks from sponsor SINQ-SAA.

Tega Okiemute would finish second with 12 wins and 6 defeats and 779 cumulative points while current South West champion Cyril Umebiye placed third with 12 wins and 6 defeats but with a lower cumulative point of 370.

All players in the top 13 won various cash prizes.

“This tournament is quite draining” the Delta state Scrabble star confessed. “It’s been quite a while that I have been able to do something worthwhile. It means that I still have some little juice to battle these upcoming youngsters. Was there anything special? I wouldn’t say there is anything special that is responsible for my victory in the EEAST.I have always been a gritty player and immediately I found myself in the lead I had to dig in and pull it through. Big tournaments like the EEAST is always good at honning the skills of the youngsters and you know they are many nowadays.”

In the Lite category, Christopher Monday regained his traction and was declared the champion after he secured 14 wins with 980 cumulative points but he would suffer 4 defeats in the process.

His high cumulative points assured his top place finish ahead of Sunday Ituah who recorded a lower cumulative of +657 having scored 14 wins and 4 defeats as well.

Omijeh Osaghaede came third.

Top 20 players were also rewarded with prize money.

Funmilola Okusanya won the women’s Most Valuable Player award with a cash prize of 100,000 naira.

The tournament featured the very best of jammers including African Champion Enoch Nwali, West African Topman Doko Timilehin, African Games double gold medallist Adebisi Adekansi amongst others.

Just like the last edition, the Fourth Dimension witnessed an international dimension as an Ugandan Dorothy Nalutaaya competed at the two-day scrabble extravaganza.

Convener of the EEAST Emmanuel Egbele who was elated on the successful ending of the competition, commended all participants as he believes that more is yet to come in raising the standards of scrabble competition in Nigeria and Africa.

“We started this journey in 2021 of course filled with excitement even with challenges that goes with organizing a tournament of this nature. In 2021 we started our baby steps with a few participants. In 2022, we moved into the Sophomore year and we were able to get more players into Eko Hotel. So last year was the Trilogy, it was big and we had to create more categories to absorb more participants and this year is the Fourth Dimension which is a journey through time. So it’s been improvements all the way.”

“The National Sports Festival as you know is Nigeria’s own Olympics so, the EEAST as a competition or platform helps them to prepare. Both Wellington Jighere who is a former champion and Christopher Monday will most likely
picked by their respective states. Also some of the players here will also use the platform to stake for a place at the Festival.”

He called for sponsorship as the tournament remains the best in creating the right atmosphere for the sport to thrive.

“As an organisation, we always strive to provide the best but of course, these come with challenges. We want to call on corporate bodies, individuals of means and lovers of the sport to come all out and support the EEAST, as you know scrabble is a way of life. It helps the students in school, it helps the adults to task the memory and reflects life itself. The importance of scrabble cannot be underestimated.”

Lagos State Scrabble and Monopoly Association chairman Dipo Akanbi under whose domain has enjoyed high quality scrabble tournament for four years appreciated the convener Emmanuel Egbele for creating a platform for the development of the sport.

At the award presentation ceremony deserving individuals were rewarded for their contributions to scrabble development including Musa Olasupo who won the Legacy Award for this edition.

Tayo Ogunseye, a staunch scrabble journalist was also celebrated with surprise award of excellence.

The event was also used to commemorate his late parents.

By News Connect Online

News Connect Online is a grassroot advocacy news platform established to promote development and peace through efficient and effective reportage across all beats. Beat: Education, Entertainment Environment Energy Business Health, Sport, Foreign News, Advocacy, Tourism, Transportation

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