University of Lagos (UNILAG) 300-level Health Education student, Enoch Tochukwu Nwali is the latest champion of African Scrabble.
Nwali achieved this feat on Monday when he crossed the finishing line ahead of 85 other players from ten countries on the final day of the 14th African Scrabble Championship in Lusaka, Zambia.
He secured 25½ wins plus a cumulative of 2023 points from 32 games, dropping 6 games and a draw in the four days of competition.
Nwali who led the championship from start to finish, started the final day needing just 3 wins from 6 games in the King of the hill confrontations.
A Student and The Master
Nwali won the first game against his nearest challenger Wellington Jighere but crumbled in games 28 and 29.
Game 30 went to the Ebonyi State Scrabble Eagle and wordsmith.
He won the tension-soaked game 31 by a very slim margin 415-414. The score forced Wellington Jighere to call for a recount and reconciliation.
The first-time champion defeated his closest rival and compatriot Wellington Jighere in a tightly contested round 31.
Wellington: A Dogged Master of the game trailed the young gun from day Two
Round 31 became a threshold for both players as Jighere who won the African title back-to-back in 2008 and 2010 knew a defeat would be fatal to his ambition to make it three and the first to do so.
He would garner some pretty points in the early stage of the game as his younger compatriot tried to catch up.
A quickfire of premiums in three successions with the word ‘TOUSIER’, ‘YEARDING’ and ‘EANLINGS’ propelled Nwali above Jighere as both players hunt for more points in the intriguing encounter.
In the end, Nwali would win the tie by a point as the final score stood at 514-513 after Jighere did some reconciliation for a possible scoring error which could drag the game further.
After the result was confirmed, the score push Nwali’s overall result to 25½ wins and 6½ losses with 2,023 cumulative points and stamped his new status as the 11th Nigerian to have his name etched in history as a winner at the championship.
Emani Vs Jighere An Ongoing Rivalry
In May, both players faced each other in Nigeria at the “Sophomore” Emmanuel Egbele Annual Scrabble Tournament (EEAST) where the “Drummer Boy” triumphed over the ” World Champ” in the final stage to win the tournament.
On the overall ranking, Jighere finished second with 22 wins and 10 losses while another Nigerian Prince Omosefe came third with the same score but with lesser cumulative points.
The victory is the 13th for Nigeria in the championship out of the 14 editions.
Team Nigeria took the team title, Kenya came second and Ghana third.
1994 Iffy Onyeonwu Kenya
1996 Femi Awowade Nigeria
1998 Wale Fashina South Africa
2000 Moshood Sanni Ghana
2002 Trevor Hovelmeier Kenya
2004 Dennis Ikekeregor Tanzania
2006 Dennis Ikekeregor Nigeria
2008 Jighere Wellington Kenya
2010 Jighere Wellington Ghana
2012 Rex Ogbakpa Zambia
2014 Etim Nsikak South Africa
2016 Ayorinde Saidu Ghana
2018 Moses Peter Kenya
2022 Enoch Nwali Zambia