Scrabble Champ Wins Big at Gulf Scrabble Championships
Scrabble Enthusiast of 10th Grade Wins at the 23rd Annual Gulf Scrabble Championship!

After a phenomenal stint at the World Youth Scrabble Championships held in UK last December, Navya Zaveri has once again proved his mettle at the recently concluded 23rd Annual Gulf Scrabble Championships, bagging the third position in the UAE and fourth in the Gulf. The three-day championship event was held from 30th May to 1st June 2013 at the Sports and Recreation Centre at Etisalat Academy. Zaveri was the overall second runners-up.

This tournament was one of the first for the 14-year- old. Unlike last year, where Zaveri played the under 16 world scrabble championship, this year, at the gulf championship he played against adults as the championship was open to different age groups. Commenting on his expectations from the event, he says, "I didn't set myself any targets for the Gulf Scrabble Championships since it was my first tournament with adults, but I was quite sanguine about my chances of making it to the top five. In terms of the quality of play, I think it was by far the toughest tournament."

Happy with Zaveri's achievement, an elated Mr. N. F. D'Souza, Supervisor of Grades 9 and 10 boys, remarked, "Since Navya is already the Under-16 World Scrabble Champion and is now competing with adults, it is indeed a great achievement and I wish him all the best."

Our Reporter also managed a brief tete-a-tete with the Champ.

What drew you to scrabble so much so that you became an avid scrabble player?
I've been playing scrabble competitively for around two years now. I started playing scrabble at the age of ten, became intrigued by the strategically and word aspect of the game and have been passionate about the game since then.

How did you train for the World Youth Scrabble Championship and the recent Gulf Scrabble Championships?
For both the championships, I practiced an hour every day on a software named 'ZYZZYVA', learning different variations and kinds of words. I also put my skill to practice by playing at the Internet Scrabble Club which helped me accumulate quite a bit of experience.

It is known that you are also a chess enthusiast. In what way does that fact contribute to your improvement in playing scrabble?
Chess has greatly benefitted me in forming various strategically perspectives in a game. Even though the luck factor in scrabble is much more predominant than it is in chess, I find both games similar.

How do you learn new words and what is your take on being able to remember them even long after they have been studied?
I can sum up the answer in one word: 'ZYZZYVA'. It's this software which is the most widely used by professional scrabble players to help improve their game. It is immensely helpful in learning bingos (seven to eight letter words), stems, hooks, etc.

Who has been your mentor and inspiration throughout the various scrabble tournaments that you have participated in?
My mentor is Mr. Nikhil Soneja as it was he who first got me into the competitive scrabble scene and since he himself is a strong player, working under his tutelage has absolutely paid off. Some of my other favorite players are David Eldar (former World Youth Scrabble Champion) and Andrew Fisher (Australian Scrabble Champion).

What is your advice to budding scrabble players?
My advice for other scrabble players is to keep working hard by studying various 1-8 letter words, not losing faith in their abilities and remembering that it is just a game.

What plans do you have for involving yourself in more scrabble championships in the future?
Well, I will probably be competing at the World Youth Scrabble Championship which will be held in Dubai in December and perhaps also the World Scrabble Championship in case one of the selected players is unable to make it, as my winning third position at the Gulf Scrabble Championships makes me the first stand-by for the UAE. Although I wouldn't pursue playing scrabble as my career, it would be my favourite leisurely pastime.
- Written by Amal Anwar Yousuf, Senior Reporter for Light House.