Navya Zaveri, a 14-year old from Dubai, has created history by winning the under-16 category in the 7th World Youth Scrabble Championship in Birmingham (UK).
Navya with his trophy and medal
Zaveri finished 4th in the overall competition, beating the top 3 in the under-18 category in the process.
Gameplay - action from the tournament featuring Sanchit Kapoor
No UAE player has ever finished in the top 40 at the WYSC.
All the participants at the tourney
The prestigious tournament was held from December 7-9 2012 at the Britannia Hotel in Birmingham (UK) under the auspices of the World English-language Scrabble Players Association (WESPA), with 60 of the best young players in the world from 13 countries competing over 24 games for the coveted title.
Navya, who finished 80th at the 2011 WYSC in Malaysia, had already won a special warm up tourney conducted on December 6, registering the highest score of 571 points and started his foray at the WYSC with a last move win over one of the competition favourites, Cheong Yi Wei of Malaysia.
With mixed fortune over the next two days, he started the final day in 11th position with 10 wins from 17 games before embarking on a dream run that saw him win 6 out of the 7 games against some of the top players in the fray, including Day 2 leader William Kang of Malayasia, Princess Cup winner Sinatarn Pattanasuwanna of Thailand and Guinness world record holder Yeshan Jayasuriya of Sri Lanka.
Most impressively, he defeated the eventual champion and top seed, Michael McKenna of Australia in the final game playing words like URALITE and TROELIES to secure his position in the upper echelons.
McKenna’s runaway lead at that point in the tournament however was enough for him to take the championship.
Modern High's 12-year old Kapoor impressive
Fellow UAE participant, 12-year old Sanchit Kapoor of Modern High School finished in 18th place and received a prize as the youngest player in the overall top 25. No UAE player has ever finished in the top 40 before.
“Navya’s achievement will go a long way in promoting the game amongst the youth in the country,” said Nikhil Soneja, chairman of the UAE Scrabble Club and Navya’s coach, “Both Navya and Sanchit are special talents and have worked extremely hard in the past year to get where they are, so it’s extremely gratifying to see them do as well as they have.
With the 2013 World Youth Scrabble Championship set to take place in Dubai, we could not have asked for better timing for this result.
While the team will have some time off now to concentrate on their studies, we will resume training soon in order to give them the best chance to win the competition on home soil next December.”