Scrabble club aims to spell success in Deeping St Nicholas

Judith Britten with former student Thuong Cong Dinh who competed in Malaysia and is now spearheading the game in his university and city. Photo supplied.
Judith Britten with former student Thuong Cong Dinh who competed in Malaysia and is now spearheading the game in his university and city. Photo supplied.
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A Deeping St Nicholas woman is hoping to train the next generation of Scrabble champions and is offering eager youngsters the chance to learn how to master the game.

Judith Britten wants to give youngsters in and around Spalding the opportunity to compete in the World Youth Scrabble Championship (WESPA Youth Cup) in Malaysia in November 27-29.

She has had a passion for the famous word game ever since she was asked out of the blue to set up the first ever Scrabble league while based in Qatar. It was while she and her husband Lee were in the Middle East for his work as a civil engineer.

And she says she even encouraged America to allow a player from Pakistan into Washington DC, to compete in the World Scrabble Championship in 1997, despite relations being tense between Pakistan and the US at the time.

Judith (62) said: “My desire is to be able to train even a couple of young children to be able to compete in world youth Scrabble. For the tournament the age range goes up to age 17 and the minimum age is six to seven-years-old but to be able to play and learn scrabble there is no minimum age.

“Scrabble is great for improving arithmetic skills as you have to add up the scores and also for mental and social skills and to make new friends. People find they want to learn more new words to be able to play the game even better.

“We had one player who was six years old and didn’t speak. Her parents said ‘please could she join the league’ and while playing one day she spotted her opponent was scoring wrongly and finally spoke to tell the player how to score.”

“Qatar was the only country that didn’t have a Scrabble league at that time and I was first invited to play Scrabble by the consul at the Philippine Embassy when I was renewing my passport. He said ‘would you like to play Scrabble at a tournament in Bahrain?’ He thought because I spoke English I would be able to play. I lost all my games in two days! I was then asked by the Chairman of the Gulf Scrabble Championships in Bahrain to set up a league for Qatar.”

Within just six months the league was a success and Judith was training youngsters to play Scrabble from scratch. They have gone on to great success from being complete beginners.

“I start by teaching them the 124 two letter words,” she said. “It’s almost like an alphabet of Scrabble. There are some basic moves.

“Then it’s step-by-step, we build to three letter words and so on. It is a combination of memory work and understanding the words and the behaviour of the words. There is a systematic way of learning. It will be free of charge.

“All people need to be able to learn is a Scrabble board. Competitive Scrabble is played by each player for 25 minutes and a game last 50 minutes to one hour.

“Playing face to face is about watching the behaviour of the player and body language and bluffing – a smile or perhaps a spark in the eye.”

Judith can be contacted on 07508 835052 or via email at judith.britten@googlemail.com