Scrabble is one of the most played mind games in the world and one that is much more than a fun way of spending time. Such is the versatility of this game that it can be an influential tool for education, learning, memory strengthening, vocabulary building and general knowledge all rolled into one.
What most people do not know about Scrabble is that it was developed in 1938 by Alfred Mosher Butts based on another similar game called Lexiko. It was originally called Criss-Crosswords, but it was changed to Scrabble, a word that means “to scratch frantically”. Scrabble didn’t become popular until 1952 when Jack Straus, the president of Macy’s, played it on vacation. And now scrabble is played at an international level.
From being an over-looked mind sport in Pakistan ten years ago, Scrabble has emerged as a well-recognized sport, especially in the Sindh and Punjab provinces of Pakistan. On February 4, 2018, the 19th Interschool Scrabble Championship took place in Karachi, with close to 1,800 scrabble players from across Pakistan participating in the event.
Pakistan’s winning streak in the world of Scrabble started in 2013 at the World Youth Scrabble Championship. It was here that Moizullah Baig bagged the 1st place and became the World Youth Champion. Over the course of the previous decade, Pakistan Scrabble Association has worked tirelessly to encourage players who have shown raw talent in playing Scrabble.
Pakistani team was able to clean sweep the Junior Scrabble World Championship 2018, which took place in Torquay, England. Moizullah Baig became the Junior World Champion again by winning 20 out of 24 matches. Hammad Hadi Khan was the runner-up. Sohaib Sanaullah became the Under-18 Champion, Hamza Naeem was named 1st in the Under-16 category, while Syed Imaad Ali; Muzammil Bin Asim and Misbah ur Rehman won the Under-14, Under-12 and Under-10 categories, respectively.
According to Peter Schwartzman, who is Galesburg’s Fifth Ward Alderman and Knox College professor, “The game of Scrabble challenges your mind in so many ways – you have to do complex counting, you have to memorize and remember thousands of words, you have to find such words in your seven-letter rack as well as displaced letters on the board, you have to maximize your score (not just per play but over the entire game.” There are others who have termed Scrabble as ‘yoga for the brain’.
Pakistan seems well poised to assert its dominance in Scrabble with young players being crowned champions time and again. However, Scrabble’s popularity is still at an early stage in Pakistan. Institutions, especially schools & colleges should be holding tournaments and encouraging students to play Scrabble so that they too can represent their country at a professional level.