Lakshan among world’s top twenty scrabblers | Sunday Observer

Lakshan among world’s top twenty scrabblers

Ten time Sri Lanka national champion and currently the highest international rated player in Sri Lanka, Lakshan Wanniarachchi, was placed 18th in the World English Language Scrabble Players Association Championship (WESPAC) 2017, concluded last weekend in Nairobi Kenya. Lakshan who has represented the country at this most looked forward to event in the Scrabble world, for the 9th time, recorded his best ever performance at the world championships. This was also one of the noteworthy performances by a Sri Lankan in the world championships in recent times.

Lakshan and compatriot Janul de Silva were selected to represent the country at the world championships by the Sri Lanka Scrabble League, based on its selection criteria. Fifteen year old Royalist Janul de Silva, a star performer in the under 18 youth team making his first appearance in the world championships finished in 65th place, from among 119 players.

WESPAC attracts the best and most talented Scrabble players from around the world every two years in a hard fought 32 game 4 day battle which is a test of endurance, concentration and skill. This year’s event attracted 119 players from 30 countries and featured star players such as long time World No 1 Nigel Richards of New Zealand, reigning champion Wellington Jighere of Nigeria, former world champions Mark Nyman of UK and Adam Logan of Canada. This is the first instance that the world championship was held in the African continent.

Amidst tough competition Lakshan finished day 1 in 32nd place with 5 wins out of 8, after a slow start. On day two, having lost the first two games, Lakshan won 6 in a row to end the day at 7th place. His wins on day 2 included a win over former world Champion Mark Nyman of UK.

Playing amongst the crème of the competition on day 3, Lakshan managed only 2 wins out of 8, to be placed 35th. One of these wins came against the eventual Runner Up of the Championship, Peter Moses of Nigeria. On day 4, Lakshan won 6 out of 8, to finish the tournament with a total 19 wins out of 32 games to finish 18th.

Janul who was the youngest player at WESPAC 2017, after winning 7 out of 8 games on the third day was placed 28th at the end of the 27th round with 16 wins, but defeats in the last 5 games including two narrow defeats saw him having to be content with the 65th position.

After 32 rounds the top two players were chosen for the best of 7 final. The WESPAC 2017 was won by Akshay Bandharkar representing Bahrain. He defeated Peter Moses of Nigeria in a tense final, winning 4-3. Defending Champion Wellington Jighere of Nigeria finished 4th while two time World Champion Nigel Richards of New Zealand finished 3rd.

Lakshan’s great performance comes on the eve of the departure of the Sri Lanka under 18 youth team to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia this coming weekend to compete in the WESPA Youth Cup, the world championships for the under 18s taking place from November 27-29. They will be looking forward to defending their best team trophy won in 2015 and 2016, where three Sri Lankan youth players each secured positions in the top 10 places in both years.