Nigerian is first African to win World Scrabble Championship; crushes English opponent 4-0

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first-african-to-win-world-scrabble-champion.jpgA Nigerian in a cowboy hat beat an English opponent to become Africa's first World Scrabble champion.

Wellington Jighere crushed Lewis MacKay 4-0 in a best of seven final in Perth, Australia. Jighere, 32, used high-scoring words such as fahlores, avouched and mentored. Fahlores is another spelling of fahlerz, a grey crystalline mineral.

His victory over more than 120 rivals at the World English-language Scrabble Players' Association Championship won praise from Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari who said he had 'done the country proud'.

Mr Jighere won a L6,600 prize but now needs a job, having completed his national service after graduating from university.

He and the five other members of the Nigerian team arrived in Australia just a day before the tournament started. They had little chance to get over the 20-hour flight or the seven-hour time difference.

Mr Jighere said on his Facebook page that he felt he was playing with the 'whole continent' behind him.

He added that it 'still baffles' him that he managed to win, given how tired he felt as he had 'not slept well in about a week'.

New Zealander Nigel Richards stunned the francophone world in July when he won the game's French version. He doesn't speak the language and spent only nine weeks studying the official Scrabble dictionary.

Mr MacKay put down words including: yex, an old English word for sobbing; Wemb, an obsolete alternative spelling for womb and Onely, an obsolete alternative spelling of only.

In return Mr Jighere put down: dacoit, a member of a class of robbers in India and Burma; yow - Australian slang for keeping a look-out and Katti - an alternative spelling for a weight used in China.

Adam Kretschmer, one of the organisers of the event, said: 'He had to battle for four days to emerge on top but once he got there - maybe he was a little fresher, or got a bit of luck - everything fell into place for him and he won four-nil.'

 

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