Trio to compete at World Junior Scrabble Championships

Patrick Huynh, Alex Lam and Jason Tang. Picture: Simon Bennett
Patrick Huynh, Alex Lam and Jason Tang. Picture: Simon Bennett

What's a seven-letter word that uses the letters a-u-f-i-l-q-y?

If you said 'qualify' you would be correct. If it took you longer than a few seconds you are behind the pace of local scrabble masters Patrick Huynh, Alex Lam and Jason Tang.

The trio have qualified to represent Australia at the World Junior Scrabble Championships to be held in Kuala Lumpur later this year.

To qualify, they had to compete in more than 50 rated games over the past year against players of all ages, some who have had decades of experience. A typical scrabble tournament involves players playing up to eight games over the course of a day.

Cabramatta residents Patrick, 9 and Alex, 10 attend Cabramatta Public School. Jason ,13, attends Prairiewood High School.

They started playing a couple of years ago and enjoy the challenge of unscrambling endless seven-letter combinations and maximising the score on the board by using double or triple letter squares and words.

The highest word Jason has ever played was an impressive 134 points with 'equates '.

"Parallel plays," said Jason of one the keys to scrabble which involves placing a word parallel to a word already played so that adjacent letters also form complete words.

Cabramatta has been a core contributor to junior scrabble in NSW since 2015 when Cabramatta Public School hosted the first Interschool Scrabble Tournament. Over the past five years it has grown to involve four schools with 110 students.

Cabramatta Public School scrabble coordinator Tisa Ng said children as young as Year 1 are encouraged to participate in the game of strategy, word knowledge and mathematics in which players try to outscore each other making interconnected words.

Patrick Huynh, Alex Lam and Jason Tang will compete at the 2019 World Junior Scrabble Championships later this year. Picture: Simon Bennett

Patrick Huynh, Alex Lam and Jason Tang will compete at the 2019 World Junior Scrabble Championships later this year. Picture: Simon Bennett

"Scrabble is a great social activity, as well as being a great activity for children who love maths and word games ," Ms Ng said.

"It has been great seeing how they have developed their skills and maturity.

"The parents have also been very supportive, which has been instrumental in Cabramatta's success."

Scrabble Australia youth coordinator Tony Hunt said they provide the opportunity for any school that is interested in running a scrabble club, but Cabramatta has "really run with it."

"What is especially exciting is that the children who are excelling come from families in which English is a second (or third) language," said Tony, who has been coaching the World Junior Scrabble qualifiers.

"And the kids who have been playing for a while are happy to share what they have learnt with the newcomers.

"We are also keen to assist anyone who wants to start a scrabble club in their school. It's exciting to think that the growth of youth scrabble nationally is mainly coming from Cabramatta".

  • There will be an open scrabble tournament at Cabramatta Public School on Sunday, August 4 . All proceeds will go to assisting the boys get to Kuala Lumpur to represent Australia and is also an opportunity for anyone who loves the game of scrabble to try their skills against other players.