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Friday, April 04, 2003

A tradition of excellence


I WOULD like to thank Upper Six student Lim Jann Han of St John’s Institution, Kuala Lumpur, for his letter to this column. Lim, who is also the vice-president of the school’s Scrabble club, has this to say about the game: 

“How did I get myself so hooked on the game? In the eyes of many, Scrabble is perceived as boring. I beg to differ, together with those who have tried it first-hand and have liked it since. I used to be one of the guilty parties who never had a good word for the game, but everything changed when a friend got me seriously involved in it. 

“Although I’m not yet a player to be reckoned with nor a contender for any title, I will always love the game simply because I’m addicted to it. Since the day I started playing, I’ve learned more English words than I used to in the past. My English vocabulary has improved! 

“I’ve been playing Scrabble for no more than 12 months, but I managed to gain the trust and confidence of the members of the St John’s Institution (SJI) Scrabble Club who elected me to serve as vice-president. As the second in command, I have to help shoulder the task of organising the SJI Scrabble Open Tournament 2003. The competition, also known as the SJI Open and a brainchild of my very popular ex-schoolmate Harvey Mok, made its debut in 1999. The initial purpose of the tourney was to promote the game and foster friendship among participating schools. I’m proud to say that this has remained unchanged over the years. 

“This year’s SJI Open has added significance. St John’s Institution is only eight months shy of a hundred years of existence. The school is exhorting all-round excellence and has called upon its students to start preparing and nurturing young talents for competitions in 2004.  

“The SJI Open would be the best place for us to identify potential Scrabble players who can represent the school and challenge for top honours when we celebrate our 100th birthday next year.  

“This may well be the last time I’ll play under the school’s name. I would definitely like to go out there with my fellow team mates and put up a good show and hopefully give my cherished alma mater a pre-centenary cheer!” 

In memoriam 

ON behalf of the Scrabble fraternity, this column extends its deepest condolences to the family of the late Ong Yearn Chin who passed away on March 27. Ong was a familiar figure in the local Scrabble scene, a senior citizen who was able to take the game to anyone. Indeed, Uncle Ong, as he was affectionately known to the younger players, could never be ignored in competitions, and at times he played with a passion that belied his age. He was always self-effacing and many can vouch that whenever he missed a bingo he blamed no one but himself.  

Ong’s best showing was in 1998 when he took part in the Malaysian qualifying rounds to the 1998 Asia-Pacific Championship, an international tournament played in Kuala Lumpur. He did so well that he was among the top 10 selected to represent the country, ahead of other more vaunted Malaysians who failed to make the cut. A soft-spoken man, Ong played in many a tournament and it was not unusual for him to appear among the top 10 in the final standings. In the last few months, he was not seen at competitions, and regular Scrabblers missed his presence. His demise has come as a shock to many. Ong, who succumbed to pneumonia, will forever be remembered as a dearest Scrabble friend whose warmth, kindness and gentleness always stayed above his personal glory. To his wife Chan Peek Wan and only daughter Ong Sean Yuen, may I quote William Wordsworth: 

Though nothing can bring back the hour 

Of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; 

We will grieve not, rather find  

Strength in what remains behind.  

From another friend, Paulette Yeoh, comes this piece: 

We’ve all lost a friend, a fellow Scrabbler.  

It’s so sad he won’t be at the next tourney;  

let us all join in and say a little prayer.  

For our pal travelling life’s final journey;  

let’s think of him now safe and happy,  

Scoring great bingos on his heavenly board; 

enjoying his cigarettes without a worry, and 

landing huge catches on his fishing rod. 

Rest in piece, dear friend.  

You’ve left us with fond memories.l THE SJI Scrabble Open Tournament 2003 will be held on April 12-13 at St John’s Institution, Jalan Bukit Nanas, KL. The tournament is open to students from Form One to Form Six. It is basically a team event divided into two categories: the under-20 and under-15. Each school can send a maximum of two teams of four players for each category, but schools which have yet to register can send only one team per event, having passed the March 29 deadline. The best player title will go to the top scorer in each category. The registration fee is RM12 per team. Schools are requested to bring their own Scrabble sets and clocks. The tournament starts at 8.30am and at least eight games will be played. Players are advised to bring their own food and drinks. For more information, call the school’s Scrabble Club teacher-adviser Tan Hong Lian (% 03-2078 2846 or 03-7957 9890) or club vice-president Urn Jann Ban (% 012-2856 942. 

·THE novices category of the Fifth Penang YMCA (Laura Lam Memorial) Scrabble Tournament will be held on April 13 at Penang YMCA, Jalan Macalister, Penang. The tourney will be played over seven games. The registration fees are RM15 for YMCA members and RM20 for non-members. Up for grabs are trophies for the top three finishers. The Open category will be held on April 19-20 at the same venue. This tourney will be played over 15 games. The registration fees are RM50 for YMCA members and RM60 for non-members. Cash prizes and trophies await the top three in the final standings. Outstation participants can get a special discount for accommodation. For more information on these tourneys, call Penny Khoo of YMCA Penang (% 04-228 8211).GREEK suffixes like -oma and -osis are quite common in English words associated with medicine. The former usually means tumour arising in or composed of, diseased condition, or result of, while the latter refers to diseased condition of, act of, or process of. Here are examples of words ending in -oma and -osis. 

MELANOMA: a highly malignant tumour such as cancer, composed of dark pigment-bearing cells. MELAN (black, dark) + oma. 

OSTEOMA: a benign tumour composed of bone tissue. OSTEO (bone) + oma. 

HEMATOMA: a swelling containing blood. HEMAT (blood) + oma. 

TRACHOMA: an infectious disease of the eyes in which granulations form on the inside of the eyelid. TRACK, from TRACHY (rough) + oma. 

HEPATOMA: a disease associated with an enlargement of the liver. HEPAT (liver) + oma. 

PSYCHOSIS: a serious mental disorder characterised by illusions, delusions, hallucinations, etc. PSYCH (mind) + osis. 

CYANOSIS: morbid blueness of the skin. CYAN (dark blue) + osis.  

NECROSIS: death of part of the living body. NECR (dead tissue) + osis.  

MYCOSIS: a disease due to growth of a fungus. MYC (fungus) + osis.  

HELIOSIS: over-exposure to the sun. HELI (sun) + osis. 

(Seven-letter words ending with -oma and -osis include adenoma, angioma, fibroma, isodoma, leucoma, leukoma, lordoma, neuroma, pleroma, polyoma, prosoma, rhizoma, sangoma, sarcoma, tritoma, porosis, pyrosis, virosis, whoosis, xerosis, zygosis, zymosis, gaposis, dulosis, kenosis, ketosis, monosis.) 

I would like to express my gratitude to Professor Donald M. Ayers whose book English Words from Latin and Greek Elements has inspired me in this edition of Word Power. All words highlighted above can be found in the Chambers English Dictionary. They can be used in the game as bingos (in Scrabble, a bingo is play of a valid word of seven letters or more made in one move and scoring a bonus of 50 points!).

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