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Friday, March 07, 2003

Good start for Ganesh


PRE-TOURNAMENT favourite and Malaysia’s top ranked Ganesh Asirvatham had very little trouble and even less resistance at the Goodrich Scrabble Gala played on March 1-2. The big-time supremo ambled through the tourney with eminent ease to bring home the challenge trophy and a cheque for RM600 for a two-day Scrabble bonanza at the Goodrich premises at Bandar Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, where the first Scrabble tourney of the year was held. 

But while Ganesh deservedly took the title and the lion’s share of the prizes, it was schoolboy Aaron Chong who stole the thunder from the champion. The youngster was the cynosure and the most talked-about player at the tournament.  

Aaron, who had never beaten Ganesh in competition before this, tasted success for the first time by pipping the champion twice in the 16-round competition before finishing runner-up, his highest position since his fourth placing at the Causeway Challenge played in Malacca in December last year.  

Veterans and seniors of the game were pleased that a crown prince of the game was in their midst.  

Indeed, quite a few believed that the young gun should, along with Ganesh, easily qualify as one of Malaysia’s representatives to the forthcoming World Scrabble Championship (WSC 2003) to be played here at the end of the year. 

Chong, who is waiting for official posting to Form Six at his alma mater showed that his Scrabble success last year was no fluke.  

The tournament consisted of a strong field 30 players, some of whom are the best in the region, including ex-world cuppers. Most was grist that came to his mill.  

While Ganesh was on top table throughout, Chong was conquering the likes of Jocelyn Lor, Alex Tan, John Lam, Thomas Tan, Chim Wai Main, Pui Cheng Wui, Vannitha Balasingam and the wily Simon Harinvorarob from Thailand in the first no-repeat segment of the tournament.  

He lost only two games at this stage, one to Ganesh and another to Michael Tang, who had travelled all the way from Singapore to take part. 

The new Scrabble sensation was lying second to Ganesh going into the last four rounds of the tournament. He was on 10 game-points, two behind Ganesh. The young Malaysians, staying put on the championship table, fought to a 2-2 draw, a result which must have given the wide-eyed kid epiphanic moments of joy and a well-earned sigh of relief.  

For now, Chong may not be able to overhaul his more celebrated opponent, but for coming out second, the teenager earned RM300 and a pewter, his best prizes to date. 

Ganesh finished the tournament comfortable on 14 points, two better than Chong, but for the latter, the second placing would mean that he has almost definitely earned enough rating points to push him to position two in the Malaysian National Rankings, behind Ganesh who, obviously, remains the top player in the country.  

Ganesh as usual scored the highest number of bingos, 32 in all and four more than second-placed Chong. A couple of the champion’s bonus words were impressive, like XANTHONE and CARYATIDS. Chong’s bingos, also rather impressive, included CITHRENS, ETHERIZE, and POULAINE. 

Second-runner up was Lor, followed by Harinvorarob, Lam, Raja Fuadin Abdullah, Tan Jin Chor, Tang, Pui and, in 10th place, Thomas Tan. 

I caught up with tournament organiser Thomas Tan after the prize presentation. He mentioned to me that Goodrich Impressions Sdn Bhd was proud to host the competition for the first time and that he would make the tournament an annual affair considering how happy everyone was.  

Tan was all praise for tournament director Rose Lina Salehud Din and her assistants Rosli Abd Majid and Yeo Kien Hung for doing a wonderful job.  

About Chong, this is what the man from Goodrich said: “It is good to note that we now have a champion in the making in Aaron Chong.  

Let’s hope he continues with what he is doing: giving Ganesh a run for his money, if not surpass him in the very near future. Malaysia will continue to be a force to be reckoned if other youngsters like Kenrick Ng, Zain Putra Baharuddin and Ong Suanne can take part in more tournaments. Aaron is good for the game, and he is giving us fresh hope that another young Malaysian will soon be making the international headlines in the game”.  

A word of thanks to Thomas Tan and Karen Tan for a very cheerful weekend of Scrabble! 

Up next  

The first of the five grand prix qualifying rounds to select the third and fourth Malaysian representatives and reserves to WSC 2003 (the two top-ranked in the Malaysian National Scrabble Rankings after the fifth qualifying rounds are automatic qualifiers) will take place on March 22 at PNB Darby Park, 10 Jalan Binjai, Kuala Lumpur.  

Entry fees: RM40 for members of the Malaysian Scrabble Association (MSA). Malaysians who are not members of MSA, but who wish to take part must first of all register as new members by paying a total of RM70 (RM30 for membership and RM40 for participation).  

Non-Malaysians are also invited to play for a fee of RM50 but there will be no rating points for selection for them.  

The tournament is organised by Scrabble Masters (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd who will also be conducting WSC 2003 in collaboration with MSA in Malaysia in October.  

The tourney will be played over 16 rounds, 12 without repeat (not meeting the same player twice and 4 with repeat; pairings according to computer rankings after round 12 and each subsequent round).  

For more information on this first grand prix event, please call Rose Lina (016-6124863 or 03-92832572 or e-mail or Rosli at 012-3843528 or e-mail

Word power 

Latin noun-forming suffixes and prefixes (bases) are quite common in the vocabulary of the English Language.  

Here are extracts containing words formed from Latin bases like -ion (act of), -men (result of), junct- (to join), -ty (quality of), celer- (swift) and -ient (present participle ending). 

Meanwhile in the utter confusion subsequent upon the downfall of the Roman Empire and the irruption of the Germanic races ... John Addington Symonds (irruption: a breaking or bursting in). 

Nor have I scrupled, in so flagrant a case, to allow myself a severity of animadversion little congenial with the general spirit of these papers: The Federalist (animadversion: noun form of animadvert, to express censure). 

A healthy individual does not spend most of his life examining treatments and regimens.– Harpers Magazine (regimens: plural form of regimen, prevailing system or set of conditions). 

The mass would be likely to remain nearly the same, assimilating constantly to itself its gradual accretions:  

The Federalist (accretions: plural form of accretion, the growing together of parts externally). 

An inveterate lighter and chewer of cigars, which he uses as adjuncts to conversation... – Time (adjuncts: plural of adjunct, a thing joined or added). 

He was in high repute no only for piety but also for probity and honour: Franklin Parkman (probity: uprightness: moral integrity). 

The bull sprang again and again at his assailant, but the horse kept dodging with wonderful celerity: Franklin Parkman (celerity: rapidity of motion). 

His percipient mind easily picked out the fallacies in the proposal. - Donald M Ayers (percipient: having the faculty of perception). 

The surgeon performed an excision of the tumour. - Donald M Ayers (excision: a cutting out or off of any kind). 

All words highlighted above can be found in the Chambers English Dictionary

Those that consist of seven letters or more 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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