Vannitha Balasingam, the comeback queen of Scrabble

Friday January 20, 2012



VANNITHA Balasingam proved that she is still a force to be reckoned with when she beat stiff competition at the recent CNY Scrabble Challenge. This is her second title after she won the 2009 National Championships and represented Malaysia in the 2009 World Scrabble Championship in Johor Baru. She made her presence felt again in 2010 when she took part in her only international tournament of that year, the 9th Causeway Scrabble Challenge. She emerged as the best Malaysian in the Masters division, finishing 11th in a tough field of 68 Scrabble players from around the world.

In an attempt to make a comeback, Vannitha took part in the Premier division of the 10th Causeway Scrabble Challenge and chalked 21.5 wins out of 45 games played against some of the best Scrabble brains in the world.

The CNY Scrabble Challenge which was held last Saturday and Sunday in CADC, Kompleks 3C MPSJ, Subang Jaya, Selangor, attracted 52 players from Klang Valley, Penang and as far as Northern Ireland.

Vannitha started off with 6 wins in a row before she was stopped by 16-year-old William Kang in Game 7.

Vannitha Balasingam, champion of the 10th Causeway Scrabble Challenge.

It was down to the last move. Vannitha held ?AMORST and immediately spotted STARDOM that runs across the triple word score bonus line. Despite her finest efforts in trying to figure out the best play, she plonked down STARDOM and lost the game by 1 point.

If she had played TSARDOM (a domain of a czar), it would have won her the game as the T would land on the double-letter word score and through the triple-word score bonus, she would have an additional 3 points and would have won the game by 2 points. OSTMARK (a former East German monetary unit) would also have won her the game.

However, the painful narrow defeat was brushed off right away as she garnered another 3 wins to be 2 points clear after Game 10.

Despite losing to Henry Yeo, another Malaysia WSC representative, 3 times in a row in the last 5 King of the Hills rounds, Vannitha persevered and won her last game against William Kang to seal the victory.

Kang and Yeo completed the top 3.

Vannitha was overjoyed to have won the first tournament of the year after an absence of two and a half years. Readers can expect to hear more of her as she will be gunning for a place to represent the country in the upcoming World Scrabble Championship 2013.

In the Intermediate Division, SMK Sg Pelek’s Jeihiin Subramaniam, Prema Maniam and Vetri Thillagan finished first, second and third respectively.