State News: Akwa Ibom to Host the world on scrabble tournament
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Akwa Ibom to Host the world on scrabble tournament
07 Oct 2009

In 1931, Poughkeepsie in New York State was in a similar predicament to the rest of the USA, deep in the depths of depression. There was no job security. Living on your wits was the order of the day. And so it was that when the local architect, Alfred Mosher Butts, lost his job he decided to explore his passion for games and words.

Mild mannered, bespectacled Butts disliked dice games. They were all down to luck and on the other hand he felt that all skilled games, like chess were too high brow for the general public.

So he set out to device a game that was half luck, half skill and by the end of 1931, he had developed the initial idea for the game which he called Lexico.

Lexico was played without a board and players scored on the basis of the length of the words formed. In 1933, Butt’s application for a patent for Lexico was turned down. Similarly when he submitted the game to two games manufacturers, Parker Brothers and Milton Bradly, all he received were polite refusals.

In 1948, Butt and Brunot his friend who owned the first criss-cross world game shook hands  on a deal to manufacture the game. So they re-arranged the premium squares and simplified the rules, which were overly long and reconsidered the name of the game. Then they lodged a copyright application, which was granted on 1 December, 1948. Soon after came the all important name after much searching, they decided upon the name SCRABBLE for the game and managed to register the trademark on 16 December, 1948.

During 1949, their first year of production, they assembled and sold 2,251 games in this way, losing $450 in the process. They continued to struggle in the year that followed but still losing money.

In 1952, Jack Strauss, the chairman of Macy’s, New York, the biggest department store in the world played scrabble whilst on holiday. He enjoyed playing it so much that he returned to New York, and asked the game department to send him up a few sets. But the game department had to own up to not stocking scrabble. They very soon did. What more? Macy’s supported a promotional campaign with the result that the game quickly captured the imagination of thousands.

By 1953, Brunot licensed the manufacture to Selchow and Righter, a Leading American games manufacturer, who had previously rejected it. For three years, orders were rationed as demand went up and up.

Meanwhile the scrabble craze spread to Australia in 1953. In the same year, it was launched in the UK by J. W. Spear and Sons, where the game was an instant success.  The Second tournament was held in New York City in 1993. In 1994, J. W. Spear and Sons were acquired by Mattel Inc. the Largest toy and game company in London.

Scrabble as a leisure game has been played in Nigeria as far back as pre-Nigerian independence. However it remained as such (Leisure game) until 1989 when the Scrabble Association of Nigeria (SCAN) was formed. SCAN was also organizing a minimum of ten tournaments in a year across the country.

Today, the Scrabble Association of Nigeria is now known as the “Nigeria Scrabble Federation” (NSF). It has grown from the early formative years. There are now thirty-seven state associations, with no less than one hundred and twenty club sides. There are also no less than twelve annual National open tournaments open to all comers. Some of these scrabble clubs were located in Ibadan, Lagos, Warri, Kaduna, Kano, Uyo, Owerri, Port Harcourt, Ilorin, Benin, Minna and Makurdi.

In 2007 the Digital Governor of Akwa Ibom state initiated the Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics. Scrabble lovers and players from all over the globe came to participate in the tournament. It has become obvious that Governor Akpabio has the sight of an eagle, always the first to introduce something peculiar, valuable and classic for the good of the state. Propelled by his vision for a greater Akwa Ibom, he deemed it necessary to showcase Akwa Ibom through this Int’l Scrabble tournament. An adage goes thus; if you don’t say here am I, nobody will know where you are. The governor indeed can be seen as showing direction to the rest of the country. Akwa Ibom is in the national and Int’l lime light flashing the Touch and setting the pace.

Governor Akpabio’s vision is for an Akwa Ibom where the indigenes of the state can match any person or persons from any tribe or race, word for word, technology for technology, intelligence for same, standing with prestige always.

Akwa Ibom once again gears up to host the world in the 3rd Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble classics while positioning the state for investors. The tournament will kick start with the opening ceremony on Friday, October 9, 2009 by 4pm at the Le Meridian Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, The ceremony will be graced with a lot of fun fare and a showcase of Akwa Ibom rich cultural heritage.

The host Dr. Godswill Akpabio will play the opening game and five others will play in the veteran category while others will play theirs on Saturday, 10. The tournament is not without serious rules that must be adhered to. The  use of Collins Scrabble Dictionary (CSD), WSC rules but with 10-point penalty challenge rule would be adhered to seriously, 21 games, Modified Swiss Parings for first 17 games (no repeats) and KOTH for the last 4 games. Then on Sunday, 11, October 2009 will be the grand finale and award/gala night by7.00pm. This occasion will be chaired by the senator representing Akwa Ibom North West, Senator Aloysius Etok.

Distinguished personalities will be honored by Akwa Ibom State scrabble Association including the state Chief Executive, Chief Godswill Akpabio, and his deputy, Engr. Patrick Ekpotu. Other personalities expected include the British Scrabble Chairman, Terry Kirk, Alhaji Zadok, the Bachama of Numan, Chairman and board member Nigeria Scrabble Federation, as well as the (NSF) President, Chief Toke Akah.

The Champion in this year’s Godswill Akpabio International Scrabble Classics will be honored with USD10,000 and Trophy while the 2nd – 10th positions will share a minimum of $10,000 but breakdown is to be announced just in case more funds can be raised.

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