Kenya’s credibility in scrabble will come under severe test in the World English Scrabble Players Association championships which gets underway at Laico Regency Hotel in Nairobi today.
Yesterday, 68 players from 38 countries got down to business with qualifying matches at the high-end hotel ahead of today’s event which will be the first to be held in Kenya and Africa.
Hosts Kenya will be relying on the inspiration of star players Gitonga Nderitu and Allan Oyende to dethrone defending champions Nigeria who won the first event held in London in 1991 in which Kenya finished runners-up. According to the chairman of the Local Organising Committee (LOC) Fred Magu, Kenya had invited 53 countries but only 38 turned up due to the political situation in Kenya.
With Kenya among 10 African countries in the fray, the likes of Nderitu and Oyende are expected to play a leading role in outclassing established foreign players like Nigel Richards of New Zealand, 1993 champion Mark Neyman of United Kingdom and Australia’s Andrew Fisher who was a finalist in 2013. Besides Kenya, countries which are represented in the East, Central and Southern African region include Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia.
The emissaries in the West Africa region are Nigeria, Ghana, Liberia, Sierra Leone while Gambia withdrew. Each country is allocated qualifying slots and those who missed out on the same in their respective countries will have a chance of making the cut in the championship that will conclude on Sunday.
Other countries in the qualifiers include Great Britain, America, Canada and New Zealand. In the meantime, 30 youth who were selected in all regions in Kenya will be involved in qualifying matches for the Youth World Cup slated for Malaysia later this month.