Despite a strong start in the World English-Language Scrabble Players’ Association Championship (WESPAC) hosted in Nairobi last week, Kenyans fell by the way side in the title chase as Bahrain’s Akshay Bhandarkar was crowned world champion. Bhandarkar won four in a best of seven finals match against Nigeria’s Peter Moses to deny Africa a second title since the maiden edition was held in London, in 1991.
Wellington Jighere was the first African to feature in the finals in 2015 and he went on to win the title beating Englishman Lewis Mackay after four straight wins. Allan Oyende was Kenya’s top finisher at 26th after playing for18 wins in 32 rounds.
He had a stellar performance on the first day; winning six of the eight rounds, including beating the then world champion Nigeria’s Wellington Jighere. He had a bad second day in the office as he managed just two wins and went on to win 10 more in the last two days.
“It was a tough championship, we had prepared but our opponents are on a different level especially Nigerians. I had a bad run off in the second day and that slowed my momentum. We have to go back to the drawing board as a country if we want to be world champions,” said Oyende who finished 14th in the last championship held in Perth, Australia.
He, however, is optimistic that Kenya will earn an extra spot in the World Cup due to their general performance. Patrick Nderitu who was undefeated on the second day and looked poised to finish in the top 10 fell by the wayside after managing only five wins in the last 16 matches to finish at a lowly 46th. Nicholas Mbugua was third after finishing at position 55.
A Kenya Open championship that ran alongside the main event saw India’s Udayan Grover beat Kenya’s Bernard Koyyoko to clinch the Open title while Raymond Gbaraba of Nigeria placed third.