Harry Wiggins, 35 years old, a mathematician and former contestant on Survivor South Africa, is South Africa’s National Scrabble Champion. File picture: Pexels

Port Elizabeth - Harry Wiggins, 35 years old, a mathematician and former contestant on Survivor South Africa, is South Africa’s National Scrabble Champion. 

The South African National Scrabble Championships was held at Huddle Park Golf Club in Johannesburg over the weekend. Fifty players from around the country matched wits over 16 gruelling rounds.

Wiggins won the title in the last, nerve-wracking game from frontrunner Jeyad Page, a lawyer from Cape Town. The top ten players in the country are in order, Harry Wiggins, who holds a doctorate in mathematics and is a Pretoria University lecturer, Jeyad Page, Trevor Hovelmeier, who is a Johannesburg medical doctor, and in fourth place, Cape Town interior designer, Diana Mason. 

In fifth place, is lecturer and writer Llewellin Jegels from Cape Town, followed by Zambian MP,  Mwenya Munkonge, then Paul Kalumba, a Zambian currency trader, Frank Chitambala a legal professional also from Zambia, Steven Gruzd, a Johannesburg  political analyst and journalist and in tenth position, Andrew Goldberg, a Johannesburg labour lawyer. 

Wiggins and  Hovelmeier will be representing South Africa at the World English-Speaking Scrabble Players’ Association Championships (WESPAC) in Goa, India, on 16-20 October 2019. Several other top SA players are expected to compete as well.

"The Nationals is an annual competition which rotates between Johannesburg and Cape Town each year. This year there were 34 players in the main section who hailed from Cape Town, Gauteng and Zambia," Scrabble South Africa said in a statement. 

The first 13 games followed a Swiss pairing method and the last three a king of the hill format.  Every tournament includes a social section for unranked players and for those who would like to play, and the nationals was no different. Players ranged from as young as 8 years old to 88 years old.

"Scrabble South Africa is a small organisation, which relies on sponsorships and contributions by members. Its members are all passionate about the game.  Each tournament has a social section to enable new and unranked players to participate.  

"A big schools tournament is planned for 15 September 2019 in Johannesburg, as we try to grow the game amongst young people. It teaches vocabulary, dictionary skills, arithmetic, spelling, strategy, composure, temperament and so much more," the organisation said in a statement.

"There are Scrabble clubs across the country where new players can visit to observe or participate," it said. 

Andrew Goldberg is the president of Scrabble South Africa.

African News Agency (ANA)