Kiwi Scrabbler on top of the word

16:00, Dec 14 2013
Nigel Richards is said to be the world’s greatest Scrabble player
A WAY WITH TILES: Nigel Richards is said to be the world’s greatest Scrabble player.

Nigel Richards is always getting on the tiles but while some of his words might look like drunken ramblings, he's undoubtedly New Zealand's best wordsmith.

Using words such as "aurorean", "bejewel", "ratooner" and "grex", Richards took out the world's most prestigious Scrabble accolade for the third time.

He defeated players represented by 43 countries at the Scrabble Champions Tournament in Prague last week. The event was formerly known as the World Scrabble Championships.

Tournament director John Chew said Richards was undoubtedly the world's best Scrabble player.

Originally from Christchurch, where some of his family members still live, Richards is based in Kuala Lumpur and makes a living playing Scrabble. He's a trained engineer.

Canadian photographer Roger Cullman snapped Richards at a Toronto event in 2011 as part of a series on Scrabble players.


"Nigel was rather shy and was not one to make a lot of conversation.

"I approached him and introduced myself as a fellow Scrabble player first, to put him a little more at ease," he said.

"I told him about my portrait series project and showed him a few other Scrabble portraits I had taken. He paused for a moment and then agreed to participate. He opened upand was quite jovial."

Chew said Richards was an avid cyclist and a "notoriously private" individual. When asked if he had been confident of winning in the Czech Republic, the world Scrabble champion reportedly replied: "Yes."

Richards has played more than 2000 competitive games, according to the World English-language Scrabble Players' Association (WESPA), with a 75 per cent win rate. His average score is 460. Which is a lot of triple-letter scores using q and x.

Sunday Star Times