A Waikato University lecturer unafraid to play a "bad word" to win a game of Scrabble, has landed a spot in the 2013 World Scrabble Championship.
Nick Cavenagh, 37, is not only a mathematics whiz as a senior lecturer in mathematics, he is a darn good scrabble player, too.
He is one of five New Zealanders to be attending the World Scrabble Championship this year in Prague.
He says scrabble is not just a literary game, it's about combinations and tactics.
"It's the ability to re-arrange letters into words in your head, to see anagrams.
"When it gets to the end game, people have kept mental track of all the tiles so they know exactly what's on their opponent's rack and know exactly what they can do." He said he had been preparing for the competition by trying to learn as many strange words as possible.
He has pages of neatly written words sitting on his dining table next to his Scrabble board.
Words like amylose, auxetic and bougies.
"It's a great feeling to get to put down a strange word," he said.
There are a lot of words that can be used in Scrabble that are not in the dictionary.
Dr Cavenagh said any slang from an English-speaking country could be used. To get an easy two points he can play the word "Aa", which is a type of volcanic rock.
The word "Za" is now accepted as slang for pizza, which can earn 11 points.
Swear words are acceptable, too, and are a good way to bring a bit of humour to the game.
"A lot of old ladies play scrabble, you have these little old ladies playing these swear words - they will happily put it down if it's going to earn them points."
It is the first time Dr Cavenagh has made the New Zealand team which features reigning Scrabble world champion Nigel Richards. Dr Cavenagh began playing Scrabble with his mother and by the age of 10 he was winning.
He said his friends and family occasionally teased him about his Scrabble skills but at the end of the day he was the one laughing, because many of them were now afraid to face him in a game.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Were the Chiefs robbed at the New Zealand rugby awards?Related story: (See story)