Magazine article Word Ways

World Champ's Analysis

Magazine article Word Ways

World Champ's Analysis

Article excerpt

Nigel Richards of New Zealand won the 9th World Scrabble Championship in Mumbai, India, becoming the ninth different World Champion since the event began in 1991. The fact that no-one has won twice seems to suggest an element of chance is involved. As Nigel modestly put it when interviewed in Mumbai, 'This is a game independent of other games. You win some, you lose some--it depends on the luck of the draw.'

Greater Mumbai apparently has 22 million people in a 600 square mile area. It is a city of contrasts, from the extreme poverty of the streets and slums to the opulence of our Scrabble venue, the Taj President Hotel. We experienced the heat and humidity, the squalor and stench, the insane traffic, claustrophobic markets, hawkers, beggars and hungry children, the endless stream of humanity. But we also saw the impressive Gateway of India monument, the Hanging Gardens (with its penguin rubbish bins--bizarre!), a Jain temple, Diwali celebrations, Gandhi's house, Chowpatty Beach and some nice shops. Through it all, whatever their situation, the Indian people were more often than not friendly and helpful.

We encountered some classic local 'Indian English' spellings, like LIBARARY and LIABRARY, SU-VENEERS, and the lovely STRAINEOUS, a mixture of 'strain', 'strenuous' and 'extraneous' ('No straineous activities in this park'). The newspapers use modern slang such as PREZ (president) and BIZMAN (businessman), and we saw signs like CHOWK (road junction) and DHOBI GHAT (washing place). Of course the menus were chock-full of terms like BIRYANI, TIKKA, KOFTA and KULFI.


One of my earliest attempts at anagramming, back in primary school, yielded the following:


The sun certainly shone while we were there, and as someone remarked, after a while the people became indistinguishable from one another, they all started to look familiar, like extras in a Bollywood movie.

MUMBAI transposes into I'M A BUM and AIM BUM, rather close to the mark for those of us who came down with a dose of 'Bombay bum' (related to 'Delhi belly'), which is defined in the online Urban Dictionary as 'a mild to medium case of 'the shits' following a medium curry the night before' (definitely not the cause for me!)

There are no single-word anagrams of MUMBAI allowed in Scrabble, but there are a few on the Net:

AMBIUM gas surrounding the atmosphere of the earth, the sun and other bodies. (A 'C' front hook converts it to CAMBIUM which is OK in Scrabble.)

MIMBAU a town in Indonesia.

UMBIMA a Kenyan surname, e.g. Anna Umbima, a broadcaster/journalist.

NIGEL RICHARDS shares the letters in his name with a few other people in the world. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.