Venezuela is a power house in a game that’s been called the “sport of the mind.” Caracas has won seven world championships for Spanish Scrabble.
And, as CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas reports, Venezuela is preparing to win its 8th world cup of letters.
Sixty contestants of all ages competed in the first Venezuelan national scrabble competition of the year.
Among them was Airan Perez, a two-time Spanish Scrabble World Champion. “My relationship with Scrabble is a relationship of love and passion,” said Perez.
The world renowned board game is one in which a person builds words with letter tiles on a board. “Scrabble has given me a lot, I started playing it in 2003 and since then I have participated in most of the National championships, and also around the world,” adds the two-time champion.
Venezuela’s Scrabble Association members made a program that lists over 600,000 valid words for the game, allowing users to filter by category. Preparation is key to reaching the World Cup of scrabble. “Our champions study every day and are highly committed to the game or, as we call, the mind sport. They train as athletes, just like any other high performance sportsman should do with his or her discipline,” explained Rosario Suarez, a Spanish professor and the scrabble association’s president.
Another player, 72 year-old Violeta Verde has been a professional since 1997. She said she learned to write in elementary school thanks to her love of the game. “Scrabble is a way to be mentally active and everyone can play it – adults, children, even old people like me. It’s an inclusive game that’s worthwhile for people of all ages,” said Verde.
You don’t have to be a serious competitor to play. Kids who are just learning their letters and people old enough to be their grandparents gather in a public park in Caracas for friendly games of scrabble once a week. And when they’ve honed their skills, they start to compete in a series of national tournaments. All they need is a scrabble board, a way with words, and a desire to win.
Players in the competition and two subsequent ones to follow will be ranked and those who come out on top will be this year’s Venezuelan national champs.
The Venezuelan team has won the World Cup of scrabble every year since 2013. The Venezuelan scrabble players I met expect that their team will be number one when the Spanish world championship is held in Mexico in November.