Scrabble champion finds means to an end

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The Independent Online
Proud of his pultoon, but aghast not to recognise an agami when he ran into one, Andrew Cook, 26, from Abingdon in Oxfordshire, won the British Scrabble championship yesterday, with a 3-0 win in the final over Jackie McLeod, a secretary from Highgate, north London.

Mr Cook (pictured above) is unusual among top class Scrabble players in that he knows the meanings of most of the curious words that appear on the board in his games. "Some just treat it as a strategy game," he said, "but I like to understand the words I use."

In the last game, for example, he would have been untroubled by aerobes (micro organisms that live on airborne oxygen), in the knowledge that his pultoon (Indian army word for a platoon) of punkas (cooling fans) could blow them away. It was another micro organism that brought about the downfall of former world Scrabble champion Mark Nyman in an early round. In a crucial game he added the letters - glea to zoo to form zooglea. That would have been fine in the World championships, when any word in Chambers or Webster's dictionaries is permissible, but in the British championships Chambers is the sole arbiter, and zooglea (a glutinous mass of bacteria) counted for nothing.

After qualifying for the semi final with nine wins from 13 games, Cook made only one slip on his way to the title, when he challenged the word "agami" - a bird allied to the crane. Apart from that, his qi (oriental life force), was untroubled and he romped to the championship.

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