The Ai's have it, as a Scot takes national Scrabble title

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The Independent Online

The national Scrabble championships were won last night with a two-letter word that is the name of a type of three-clawed sloth found in South America.

Paul Allan, 37, from Aberdeen but living in Southsea, won the 36th annual competition in London . He has finished fourth on three previous occasions.

He beat Stewart Holden, 28, from Nottingham, four games to one with a total of 1908 points, placing words including sporidia, fatwa and bum – which he described as a "key, strategic early move".

He won with the word Ai – a three-toed South American sloth. It also means love in Japanese, which he dedicated to his Japanese wife.

Mr Allan, a former international decathlete, has played the game against his computer for 20 years, and competitively for the past 12 years. He will compete in the world championships in India next month.

"I thought I'd won the third game but he came up with a brilliant move – the word otitis (inflammation of the ear)," he said.

Scrabble has been enjoying a resurgence in popularity, fuelled largely by the booming online gaming sector and, in particular, a Scrabble-style application on the Facebook website.