The National Scrabble Championships in London yesterday witnessed a titanic battle between the 44-year-old, four-time champion, Mark Nyman, and a 33-year-old challenger, Mikki Nicholson. In the end, it was Nicholson who emerged victorious after five closely fought games.
And it is appropriate, in a way, that the younger player won given the new lease of life the game has experienced in recent years. At the beginning of the computer game revolution, the future for traditional board games like Scrabble looked bleak. But technological advancement, particularly the growth of the internet, has actually boosted the game's popularity. The fact that people are now able to play over long distances has made it even more popular. George Bush is reported to be the latest online addict. (Is "WMD" allowed?)
The extraordinary thing about the online popularity of Scrabble is that though there is nothing to stop players, alone at their computers, from cheating by searching the internet for solutions, this rarely seems to happen. It seems that Scrabble is one of those areas of the internet that has brought out the best of human nature, rather than the worst: something almost as valuable as a triple-word score.