Gearing Up For Lille: Youths Ready To Fight For Hong Kong
Meet the Hong Kong Youth Team coming to Lille for the WYSC. When we mention sports, what immediately comes to your mind? The Olympics in Rio? While thousands of athletes are fighting for the highest honour in physical sports, a bunch of mind sports athletes, more specifically Scrabble players, are preparing hard for the prestigious MSI World Youth Scrabble Championship...
When we mention sports, what immediately comes to your mind? The Olympics in Rio? While thousands of athletes are fighting for the highest honour in physical sports, a bunch of mind sports athletes, more specifically Scrabble players, are preparing hard for the prestigious MSI World Youth Scrabble Championship (WYSC) and MSI World Scrabble Championship held in Lille 10 days from now.
Last year, the Hong Kong Scrabble Players Association (HKSPA) sent 11 youths to the WYSC for the first time in history. All the youths enjoyed that invaluable experience of competing with other Scrabble young masters in Perth. This year, HKSPA is sending 10 youths to compete in the WYSC in Lille, France, including Boris Chung, Brian Po, Calvin Ma, Chan Long Kei, Chung Wing Sze Kiki, Ho Chun Hung, Lam Chi Ho Anson, Tam Pok Hin, Tsang Wai Yin Jason, and Wesley Choy Wing Chi.
We interviewed four youths, Brian Po, Calvin Ma, Pok Hin Tam and Wesley Choy Wing Chi, about their preparation before the big tournament……
About the Players
This year’s WYSC will be Calvin and Wesley’s second one. Wesley is the youngest Hong Kong player in the squad (aged 13). Calvin ranked first in the WYSC 2016 Hong Kong Qualifier. Brian and Pok Hin will be facing their first WYSC. Pok Hin only first played competitive Scrabble in 2014 but soon becomes one of the best players in Hong Kong.
Brian Po (left picture) and Pok Hin Tam (right picture)
Calvin Ma (left picture) and Welsey Choy (right picture)
How do you prepare for this big tournament?
Calvin and Pok Hin: We just practice more and play online. Practice makes perfect!
Brian and Wesley: We prefer learning more words. Of course we still practice though! Word learning and practicing are both important.
How many hours a week do you devote to Scrabble?
Pok Hin and Wesley: 5 hours per week.
Brian: about 20 hours!
Calvin: at least 40 hours!!!!!
How much time do you spend learning the words? What are your favorite ways of learning the vocabulary?
Pok Hin: I seldom memorise words specifically. I think learning new words through playing with different opponents is the best way.
Wesley: I spend an hour every week using the quiz mode in Zyzzyva to learn new words and improve my anagramming skills.
Brian: I spend 3 to 4 hours per week for word studying. I recite words and write them out.
Calvin: I spend 20 hours learning words every week! I also like using the software Zyzzyva.
Do you play at home with family and friends?
Pok Hin: My family members do not know how to play Scrabble…… I can only play with myself!
Brian: My family members don’t know much about the game too, but they are very supportive. They always encourage me to work hard and do well in competitions.
Wesley: I sometimes play with my younger sister, but she is not as strong as me! I hope that she can play for the Hong Kong team with me one day.
Calvin: I play with my brother, who is an excellent player too! We can always learn from each other.
What are the key things you try to do before and during a tournament?
Calvin, Pok Hin and Wesley: We will take a final look at the word lists before the games. During the tournament, we will just try to relax! We cannot perform our best if we are nervous.
Brian: Of course being relaxed is important, but equally important is to tile track during the games! You can know the words on your opponent’s rack and deduce his possible moves in end game.
What do you enjoy most about tournaments?
Brian: I can always learn from others – this is what I enjoy most.
Calvin: I enjoy the competitiveness of tournaments. It’s much more exciting than playing casually.
Pok Hin: I think being able to meet new friends is the best thing of tournaments.
Wesley: I enjoy competing with great players to improve my skills.
What advice would you give new players starting the game?
Brian: I think it is important to spend more time on Scrabble and learn from others.
Calvin: First of all, master the 2-letter word list. Then continue to study more words. Also, play with others regularly.
Pok Hin: On the contrary, I don’t think reciting word lists is the most important thing. For a new player, he or she should just relax and enjoy the game. You will not succeed if you do not enjoy playing Scrabble, no matter how many words you have recited.
Wesley: My advice would be never give up. Spend some time on this and your hard work will pay off.
With their perseverance and determination, these Hong Kong youths will undoubtedly fight for the country and make the nation proud.
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