An interview with Ahmed Abdullah Abbasi
One of Pakistan's most exciting young players has Qatar in his sights
Ahmed Abdullah Abbasi is another superstar in an ever-growing line of Pakistan’s wunderkinds. A 16 year old protégé of that nation’s sterling work with gifted young players that is the envy of the rest of the Scrabble-playing world. The game is taught in schools throughout Asia as a fun way of enhancing learning, particularly for mathematics and the English language, and Ahmed is one of many players to have benefited from this system, and is a shining example to other young people of all nationalities. He will be in Qatar at the World Championships later this year, hoping to better his incredible achievements in Lille 2016, and here he tells the Academy of his adventures in the game so far, and of his hopes for the future.
Hello Ahmed. Tell us a little about yourself, and what you are up to right now.
I am from Pakistan, residing in Islamabad. I am currently midway through my A-levels, having Physics, Chemistry, Maths and Computer Sciences as my chosen subjects. I haven`t really thought that much about what to do later on but it’s probably going to be something Maths and Physics related.
How long have you been playing Scrabble, and how do you practice?
I have been playing Scrabble since I was six, though I did not get to participate in a tournament until 2012.
I usually cardbox for word study, and improve strategy through Quackle. [Ed: Quackle is a computer program that shows the best possible plays]
Tell us about the Scrabble scene where you are. How popular is the game there?
Scrabble in Pakistan is becoming more and more popular, especially in Karachi, which is an epicentre for Scrabble-related activities in Pakistan. Each year, the number of people participating in tournaments increases exponentially - for example, the National Championship held last year had almost eight hundred participants of all ages from all over Pakistan. Another major championship held each year is the Interschool Scrabble Championship, which is specifically for scouting talent among youngsters and, each year, more and more great talents are discovered. This popularity has to be accredited to a group of hardworking individuals, Mr. Tariq Pervez in particular, without whom many of us would not be playing.
Do you play at a particular club?
I play with PSA (Pakistan Scrabble Association)
What are your favourite things about the game?
The thing I love most about Scrabble is that no two games are the same. Each game presents new problems and new challenges, so it never gets boring. Furthermore, playing has given me the chance to travel around the world, with great people, meet some amazing players, and widen my horizon in general. Half of the friends I have right now, I have met through Scrabble.
Any personal Scrabble highlights you’d like to share with us?
Winning the Causeway Youth 2016 is probably the best achievement I have under my belt in Scrabble. Other than that, I was runner up in the 2015 WYSC, tenth in the Causeway Open (masters), sixth in the MSI World Championship 2016 (div.B), and a fair share of national achievements.
[Ahmed with MSI's Dave Brannan at the presentations in Lille, after his 6th place finish in the B Division]
What are your other interests/hobbies?
Sports and reading.
Do you have a favourite book?
It`s hard to pick one particular book, but ‘The Grand Design’ by Stephen Hawking is definitely up there.
If you could choose some entrance music to accompany you to the board during a tournament, what would it be?
The theme music from either Star Wars or The Lord of the Rings.
If you could play any famous person, who would you choose?
What are you most looking forward to about Qatar? Have you visited that part of the world before?
Having never visited Qatar before, I’m looking forward to ticking another name off the ‘places to go’ list. I’m pretty excited about reuniting with some friends, and of course the sheer amount of quality Scrabble that awaits.
Any personal ambitions within the game, and what would you like to see in future to help grow the game worldwide?
As for long term ambitions, I want to be at the top of the pyramid one day. I’d like to win the Junior World Championship for starters though.
I`d like to see more young players take part in tournaments worldwide, and premier players stepping up in coaching the next generation of players, like Mr. Waseem Khatri and Moiz Baig are doing in Pakistan.
Thank you, Ahmed, and we look forward to seeing you in Qatar.