Iceland’s most zealous scrabble players gather together this weekend to compete at the National Scrabble Championship, RÚV reports. The Championship has been organised yearly by the Iceland Scrabble Association (Skraflfélag Íslands) since 2013. Scrabble, or Skrafl as it is known in Icelandic, has been gaining popularity since the advent of an online version in Icelandic.
Many of this year’s competitors have honed their skills playing scrabble online on a website created by 2015 Championship winner Vilhjálmur Þorsteinsson. Since its creation in 2014, the site has amassed over 16,000 registered players, thousands of whom play daily.
The Championship hit a participation record this year, with 24 competitors vying for the title of Iceland’s best scrabble player. Participants compete in ten rounds over two days this weekend – the player who has the most points after all the rounds are completed is crowned national champion.
The board game’s devotees don’t always agree on the validity of a word. When a competitor challenges their opponent, the tournament organiser is called over to look up the word in a dictionary. If no entry is found, the next step is to call a judge, working remotely, who makes the final call. According to Hildur Lilliendahl Viggósdóttir, the Scrabble Association’s chairperson, disagreement was quite a common occurrence yesterday.
“I haven’t seen anything like today. A judge is being called every few minutes,” Hildur told reporters. “There is a queue for the judge and fights are about the break out here.”
When asked about the skills that make for a superior scrabble player, Hildur stated: “It helps to have good Icelandic skills, then cleverness is also an good advantage, and being quick to think and act.”