Photo: Hubert Figuière (CC BY-SA-2.0)
FRANCE—Nigel Richards is a slight, nebbish New Zealander with a wizardly beard and glasses. Although his appearance is non-threatening, make no mistake. He will succeed in making all of us appear stupid, starting with the French.
Richards recently won the Francophone Scrabble World Championship; an impressive feat on its own. But what makes his win exacting? He doesn’t speak the language.
“I thought to myself, if I can win multiple English Scrabble titles, what’s stopping me from winning in other languages?” said Richards.
One presumes an inability to speak other languages. One would be wrong. The Kiwi spent nine weeks of prep time learning how to play Scrabble en Francais, without learning to speak French.
“All I had to do was memorize the Francophone Scrabble dictionary,” enthused Richards. “Easy as that!”
While the French champion’s tack falls within the rules of the game, some feel it’s not very sportsmanlike and kind of a dick move.
“He certainly approached the tournament in a novel way,” said Philippe Manseau, president of the French Scrabble Federation. “At least he’s not an American.”