Word Warriors, the national Scrabble Kenya team sealed their hattrick of titles at the just concluded East, Central and Southern African (ECASA) Scrabble Championships in Lusaka, Zambia.
Kenyan second seed, Patrick Nderitu anchored the team to claim the title in the three-day tournament at Baobab College. Nderitu won the overall title replacing Allan Oyende, who won in 2018 and 2017 where Kenya was represented by 16 players.
The Kirinyaga County-based player came from third place in the opening round on Friday behind Ugandans Philip Mugisha and Edgar Odonkara to bag the individual prize.
Following four consecutive wins in the national Scrabble championships, Nderitu won a record 25 games out of the 27 games, with Odonkara taking second place with 19 wins as Oyende, last year's champion, came in third place with 18 wins.
Gitonga said they have now conquered ECASA and their focus should be on how to outdo West Africa.
“As Kenyans, we need to focus on how to conquer West Africa especially Nigeria. Nigeria has been the best country in the world and Africa and they are by far our biggest competition,” said Gitonga in reference to Nigerians who won the Africa Scrabble Championships that were held in Kenya in December.
He insisted that the secret to his success is that he studies Scrabble its strategies instead of just reading the words.
Ugandan Rose Kisembo won the best lady prize, beating Kenyan Wenwa Akinyi, the local favourite for the trophy.
Kenya won gold in the team category with Zambia taking silver and Uganda taking the bronze prize.
Team captain Limo Kipkemoi said: "It was a fruitful outing. Much thanks to those who sacrificed their own resources to honour the event. Special thanks to those who tirelessly cheered us on each day. Congrats to Gitonga for the top honours."
Scrabble Kenya chairman Bernard Amuke said they have achieved what they wanted in Lusaka and focus shifts to World English Scrabble Players Association Championships (WESPAC) in Goa, India.
“We were given a scare by Uganda though the team managed to salvage the situation, it was a good performance where we had 6 players in the top ten, defended both the team and individual titles bearing in mind that our we didn't field our best team due to lack of sponsorship,” said Amuke adding that they will prepare well for the next event in Uganda ensuring they field their best team and full squad.
Locally, Scrabble Kenya shifts focus to next month’s national tournament at the Meru Slopes Hotel, Meru County.