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Baguio’s Luyk in top 10 of Philippine Scrabble caravan Manila leg

SANTA IS IN. Hubrecht Luyk, left back, plays against an unidentified player during the the Manila leg of the Philippine Scrabble Caravan last weekend at the SM City Sucat in Paranaque City. The former president of the Baguio-Benguet Word Builders Club and shortly USAPI president, finished ninth in a strong field that include former Philippine representatives to the World Scrabble Championship. Former WSC representative Leo Capuno (left) and Francis Dizon (right) are seen here playing. Photo courtesy of Lear Jet de la Cruz/USAPI

More than four years of absence from the 15 by 15 square grid has not made former Baguio Benguet Word Builders president Hubrecht Luyk any rusty.

And so he made a big splash Sunday at the SM Sucat in Paranaque when he finished ninth, actually tied for sixth to that post, and tied with two World Scrabble Championship participants in the process.

Luyk finished with 10 wins and six defeats in the two day Philippine Scrabble Caravan, the first of three legs to be done in the three major island groups until March next year.

However, Luyk settled for ninth due to his low spread, the total of win differences that serve as tie break in the word game invented by an out of work American architect in 1932, with minus 352.

Luyk actually won five of his nine games in the last day of competition after a 5-2 start and +11spread points on day one that was good for 10th spot.

It was a strong field where some of the best tile pushers joined and some even missed years of playing including former WSC representatives Renante dela Cerna and Leo Capuno, who wound up seventh and eighth with a similar win-loss slate but higher spreads of 383 and 393, respectively.

The Baguio based Dutchman married to Rebecca, nee Molina, who also competed and finished 24th (7-9, -305) finished ahead of veterans Antonio Malonzo (11th with 9-7, +463), Francis Dizon (12th 9-7, +424), Ben Filio (13th, 9-7, +285).

The event was won by former Philippine champion and formerly the world’s top female player Odette Carmina Rio with 13 wins and three defeats and spread of 1,285. The Iloilo born lawyer cum English teacher for Korean student won eight of the 10 games on day two as she moved up from 5th spot after day one (5-2, +395) or victories of nearly 90 points in day two when she got her groove to win the PhP20,000 top purse.

Rio is the most successful player who competed in nearly 15 years of Scrabble playing here in Baguio. That means more than 15 events that exclude the Centennial Scrabble Tournament that saw two former world champions in Kiwi Nigel Richards and Pakorn Nemitrimansuk of Thailand. Richards, the world’s top Scrabble player with three world title aside from the French edition, won the 2009 event worth US$4,000 and where Rio finished third behind Cebuano Jay Martus. That were worth PhP40,000 and PhP50,000, respectively.

United Scrabble Association of the Philippines, Inc., the country’s ruling body, took second place on 11-5 and 859 spread, ahead of Abdul Suma (11-5, +582, Melvin Dalangin (11-5, +418) and first round leader Chris Abordo (11-5, +248), for the third to fifth places.

Department of Education employee Alexis Joyosa took sixth place and was the best placed 10-6 finisher with spread of +1,135.

The Luyks were the only representatives from Baguio in the two day competition which will be the first of three legs aimed to select the country’s representative to the World English Scrabble Players Association Championship in July next year in Las Vegas, Nevada, United States.

The Luyks took a leave of absence from the Philippine Scrabble scene in 2018 after nearly 15 years of leading the Baguio-Benguet Scrabble scene and Huub even led the national association at some point.

Baguio’s top lady player Malou Coronacion did not see action even if she signified to join earlier, while Baguio’s top player, William Caluza did not be seeing action also.

The first runner up got Php 6,000.00, while Php 4,000.00, Php 2,500.00, Php 1,500.00 and Php 1,000.00 were given to the second to sixth placed players.

Ronron Mejia took the youth division an 8.5-7.5 slate and +292 spread and 15th over-all.

The last two legs will be held in Cebu for the Visayas and Mindanao, either in Iligan or Butuan, on January and March, respectively, next year.

A Baguio special event is expected to be staged between the two legs. Pigeon Lobien

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