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Panagbenga Scrabble tourney now part of the country’s Scrabble caravan

THe winners. Odette Rio from Ilo-ilo, 4th left, won the second leg of the Philippine Scrabble Caravan in Cebu during the weekend. It was back to back for the one time top female Scrabble player in the world after ruling the Manila leg in December last year. She has already confirmed her participation to the returning Panagbenga Scrabble Tournament on March 11 and 12, the 17th staging of the event which she has ruled in the past more than any other top player in the country. USAPI photo

Baguio Benguet Word Builders Club former president Hubrecht Luyk and wife Rebecca may have missed the money train but are now closer to realizing the return of Scrabble playing in the city after three years of absence with the Panagbenga Scrabble Tournament making a comeback on March.

The city’s longest running Scrabble tournament returns after missing out from 2020 until last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic with its projected return on March 11 and 12.

Started in 1999, the PST has now become the fourth and final leg of the Philippine Scrabble Caravan 2023 with the second leg in Cebu concluded last weekend.

The Netherlands born Luyk, a civil engineer, has included the annual event since 1999 as the final leg of the Philippine representative to the World English Scrabble Players Association world championship in Las Vegas in July.

Luyk finished 21st in the Cebu leg of the nationwide search after landing 10th in the initial run in Sucat, Paranaque in December last year.

In a letter to City Sports Development Officer Gaudencio Gonzales, Luyk in behalf of BBWBC, requested to make the office as venue of the event, its 17th staging.

In his letter to Gonzales, Luyk asked: “Now that restrictions have been lifted, we wish to re-start the playing of Scrabble  in our City and hold the “17th Panagbenga Scrabble Tournament” on March 11 and 12, 2023.”

The March 11 event will have an open division and a youth category for players 18 years and younger, Luyk wrote Gonzales and noted by acting BBWBC president William Caluza, also an engineer.

Luyk also said that back to back leg winner Odette Rio has already signified her intent to play in the returning annual event which has her as the winningest. Rio has dominated the second Baguio event, the Baguio Scrabble Tournament.

Luyk finished with seven wins against nine defeats and spread of minus 149 actually in tie with three others. Wife, Rebecca finished with 6.5 points and minus 500 spread to wound up 24th in the University of the Philippines – Cebu hosted Visayas leg which drew 30 players in the Open division and 34 youth players.

Rio finished the tournament with 13 wins, against a measly three defeats and an eye popping 1,111 spread points. Spread is the cumulative total of the player’s winning or losing margin.

It was the second straight victory of Rio, who still needs a slot in the world championship as she has always been touted as the best chance of the Philippines to have a Scrabble world champion.

She was also once the highest rated woman player in the world.

Jowar Ayuno finished second with an 11-5 win-loss slate and spread of 463, ahead of Mohammad Suma who came up with similar slate but lower spread of 369.

Lead organizer Lear Jet dela Cruz came in fourth with a 10-6 card in tie with three others but finished ahead with his best spread of 499.

Meanwhile, Lord Garnett Talisic took the youth division with a 9.5-2.5 slate and spread of 716. Leo Paolo Ballaso was at lone second with a 9-3 card and 456 spread.

Four players came in with 8-4 cards with Relatorres King Jos Rydan taking third place with the highest spread of 867.

Dela Cruz said that Rio has already earned her slot to the world championship after winning the first leg and now Cebu’s Ayuno taking the second of three slots for the country after a second place finish in the second leg. Pigeon Lobien

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