Brit beats former Countdown producer at the World Scrabble Championship with a name of obscure wasp


The new world Scrabble champion is buzzing after his word for a type of wasp secured victory in an all-British showdown.

Brett Smitheram, 37, from Chingford in east London, was crowned the winning wordsmith after beating Mark Nyman, 49, from Knutsford in Cheshire, in the World Scrabble Championship 2016 final at the Grand Palais in Lille.

After his win, recruitment consultant Brett said his opponent, a former producer on Channel 4´s Countdown, was one of his "Scrabble idols" when he was growing up.

Brett told the Press Association: "He used to be the producer of Countdown and he got me on Countdown when I was 17, 20 years ago now. I was on Countdown about 10 or 12 times.

"So he's known me for 20 years, and at the time when he interviewed me for Countdown he said 'What's your biggest aspiration?' and I said 'I want to win the Scrabble World Championship'.

"And today I beat him in order to do it. Quite a story behind it."

Brett Smitheram's winning word

The top-rated player triumphed after three rounds in the war of words with crucial word "braconid" - meaning a parasitic wasp - initially scoring him 176 points, but he then got an extra five points due to his opponent challenging it.

Brett, who has won 7,000 euro, said: "It's absolutely amazing. I'm still speechless. I had to come back from behind to qualify for this."

He said he is "absolutely thrilled" to have won, and described Mark as a "very impressive opponent to play".

The winner said he spent between one and two hours per day revising words and playing games against the computer ahead of the competition.

Other strategic words played in the final round included "periagua" meaning a dugout canoe used by American Indians scoring 76 points, "variedly" meaning in a varied manner scoring 95 points, "sundri" an East Indian tree scoring 28 points and "gynaecia" meaning a flower scoring 95 points.