I love those years when the Filipino family thought of summer as a time for family board games: chess, Chinese checkers, mancala, its Pinoy version called sungka, Mastermind, Othello, Solitaire, Da Vinci's Challenge, Games of the Generals, Battleship, Snakes and Ladders, Monopoly, Dominoes, Charade through picture cards, Word Factory with its dice game version called Boggle. Among these, only chess has survived against TV and computer games, and it remains the only one in the mainstream of the international sports arena.
There are contest circles around the world, however, that are promoting one game that we all have known and loved -- the very challenging Scrabble. Its surprising to note that in the international arena, Scrabble is dominated by men; when we always thought of it as a home game for girls even at home, while chess was generally for the boys.
In the Philippines, a woman is lording it over all scrabble circles - mainly dominated by men. In fact, among the country’s Top 5 players, Odette Carmina L. Rio is the only woman. Odette, if some of you remember, graduated cum laude from Silliman University with a degree in Political
From justice halls, Odette moved to a small classroom in Iloilo City. You see, Odette is a lawyer by profession, but she now prefers teaching English as a second language to students from Korea. After a stint in the US, she says she has learned to live a “very simple life and uncomplicated life.”
Her teaching job now gives her time to devote more focus to her ultimate passion -- playing scrabble, achieving VIP stature in the world of word wizards.
How do you measure VIP stature? Check out the number of websites you get after you search about a person on Google. Try this: Search for “Odette Carmina Rio scrabble.” You’ll be amazed at the results you get: several websites announcing her “international player status” in the word power game. Abolutely the Philippines’ Scrabble Queen.
Odette was twice national champion in 2002 and 2004. Then she won third place in the Asia-Pacific Scrabble Championship held in Kuala Lumpur, fifth place in the Bertam World Scrabble Masters, and finished Top 10 four times in Thailand’s Annual King Cup. She has also achieved an ‘expert rating’ in the US with a rare 1,888.
Odette has been playing scrabble since she was still nine years old, along with her father’s favorite board games, chess and the Games of the Generals. The biggest challenge, she remembers, was always Daddy, a military general, who would approach the game with war tactics in mind.
In high school, the passion for the game reached an intense level for she had learned to love solitaire scrabble. Scrabble gave her the achiever’s zeal as she would face every challenge, such attitude of always learning new words very also very rewarding, in school.
Odette said she would love to visit Dumaguete again someday, and promote scrabble to the young. Say says it’s the “best way to increase their knowledge of words.”
I can only agree with Odette. If you will have noticed also, today’s generation in this University Town seems to have lost their ability to spell words correctly, or to comprehend what they read due to all-too-common weird abbreviations in text messaging.
That’s why I find it an important move to really bring her home here so she can help inspire young students. We can host Odette in the University Town for a peptalk on scrabble, or she can be the star player of sorts in an inter-dormitory or an inter-high school scrabble championship.
What would it take to play in a top-level game of scrabble? “An ability in Mathematics, as you look into probabilities and combinations.” She adds, “those good in Music can also be good in scrabble, as they know how to place the right scale in a given space.”
A website pointed out that a scrabble geek could only take a few minutes to find a way to put a Z or Q on a double letter score and at the same time, hit the triple word score.
There is so much wisdom involved in the arrangement of tiles in one’s rack to reach rewarding forms in a particular bag, like when it in a Double-Bag Scrabble where one divides the tiles into two separate bags: one for vowels, the other for the consonants.
Ah, there is just so much to learn from the country’s Scrabble Queen – truly Dumaguete’s very own!