A James Paget University Hospital payroll clerk has exceeded all expectations and finished in the top 35 players at the World Scrabble Championships held in Kenya last week.
John Ashmore, 55, from Bradwell, improved on his performance at the 2015 World English-Language Scrabble Players Association Championship in Perth, Australia, where he won 16 out of 32 games – this time around at the 2017 finals in the Kenyan capital Nairobi he won 18 of his 32 matches.
The success meant he finished a highly creditable 34th in a field of 118 of the world’s top players.
John travelled out to Kenya via Norwich Airport and Amsterdam in early November and spent time before the tournament seeing some of the sights including Hells Gate Gorge and the Great Rift Valley, crossing the equator and going on safari where he spotted giraffe, hippos, lions, flamingos, impala, wildebeest, impala, storks, ostriches and rhinos among others.
Then, on Wednesday 8 November, it was down to the serious business of the championship and proving he could hold his own against the world’s top players.
John says; “The venue and the hotel we stayed at were wonderful and we were very well looked after with three-course lunches laid on for competitors, who came from around the globe. My opponents included players from Australia, the USA, Singapore, Malaysia, Kenya and Thailand and I met many of the people I last met two years ago in Australia.
“Day three was my most successful – when I won seven out of eight games – and I’m really pleased that I managed to do better than I did in 2015 by winning 18 of my 32 games in total.”
John was asked to go to the tournament in June after being selected to represent his country in the championship and he was one of eight players taking part for England.
Other countries competing included Nigeria, India, Pakistan and New Zealand, with the ultimate winner Akshay Bhandarkar coming from Bahrain.
After arriving home earlier this week, John is now looking forward to his next tournament in a slightly less exotic location – in Milton Keynes at the weekend – and has his sights set on 2019.
“While we don’t know the venue for the next World English-Language Scrabble Players Association Championship in 2019, if I’m asked to represent England again I will seriously consider going. It gives a unique opportunity to see new places and to compete against the best in the world.”