"It was the hand of God!"
Those were the words of Gitonga Nderitu, after winning Kitui leg of this year's National Scrabble Tournament Circuit at the weekend to displace Allan Oyende as Kenya's first seed.
Nderitu, who won Nairobi leg in January, admitted Oyende gave him a run for his money.
“I don’t think I have ever experienced such a stiff competition for a long time. There are times you play and win, but this win was inexplicable," said an elated Nderitu who beat a strong field of 100 players to defend his title.
Nderitu said his win came as a “big shocker” given that he beat top players. He had to depend on his superior winning spread of +699 points to be crowned champion.
The Kirinyaga-based player had tied at the top with Onani Magwanga at 13 wins out of 18 rounds. Following his victory in the two legs, Nderitu took his overall rating to 1921 points to displace Oyende from top spot on local standings.
Oyende, who emerged sixth with 12 wins and a winning spread of +592, is now Kenya’s second seed on an overall rating of 1886 points. He lost 40 points, as before the competition he was perched at the top on 1926.
“I feel so happy to be Kenya’s first seed, because the last time I held that position was sometime in September and it did not last for long. Oyende displaced me immediately,” said Nderitu.
Magwanga settled for second place in Kitui because of his inferior winning spread of +592, while Nairobi’s Michael Gongolo emerged third with 12 wins and a winning spread of +915 points.
In the intermediate division, Edwin Bii won gold after winning 15 matches, Tom Mboya won 12 matches to settle for silver, while Francis Gichu of Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology settled for bronze with 11 wins.
It was a double victory for Gichu as he was named the best student. Gichu was also named the best student in Nairobi leg.
Lawrence Matunda of Equity Bank was crowned Open Division champion after winning 13 rounds out of 16. Newcomer Teresia Muthoni won 12 matches to bag silver, while Nicole Okoth won bronze.
The third leg of the National Scrabble Tournament Circuit will take place next month in Bungoma.