Scrabble Player Guilty of Cheating
In an unprecedented case, a Scrabble player has been judged guilty of cheating in an international tournament and banned for 4 years from competing in rated competitions
Mohammed Zafar, Bahrain and Gulf champion, has been found guilty “after due consideration of statements from all parties involved and witness accounts,” said inquiry chairman Allan Simmons (Britain). The panel’s work took about five weeks and produced 17 pages of testimony.
The four-member panel was set up swiftly at the conclusion of the seventh Causeway Challenge in Malaysia in early December.
The Causeway Challenge is considered the world’s biggest team Scrabble contest with 50 high-rated players.
Event organiser Michael Tang immediately expelled Zafar midway in the tourney, saying that he was banned for life from taking part in future Causeway Challenges.
Simmons underscored that the inquiry was “set up to investigate and ensure fairness in the accusation of cheating.”
The ban is effective immediately and valid until January 1, 2013. The inquiry would have considered reducing the length of the ban if Zafar had admitted to cheating when presented with the inquiry findings, Simmons said.
The inquiry panel recommended that Wespa rules and tournament subcommittees consider advice and guidance to competition directors in handling incidents of cheating or suspicious behaviour. Moreover, such counsel should also go to players in the form of rule improvement.
Simmons asked that the Wespa tournament committee establish a framework for banning players for various offences.
The inquiry chairman requests all national Scrabble organisations to follow the Wespa-authorised ban of Zafar, aged 19.
The same inquiry panel should be employed for future incidents of cheating where the accused denies the accusation, specifying that no one should be on the panel from the same country as the accused.
“The methodology used assured that the various parties were heard and their testimony evaluated.
”The findings have been well founded,” Kietzman said, “with a conclusion that reflects the realities of the incident.
“The integrity of international Scrabble has been maintained, and Wespa now has a precedent for addressing such issues in future although we hope there won't be any need.”
Wespa is the regulatory authority for the playing of Scrabble in English where, among hundreds of millions of players, about 25,000-30,000 are competitive players. The game can be played in about 30 languages.
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Wespa is the regulatory body for Scrabble players in the English language with an estimated 25,000 competitive players in upwards of 40 countries. The association concentrates on youth, dictionary, rules, tournament format, communications matters.