WONDER kid Imaad Ali seen with his masters trophy.
WONDER kid Imaad Ali seen with his masters trophy.

KARACHI: Syed Imaad Ali, the brilliant 14-year-old wonder kid clinched the Gladiators 32nd Pakistan Scrabble Champ­ionship (masters category) after staging the most astonishing comebacks ever witnessed in the national championship history Waseem Khatri enjoyed a great run on day two and was looking very safe at the top with a healthy lead.

After 20 rounds Imaad seemed out of contention as he was four wins behind Waseem. Known for his ice cool temperament, the reigning junior world champion Imaad didn’t give up and calmly started climbing up the ladder. He saved his best for the king-of-the-hill stage when he beat his mentor and 8-time national champion Waseem four games in a row to snatch a fairytale victory.

Poor Waseem, who was looking pretty set for his 9th national title, had to be content with the runner up trophy for the third time in a row. Imaad and Waseem both won 19 of their 27 games but Imaad won on a better spread 1469 compared with 1210 of Waseem.

Hammad Hadi Khan finished third with 18 wins and a spread of 1333 just edging out his younger brother and defending champion Hasham Hadi Khan who also won 18 games but had a lower spread 967.

Basil Khan, Ahad Riaz, Taha Mirza, Monis Khan, Sohaib Sanaullah and Hassan Hadi Khan made up the rest of the top ten. All senior players in the championship including former national champions found it very tough to compete with the rising wave of the youth. Even the 9 years old Bilal Asher finished ahead of all senior players including former national champions. Haroon Qasim was the chief guest on the occasion and distributed trophies.

Published in Dawn, September 22nd, 2020