French World Scrabble Championships

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The French World Scrabble Championships (French: Championnats du monde de Scrabble francophone) is an annual Scrabble tournament that takes place in a different French-speaking country every year. Created in 1972 by Hippolyte Wouters, it was the first of the three World Scrabble Championships to be created, with the English version being created in 1991 and the Spanish version being created in 1997.

Unlike the English and Spanish versions, the French World Championships are made up of various tournaments, somewhat like the World Series of Poker. The "Main Event" is the Elite tournament which has existed since 1972, and was first won by the tournament's creator Hippolyte Wouters.

List of tournaments[edit]

World Championships[edit]

  • Elite: Each national federation has a specified number of places in the Elite division in different age categories: Up to 16, 16-18, 18-25, 25-62, 62-72 and 72+. Each of these age categories has its own World Champion, but the individual World Champion is the player that wins the tournament. The tournament is a duplicate tournament where players do not play matches, but play every move with the same letters and board configuration as every other player and try to get the maximum score by playing the highest scoring move every time. Players play 7 games of 2 minutes per move.
  • Paires: Duplicate Scrabble in pairs, with two players discussing and submitting their solution together. 4 games are played with two minutes per move, followed by 2 games with just one minute per move. Players can form mixed pair, i.e. not both from the same country.
  • Blitz: A normal duplicate tournament but with 4 games with just one minute per move for all four games.
  • Classique (match play): Players play 17 games, two players to a board with the final standings being judged by games won and total points scored minus the total number of points scored by the player's opponents. The top two players in the standings play a best-of-three final to determine the World Champion. The tournament is very popular with African players as Duplicate Scrabble is less popular in Africa than it is in Europe.

Other tournaments[edit]

Some other tournaments are organised during the week which do not crown a World Champion but do have a winner:

  • Open classique: a matchplay Scrabble tournament open to players who have not already qualified for the Elite world championship. The winner qualifies for the Elite.
  • Open duplicate: an open duplicate tournament which anyone can compete in. Players who are qualified for the Elite are barred from competing in the Open under the rules of the International Federation.
  • Défi mondial: A duplicate game reserved for qualified players. The game is a normal duplicate game, apart from any player who misses the highest scoring solution is eliminated. This process continues until there is only one player remaining. To make things harder, the game starts at 80 seconds per move and goes down to 60 then 40 seconds per move.
  • Défi des jeunes: the same as the Défi mondial but for players aged under 18. Another notable difference is that each player can miss the highest scoring move once before being eliminated.

History of the Championships[edit]

The French World Scrabble Championships started off as a small tournament in Cannes with just 7 players, and at the time, was not considered to be a World Championship. The tournament moved each year and more and more players which led to other tournaments being created at the same venue. The Elite tournament was at first dominated by Belgian players, with 5 of the first 7 championships being won by Belgian players. After three French winners in 1979, 80 and 81 the tournament was taken over by Michel Duguet of France who won the tournament 5 times in 7 years, while finishing second twice in that period. Duguet also set various championship records by dropping just 12 points in 5 games, which is 99.71%. After winning the Elite World Championship for a 5th time he retired from Scrabble and took up contract bridge and became one of the best players in the world, competing in both the French national championships and the European team championships.

After Duguet's retirement the French domination of the championships continued, with in total 12 championships in a row being won by France. Indeed, France also took second place every year during that ran, apart from in 1990 when Christian Pierre of Belgium finished second. In 1991 it was Christian Pierre who won Belgium's first title since 1978 and continued to win the title a total of 5 times in 8 years, matching what Duguet did in the 1980s. In 2002 and 2003 Jean Pierre Hellebaut became the first Swiss winner of the tournament. In fact he was born in Belgium and had previously finished second in the Belgian national championship in 1991 but after moving to Switzerland, won the World Championship 2 years in a row, a feat only accomplished before that by Duguet and Pierre. Antonin Michel has since dominated the Elite World Championships, having won the tournament twice in 2005 and 2007 and having finished second in 2001 and 2006.

The pairs event has been mainly dominated by France; Michel Duguet holds the record with five titles while Antonin Michel and Franck Maniquant (also of France) are just behind with 4 titles. Two African players have won the title - Ndongo Samba Sylla and Mactar Sylla of Senegal - these two are in fact brothers.

The blitz is a relatively recent event, added in 2001 and 5 of the 8 championships have been won by Antonin Michel. The four other winners and Florian Lévy and Franck Maniquant of France, and Ndongo Samba Sylla and Mactar Sylla of Senegal.

The match play tournament known as le Championnat du monde de Scrabble classique was brought in in 2006 and has been systematically dominated by African players, showing that the traditional form of Scrabble is more popular in Africa than the duplicate one. In 2008 in Dakar, 7 of the top 10 players were African, the three exceptions being Pascal Astresses, Antonin Michel and Hervé Bohbot all from France. More recently, the 2015 event saw Africans claim six of the top 10 places, and in 2016 the top three players and seven of the top 10 were Africans.[1]

List of winners of the Elite (duplicate individual) tournament[edit]

Antonin Michel, winner of the Elite tournament in 2005, 2007, 2010 and 2013.
Year Host City Winner Nationality Runner-up Nationality
1972 France Cannes Hippolyte Wouters  Belgium Sarah Wolfowitz  Belgium
1973 Belgium Liège Agnès Lempereur  Belgium Dominique Darmstaedter  Belgium
1974 Monaco Monaco Marc Selis  Belgium Dominique Darmstaedter  Belgium
1975 Spain Estepona Michel Charlemagne  France Marc Selis  Belgium
1976 Tunisia Djerba Marc Selis  Belgium Michel Charlemagne  France
1977 France Aix-les-Bains Jean-Marc Bellot  France Michel Pialat  France
1978 Belgium Brussels Yvon Duval  Belgium Claude Del  France
1979 France Vichy Benjamin Hannuna  France Vincent Labbé  France
1980 Belgium Liège Vincent Labbé  France Robert Laïk  France
1981 Switzerland Montreux Jacques-Henri Muracciole  France Marc Esquerré  France
1982 Tunisia Hammamet Michel Duguet  France Benjamin Hannuna  France
1983 France Grenoble Michel Duguet  France Frank Pluven  France
1984 Canada Montreal Benjamin Hannuna  France Michel Duguet  France
1985 Belgium Brussels Michel Duguet  France Claude Del  France
1986 Switzerland Lausanne Philippe Bellosta  France Michel Duguet  France
1987 France Metz Michel Duguet  France Philippe Lorenzo  France
1988 Canada Quebec Michel Duguet  France Jean-Louis Pallavicini  France
1989 Belgium Namur Paul Levart  France Marc Treiber  France
1990 Senegal Dakar Marc Treiber  France Christian Pierre  Belgium
1991 Switzerland Fleurier Christian Pierre  Belgium Paul Levart  France
1992 Canada Hull Christian Pierre  Belgium Emmanuel Rivalan  France
1993 France Saint-Malo Emmanuel Rivalan  France Franck Maniquant  France
1994 Belgium Libramont Christian Pierre  Belgium Eddy Clauwaert  Belgium
1995 Switzerland Ovronnaz Jean-François Lachaud  France Franck Maniquant  France
1996 France Aix-les-Bains Christian Pierre  Belgium Nicolas Grellet  France
1997 Canada Saint-Hyacinthe Aurélien Kermarrec  France Emmanuel Rivalan  France
1998 Belgium Brussels Christian Pierre  Belgium Franck Maniquant  France
1999 Switzerland Bulle Emmanuel Rivalan  France Jean-François Lachaud  France
2000 France Paris Florian Lévy  France Gérard Boccon  France
2001 France La Rochelle Franck Maniquant  France Antonin Michel and Emmanuel Rivalan  France
2002 Canada Montreal Jean Pierre Hellebaut   Switzerland Thierry Chincholle  France
2003 Belgium Liège Jean Pierre Hellebaut   Switzerland Christian Pierre  Belgium
2004 Morocco Marrakech Germain Boulianne  Canada Franck Maniquant  France
2005 Switzerland Neuchâtel Antonin Michel  France Jean Pierre Hellebaut   Switzerland
2006 France Tours Pascal Fritsch  France Antonin Michel  France
2007 Canada Quebec Antonin Michel  France Christian Pierre  Belgium
2008 Senegal Dakar Éric Vennin  Belgium Aurélien Delaruelle  France
2009 Belgium Mons Hugo Delafontaine   Switzerland Christian Pierre  Belgium
2010 France Montpellier Antonin Michel  France Didier Roques  France
2011 Switzerland Montreux Francis Desjardins  Canada Antonin Michel  France
2012 France Montauban David Bovet   Switzerland Étienne Budry  France
2013 Canada Rimouski Antonin Michel  France David Bovet   Switzerland
2014 France Aix-les-Bains Hugo Delafontaine   Switzerland Francis Desjardins  Canada
2015 Belgium Louvain-la-Neuve David Bovet   Switzerland Nigel Richards  New Zealand
2016 Morocco Agadir Hugo Delafontaine   Switzerland Arnaud Mulonda Democratic Republic of the Congo Democratic Republic of the Congo
2017 Switzerland Martigny Nigel Richards  New Zealand Thierry Chincholle  France

List of winners of the Classique (matchplay) tournament[edit]

Year Host City Winner Nationality Runner-up Nationality
2006 France Tours Parfait Mouanda  Republic of the Congo Henry-Marcel Engonge  Democratic Republic of the Congo
2007 Canada Quebec Amar Diokh  Senegal Edouard Lebeau  France
2008 Senegal Dakar Élisée Poka  Ivory Coast Pascal Astresses  France
2009 Belgium Mons Benjamin Valour  France Pierre-Olivier Georget  France
2010 France Montpellier Christian Coustillas  France Gille Sauze  France
2011 Switzerland Montreux Jean-François Ramel  France Julien Affaton  Benin
2012 France Montauban Pierre-Olivier Georget  France Julien Affaton  Benin
2013 Canada Rimouski Christian Coustillas  France Julien Affaton  Benin
2014 France Aix-les-Bains Julien Affaton  Benin Schélick Ilagou Rekawe  Gabon
2015 Belgium Louvain-la-Neuve Nigel Richards  New Zealand Schélick Ilagou Rekawe  Gabon
2016 Morocco Agadir Abib Alabi  Ivory Coast Gildas Ingrid Madela  Gabon
2017 France Agadir Benjamin Valour  France Belphégore Mpaga Réténo  Gabon


  1. ^ Chisala, Chanda (October 31, 2016). "Scrabble Spells Doom for the Racial Hypothesis of Intelligence". Unz Review. Retrieved December 9, 2016. 

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